CARBONDALE — Starting forward Jonathan Wiley injured his thumb in last Wednesday's win over SIU-Edwardsville, SIU men's basketball coach Barry Hinson said Friday, and will be a game-time decision today against San Jose State.
"First inclination is that it's not broken, but the radiologist is going to read the X-ray," Hinson said. "This could be the third starter that we're out. It happened in the game. It is his non-shooting hand. He can not grip right now. He is in a splint, and, hopefully, he's gonna play Saturday. We're banking on him playing Saturday, but he has not practiced, and will not practice right up until game time."
SIU (3-2) is already down starting point guard Marcus Bartley and starting forward Thik Bol. Bartley, who is coming back from a broken bone in his wrist, and Bol, who had knee surgery right before the season started, both resumed practicing on a limited basis this week. Both will be re-evaluated Monday, Hinson said, with the hopes of getting them back on the court in the next two weeks.
Hinson was mum on who would start in Wiley's place if he couldn't go. The Salukis haven't played any zone defense this season, but might be forced to against the Spartans, one of the biggest teams they will play this season.
Wiley, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound senior, scored a career-high 12 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in the win over the Cougars. Wiley made 5 of 7 from the field and both of his free-throw attempts. He has played 20 or more minutes in every game this season, and has more than doubled his minutes from last season.
Wiley has nearly eclipsed his rebounding and scoring totals from last season after moving into Sean O'Brien's spot as SIU's starting hybrid forward. His 7.4 rebounds a game are more than triple last season's rate of two boards a game. He had 67 rebounds all of last season, and has 37 in five games.
Wiley's 36 points this season are nearly half of his total from last season, 84 points in 32 games. The Salukis will miss his rebounding more than anything if he can't go, as the Spartans (2-4) have outrebounded every team they've played this season.
San Jose State, which is in the second game of a four-game road trip that will take them more than 4,000 miles, outboarded Bowling Green 33-24 Wednesday night in Ohio. Five different Spartans average 4.8 or more rebounds a game, but what do you expect from a former Wichita State assistant coach? Jean Prioleau, a two-time all-conference guard for Fordham, helped the Shockers to two 20-win seasons in five years with Mark Turgeon (2001-05).
San Jose State has outrebounded its opponents by an average of 11.8 per game, 41.5-29.7.
"Our guys are coming," said Prioleau, who just took the job in August. "That's the one thing that you can hang your hat on. We're a pretty good rebounding team. Every team that we play is going to be looking at that, trying to keep us off the boards."
Today's game is at 3 p.m. because of the Lights Fantastic parade in downtown Carbondale, which is slated to start at 6 p.m. Fans may face detours going up Route 51 after the game, so be prepared to take a different route.
The game is also a part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge. The Valley leads the series 4-3 entering today's games, with the home team winning all seven games. Drake is at Wyoming in the other MW-MVC Challenge game today, and Bradley will close it out with a road game at San Diego State on Sunday.