Switch to hybrid forward position is paying off for Josh Swan




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    Feb 5, 2013

    By Tom Weber
    SIUSalukis.com

    CARBONDALE, IL - When Saluki head coach Barry Hinson approached Josh Swan last fall about playing the hybrid forward position, the sophomore guard had serious reservations.

    "The first thing I thought was, I'm 6-1, and you want me to play down there with guys who average 6-7 to 7-feet?" Swan said. "I was shocked, but he came to me with a lot of faith and confidence I could do it."

    It took some time for Swan to adapt to the position switch. In the first 11 games of the season, he shot just 35 percent and didn't record a field goal in five of the games. In the 11 conference outings, he's shooting 51 percent and has been one of SIU's most consistent players, scoring at a clip of about six points per game.

    "I'm taking a lot better shots now and really starting to buy-in to the hybrid position," he explained. "In different drills in practice, Coach Hinson explained to me what the right shot is."

    While his teammates have been taking a hefty amount of 3-point shots lately -- 51 in just the last two games -- Swan hasn't attempted a 3-pointer since the Dec. 20 game at UC-Davis.

    "It's been a personal choice," he said. "A lot of times I'm open from 3-point when I first catch it. It's not necessarily a good shot or a rhythm shot. I'll take a layup over a 3-point shot any day."

    The biggest challenge for the Atlanta native is on defense, where he typically gives up at least seven inches in height and 50 pounds in weight. He's devised a strategy to offset his lack of size.

    Josh Swan is shooting 51 percent against MVC opponents.

    "I'm starting to realize I can use my quickness to get around them and get steals," he said. "The big guys are so used to being able to feel somebody and post them up, and if I can get around and not let them get ahold of me, that's going to throw their post-up game off."

     

     

    While he may be at a disadvantage on defense, Swan feels he has the upper hand on offense against a bigger, often slower opponent. He attacks the rim, takes high percentage shots from close range, and ranks among the team leaders in free throw attempts in conference games. Swan has played so well recently that he's started three-straight games and is averaging nearly 10 points per game as a starter.

    Even with his success, Swan doesn't foresee himself staying at the forward position next year.

    "I see myself going back to the 2 or 3," he said. "I think when I get back, I'll have a better appreciation for the post players as well as the guards, and bring that physical play that I got from the post."

    The season has been bittersweet for Swan. Although he's playing the best basketball of his Saluki career, the tight-knit group of freshmen who arrived on campus last season has dwindled in numbers from five to two. Treg Setty and Harry Whitt left during the off-season, and Swan's roommate, Antonio Bryer, left the team in January. Swan and Dantiel Daniels are the only ones who remain from a group that appeared to be the future of the program just a year ago.

    "Last year, the five of us talked about how we were going to bring back Saluki Basketball," he recalled. "I was really close to all three of them who had to leave, but sometimes things happen and you have to roll with it. I still keep in touch with all three of those guys on an almost daily basis."

    Off the court, school is going so well for Swan that he has mapped out a plan to get his degree in economics in just three years. He has a 3.3 GPA and hopes to complete graduate school while still on scholarship at SIU. He already has bold plans for his post-basketball career.

    "I've been talking to my dad about starting a foundation for kids in the Atlanta area," he explained. "When I was in high school, I did a lot of inner-city program work. We taught kids math and English and got to bring them around sports. I found it very fulfilling, and I want to take my business sense and apply it to helping kids."

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