Daily Egyptian

Saluki Men’s Basketball says farewell to six seniors

Junior+forward+Thik+Bol+goes+for+the+ball+Saturday%2C+Jan.+28%2C+2017%2C+during+SIU%27s+85-84+overtime+win+against+the+Missouri+State+Bears+at+SIU+Arena.+%28Luke+Nozicka+%7C+%40lukenozicka%29
Back to Article
Back to Article

Saluki Men’s Basketball says farewell to six seniors

Junior forward Thik Bol goes for the ball Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, during SIU's 85-84 overtime win against the Missouri State Bears at SIU Arena. (Luke Nozicka | @lukenozicka)

Junior forward Thik Bol goes for the ball Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, during SIU's 85-84 overtime win against the Missouri State Bears at SIU Arena. (Luke Nozicka | @lukenozicka)

Junior forward Thik Bol goes for the ball Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, during SIU's 85-84 overtime win against the Missouri State Bears at SIU Arena. (Luke Nozicka | @lukenozicka)

Junior forward Thik Bol goes for the ball Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, during SIU's 85-84 overtime win against the Missouri State Bears at SIU Arena. (Luke Nozicka | @lukenozicka)


This year’s SIU Men’s Basketball team was a veteran heavy team and the group was expected to win big this season. Things didn’t go as planned for the Dawgs and their season came to an end early this March during their opening Arch Madness game.

After the season ending loss, the Salukis not only lost six graduating seniors, they lost their head coach Barry Hinson who stepped down from his post right after the game. The departing seniors include that of Thik Bol, Armon Fletcher, Kavion Pippen, Sean Lloyd, Rudy Stradnieks, and Marcus Bartley.

Out of the six seniors, three were members of this year’s starting five. Their departure will not only leave a hole in the hearts of SIU Basketball fans, but a hole in the Southern line up as well.

Advertisement

While many Saluki fans are wondering what next season will hold for the Dawgs, others may be wondering what the future holds for the newly graduated players.

These fans should wonder no more, because the veterans sat down with us to discuss their plans after graduation, their feelings about the time they spent at SIU, and they even had their own messages for Southern Illinois fans.

Thik Bol #40

Thik Bol has played in the center position for SIU since his arrival in Carbondale in 2016.

Prior to joining the SIU men’s team Bol played for two years in the NJCAA, where he played for Iowa Western Community College. In his first year as a Dawg, Bol made a name for himself as a beast on the defensive end and a secret spark on offense. The 6’8 center held a year round block party as he totaled 76 on the 2016-2017 season which was the third most on a season in Saluki history.

These blocks also put him in the tenth spot on the Saluki all-time list. In this same season he blocked seven shots in one game which was the second most on a game in program history. Bol finished his first SIU season as a member of the MVC All-Defensive Team and ranked second in the MVC in shots blocked and fourth in the nation in the same category. The Nebraska native made 129 shots on this season and 57 of these were slam dunks.

In Bol’s next season he was redshirted due to a severe knee injury. He returned to play this season which was his last, but was not able to play a large number of minutes. This season Bol averaged 3.5 points per game and 3.0 rebounds per game.

Despite a decrease in  his numbers, the senior was an ever present defense force for the Dawgs and helped to shut down strong centers in the MVC. He totaled five blocks in the game against SLU which was the most from any Saluki this season. Bol finished his career at Southern with 107 total blocks.

My Favorite Memory As A Saluki Basketball Player Is:

“My favorite memory would have to be our trip to Cuba this passed summer,” Bol said. “We had a lot of fun there and made a lot of good memories.”

The Best Thing About Playing For SIU Is:

“The best thing about playing for SIU is having such a unique mascot and having many people all over the country recognize and start conversations with us,” Bol said.

My Message For Saluki Fans Is:

“To the fans, I want to say thank you for your support,” Bol said.

My Plans After Graduation Are:

“I am still not sure yet what I want to do after I leave SIU, but I know that I’ll be playing professionally somewhere,” Bol said.

Armon Fletcher #22

Armon Fletcher has played the in the small forward/guard position for SIU ever since his arrival on campus as a freshman in 2014.

