January 24, 2001
SALUKIS RETURN HOME TO HOST THREE-GAMER . . . After a tough roadtrip which included losses to Creighton (82-72) and Drake (89-71), Southern Illinois returns home to host its second three-game homestand of the season. The Salukis will start the stand with Indiana State on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7:05 p.m., before facing Illinois State on Saturday, Jan. 27 (4:05 p.m.) and Bradley on Wednesday, Jan. 31 (7:05 p.m.).
JANUARY JINX . . . Despite bringing in the New Year with a 63-62 win over Bradley (Jan. 5), Southern Illinois has run into a cold spell losing its last five games (longest losing streak of season) to post a 1-5 mark in the month of January. Granted, four of the five Saluki losses were to a foursome of MVC powerhouses (Northern Iowa, SW Missouri, Wichita State, Drake), but that doesn't necessarily mean things will get easier as the Dawgs head into Thursday?s duel with Indiana State.
THREE-GAME HOME SERIES COULD BE CRUCIAL . . . If the conference season were to end today, SIU would not make the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament due to what happened this past week. Last Saturday, Bradley defeated Wichita State (73-71) and as a result, knocked the Salukis down to ninth place in the league standings. Although there are three teams tied with 1-6 records (Bradley, SIU, Illinois State), Bradley moved to eighth as its overall record of 6-9 outweighs SIU's mark of 4-12. Indiana State, on the other hand, is 2-5 in the conference which makes tomorrow's game with the Sycamores as well as each of the two other home games very crucial.
LOOKING TO IMPROVE AT SIU ARENA . . . SIU should look forward to its up-coming three-game homestand for it will give the Salukis an opportunity to get some more slashes in the win column on their own homecourt. In 16 games this season, the Salukis are a mere 1-5 at SIU Arena as their only home win of the season came against Tennessee-Martin (74-67) on December 19, 2000.
SALUKI REWIND . . . Drake University scored on its first nine possessions of the second half en route to a 89-71 victory over Southern Illinois last Saturday in Missouri Valley Conference action at Drake Knapp Center. Trailing 10-7 five minutes and five seconds into the first half, SIU scored seven points off three Drake turnovers to build a 7-0 run which gave the Salukis their biggest lead at 14-10. That was the only time of the game the Dawgs would have a taste of the lead, however, as Drake strung together a 10-0 run which then enabled the Bulldogs to pull away for good and go onto their 89-71 win. Molly McDowell led all Saluki scorers with 16 points as the loss marked the fifth straight SIU has dropped. Also scoring in double figures were the freshmen pair of Angela Tolbert and Tiffany Crutcher along with Terica Hathaway. Tolbert had 14 points, Crutcher pitched in 10, and Hathaway added 12.
STRUGGLING ON THE BOARDS . . . Although the Salukis have overpowered their opponents all season in rebounding, their foes are catching up. Leading just 618-610 in that area, SIU has been out-rebounded in its last five games by a count of 202-167. The Salukis, however, have lost the battle more on the offensive glass where their opponents have a 235-232 lead on the year. Part of that had to do with SIU's matchup at Drake where the Salukis surrendered 24 offensive boards.
THE COACHES . . . Southern Illinois University's Lori Opp (Western Illinois, '88) is in her first season at the helm of the Saluki women's basketball program. Opp (Havana Ill.), who was named head coach in August, spent the last two seasons as the Salukis? assistant coach/recruiting coordinator. Prior to SIU, Opp served as a graduate assistant coach at Western Illinois (1988-90) and an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois (1990-93), Indiana State (1994-95), and Murray State (1995-98). With over 11 years of Division I coaching experience, Opp brings an unlimited amount of knowledge and enthusiasm to this year's squad as she is now the sixth head coach in the program's 41-year history.
Indiana State's Jim Wiedie (Kent State, '88) was named interim head coach of the Sycamores following the departure of six-year head coach Cheryl Reeve. Wiedie officially replaced Reeve upon her resignation December 1. Since taking over at the helm of the Indiana State women's program, Wiedie has compiled a 4-6 record and will direct the Sycamores for the rest of the season. No stranger to the Sycamore program, Wiedie is in his fourth year overall with the team.
SCOUTING THE SYCAMORES . . . Indiana State is coming off a 76-67 victory over Illinois State, and as a result, has moved up to seventh place in the conference with a league mark of 2-5. The win, which snapped a four-game losing skid for the Sycamores, also improved their overall record to 5-11. Senior Kiwana Battle and sophomore Kourtney Mennen top the Sycamores this season as both make up the only two players scoring in double figures on the year. Battle is the team's leading scoring threat averaging 12.3 points, 5.6 rebounds per game while Mennen follows with an average of 11.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Coming on strong as of late, however, is Shameka Robinson who has made her presence known in the eight games she has played in this season. In the past four games alone, Robinson has registered the most steals (15) and assists (17) of any Sycamore. In addition, she also snagged 21 rebounds and scored 36 points. Freshman Celeste Hlebovy thhen gives the Trees someone to go to on the perimeter as she leads the team in three-point shooting connecting on 11-of-25 for 44 percent this season. Additionally, Hlebovy has been a threat at the free throw line where she leads the team with a 27-of-30 display on the year.
SERIES HISTORY VS. INDIANA STATE . . . SIU's duel with the Sycamores first began in 1980. Despite leading the overall series 37-16, the Salukis have fallen victim to Indiana State in the last three-of-four meetings.
