High-octane defense generating turnovers for Salukis

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Opposing teams may refer to SIU men’s basketball as the Grinch that stole the ball this season.

The Dawgs have created 171 turnovers — the most in the Missouri Valley Conference. It also ranks 27th of 351 teams in the country.

Junior guard Mike Rodriguez said the team has improved its transition defense and communication, which has helped create turnovers.

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The Salukis have a plus-3.2 turnover margin, ranking second in the MVC and 42nd nationally.

SIU has forced 12 or more turnovers in every game this season, including three games with more than 20.

Opposing teams turn the ball over on 22.8 percent of their possessions against SIU, putting the Salukis at 29th in the country.

Coach Barry Hinson said many turnovers happen because of “ball hawks.”

“I think we have two guys on the team in Mike Rodriguez and [senior guard] Anthony Beane who have a real knack for stealing the ball,” he said.

Rodriguez leads the team with 14 steals, Beane is second with 11.

Beane is 12th all-time at SIU with 120 steals. Rodriguez had 133 total steals in two years at Marshalltown Community College.

Junior guard Leo Vincent said intense practices drives the Salukis defense.

“We got guys diving on the floor, taking charges,” he said. “We got guys willing to lay their body on the line.”

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3304

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