Random thoughts from a busy Saturday of Saluki Athletics

    Along with Anthony Beane, Desmar Jackson did not start tonight's men's basketball game.

    Along with Anthony Beane, Desmar Jackson did not start tonight's men's basketball game.

    Nov. 10, 2013

    By Tom Weber

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - It was a busy day for Saluki Athletics with a football-men's basketball double-header on Saturday.

    1. You have to feel for the Saluki football team after today's loss to Missouri State likely knocks them out of playoff contention. When you think about some of the close losses they sustained this year, a play here or there could have made all the difference. They were stopped at the 3 yard line in a touchdown loss to Illinois. They fell in double overtime to Eastern Illinois. They blew a two-touchdown lead and lost by one to Youngstown State.

    2. The season-ending injury to senior quarterback Kory Faulkner was a crushing blow for this team. Not only was he playing super football, but he was the leader that everyone rallied around. Although redshirt freshman Ryan West certainly played respectably, this was a different team with West at the helm.

    3. After watching the defense surrender nearly 350 yards in the first half today, it's clear that Southern is not playing playoff-caliber defense in the second half of the season. Bubba Schweigert's defense is predicated upon pressuring the quarterback, and SIU just doesn't have the personnel in its front seven it had a year ago, when the defense was dominant.

    4. Shifting gears to men's basketball, it was quite an interesting evening, considering it was just an exhibition game. Desmar Jackson and Anthony Beane were benched for taking the court a few minutes late during pre-game. Coach Hinson was agitated toward them throughout the game and had harsh words for both players during his press conference. I think he simply wanted to get their attention, because both players need to bring their A-game for this team to win.



    5. Jackson and Beane both look like they have All-Conference potential, especially with the officiating geared to free up players who can drive to the hoop. Everyone else's role on this team is much less clear.

    6. Let's begin at point guard. Sophomore transfer Marcus Fillyaw started both games but has yet to record an assist. He did pick up nine fouls. Hinson has described Fillyaw's game as "vanilla," but said he's done a good job of taking care of the ball (only one turnover). True freshman K.C Goodwin hasn't scored in two games. Tyler Smithpeters isn't a true point guard, but he has played there some and hasn't looked out of place.

    7. Ideally, I think they'd like to redshirt Smithpeters, who is a 170-pound freshman. They think his body isn't ready for a long Division I season. After tonight's game, however, Hinson said he may not reshirt anyone. Hinson is concerned about the tight officiating and the potential need for three point guards.

    8. You have to feel good about what Davante Drinkard has done in the exhibitions. He's a big, strong, legit 6-9 and 245 pounds, and his feet, which have given him so much trouble in the past, are fully healthy. He averages just two points during his career, but Drinkard may finally be coming into his own as a productive Division I player.

    9. They will need a solid year from Drinkard, because his backup, redshirt freshman Bola Olaniyan is not ready. After a rough outing in the first exhibition, Olaniyan didn't play tonight and Hinson said the 6-foot-7 forward will not be in the rotation any time soon. That means 6-foot-6 Bronson Verhines will see time at the five spot.

    10. It also means that versatile 6-foot-2 guard Jalen Pendleton is moving to the hybrid four spot, which was so effectively manned by the 6-foot-1 Jeff Early a year ago. Yes, the Salukis will be playing small-ball again this year.

    11. Sean O'Brien had a nice game with 13 points against William Jewell. The 6-foot-6 freshman has an excellent feel for the game and figures to play a prominent role on this year's team. However, Hinson said right now O'Brien is the team's worst defensive player. He has struggled to contain the smaller, quicker players he's had to guard in the exhibition games.

    12. SIU was 3-for-22 from 3-point range in its two exhibition games. Before the season started, Hinson thought his team would be better from long range than last year's club, which shot 32-percent from three. Two of the players he was expecting to help improve the team's shooting were JUCO transfers Mike Balogun and Hunter Gibson. Neither one appears to be in the playing rotation at this point, however.