I was out of town for my wife's birthday last month, so when we were all together we decided to take in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" in Marion Friday night.
With SIU's men's basketball team withering in front of the biggest crowd of the season (5,694 fans) Saturday night in the second half, I kept thinking about Charlie Bucket's song "Think Positive." Sometimes you have to talk yourself into being good before you are, and with the score tied at 59 and less than a minute to go, Armon Fletcher did just that.
"I kept telling myself 'You're gonna make it, you're gonna make it, you're gonna make it," Fletcher said, after his 3-pointer from the left corner put the Salukis up to stay. "I didn't shoot the ball particularly well (Saturday), but that's what good players do. They can play for the next shot, the next play. (Aaron Cook) did a nice job of finding me in the zone."
Cook made a nice ball-fake against Valparaiso's zone defense on that fateful possession, and found just enough room to get the ball to Fletcher in the corner. His only 3 of the game rattled in, and he pointed his index finger to the crowd as SIU took a 62-59 lead with 44 seconds to go.
Valparaiso (12-13, 3-9 Missouri Valley Conference), a team that has struggled to score but appeared to answer every run the Salukis (16-9, 8-4) had Saturday, missed its last five shots. Tyler Smithpeters' two free throws put SIU up five, which might as well have been 15 at that point.
Nick Foles' performance in Sunday's Super Bowl also proved that everybody needs to read "The Little Engine That Could" every now and then. A backup quarterback two months ago, Foles engineered Philadelphia's first Super Bowl title with 373 yards passing, three touchdowns, one interception and one incredible touchdown reception.
Tom Brady's 505-yard passing game for New England, in a 41-33 loss, made Foles' performance even more amazing.
• Illinois State's Evans out 1-3 weeks: Illinois State could be without its top 3-point shooter when SIU travels to Normal Thursday night.
Junior guard Keyshawn Evans, the Redbirds' third-leading scorer (15.6 points per game) this season, will miss 1-3 weeks with a bone bruise on his left knee suffered against Evansville, Jim Benson of the Bloomington Pantagraph reported Monday. Evans had an MRI on the injury on Monday. He leads Illinois State in minutes per game (30.5), 3s (71) and 3-point percentage (43.8 percent).
SIU takes on Illinois State (13-11, 7-5) Thursday night at 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Note the late start at Redbird Arena because of the television schedule. The Salukis haven't won in Normal since Dec. 29, 2006 but topped the Redbirds here 74-70 Jan. 13.