The last three losses for the Salukis seem to follow the same trend: fall behind early, go on a run to make the score close, then falter in the waning moments.
“We haven’t been together long enough as a team to understand how to get over that hump,” said freshman forward Treg Setty. “Once we learn how to do that, we’ll be really competitive.”
“We need to get the ball inside a little bit more. We shot ourselves out of it at Creighton when we needed to go inside,” said coach Chris Lowery. “We came back on layups and inside touches, and then we got a little bit too happy and shot too many perimeter shots down the stretch.”
The Salukis lost Sunday to No. 21 Creighton 90-71, but despite the final score and falling behind by 15 in the first half, SIU was able to pull within four points before succumbing to the only nationally ranked team in the Valley.
The Salukis shot considerably better in the second half against Creighton by a margin of 46.9 percent to 36.1 percent — a trend that holds true in their last three losses. Taking shots near the basket will raise that percentage, especially if Dantiel Daniels and Mamadou Seck muscle their way inside without getting into foul trouble.
But a good start to any of those games could’ve swung SIU to a 9-9 record instead of 6-12.
“Obviously, the teams that (start well against SIU) are the top teams in our league. With Creighton, Missouri State and obviously Wichita (State), those are the three teams that have gotten us to that point,” Lowery said. “But now, as for us, we have to get a good start and we have to sustain a level of execution. When you do that, we have a chance to win.”
In order to sustain that level of execution, there needs to be consistency from the players. If the Salukis get into foul trouble like they have in almost every game this season, that consistency won’t be there.
But the glimmer of hope Saluki fans have searched for could be with this group of freshmen. The young guys provide enough spark to make runs when they need to, which Lowery said is a welcomed change from the past.
“We had a lot of new guys last year that when we would go down 20 (points), we’d stay down by 20. These guys are obviously ahead because they’re able to help us come back and really make plays,” Lowery said.
It might take the team a year or two to figure out how to start hot and finish strong, but at least it will be exciting to watch.