Fletcher is Southern’s leading scorer and go-to man on the floor who can do it all. He was redshirted during his first year as a Saluki and played his first season in 2015. As a redshirt freshman he played in all 32 games and finished the year with a scoring average of 5.1 points.

In his sophomore season, Fletcher upped his game and finished the season third on the team in scoring with an average of 11.1 points and second in 3-pointers made draining 47. At the end of this 2016-2017 season the 6’5 forward was voted a member of the MVC Most Improved Team.

Sticking with the trend of improvement in his junior season, the Edwardsville, Illinois native started in 31 games and led the team in scoring with an average of 14.1 points per game and free throws making 106 on the season. During this season Fletcher was a member of the All-MVC Second Team and the NABC First-Team All-District.

As a senior this year Fletcher was the go-to man for SIU and was even a pre-season All-MVC First Team selection. Unfortunately, he missed several games in the first half of the season due to injury and suspension.

Despite facing hardships at the beginning of the season, the senior came back better than ever to continue to lead the Dawgs in scoring and rebounding  as he averaged 16.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. He ranked Top Ten in the MVC in five categories (third in scoring, fourth in steals, eighth in rebounding, fifth in three point percentage, and fourth in offensive rebounds).

The forward/guard scored in the most points by an MVC player in a game as he notched 34 points against Indiana State. He did this again later in the season with another 34 point performance against Evansville. This season Fletcher was named MVC Player of the Week on two separate occasions and was voted onto the All-MVC Second Team at the end of the season.

Fletcher finished his SIU career with 131 steals and a total of 1,328 points moving him into the 22nd position on the Saluki All-Time Scoring List.

My Favorite Memory As A Saluki Basketball Player Is:

“My favorite memory would have to be hitting a few game winners over the years,” Fletcher said. “The crowds were crazy during those games and that made playing really fun.”

The Best Thing About Playing For SIU Is:

“The best thing about playing here has been making long lasting relationships with my coaches and teammates throughout the years,” Fletcher said.

My Message For Saluki Fans Is:

“I want to thank you guys for your support throughout the years!” Fletcher said.

My Plans After Graduation Are:

“After I leave SIU, I plan to pursue my dream of becoming a professional basketball player,” Fletcher said.

Kavion Pippen #33

Kavion Pippen has played in the center position for SIU since his arrival in Carbondale in 2017.

The 6’10 center is the shot blocker and go-to man in the paint for the Dawgs. Similar to his teammate Bol, Pippen also spent two years of his collegiate career playing in the NJCAA at Three Rivers Community College. In his first season as a Saluki Pippen started in all 33 games and averaged 12.1 points per game. The Arkansas native also led the team in field goal percentage at 55 percent, rebounds with 5.9, and blocked shots with 45. During his first season he was name MVC Newcomer of the Week on four separate occasions.

This season, Pippen averaged 12.8 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game. He was one of the top scorers on the team and was considered one of the best shot blockers in the MVC. After this year’s season, Pippen was voted onto the All-MVC Third Team and the All-MVC Defensive Team. By the end of his SIU career the senior reached a total of 108 blocks.

My Favorite Memory As A Saluki Basketball Player Is:

“My favorite memory is taking the trip to Cuba and enjoying the experience together as one big family,” Pippen said.

The Best Thing About Playing For SIU Is:

“The best thing about playing for SIU is just being able to put on the jersey on game day and representing this very deeply cultured athletic program,” Pippen said.

My Message For Saluki Fans Is:

“I want to thank you all for the love and support through the good times and bad,” Pippen said.

My Plans After Graduation Are:

“My plan after graduation is to play basketball professionally,” Pippen said.

Sean Lloyd #13

Sean Lloyd has played in the guard position for Southern since his arrival in 2015.

Lloyd is known as SIU’s gritty defensive stopper and biggest hustle player. In his freshman season Lloyd played in 13 total game and scored 11 points. As a sophomore he earned more playing time and played in 32 games with 20 starts. He totaled 33 steals in his sophomore campaign.

The Philadelphia native made noise his junior year as he started in all 33 games and was the team’s second leading scorer with an average of 12.1 points per game. He guarded each opposing team’s best player and kept the under their regular average.

