Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Siuc to Use Team Tactics vs. Billikens

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Siuc to Use Team Tactics vs. Billikens

Article excerpt

Shane Hawkins is just a sophomore. He's the only non-senior in Southern Illinois-Carbondale's basketball starting lineup. But he's also the only returning starter from last season.

"With so many new faces, the most important thing for us early was to see if we could win," Hawkins said.

The Salukis like what they have seen. They will bring a 4-0 record into today's 1:05 p.m. game against St. Louis University (4-2) at Kiel Center.

They have won twice on the road, have four scorers averaging in double figures and claim to feel more like a team than the Salukis who won the past three Missouri Valley Conference tournament championships. They have to feel that way, since no one has yet developed into a dominant go-to talent such as Chris Carr or Marcus Timmons.

Coach Rich Herrin probably puts a more athletic team on the floor this season, though. That includes quick freshman DaShonn Ford, still developing as an offensive threat, and quicker sophomore Troy Hudson, a transfer from Missouri eligible to play his first game today.

Still, don't jump to any conclusions.

The Salukis are a lot closer to the rebuilding Billikens than to a team ready to win another MVC tourney - though SIUC has "four-peat" on its chalkboard of long-range goals.

"We're a long way from a good basketball team, but we're working to get better," Herrin said. "And we may be better than we look on paper right now."

On paper, they look like non-contenders. Among the starters are 6-foot-8 senior Scott Burzynski, who averaged less than three rebounds a game in 76 previous Salukis games, all off the bench, and 6-9 senior Aminu Timberlake, who pulled in only 2 1/2 rebounds a game last season.

Burzynski is averaging almost 12 points and Timberlake 10 points and seven rebounds through four games, so there has been progress.

But opponents have outrebounded the Salukis four times. SIUC has trailed well into the second half three times and has won by an average of four points.

"We're playing 94 feet, up and down the floor both ways," Herrin said. "We're not a great half-court team yet. But it's still early. They've got more to learn. …

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