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    Dec 2, 2013

    By Bill Ford

    CARBONDALE, IL - Suffice it to say the Saluki women's basketball team didn't start the season as planned. Through an 0-6 start, Southern has certainly struggled in several facets of its game. The Salukis have also had some positive things happen that are worth mentioning. Here are a few thoughts about the Salukis after six games. 1. Perhaps the most glaring issue in SIU's 0-6 start is Southern's defensive struggles. The Salukis surrender an MVC-worst 76.0 points per game and have allowed individual scoring outings of 43, 34, 28 and 27 points. SIU's biggest struggle is guarding off the dribble and the Saluki coaching staff has tried a few different defensive looks to solve its defensive problems.

    2. Head coach Missy Tiber's up-tempo system revolves heavily around getting out and running in transition. Tiber built her team around this philosophy, and the team's strengths are not playing from a half-court set. Unfortunately, Southern's defensive struggles have limited the effectiveness of the transition game and forced the Salukis into half-court sets through much of the early season.

    3. Redshirt freshman Dyana Pierre has been a force in the paint for the Salukis in the last three games. She has averaged 12.3 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game over that span, including a 16-point, 19-rebound outing against IPFW. Pierre has made the most of a big increase in playing time due to starting center Alexus Patterson's ankle injury. Through Saturday's games, she leads the MVC in blocks (2.3 per game) and ranks second in rebounds (10.0 per game).

    Dyana Pierre has averaged 12.3 points and 14.7 rebounds in the last three games. Dyana Pierre has averaged 12.3 points and 14.7 rebounds in the last three games.



    4. Pierre missed last season after tearing her ACL during a preseason practice. She suffered another setback when she tweaked her other knee in preseason play to start this season, but now says she feels she is back at 100 percent in both knees.

    5. Patterson played 19 minutes in Saturday's loss to Murray State in what was her first action since going down with a sprained ankle Nov. 23 against Radford. Patterson was second on the team in scoring and led the team in rebounding prior to the injury. When they are both healthy, Patterson and Pierre are arguably two of the better centers in the MVC.

    6. The 3-ball has been a big frustration for the Salukis early in the season. Opponents are allowing SIU plenty of open looks from beyond the arc as evidenced by 111 3-point attempts in six games. The Salukis just haven't been able to consistently knock them down. SIU's .279 3-point percentage ranks ninth in the Valley through Saturday's games. In SIU's two best games, against Loyola and Florida Atlantic, the Salukis posted their two best 3-point percentages of the season.

    7. Team's scouting SIU know Cartaesha Macklin is the Salukis' top scoring threat. After Macklin, though, it is impossible to predict who else is going to step up as a complementary scorer. Through six games, SIU has had six different leading scorers and four players other than Macklin have had games of 15-plus points.

    8. Pierre is emerging as a solid inside scoring threat for the Salukis. She gets about half her points on putbacks off offensive rebounds, but she has also flashed a solid arsenal of post moves. She has a little room for improvement on her finishing, but she is tough to stop around the hoop.

    9. Aside from Macklin, freshman forward Jameeka Bouie has had the most double-figure scoring games. Bouie is a tough matchup for opponents at the small forward. She has a good mid-range jumper and she can get past most players her size off the dribble. She has also been the team's most consistent finisher around the basket with a team-best .594 field goal percentage.