March 10, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, IL - The MVC Tournament has come and gone (congrats to Creighton and Wichita State), and if you're a Saluki fan, it's not too soon to start thinking about next year. While the roster situation will undoubtedly change between now and next fall, here's how the roster for 2013-14 currently shapes up, as of early March.
5: Dantiel Daniels, Davante Drinkard, Bola Olaniyan, Jordan Martin 4: Josh Swan, Jalen Pendleton, Chase Heins 3: Desmar Jackson, Diamond Taylor, Sean O'Brien 2: Anthony Beane, Mike Balogun, Hunter Gibson 1: KC Goodwin (Walk-ons: Colby Long, Ryan Bonifield, Calvin Belts)
1. The first thing you might notice is that there are currently 14 names and only 13 scholarships available. Plus, Coach Hinson has recently mentioned a desire to sign a JUCO player or two this spring to further supplement the roster. So, at least one name will not make it through to next year.
3. The two most glaring holes in Southern's lineup for next year are at point guard and the four spot. Hinson is uncomfortable with the idea of turning his offense over to a true freshman, such as Goodwin. Point guard is a likely target for SIU's spring recruiting.
4. Likewise, the Salukis are thin at the four. They have been blessed with an abundance of talent at that position over the past 10-15 years, with guys like Jermaine Dearman, Matt Shaw, Carlton Fay and Mamadou Seck. Right now, they simply don't have a big-bodied player who can step out and make a jump shot.
5. Yes, Southern could continue to utilize an undersized "hybrid" at the four, such as Swan or Pendleton, but that should really be considered a stop-gap measure. Just about every team in the league has a four-man who can play inside and outside, and SIU needs to either recruit one or develop one from the existing roster.
6. The Salukis need better production out of the five spot next year. After a solid freshman campaign, Daniels was not as effective during his sophomore season, averaging 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in conference play. He must get better at the free throw line, too, where he shot 38 percent in MVC games. Perhaps it was a sophomore slump, in part due to an accumulation of injuries. Drinkard will be a senior next year and it's not reasonable to expect him to score more than the 1.9 points he averaged this past season. The coaches are high on Olaniyan, but there will be a learning curve for the redshirt freshman, who has just two years of competitive basketball under his belt.
7. Jackson said last week he expects to return, and Hinson said he expects every player on this year's team to return, so pencil Jackson in as the team's leading scorer again next year. He will be a marked man, for sure, having scored more than 1,200 points in his college career. Jackson seemed to wear down a bit toward the end of the season, and he needs to have a great off-season in the weight room. If he does, the fifth-year senior will be one of the league's best players.
8. Whenever Hinson talks about his incoming recruiting class, he always has high praise for O'Brien. The incoming freshman from Mundelein High School had an excellent senior year. Standing about 6-foot-6, he's built like a wing guard, and that will likely be his best position in college.
9. Anthony Beane returns as a starter at the two guard, and next year will be a critical one in his development into what everyone hopes will be an All-Conference-type career. I once compared him to former Illinois State guard Osiris Eldridge, who like Beane, averaged about nine points as a true freshman. In Eldridge's sophomore year, he blossomed into a star, averaging 16 points and finishing runner-up for MVC Player of the Year. Could that happen to Beane? He has the talent and work ethic to do it.
10. I have not seen either Balogun or Gibson play, but anytime you bring in JUCO players, you expect them to contribute right away. You can afford to redshirt your freshmen, but JUCOs should factor into the rotation almost immediately.
It's way too soon to make any predictions on what type of season the team will have next year. There is some good talent on the club, yet there are also some holes that must be filled.