2008 Southern Illinois Salukis Basketball Preview
Last year, the Southern Illinois Salukis (18- 15 overall, 11- 7 Missouri Valley) put in a good season but missed a NCAA bid. Instead, for the first time in six years, they went to the NIT. In that tourney, the Salukis defeated Oklahoma State 69- 53 before losing to Arizona State 65- 51 in round two. It was, overall, considered to be an off-season for Southern Illinois, which finished third in the Missouri Valley. Head coach Chris Lowery was not pleased.
This season, the frontcourt is missing two premium performers—forwards Randal Falker and Matt Shaw. Together, they averaged 25.5 PPG and 14.1 RPG. Falker blocked 1.3 SP. Freshman forward Anthony Booker is a top-50 talent and the best recruit in the entire conference. He could start. Senior forward Tony Boyle (15.9 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.4 APG) returns as the player with the most experience upfront. Boyle is a tough banger and tenacious talent. He’ll be the anchor in the paint. Sophomore forward Carlton Fay (10.9 MPG, 2.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.3 APG) is the only other returning frontcourt player. He’ll see action as will six-foot-eleven freshman center Nick Evans.
The guards on this team are deep. Point guard Bryan Mullins (34.8 MPG, 10.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 5.0 APG), a senior, is the best in the conference. Mullins may not be suave and smooth but he is an excellent ball handler and a tough-as-nails defender. He’s smart and has good court vision. Mullins offers an accurate shot and can knock the ball in from downtown 41.4% of the time. Junior Josh Bone (27.3 MPG, 8.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.1 APG) will be expected to put more points on the board this season.
With depth and experience at guard and some new talent at the forward
spots, Lowery expects his team to rebound and earn their seventh
NCAA berth in eight seasons. He’ll have a fairly young team
but has enough of a veteran foundation to get the job done. The
Salukis should make an appearance at March Madness but will go one-and-done.