Daily Egyptian

SIU men’s basketball 2016-17 roster is very guard orientated

Saluki coach Barry Hinson celebrates with fans after SIU's 81-78 win against Illinois State on Jan. 12 at SIU Arena. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

Saluki coach Barry Hinson celebrates with fans after SIU's 81-78 win against Illinois State on Jan. 12 at SIU Arena. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

The SIU men’s basketball team has an abundance of guards on the roster going into the 2016-17 season.

Ten out of 15 SIU’s roster spots are occupied by point and shooting guards. The team will try to spin this to its advantage by incorporating all of them into the lineup to play a much faster pace of basketball.

“We’re going to play really fast this year,” coach Barry Hinson said. “We want to play a lot of guys. Our philosophy this season is if you’re playing tired, you’re coming out. We have a lot of guys who can fill those spots for us.”

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An up-tempo pace would be an interesting change for a team that was No. 116 in tempo last season, according to kenpom.com.

The team will have to replace a valuable asset in graduated guard Anthony Beane, who averaged 19.3 points a game last year and finished third all-time in scoring with 1,917 career points.

Anthony Beane attempts a shot during the Salukis' 66-60 loss to Northern Iowa on Friday during the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Anthony Beane attempts a shot during the Salukis’ 66-60 loss to Northern Iowa on Friday during the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Hinson said there is no one man who can replace Beane, but instead it’ll have to be a group effort.

“We’ve got guys committed to this program, so were going to be better,” he said. “We don’t have one guy that we’re putting that pressure on but collectively as a unit we can do it.”

Last season, Saluki guards scored 68.4 percent of the team’s points, with 50.5 per game.

Now-senior Mike Rodriguez contributed 8.3 points per game last season. He said he’s stepping into the on-court leadership void that Beane’s departure forces.

“I’m kind of the vocal leader now,” he said. “It’s my job to be vocal and keep everybody on their Ps and Qs.”

Saluki guard Mike Rodriguez dribbles toward the basket during SIU’s 78-68 victory against Missouri State on Feb. 27 at SIU Arena. Rodriguez scored eight points and had two rebounds in the game. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

Saluki guard Mike Rodriguez dribbles toward the basket during SIU’s 78-68 victory against Missouri State on Feb. 27 at SIU Arena. Rodriguez scored eight points and had two rebounds in the game. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

With a guard-heavy roster, the few big men the Salukis have will have to step up even more. This issue was accentuated even further after last season’s starting center Bola Olaniyan transferred to Alabama.

Because of this, senior forward Sean O’Brien, sophomore forward Rudy Stradnieks and transfer junior forward Thik Bol will have large roles to carry.

“I have to help make up for Bola’s [7.8] points and [8.8] rebounds per game,” said Stradnieks, who only averaged 4.7 minutes per game last season.

With so many guards on the team, the underclassmen have built bonds with each other to stay on top of their games.

“Me and [freshman guard] Aaron [Cook] are suitemates, so we hangout a lot,” freshmen guard Crishawn Cook said. “He’s kind of like a little brother. We go over the plays together and practice with each other.”

Senior guard Leo Vincent agreed, saying the team is a “real tight-knit group.”

“We all love hanging out, and spending time with each other,” he said. “We joke around a lot. This is a great group of guys I wouldn’t want to  be with any other team.”

Staff writer Jonathon Thompson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheReal_Jt3.

To stay up to date with all your SIU basketball news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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