CARBONDALE — SIU men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson knows his squad may take some early lumps in his second season, but will roll the dice with the 2013-14 schedule.
The Salukis will officially open the season at Missouri on Tuesday, Nov. 12, after exhibitions against NAIA school Harris-Stowe State on Nov. 2 and Division II William Jewell on Nov. 9, the school announced on Tuesday.
Missouri, which could be a preseason top 25 team, finished 23-11 overall and 11-7 in its first season in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers lost four starters, but had the 19th-best recruiting class in the country, according to ESPN.com this summer.
“We could have played an opponent maybe beforehand, but we decided if we’re going to jump into the water, let’s go. The thing we wanted to let our young guys know, is this is where we have to get to, and we felt that we needed a marker early that our guys would understand,” Hinson said. “We’re going to be real young. We’re going to be really inexperienced, but at the same time, when I learned how to swim they just threw me into the water.”
SIU has nine newcomers, including redshirt freshman forward Bola Olaniyan, and five returning players from last season’s 14-17 squad that finished last in the Missouri Valley Conference. Junior guard/forward Josh Swan would have been a sixth returnee, but he had career-ending knee surgery in the offseason and will serve as a student assistant coach this winter.
Sophomore guard Anthony Beane and senior guard Desmar Jackson, SIU’s leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, are returning starters.
Missouri is one of four NCAA tournament teams on the Salukis’ 31-game schedule, joining Saint Louis, Western Kentucky and 2013 Final Four participant Wichita State. SIU opens the MVC schedule at home against the Shockers, who the Salukis beat 64-62 at SIU Arena for one of their six league victories.
SIU was allowed to play 31 games through an exemption with its multi-team event, the Gulf Coast Showcase, which will feature a home game against Division II Missouri Science & Technology and three games in Estero, Fla., in a bracket yet to be announced. SIU will play three games in three days the week of Thanksgiving, beginning Monday, Nov. 25, at Germain Arena. Louisiana Tech, Illinois-Chicago, UNC-Greensboro, San Diego, St. Bonaventure, Stetson and Wagner are the other teams at the tournament in Florida.
NCAA rules permit teams to play either a 29-game regular-season schedule without a multi-team event (MTE) or 27 games plus an either three or four-game tournament/MTE.
SIU will play Saint Louis in its home opener, Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7:05 p.m. The Salukis also get Western Kentucky (Dec. 7), Ball State (Dec. 21) and SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 23) at SIU Arena in the non-conference schedule. SIU will play Austin Peay, Chicago State, Murray State and Miami (Ohio) on the road.
The Salukis will play the MVC’s new member, Loyola, in Chicago on Jan. 8 in their third league game of the season. Loyola comes to SIU Arena on Feb. 1.
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