Lloyd led the team in steals his junior season with 52 total. After his junior season Lloyd was voted onto the MVC All-Defensive Team and the MVC Most Improved Team.

As a senior, the 6’5 guard averaged 10.9 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. He led the team in steals with 25 and continued his trend of shutting down the opposing team’s best players. At the end of his SIU career, Lloyd totaled 1,001 points and 112 steals. He was also voted onto the MVC All-Defensive Team this season.

My Favorite Memory As A Saluki Basketball Player Is:

“My favorite memory of being at SIU is scoring 20 points in front of my family on senior night,” Lloyd said.

The Best Thing About Playing For SIU Is:

“The best thing about playing for SIU was meeting my teammates. They have turned into my brothers,” Lloyd said.

My Message For Saluki Fans Is:

“I want to say thank you to the fans for supporting me for four years,” Lloyd said. “Every single one of you are greatly appreciated.”

My Plans After Graduation Are:

“My plan after leaving SIU is to continue playing basketball at a professional level,” Lloyd said.

Rudy Stradnieks #24

Rudy Stradnieks has played in the center position since his arrival from Latvia in 2015. He is just the fifth European to play for the Salukis.

Stradnieks is known as a tough defender in the paint who has a soft touch around the rim and at the free throw line. In his freshman season as a Saluki, the 6’9 center played in 24 games and recorded points in eight of them. As a sophomore, he averaged 2.2 points per game and 1.3 rebounds.

He was also 40 percent from the three point line which is remarkable for an individual of his size. During his junior campaign he played in 31 games and averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. During this 2017 season, Stradnieks bumped his three point percentage up to 49 percent.

As a senior, Stradnieks played in 21 games averaging 2.5 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. He provided Southern with strong defense in the paint and helped to shut down each opposing team’s center. After his career at SIU, the senior totaled 143 rebounds.

Marcus Bartley #3

Marcus Bartley played in the point guard position for SIU since he transferred from SLU in 2016.

The Decatur native is known for his excellent three point range, expert passing ability, and super smarts. After playing for two years at SLU, Bartley transferred to Southern as a junior. While he arrived in time for the 2016 season, he was forced to sit out in order to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements.

In his first season with the Dawgs, Bartley averaged 6.7 points and 3.5 assists. He led the team in assists during this time with 90 total and came second in three point percentage with 38 percent.

His junior season ended early due to a broken wrist, but the 6’5 point guard did not let that stop his excellence in the classroom. Bartley held the highest GPA on the men’s team with a 4.0 and earned the MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award.

At the end of his junior campaign, Bartley was a member of the CoSIDA Academic All-American Third-Team, the Academic All-District Team, and the MVC All-Academic Second-Team.

As a senior, the point guard played in 32 games with 17 starts. He was second on the team in assists with 76 and averaged 5.1 points per game and 1.9 rebounds per game.

He is currently pursuing an MBA and notched another perfect 4.0 GPA this season as a grad student. After this season, the senior was chosen to be a CoSIDA Academic All-American for the second season in a row. He was also a member of the Academic All-District Team for the second season in a row and was voted onto the MVC All-Academic First Team.

At the end of his career at SIU Bartley totaled 166 assists which is more than any senior in his class.

My Favorite Memory As A Saluki Basketball Player Is:

“My favorite memory as an SIU basketball player is beating Loyola at home this season,” Bartley said.

The Best Thing About Playing For SIU Is:

“The best thing has been playing with my teammates who are like family to me and learning the game from Coach Clancy,” Bartley said.

My Message For Saluki Fans Is:

“I want to thank you for all of your support throughout the years,” Bartley said.

My Plans After Graduation Are:

“After I leave SIU, I plan to play basketball overseas for as long as I can and then enter a career in coaching or sports business,” Bartley said.

Saying goodbye to these seniors will be very hard for Saluki Nation and while the group is  thankful to SIU fans for their support, these fans should also be thanking these players for the effort, excitement, and entertainment they brought into the arena every time they played. Thank you seniors and good luck.

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois 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