Daily Egyptian

Takeaways from last week’s Saluki men’s basketball games

Senior+guard+Mike+Rodriguez+charges+down+the+court+alongside+Minnesota+junior+guard+Nate+Mason+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+25%2C+2016%2C+during+the+Salukis%27+57-45+loss+to+the+University+of+Minnesota+at+Williams+Arena+in+Minneapolis.+%28Athena+Chrysanthou+%7C+%40Chrysant1Athena%29+
Senior guard Mike Rodriguez charges down the court alongside Minnesota junior guard Nate Mason on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, during the Salukis' 57-45 loss to the University of Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez charges down the court alongside Minnesota junior guard Nate Mason on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, during the Salukis' 57-45 loss to the University of Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez charges down the court alongside Minnesota junior guard Nate Mason on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, during the Salukis' 57-45 loss to the University of Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Sean Carley

Saluki basketball had a roller-coaster week, picking up a much needed win against Mount St. Mary’s before losing a defensive struggle to Minnesota.

Here’s what fans can take away from those games.

1. Thik Bol will be a force this season

Advertisement

For the first time in years, SIU has a shot blocker. Senior forward Sean O’Brien led the team last year with 29 blocks in 32 games. Junior forward Thik Bol has 17 in six.

But where Bol has impressed the most is his abilities to stuff other stat columns. He is just more than a rebound away from averaging a double-double with 10.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Junior forward Thik Bol dunks a shot over Mount St. Mary senior forward Will Miller (11) during the Salukis' 73-63 win over Mount St. Mary University on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Junior forward Thik Bol dunks a shot over Mount St. Mary senior forward Will Miller (11) during the Salukis’ 73-63 win over Mount St. Mary University on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

He averaged 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks across last week’s two games and was arguably the most dynamic player on the floor for SIU.

Bol has already improved from where he was at the beginning of the season, and if that trend continues he could potentially see All-MVC honors when its all over.

2. Maybe the defense isn’t as bad as once thought

There were two ways fans could look at Friday’s loss to Minnesota. They could look at SIU’s 45 points and say it was a terrible showing, or they can look at Minnesota shooting 38.2 percent and take it as a positive.

Holding a team that was averaging more than 85 points per game to only 57 is an impressive venture.

After allowing an astronomical 80.5 points per game through the first four, the Salukis held Mount St. Mary’s and Minnesota to an average of 60.

If SIU can put that defense together with the offense from the first four games, then this team will shock some people when conference season rolls around.

3. The hot hand will change hands

SIU’s 75 points per game is impressive, but it is even more impressive when you look at how it is being done.

So far, five Salukis — the entire starting lineup — are averaging double-digit points each.

The big question going into this season was who will replace Anthony Beane’s scoring. Coach Barry Hinson’s answer was that everyone had to do a little bit.

So far it appears the players are taking heed of his plan.

Even off the bench, sophomore forward Austin Weiher and sophomore guard Sean Lloyd have shown their ability to put the ball in the basket as well.

Sophomore guard Sean Lloyd fires up a shot past Missouri Southern freshman center Dexter Frisbie on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, during the Salukis' 85-64 win over the Missouri Southern Lions at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Sophomore guard Sean Lloyd fires up a shot past Missouri Southern freshman center Dexter Frisbie on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, during the Salukis’ 85-64 win over the Missouri Southern Lions at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Having as many as seven scorers on the team — eight when senior guard Tyler Smithpeters returns from injury — will make opponent game planning a nightmare, an advantage SIU can exploit down the road.

4. Ball movement is much improved (again)

Last season, SIU greatly improved its ball movement thanks to guard Mike Rodriguez’s passing ability. The Salukis had an assist on 44 percent of their field goals.

This season, that trend appears to be continuing as SIU has assisted on 54.6 percent of its field goals this year.

Rodriguez is still leading the team with 5.3 assists per game, but O’Brien is helping the team get assists on the inside, with 3.7 assists per game.

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez (1) lays up a shot during the Salukis' 73-63 win over Mount St. Mary University on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Senior guard Mike Rodriguez (1) lays up a shot during the Salukis’ 73-63 win over Mount St. Mary University on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

When Rodriguez takes a seat, freshman guard Aaron Cook has served as a strong passer in his place. Cook originally impressed in high school with his high-volume scoring, but if he can keep this passing up the future looks bright for the point guard position.

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

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

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University