Scouting the Saints, Falcons and Rattlers

SIU mens basketball coach Barry Hinson calls out plays March 6 at Arch Madness in St. Louis during the Salukis 56-45 loss to Wichita State. ( file photo)

SIU men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson calls out plays March 6 at Arch Madness in St. Louis during the Salukis’ 56-45 loss to Wichita State. ( file photo)

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

SIU men’s basketball opens the 2015-16 season this week with three games at SIU Arena. 

7 p.m. Monday versus Maryville University (Exhibition Game) 

The Saints had seven 10-game starters last season with four returning. Two of the three graduates were leading scorers on last year’s team. 


Sophomore guard Forrester Sims and senior guard Derek Deters shot better than 42 percent from three-point range. 

Maryville finished 12-17 last season in Division II, and SIU may be able to try different looks before the regular season begins. 

7 p.m. Friday versus Air Force 

This is the Salukis’ game in the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference Challenge. 

Four players on the 22-man roster are taller than 6-foot-7 and none of them played more than 10 minutes a game last year. 

Junior forward Joe Tuss, who missed last season because of injury, will be the tallest Falcon starter at 6-foot-8. 

With limited size, the Falcons play a technical game focusing on passing and quality shots. The team averaged 15 assists per game and shot 53.9 percent from two-point range, which was 12th in the nation. 


SIU had 8.3 assists per game. The Salukis shot 44.3 percent from two-point range, which ranked 306th out of 351 in the nation last season. 

Three starters return for the Falcons. Junior guard Zach Kocur averaged 8.7 points per game last year and shot 48 percent from three-point range. 

3 p.m. Sunday vs. Florida A&M 

This game could possibly be the easiest test the Salukis face all year. 

The Rattlers finished 2-28 last year and their top two scorers — junior guard Jermaine Ruttley and freshman guard Jorge Rosa — transferred in the offseason. 

Of 351 Division I teams, Florida A&M ranked 349th with 55.4 points per game and 348th with 8.3 assists per game and a .373 field goal percentage. The Rattlers were 302nd with 31.5 rebounds per game. 

Florida A&M ranked 316th with 72.9 points allowed per game. 

SIU averaged 59.6 points per game last season and ranked 324th.

The preseason KenPom — a metrics-based college basketball ranking website — ratings have the Rattlers at second-to-last in the country. 

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @SCarleyDE