Somewhere in Miami, the ’72 Dolphins are popping champagne. Oops, wrong sport. Let’s try that again.
Wednesday night’s game against Drake can be summed up in just four words: Not In Our House!
Drake guard Leonard Houston had a chance to tie the game with a last-second three, but the shot misfired, giving SIU the 65-62 upset victory over the No. 14 Bulldogs.
The victory kept Drake from celebrating a share of the MVC regular season title, for now. Allow me to paraphrase SIU broadcaster Mike Reis, who said it best in the post-game show: “If anyone’s going to clinch a title at the SIU Arena, it’s gonna be the guys in the white.” The victory also kept the Salukis undefeated at home, and improved their record to 60-1 at the SIU Arena against MVC foes in the past seven years.
Player of the Game: Senior forward Randal Falker, who led the Salukis with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
- Fans at the SIU Arena. Despite crappy road conditions, frigid temperatures and a .500 team, Saluki fans came out and acted like they were out in full force, despite an estimated crowd of 5,700 people—and the sixth man acted like it was in front of a national televised audience, to boot. Kudos to the Dawg Pound, though I do take exception to chanting “Overrated!” with less than three seconds left—those fans obviously missed how the SIU-Butler game ended.
- Bench play. The key to SIU’s victory was its bench play. Joshua Bone, who has started a majority of the games for the Salukis this year, came off the bench to score 9 points. When Bone’s shot is falling, it forces defenses to stretch, which either gives Falker more operating room in the post—or Bone more room to shoot behind-the-arc.
- Falker dominates the offensive glass. There’s no way good ol’ #14 gets a double-double without his seven offensive rebounds. Teams that grab offensive boards win games, it’s as simple as that. Crashing the offensive glass allows teams to get second chance points, while also keeping the ball away from the opposition. Remember, you can’t win if you don’t score…and they can’t score if you have the ball!
- Referees. Yeah, they were bad. I’ve come to the realization that the MVC will never get quality refs unless it combines with the Big 10, making a super-duper conference like the Big East. All jokes aside, it’s hard enough to get quality ref’s because of A) the pay [or lack thereof] B) the job itself [really, who wants a job where you spend two hours getting your life threatened and sexuality second guessed by a bunch of college kids?] or C) the travel schedule [think about it, these guys probably have to go by bus or on their own across the Midwest—and that doesn’t sound like fun in the winter months]. Still, there was no reason to call SIU broadcaster Mike Reis for a blocking foul when Drake forward Jonathan Cox went diving onto the broadcast table (Kudos! to Salukitalk for that nugget). '
- “Overrated” chant. I’ve got two problems with that chant. Problem #1: It came waaay too early. I wish fans would realize that “it ain’t over, ‘til it’s over!” Problem #2: Drake’s good, really good. Realize the fact that the Bulldogs are a quality team deserving of that #14 ranking, but they ran into a team that plays like a pre-season top-25 team at home—and the game happened to be in Carbondale, Ill. tonight. '
- Points off turnovers. Even though SIU won where it really matters—in the final score—but it’s hard to ignore Drake’s 20 points off TO’s, especially when SIU only scored 12. SIU had too many turnovers, and that could have easily cost them the game. But understand, the Salukis are operating with only one true point guard. I’m still waiting for Dion Coopwood to be freed by Coach Lowery. He’s not a star, but damn it, he’s a true point guard and if he can give me five quality minutes of feeding the post, then I’d be happier than with Bone—a pure shooting guard—playing out of position, running the point. '
- While Matt Shaw’s free-throw gave the Salukis the three-point lead it would end up holding on to, one could argue SIU doesn’t win the game without Tyrone Green’s surprising three-pointer. “Greenie” isn’t much of a shooter, but he’s in there to play defense and to provide energy. What he gives you on the offensive end is pure bonus.
- With SIU’s win and Creighton’s loss to Evansville, the Dawgs are back in a tie for third-place with four conference games remaining. One of those games is against second-place Illinois State. '
- The Salukis will look to pick up their second road win of the year Saturday as they hit the road against Wichita State. SIU beat the Shockers 63-52 Jan. 19 in a game that should have been a laugher. '
‘Til then, goodnight from Carbondale!