Jan. 12, 2012
By Tyler Wooten
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (5-11, 2-3) hosts Indiana State (11-5, 2-3) in a Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball matchup at 7:05 p.m. on Friday.
All military personal, veterans and family members can purchase discounted tickets to the game for $10. Tickets may be purchased in advance or on the day of the game. Military identification (Military ID, DD214, service photo) is required to receive the discount.
Head coach Chris Lowery took questions from the media prior to Thursday's practice at SIU Arena.
Q: "What sticks out when you watch Indiana State?"
"Jake Odum is the driving force behind everything they're doing. I think they're missing Aaron Carter a lot more than what they thought. Last year, he had a great finish and played great in the conference tournament. I think they're still as good as anybody in the league. They're still really dangerous because of Odum and he can do so many different things from the point guard position."
Q: "Dwayne Lathan has had a pretty good start this year..."
"He's only started two or three games for them. He's like their instant offense off the bench. He did start against Evansville, but he's a guy who's athletic as anybody in the league. He can get to the basket and he's obviously hurt us in the past."
Q: "Why do you think you guys have started off slow in the last couple games?"
"I have no idea -- I can't explain that. The thing is, in past years we've laid down when we were down 20. Now, we have a lot of fight in us. I think we just have to find the right mix of guys at the right time and finding who's ready to play early has been tough, especially with some of the new guys."
Q: "Is it time to put (Jeff) Early into the starting lineup?"
"I think it is. Jeff is obviously our motor. In both of those big comebacks he was a big part of everything we were doing. Treg (Setty) has struggled, and he's a freshman. I keep saying those guys have been up and down all along, but they're going to be really good players because they're getting a chance to play in the mix of tough situations. Jeff has definitely earned moving into the lineup just because of how hard he does play."
"Yeah, we're going to start him."
Q: "Is the three-guard something you can use against Indiana State?"
"Hopefully. They have (Jordan) Printy, who's obviously a great 3-point shooter, and Odum, and then it just depends who they start at that other guard spot. Myles Walker is definitely still a tough matchup because he's so big and strong. It just depends on how they want to start."
Q: "In the last few games you've gotten down early but come back, yet you've been unable to keep going and get over the hump. Can you talk about what factors into that?"
"We're playing those younger guys and newer guys because they're playing the hardest, with the exception of Mamadou (Seck), obviously. He's had a great senior year to this point, and he's done everything possible to help us win games. We just have to get leadership from somewhere else. Kendal Brown-Surles is definitely a guy who's stepping up and playing pretty well at this point. We would rather be 5-0, but 2-3, we'll take it right now, especially with having the opportunity to play at home."
Q: "Is it a situation where you use so much energy to get back into the game where you run out by the end?"
"Definitely. What we did at Missouri State was much more special than what we did against Wichita at home. That comeback -- which was triggered by Harry Whitt -- there was a 15-6 run when he was in and he was phenomenal during that stretch. Turnovers killed us, but we were tired. We exerted so much energy at the start of that half, and we make mistakes when we're tired. We have to do a better ob of getting guys out when they make those runs like that. In the same instance, we got there because of it, and you still want to reward them at the same time. We're resilient. I keep saying that, but we don't hang our hats when things go wrong -- we play hard. Now, we just have to be a little smarter in those situations."
Q: "Do you think you'll use Harry (Whitt) more?"
"I think he's earned a right to (play more). Harry's been patient, he's worked extremely hard. He hadn't played, and when we need him to plug him into a situation, he comes up big. He's definitely earned a right to be considered in the rotation. And that's the good thing about a team, whenever a guy fails, another guy steps forward to make it better for us."
Q: "Is it a priority for the team to set a solid rotation?"
"It definitely is because we want know who's going to be the starters and know who we're going to play. But, we haven't figured that out yet, as a staff and as a team. We'd love to have Justin (Bocot) and Mamadou be the guys and everybody fall in behind them, but Justin's had a tough year, on and off the court, and he's struggled shooting the basketball, and I think it has affected his play, all the stuff he's gone through this year. We need him to come back, but if not, the other guys that have stepped forward are really playing hard."
Q: "Do you think you've done everything you can to motivate Justin and Diamond (Taylor), and that it has to come intrinsically from them now?"
"With Justin, it's just that he's struggled. I don't know how to put it. That's a tough thing to deal with your senior year. Some of it is self-inflicted, and some of it is other guys are playing well and we just have to let them play. Diamond has just struggled to physically get going at the rate the other guys are going at right now. Guys are buzzing around playing really hard, and he has to raise his level to get to the level where they're playing."