Salukis still looking for last-second shooter, Justin Walker gets his first coaching win, and the Valley goes 5-0 on a big Wednesday. All in today's Saluki Basketball 5@5.
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No. 1 - Who to go to: The loss of Aaron Cook is multi-faceted, as the senior guard was the team's leading scorer, leading assists guy, one of its most vocal players on and off the court, and its leading steals guy. One of the biggest problems the Salukis inherited when Cook broke a bone in his right hand was trying to find another player that can create at the end of the shot clock.
SIU had two shot clock violations in Tuesday's win over North Carolina Central and had to settle for a long Eric McGill 3-pointer that nearly banked in on another possession.
"As long as we keep the ball moving, we'll get an open shot before the end of the shot clock," SIU guard/forward Marcus Domask said. "Obviously, that's where we miss him a lot, and, team effort, we're just going to try to replace it like that."
Domask delivered a team-high 18 points Tuesday night and tied McGill for the team lead in assists, with five in just under 32 minutes. The Salukis had 16 assists on 23 buckets against the preseason favorites in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
SIU coach Bryan Mullins took some of the blame for his team's chaos at the end of the shot clock, saying he needs to prepare his squad better for that situation.
"I gotta put the guys in some better positions, some shot clock sets where we can get downhill and get to the basket, with Eric, Marcus, even Barret (Benson), some post-ups," Mullins said. "We gotta do a better job executing at the end of the shot clock, for sure."
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No. 2 - Walker wins at Bloomington High School: Former SIU assistant coach Justin Walker picked up his first win as a head coach Wednesday at Bloomington High School. Walker helped the Blue Raiders beat Bloomington Central Catholic 69-63 to go to 1-1.
Junior guard Landon Moore scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. Walker was with former coach Barry Hinson for five years, the last two as an assistant coach. He was a graduate assistant for one year and the director of basketball operations for two.
No. 3 - Big Wednesday for MVC: The Missouri Valley Conference went a perfect 5-0 Wednesday night, with two Power Five conference victories.
Loyola defeated Old Dominion in the Cayman Islands, Drake beat Murray State in a tournament in Florida, Bradley topped Kansas State 73-60 in Fort Myers, Florida, and Northern Iowa beat South Carolina 78-72 in Cancun, Mexico. Valparaiso defeated non-Division I Trinity College 98-71 at the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso. There are no games involving a league team Thanksgiving Day.
No. 4 - Davis premieres: Karrington Davis made his season premiere Tuesday night against North Carolina Central, playing the last minute, 45 seconds. The 6-6 guard missed all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon and was cleared to practice several weeks ago.
No. 5 - Hinson magic: Speaking of Hinson, we don't want to give him too much credit, but the analyst for Oklahoma State's men's basketball team has helped the Cowboys start out 6-0 this season. OSU beat Syracuse 86-72 recently and hosts Ole Miss Friday in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Hinson stepped down after seven seasons with the Salukis after they lost to Northern Iowa in the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament. He helped SIU out of an incredible academic hole when he took over, when its Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores threatened the program's ability to be eligible for the postseason, but never helped the Salukis get back to the NCAA Tournament. SIU's postseason drought reached 11 years this year.