Feb. 4, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (8-13, 1-10) hosts Wichita State (19-4, 8-3) in a men's basketball game on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at SIU Arena.
After losing two games last week, the Shockers dropped out of this week's Associated Press Top 25, but checked in at No. 22 in the Coaches poll.
The Salukis have lost six-straight games, but played one of their best games of the season on Jan. 9 at Wichita. In that game, SIU led by as many as 11 points before a late rally gave the Shockers a six-point win.
No. 23 Wichita State holds on for 82-76 win over Men's Basketball
Southern Illinois bloodied the nose of No. 23 Wichita State, but could not deliver the knockout punch as the Shockers escaped with an 82-76 victory in a wild one at sold-out Koch Arena on Wednesday night.
Does it seem like you always get the top-tier teams when they're on losing streaks?
Isn't today Groundhog Day? I swear I'm Bill Murray when these top-20 teams get beat, and then they come into our building. That's just part of what's going on this year with our season, and I think we just have to deal with it.
Will you take a small-ball approach against them again? You had success against them last time.
Certainly, Whitey Herzog would be proud of us, but we take a small-ball approach because that's all we've got. It's kind of one of those deals that you're forced into. It's kind of like my wife, why did she date me? I was one of the very few guys in Marlow that any type of personality. It certainly wasn't based on looks, I can promise you that. When the pool is not very large, you do what you have to do.
(Cleanthony) Early had 39 points that night and shot out of his mind. Do things change for you? How do you try to defend him differently tomorrow night?
Yeah, there's some things we can do different. Obviously, the second time around that you watch these guys play and you see enough film on them, I think there are things we can do differently, as far as defense goes. Offensive, right now, is our biggest challenge. We have to find a way to get the ball in the basket. Right now we have virtually no shot at putting the ball in the basket on the interior. We are not scoring inside the paint at all. That's been our biggest challenge. We're limited to jump shots, but we're the worst shooting team in the Valley. When we're limited to jump shots, it's magnified for us right now.
What's up with Dantiel (Daniels) right now?
I wish I knew the answer to that one, guys, I really do. I'll say this in his defense, I think the majority of it goes back to the injuries. He just has no explosiveness whatsoever. With the groin and the ankle, he just can't explode. He's had three shots blocked here recently where they guys blocked him and they didn't jump in the air, so you know there's something going on. When you get your shot blocked and you don't jump in the air, and you're the only big guy that we've got, then obviously that causes you some problems. The biggest stat that I'm concerned about, along with the inability for us to score inside, is right now he's gotta get rebounds. We just can't anchor our rebounding on 6-1 and 6-2 guys. Our 6-5 guys have to rebound for us.
Will your guys draw confidence between the first meeting between the teams?
I think so. I hope so. Right now I think, and you guys are getting tired of me saying this, but we're extremely fragile right now with our confidence. But at the same time, I'm not fragile. I'm frustrated but I'm not fragile, and I think there's a big difference. Hey, we had a heck of a practice yesterday. I think that goes back to how we make our mind up about what we're going to do and how we're going to approach each day. I told you last week that it's a matter of choice, how we attack each day, whether we attack with a negative approach or a positive, and I won't make apologies for it and I won't ask forgiveness, but I'm going to be positive. I'm going to draw on the fact that we've done some good things. Hey, we played great for 28 minutes (at Illinois State). We really did. We played really good for 28 minutes at Illinois State. The frustrating thing is that after those 28 minutes, we lost focus. We weren't mature enough or strong enough or responsible enough to get through the hardest part of the game. Right now, when we get to hard, we kind of stop and quit, and we have to get through that.
Early in the season, you said you were trying to get a couple technicals on purpose. Were you trying to get those technicals at Illinois State?
It was an Ernie Banks moment. It was so pretty, why not get two? I was so mad that while I was out there, I thought, 'Well, I got one. Why not get the other one?' I deserved it. There's no doubt in my mind that I deserved it, but at the same time, I'd do it all again. I'd do it exactly the same way I did it. After I saw the call, even on the way back watching the film on the laptop, I was even more upset after seeing the call, and I would have reacted the exact same way.
