Aliens bring back Salukis

By Tyler Dixon

Who is this team and what have they done with the Salukis?

This is not the same group from the beginning of the season. The team early in the season was hard to watch and easily forgettable, but now there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

SIU is currently fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference standings; fifth. A team that could not beat Chicago State University or St. Bonaventure University now has a chance to play Friday instead of Thursday. Is this really possible?

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During the four-game winnings streak, the Salukis have started three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior. Again, three freshmen have helped lead the longest conference-winning streak since 2008. I am surprised Microsoft Word did not say that last sentence was a typo.

The season could have been over when Marcus Fillyaw broke his hand but it was not. It is actually salvageable.

Sophomore Anthony Beane is playing like he is from a different planet. He is averaging 23.7 points per game during the streak and it looks like everything he shoots is going in. His pull-up jumper from just inside the 3-point line is exciting to watch. But the question should be raised; will Beane be the point guard if Fillyaw returns?

Fillyaw practiced last week with a cast on his hand that looks like he has turned into MegaMan.

Beane should continue to run the offense, as he is the best person for the job. If Fillyaw were to return, he would be a viable option off of the bench.

Other players have been thrust into a new role for the Salukis as well. Freshman Bola Olaniyan has been a beast on the boards. Olaniyan feeds off of rebounds. When he gets hungry, he feasts on the missed shots of his opponents as well as his teammates.

Freshmen Tyler Smithpeters and Sean O’Brien have fallen off the past few games but they will need to help the team in more ways than scoring. Smithpeters can pass the ball, he is a distributor, but he needs to handle the ball better. It is getting to the point when Smithpeters gets the ball, other teams know he will panic.

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O’Brien has the potential to be a star in the Valley in a couple years and he can use this time to get accustomed to the rough play in the conference.

Welcome back, Jalen Pendleton.

As Barry Hinson would say, Pendleton has been released by the aliens. The mother ship did have Pendleton but he has finally returned. He is helping the team in other ways but the biggest is his energy. He is a spark off of the bench and he can get the crowd pumped up. For a player with the size Pendleton has, he can move around the basket with ease. He always finds a way to get to the basket and draw the foul.

The biggest game of the season is tonight. ESPN gives SIU a 1.1 percent chance to beat the Shockers of Wichita State University. That could be good. This is a trap game for the Shockers. If the Shockers win, it is because they were expected to. This game would undoubtedly help the Salukis confidence going forward. It would also give them a five-game winning streak with only five games left. Three of those games are away from SIU Arena.

The Salukis need to keep this momentum going. The aliens will not win.

Tyler Dixon can be reached at , tdixon_de on Twitter or 536-3311 ext. 256.

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