Men's Basketball welcomes No. 7-ranked Wichita State on Thursday

    Tom Hankins

    Tom Hankins
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    Dec. 31, 2013

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (4-9) hosts No. 7 Wichita State (13-0) in the Missouri Valley Conference season opener for both schools on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. The Shockers are the highest ranked team to play at SIU Arena since Larry Bird's No. 2-ranked Indiana State team beat SIU, 69-68, on Feb. 15, 1979.

    The last time Southern faced a top 10 opponent was against No. 8 Purdue on Nov. 26, 2010 at the Chicago Invitational. The Salukis have beaten top 10 teams twice before, defeating No. 5 Wichita State on Dec. 20, 1965 and No. 2 Louisville on Jan. 11, 1967.

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    Wichita State (13-0) at Southern Illinois (4-9)
     Date Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014
     Time 7:05 p.m. CT
     Location Carbondale, Ill. -SIU Arena
     Radio Saluki Sports Network
     TV ESPN3, Scott Warmann, Kevin Lehman
     Video Stream ESPN3
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Gametracker
     Social Media @SIU_Basketball

    Associate head coach Tom Hankins press conference transcript.

    Was Coach Hinson back at practice today?

    He got here just in time for practice. The guys were really happy to see him. I think it was good for him to get back with the guys and get in the gym and back to doing what he enjoys doing. We didn't think he was coming back until tomorrow. He's just at a point where he needed to get back in the gym, so he got back early.

    How different is Wichita from last year?

    They're as good if not better. Before the season, when I talked to people who went and watched them work out, they all thought they were more talented this year than last year. They have two potential NBA guys in the starting five. They're really good and solid one through 12.

    How much does beating them last year help the team's confidence?

    I think it helps quite a bit knowing that on any given night in college basketball a top 10 team can get beat. Especially in Valley play on the road, it's so difficult to win road games. Our guys believe they can pull one off.

    What was it about last year that we played them so tough?

    We had to play a small lineup all the time, and last year (the Shockers) were a more traditional lineup with a power forward and a center, so Jeff Early gave them problems. Their weakness, if they had one last year, was guarding dribble penetration. Some teams you match up well with, and we just happened to match up pretty well with those guys. We played them great here and T.J. Lindsay had a fantastic game and just caught fire and threw in a bunch of threes, which is what it takes to pull an upset. Even there, where we had a nine-point lead at halftime, Jeff Early was making shots that he doesn't normally make. He was on fire. Hopefully, playing a top 10 team in the country, that will bring something out in somebody again Thursday night.

    They are in the top 50 in rebounding, how important is that?

    It's just a team effort -- we have to do a great job of blocking out. We have to do a great job of shot selection. If we take bad shots or forced shots, they're great at defending and rebounding. For us to get great shots, it's going to take great execution and concentration, and we really have to work the ball and take great shots. Defensively, you just have to block out and fight.

    Who do you look to take away from Wichita's lineup?

    I think they've had five or six guys lead them in scoring, so when you do a scouting report on these guys, there's really not one guy you try to take away. Their two best players are (Cleanthony) Early and (Ron) Baker, and you do try to take those guys away, but there's not anything you can just give up. You have to have a solid effort from everybody on everybody.

    Have the Missouri and Saint Louis games prepared you for this game?

    Yeah, playing those high-level teams definitely helped us get ready for these guys. However, neither one of those teams -- Mizzou's talented, but they're not as deep as these guys. It's a different animal than what we've seen.

    What do you think of the talk of Wichita going 18-0 in the league?

    If anybody can do it, they're the ones who could do it. They're so talented they could make that run. Traditionally, looking at the Valley and talking to Coach (Anthony) Beane who has been in the league a long time, it's just so difficult. There's always a slip up on the road by great teams once or twice each year in the Valley. I think it's going to be very difficult.

    How do you win close ballgames?

    We continue to talk about being able to get stops defensively late in the game. In order to be able to win on the road, that's what it takes. We had a four-point lead the other night, and we're one stop and a rebound away from them having to foul us and putting them behind the 8-ball.

    Is it toughness or execution?

    Both. We have gotten tougher. We strung together more stops at Miami of Ohio than we have all year, but we just didn't do it when we needed it the most.

     

     

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