CARBONDALE — It’s a fresh start for the SIU women’s basketball team, but the challenge couldn’t be any tougher against Wichita State tonight at SIU Arena.
The Shockers come to Carbondale on a five-game win streak, including a win over preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Creighton last Saturday. With two former SIU coaches on Wichita State’s staff in head coach Jody Adams and assistant coach Dana Eikenberg, interim Saluki coach Adrianne Harlow has her hands full.
“I probably don’t even know what I’m getting into yet and I probably won’t know until … who knows,” Harlow said. “I can’t say that I’m going to figure everything out right away and it’s my first-ever game being a head coach.”
Harlow was promoted when former head coach Missy Tiber resigned Monday, two days after suffering a 48-point loss to Illinois State. Tiber finished her SIU career 19-86, including a 9-50 mark in conference play.
Harlow spent the past 12 seasons as an assistant under Tiber, and even played under her when Tiber was an assistant coach at West Liberty (W.Va.) University.
“Everything,” Harlow said on what she learned from Tiber. “Everything I know as a coach, and she was my coach as well, so I’ve played under her and I’ve coached under her.”
Wichita State (11-6, 5-0 MVC) did not trail at all in their first three conference games and have held the lead for all but 13 minutes and 52 seconds in league play. With six seniors and the second-best scoring defense in the MVC at 52.2 points per game, the Shockers are athletic, experienced and need a win to stay ahead of Creighton in the standings.
“A fast, fast, fast game,” said SIU guard Sidney Goins on what type of contest she expects today. “I think if we can control the tempo and take them out of their comfort zone of playing fast, we’ll be OK.”
Wichita State’s weakness is that the Shockers are not very high scoring, ranking eighth in the conference in points per game with 59. Senior Jessica Diamond is the only player averaging double figures with 13.8 points, while ranking in the program’s top 10 in career points (10th), assists (eighth) and 3-pointers (eighth).
“They have a lot of seniors and you can tell they jell well together,” Harlow said. “They’ve been playing together for some time now and it will be a matter of overcoming that.”
Tipoff tonight at SIU Arena is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
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