Playing time must be earned, quickly

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By Tyler Dixon

For the first time since December, it was a relatively quiet week away from the court for the SIU men’s basketball team.

The Salukis were able to beat conference newcomer Loyola University on the road Wednesday, but could not stop D.J. Balentine and the University of Evansville Purple Aces Saturday.

The Salukis have not been a 3-point shooting team this season but thought they were in Saturday’s loss to Evansville. SIU attempted 25 3-pointers and only converted seven. Junior guard Mike Balogun had five of them. SIU basketball coach Barry Hinson said a good number for attempted 3-pointers is 15 per game.

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The Purple Aces played a lot of zone defense against the Salukis Saturday, which led to the many 3-pointers attempted. Hinson said in the second half of the loss, the Salukis had the ball in the paint 11 times and they scored all 11 possessions. They only scored on possessions outside of the paint once.

Sophomore guard Jalen Pendleton was put in the starting line-up Saturday but did not have his best game. Hinson said he does not want to have Pendleton starting because he is a key player off of the bench. Pendleton is currently second on the team in points during conference play with 10.3 points per game.

Senior guard Desmar Jackson has been playing a considerable number of minutes the last two games. He played 37 minutes in the loss. Hinson said Jackson was sluggish toward the end of the game. Even so, Jackson’s numbers have stayed steady. His rebounds and assists have gone up and he leads the MVC in steals.

More players were getting minutes in Saturday’s game with freshman guard Marcus Fillyaw out with a hand injury. Balogun and junior guard Dawson Verhines were able to reap the rewards of more playing time. Verhines played well in his limited role.

The post position could be a concern for the Salukis going forward. Senior center Davante Drinkard’s minutes keep diminishing, and freshman Bola Olaniyan is not getting the same playing time he was a few weeks ago. Hinson has said repeatedly each player must play hard in practice or they will not get playing time.

Sophomore guard Anthony Beane has played well the past two conference games but he needs to be more vocal on the court, Hinson said. He said Beane could go a whole game without saying anything.

“If you went to church with Anthony Beane, the only thing you may hear is ‘Amen’ and that would be after the preacher said it,” Hinson said.

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Hinson said he did not think UNI was as good as Wichita State University but the Panthers could beat them.

A key player for the University of Northern Iowa Panthers is junior Seth Tuttle. Tuttle was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference Pre-season All-Conference team. Tuttle is averaging 12.8 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. Hinson said Tuttle is dangerous because he can play in the paint and also knock down shots. Along with Tuttle, junior guard Deon Mitchell is averaging 13.3 points per game.

It is still undetermined who will start Tuesday night, but it is clear every minute will have to be earned from here on out.

The Salukis welcome the Panthers Tuesday to try and get their first home MVC win. They head to Bradley University Friday to take on the Braves.

Tyler Dixon can be reached at [email protected] , @tdixon_de on Twitter or 536-3311 ext. 256.

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