As part of my tour of southern Indiana and southern Illinois, I stopped by Saluki coach Chris Lowery’s news conference today. SIU is feeling good about its progress in recent weeks. SIU started with playing with a full roster in Hawaii in late December and the consistency and depth showed up in wins over Illinois State and Bradley.
Lowery liked the way SIU played the Shockers last season, splitting two games. In Wichita, SIU controlled the tempo in a 56-53 win. He wants the Salukis to play patient on offense and not take quick shots, keeping the Shockers from running. He is also concerned about rebounding. “You have to muddy the game up, you can’t let it be a free flowing game, or they will score 100 on you,” Lowery said. “They are capable of scoring in bunches. Athletically, they are as good as anyone in the conference. We understand it has to be a one-shot limitation for them.”Lowery has used 10 starting lineups in 14 games as he sifted through academic issues and health problems. With everybody back, he can play Mamadou Seck at forward, his natural position. Early in the season, Seck had to play in the post. Freed from that responsibility, Seck can handle the ball more and it’s hard for teams to swarm him with defenders on the perimeter. “(WSU) will be physical with him,” Lowery said. “You have to match his energy. If you do that, then you have a chance to cancel him out.”WSU forward Carl Hall’s rebounding impresses Lowery. “They’ve allowed him to do what he does well and not ask him to do more than that,” Lowery said. “That’s why he’s having success. They run plays through the older guys who understand what they’re doing, and he’s the cleanup guy.”SIU is 2-1 in the MVC for the third straight season with a home game on tap. The two previous seasons, SIU lost to Creighton in overtime last season and finished 5-13 in the MVC. Two seasons ago, it lost to Northern Iowa and finished 6-12. “Our seasons have changed from that point on,” Lowery said. “Being ready to play in the fourth game, and being able to play at home is the most important thing for us.”