Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

Streams of unconsciousness from the world of sports:

Do that again: Kristen Nelson scored one of the most amazing buckets I’ve ever seen in Sunday’s loss to Drake.

Nelson had just missed a layup attempt. Drake’s Becca Hittner rebounded, but a hustling Nelson pried the ball lose. The contact with Hittner sent Nelson sprawling to the floor, but she was able to grab the loose ball.

With no teammates to pass the ball to, Nelson eyed the basket and apparently thought, “Why not?” While still on her knees, she threw the ball off the backboard and through the bucket.

And, she showed no reaction … like it’s something she does every day.

School spirit: Not enough can be said about the SIU swimming and diving teams.

The swimmers and divers show up for every SIU home basketball game, men and women’s. They show up in great numbers. They scream and holler for their basketball counterparts.

And, when opposing teams attempt free throws, the swimmers strip down to their swim attire to distract opposing players. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a fun routine. It makes for a great atmosphere.

What’s particularly gratifying, is that the swimmers were adversely affected by budget cuts last year, losing scholarships. It would be easy to be bitter, but instead, the team has stepped up.

And, they are tough – it’s pretty chilly in the Arena during the winter.

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde: Apparently, that is the favorite novel of the SIU men’s basketball team.

You never know which SIU team is going to show up, or even which team will emerge from a timeout.

The Salukis opened Saturday’s game at Valparaiso as Dr. Jekyll. They shredded the Crusaders’ offense for one easy bucket after another. They pounded the boards and appeared as if they would keep Valpo winless in MVC play.

When the Crusaders switched to a zone defense, Mr. Hyde appeared.

The Salukis suddenly couldn’t hit from the perimeter and some of the shots they attempted from the paint should have had a degree of difficulty attached. SIU missed its final 11 attemps of the half, allowing the Crusaders to finish on a 24-2 run.

That can’t happen.

Sharpshooters: Is anyone else impressed with the number of contestants making half-court shots during the SIU men’s basketball promotions?

Maybe it’s striking because it’s such a longshot … in every sense of the term. But, it seems as if three of every four contestants wins. I’ve nearly gotten to the point of booing anyone who doesn’t make the shot.

Speaking of in-game entertainment, I can’t get enough of Otis Day and the Knights singing “Shout” at the end of halftime ceremonies. It makes you feel good regardless of what the scoreboard says.

Baseball: Pitchers and catchers report in a little over a month.

Maybe it’s because of the recent cold weather that has gripped Southern Illinois, but I can’t wait.

I’m not sure the Cardinals have done enough to contend for the Central Division title. On the other hand, the thought of sweating while watching a baseball game sounds appealing right now.

North Dakota State: It’s great to see the FCS title back in the MVFC. That’s all.

LES WINKELER is the sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at les.winkeler@thesouthern.com, or call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.

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