CARBONDALE - Anthony Beane will surely have a bigger target on his back this season, SIU men's basketball coach Barry Hinson said Tuesday, but teams would be foolish to attempt to defend the Salukis in a simple box-and-1.
Beane, a junior guard who led the Salukis in 3-pointers with 52 last season, is only one of SIU's perimeter threats for the upcoming 2014-15 season, Hinson said Tuesday on the Missouri Valley Conference coaches teleconference.
Harrisburg's Tyler Smithpeters, who was second on the team with 26 3s on 64 tries (40.6 percent), sophomore forward Sean O'Brien and freshmen Armon Fletcher and Deion Lavender could also hurt teams from the perimeter.
"Anthony has gotta learn how to play with his left hand, he's gotta learn how to back cut and he's gotta learn how to play without the ball in his hands, and we've done that all summer," Hinson said. "He's done a great job of it. He's trying to play knowing that he's going to be a highlight, but the great thing that's going to help Anthony more than anything is that he's surrounded by better players."
Beane averaged 16 points and six rebounds in SIU's two MVC tournament games last season. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-hander came on strong at the end of the regular season playing alongside senior guard Desmar Jackson, who led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and free throws made. Beane scored 20 or more points in eight of the last 10 games of the regular season, shortly after he moved to the point guard spot and made the all-conference second team along with Jackson.
O'Brien averaged 6.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a true freshman in 33 games, 24 of them starts. Fletcher, a 6-4 small forward out of Edwardsville High School, averaged 17.5 points and 13.7 rebounds per game during the regular season for the Class 4A fourth-place finishers. Lavender, a 6-3 shooting guard out of Alton Marquette High School, averaged more than 25 points per game.
"Anthony may be a target, but if somebody doesn't worry about some of these other guys that we've recruited, we finally feel like we have some guys that can shoot from the perimeter, and score from the perimeter," Hinson said. "We feel like we have size that can score around the basket, and I think that'll help Anthony moreso than anything, along with his improvement. I mean, the kid stays in the gym every single day, and that's why he's gotten better. There's no secret to the success. It's all about his hard work and his attitude."
SIU returns two starters from last season's 14-19 squad that reached the MVC tournament semifinals. The Salukis return five other players that started at least one game and have six newcomers and two redshirts, point guard K.C. Goodwin and Illinois transfer Ibby Djimde, who will be eligible this winter.