Nov. 10, 2011
By Tyler Wooten
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University opens its men's basketball season with a non-conference game versus Ohio Dominican at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Veterans of Foreign Wars members can purchase upper level bleacher tickets for $5 at the SIU Arena ticket office by showing their VFW card.
Head coach Chris Lowery met with the media prior to his team's practice on Thursday afternoon.
Q: "How happy have you been with your players' dedication this year?"
"We're very pleased with how serious they're taking everything. That's what you want as a coach. The good thing about it is that they are really impressed with the history of this place, and they obviously want to make a new history right now, moving forward."
Q: "What do you think they do well?"
"We do a good job of taking what we do in practice and actually putting it against somebody else. They play very hard, I think that's the number one thing that we do well, and probably the most significant thing more so than anything else. I think at this point, transition has been very good for us, we've guarded the ball pretty good, and we've done a good job of sharing the ball."
Q: "Could you see yourself playing a 12-man rotation?"
"That's probably too many, but if we play hard like we have, we can play nine or 10. We played nine or 10 in every game in 2007, so just having that privilege is really good. When you play hard, guys get tired. We've played a couple guys to exhaustion several times, and that's a good sign for us."
Q: "How happy are you to see that effort out there?"
"I think it's good because that's what this thing is built on. The things we've taught every year are still the same. Now, this group understands it and responds to it. The number one thing all along has been that they've allowed us to get them in great shape, and it's shown in how we've played and how we transition and how we guard people. Those things are paramount when you talk about getting ready for a season."
Q: "Do you expect to see a lot of transition?"
"I think you will. We play full court every possession, so we obviously press every possession, it just depends on how they deal with it. Somebody is going to get guarded full court every time they bring it up, and what we do from that, whether we trap them, is depending on what they do. And you'll see us continue to get into transition because of the defense, not just because we're going to push it and let them score. Our defense is going to dictate how much transition we get."
Q: "Are you okay with turnovers and sloppy play as long as they are giving 100 percent?"
"No. Our first game we had eight new guys, and their turnovers were from being a little bit too fast, a little bit this, a little bit that. They weren't because we weren't good enough to take care of the ball or that we weren't good enough to make that play that we tried to make. Our turnovers now have been over-dribbling and being too aggressive and taking what we say literally too much. They listen extremely well - if we say something they're going to try to do it to their fullest extent. And sometimes when the defense responds to that you have to change."
Q: "How has T.J. (Lindsay) played thus far?"
"I think T.J. has been great at this point. He's kind of held back a bit. He hasn't played as well as we think he could play, just because he's trying to learn, and I think in the second half he played how we expected him to play. He can really push the basketball, he can make decisions, he can guard, he can make shots. Those are things he has to have a comfort level and continuously feel good about himself. The first game he had foul trouble and he didn't get to play that much, and in the second game he got to show what he can do. It's another game, it's another opportunity to see how he responds."
Q: "What is Antonio Bryer's status?"
"I don't know, he has not practiced since his surgery. He's still out and right now we're not rushing it because we don't have to. We want him 100 percent healthy before we play him in a game."
Q: Can you give an update on all the injuries and suspensions?"
"He (Bryer) just has the groin surgery, so it's just a week-to-week deal. The doctor said 10 days, and now it's past that. Diamond (Taylor) is off his suspension, he will be eligible to play this game. As far as everybody else it's the same scenario."
Q: "Have you heard anything about Desmar (Jackson)'s NCAA appeal?"
"No, we have not."
Q: "Do you have any idea how many games Kendal (Brown-Surles) might miss?"
"No, we don't at his point, and I'll just leave it at that. Hopefully it works out. We're glad to have Diamond, now we have six guards, and maybe some of those turnovers will come down from some guys not playing as much."
Q: "Are you wearing black jerseys?"
"Yeah, we're wearing black this weekend on the same lines as the football team, it will carry over into our game."
Q: "You signed two new recruits yesterday - are you happy to get them secured?"
"Yeah, it's great. I try not to call him Bobo all the time - it's Antonio (Drummond) - he's a good player. And we signed Travis (Wilkins), and he's a dead-eye shooter that we desperately needed. He's a great shooter, a really hard-nosed, tough kid. He's older, he's married, he has a 4.0 GPA, he's a great student-athlete. The thing that is impressive is that he's had several games where he's had six, seven or eight threes, and I don't care if you're open or not, that's not a fluke when you continuously do that."
Q: "Do you feel with this season you have a 'fresh start?'"
"We already had a fresh start when we signed these kids. I think that was the key - fresh start started from within. Obviously, each season is a new season. If you've watched us play you can already tell it's a fresh start because you see guys doing stuff in our uniform that they haven't done in two years. It's a fresh start, but it's about getting them playing time and really about getting better. These guys have shown that that's not gonna be a problem. Probably more so than anything will be the experience factor."
Q: "Can you talk about Ohio Dominican?"
"We saw them on tape last year, and we assume that they're gonna be better than what they were last year because they return four starters. As far as that, we're really worried about preparing ourselves and just going forward with the day-to-day stuff."