How different are teams playing guys like Jeff (Early), Anthony (Beane), and Desmar (Jackson) the second time around that you've played them?
I think any time you play someone time around you see what to do, what not to do, and how to guard them. Everybody's backing off of Anthony right now and just seeing him make jump shots. Everybody's backing off of Desmar. That's why I think he shot 26 percent from the threes. There going to give you that shot. If you notice, everybody says we want you to drive and drive the basketball more. Well, we can't drive. There's five guys within five feet and they're painted at all times. I mean everybody is making us shoot jump shots, and that's how I'd play us. Wichita State is going to zone us a bunch, and we know this. We'd better get ready for zone offense because everybody right now is challenging us. We are own worst enemy. We shoot the ball so fast. We shoot it so quick that we don't give time for movement. For example, in the last five minutes of the game against Illinois State we barely averaged over one pass per possession. I mean, we just panicked and started jacking from theoutside and that's the worst thing you can do at that time.
The last two teams that have played Wichita have sunken in and gave them room to shoot a little bit. Do you have to try that tomorrow because they struggled against the 2-3 zone recently?
Well for us, we've been backing off of guys, and backing off as much as possible. What other teams have done is great, but when they're backing off, they are backing off with 6-9, 6-10 and 6-11. Were backing off with 6-1 and 6-2, so when the shot is missed, sometimes that can be Wichita's best offense. They can take the shot and get the offensive rebound. We don't have the same weapons that everyone else has. So backing off of Wichita won't matter, because were blocking 6-11 or 7-0 guys with 6-2. That is just really difficult for us.
Does your defense have to get significantly better in order to get that next Valley win?
Actually, we got a lot better at Illinois State. If you look at our defensive numbers, they were pretty impressive. We played really well defensively, which surprised me because it was our best defensive numbers of the year. Right now, it is not just our defense, it is our offense that is putting us in a predicament. Every seven out of 10 trips down the floor, we're running back in a missed shot situation trying to find guys. Only three times out of 10 can we set up and actually guard someone, and we do a pretty good job. We've got to find a way to get the ball in the basket. The other thing that offense does for you is it increases confidence and energy. Right now, we don't have any confidence on either side of the ball offensively or defensively. We've got to find a way to get that.
Is Davante (Drinkard) going to be ready for the game tomorrow?
I hope so. I don't know if it will be a game-time decision. He did not practice yesterday, although we anticipate that he will practice today, but there is no guarantee. If he does play, he won't go for too long because he hasn't practiced in five days.
What is the biggest positive with the team right now?
I think the biggest positive is that our players come to work every day. It would be like working for a corporation that is in sales, and you aren't making any sales. You've gone 11-straight days and you haven't made one sale, but the boss is still coming in excited. They are still having sales meetings, and they're figuring out a way to get the product out there. That's what we're doing, and our guys have responded to that. These are my players. They aren't someone else's players. I get tired when people say that it will be different when I get my players in here. These are my players, and I don't care who has coached them in the past or who recruited them. These are my players, and they mean a lot to me. The positive side is that I like them and they like me. We're trying to get better every single day, and we're going to continue that trend. We will not give up. I'm not going to do that. I'm sorry, I got kicked out of the ball game the other day for 40 seconds for protecting a walk on football player. Calvin (Belts) is a part of our family and it is my right to protect him. It's our right to protect our team. I think it is our right to fight for our program. It's been 32 years guys, and I've never been thrown out of a ball game, but I deserved it. I would do it all over again because it was the right thing to do. I got a little Seabiscut in me. I'm short and small but I'll tell you what, I've got some fight in me. When we walk out on the floor tomorrow, we're going to do everything we can do to beat Wichita State. I know they are in the top 20. I know they've been beaten two games in a row, but what I'm not going to do is walk in the middle of the court and lay down. I just won't do that.