ABOUT THE SALUKIS . . . Currently on its longest losing streak of the season at five games, Southern Illinois stands at 4-12 overall and 1-6 in the Valley. After Bradley defeated Wichita State, 73-71, the Salukis fell two spots as they now rank ninth in the league which makes this coming homestand important. Although Molly McDowell (15.1 ppg) and Terica Hathaway (13.1 ppg) lead the Dawgs in scoring, it has been freshmen Angela Tolbert and Tiffany Crutcher who have made some noise lately. Tolbert reached double figures in both of SIU's games last week while averaging 5.5 rebounds and shooting an impressive 61.1 percent from the field. Crutcher, on the other hand, came off the bench to score a career-high 10 points in the Salukis' game at Drake. She was 4-of-6 from the field and a perfect 2-of-2 from the free throw line while pulling down nine rebounds.
SALUKIS TABBED EIGHTH IN THE VALLEY'S PRESEASON POLL . . . Southern Illinois was voted eighth in this year's Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll which is exactly where the Salukis finished last season after its 5-13 performance in league play. SIU received 102 votes to just beat Illinois State (101) for the eighth spot. Southwest Missouri State was picked the league favorite for the second time in the past three years and fourth in the last six to win the conference. Drake, who won the MVC title outright a year ago, was then picked second while Evansville was chosen third rounding out the top three in this year's poll.
TOLBERT SHINES . . . Freshman Angela Tolbert should be applauded for her efforts as of late. Starting in the last five games for the injured Geshla Woodard, Tolbert has scored double figures in three of those five contests. Averaging 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds per game this season, Tolbert most recently scored 32 points on 11-of-18 (.611) from the field and 10-of-11 (.909) from the free throw line. In addition, her 18 point performance against Creighton was a season high.
GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY . . . Sophomore Molly McDowell has been on fire for the Salukis as of late posting back-to-back career marks in two of the Salukis' last four games. Against nationally-ranked SW Missouri, McDowell shot 10-of-20 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line for a career-high 28 points. She then turned around two nights later and connected on 6-of-13 from the field and 17-of-19 from the foul line to score another career-high 29 points against Wichita State. In SIU's latest venture versus Drake, however, McDowell scored 16 points on 4-of-10 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
STREAKIN' . . . SIU's two leading scorers in Molly McDowell and Terica Hathaway are currently on double-figure scoring streaks. McDowell, who has posted double digits in points in all but two games this season, has scored 10 or more in 10 straight games while averaging 15.1 per contest. As for Hathaway, she has missed double figures in just two games as well and has pitched in 10 or more points in six consecutive games.
1,000 AND COUNTING . . . After clearing the 1,000-point plateau in SIU?s 63-62 win over Bradley, senior Terica Hathaway is still going as her 209 points this season list second on the team. Sporting a three-year total of 877 points prior to this season, Hathaway now stands with 1,086 points in her career.
GIVE IT UP FOR THE ROOKIE . . . Freshman Tiffany Crutcher came off the bench to score a season-high 10 points in the Salukis' latest loss to Drake. Crutcher, a native of Bolingbrook, Ill., was 4-of-6 from the field and a perfect 2-of-2 from the free throw line while grabbing nine rebounds. Additionally, Crutcher's 10 points marked both a season high as well as the first time this season she has scored in double figures.
ON THE REBOUND . . . Southern Illinois holds a 618-610 advantage over its opponents in rebounding this season. Averaging 38.6 rebounds per game, the Salukis have garnered the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding offense on four occasions this season.
TALE OF TWO HALVES . . . Southern Illinois is currenlty being outscored by its opponents in both the first and second halves. In 16 games, the Salukis have been outscored by their opponents 563-487 in the first half while falling behind 643-610 in the second stanza as well.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION . . . Averaging nearly 22 turnovers per game prior to the turn of the new year, SIU has seen that number drop to 20.5. Although that number may still seem high, SIU has averaged as low as 14.3 turnovers in three of its last five games with a season-low of 14 on two of those three occasions.
NUMBERS DWINDLING . . . Southern Illinois received bad news, as Courtney Smith will miss the remainder of the season due to a stress fracture in her left tibia. After playing in just five games this season, Smith will join Maria Niebrugge and Katie Berwanger who are also out for the year. In addition, Geshla Woodard is on a day-to-day basis with a hip flexer.
INJURY REPORT . . . It was announced Thursday, that senior Courtney Smith will miss the rest of the season due to a stress fracture in her left tibia. After starting the first 11 games this season, junior Geshla Woodard has missed the last four contests due to a hip flexor. Woodard is on a day-to-day basis with the injury and her return is yet to be determined. Sophomore Katie Berwanger did not have to undergo reconstructive knee surgery, but did get laser surgery instead. Following the surgery, it was stated that there is a 20 percent tear in Berwanger?s ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus. At this point, the outlook on Berwanger is that she is to do rehab and it is most likely that she will not return for the rest of the season. Freshman Jennifer Wegley, who had been suffering from a concussion, returned to the team?s practice Jan. 1 and is cleared to go at full strength. Senior Maria Niebrugge still remains in rehab after undergoing knee surgery prior to the season. Although rehab is going well for Niebrugge, it appears as though she may not return for the rest of the season.
TAKE ME HOME . . . SIU's matchup with the Sycamores Thursday marks the first of a three-game homestand for the Salukis. Following Thursday's game, SIU will play host to Illinois State on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 4:05 p.m., before concluding the series with Bradley on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7:05 p.m.