Dec. 28, 2011
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (3-8) will travel to Evansville (5-5) for a Thursday night men's basketball game at 7 p.m. in the 113th meeting all-time between the league schools.
The Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams will be televised live on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Indiana, FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX College Sports, ESPN3 (outside the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska), DirecTV (Channel 671), Dish Network (Channel 418) and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 748).
Head coach Chris Lowery fielded questions from the media prior to Wednesday's practice at Davies Gym.
Talk about your team heading into Valley play.
We're looking forward to going into league play. It's the second season, a season we're excited about. Evansville is 5-5, and I know they thought they'd be better than that, with mostly juniors and seniors on the team. A new arena, having a chance to go back home is something I look forward to, too.
Do you have a sense of what the arena does for them?
I have no idea because I haven't been in it. Just watching it on tape, I know they've lost some games at home. When you move into a new place, it takes time to really make it your own. For us, we have to go there and play hard and continue to shoot the ball and put up some decent numbers offensively. We need to guard better, giving up over 80 points is something we need to come down from, coming back from Hawaii.
What has improved offensively?
We had more assists, which comes from making shots. When you have low assists, you're usually not shooting the ball very well. We created good shots for teammates and made better decisions with the ball.
As good as (Mamadou) Seck and Dantiel (Daniels) played recently, do you need a guard to score in double figures?
I think so, but we have more guys from 7-to-9 points from the guard spot. That's much better than having nobody. It comes from the guards taking better shots and being set up by the other guards.
We're waiting for it. He's been very good at the other stuff, and that's what's so frustrating for us. His IQ is high, he plays extremely hard, he's and effort-hustle guy, he just hasn't made shots. As a freshman, sometimes it's hard to get out of the mental funk of making a shot as opposed to doing the other stuff that he's done pretty well.
It seems like he's taking better shots lately.
That has to do with Kendal (Brown-Surles) being back, too. Now, (Josh) is not playing the point and not knowing what to do at times. He very rarely plays the point for us now, but he can still guard 1s and 2s and 3s for us. His versatility on the other stuff is a pleasant surprise. We want him to have the confidence to take good shots and make shots.
Evansville is forcing 18 turnovers per game, is there something they're doing better this year?
I think they're older, and defensively, they're better. They're playing smaller, playing 6-6 and 6-8 (in the front court). Sometimes they play a 6-3 four-man quite a bit now that Jordan Jahr broke his foot and is out for the rest of the season. They're very different, they're able to put a little more pressure on the ball, they do a great job of helping away from the ball.
Colt Ryan has scored but hasn't shot well against you guys.
The thing with him is we try to put bigger guys on him and try to switch different things. He hasn't forced a lot of shots against us, either. His patience has been pretty good. We allowed him to get going during the second half there last year, he really had a break-out game with 23-24 at Evansville. He really got going and that's how they got away from us.
How do you compete in an older league when you have so many newcomers?
We just have to be consistent. We worked very hard to get to this point. We've had guys missing, but that hasn't been an excuse. That's why we're going to continue to make strides, because we've worked really hard to get better at our weakness. We're going to continue to get better.