While Southern Illinois didn’t join the list of teams who have seen their schedules change this weekend due to the inclement weather hitting the northeast and midwest, the Salukis weren’t as fortunate when it came to their trek back to Carbondale, Ill. following their 66-48 loss at Illinois State.
Due to heavy snow the team bus was stranded on Interstate 57, and according to a report from Andy Katz of ESPN.com Sunday evening there was concern that the team would have to spend the night on the bus. However according to Todd Hefferman of the Carbondale (Ill.) Southern, there was a chance that would not be the case.
Towing is not allowed, according to the notice, although SIU is awaiting a tow truck. If one can not reach the bus, or be called because of the policy, [SIU assistant Anthony] Beane [Sr.] said the Illinois State Police has agreed to help the team reach its hotel in the Tuscola area.
The news got better for the Salukis later Sunday night, as according to the Daily Egyptian a tow truck finally showed up some five hours after the whole ordeal began. The company told the newspaper that their assignments were backed up nearly four hours due to the weather.
Beane was the lone coach on the bus with the players, with head coach Barry Hinson and assistants Terrance McGee and Tom Hankins leaving after the game to go recruiting. Hinson’s staying in his car overnight according to the report from the Daily Egyptian, while McGee and Hankins found a hotel room for the night. The team wasn’t quite as lucky. They ended up sleeping on the floor of a church in Tuscola, IL.
SIU athletic director Mario Moccia gave Katz the following description of the events that led to the bus being stranded:
Moccia said the driver pulled off the side of the road and hoped to get a window where he could continue driving. But when the highway cleared a bit the bus was stuck. Attempts were made to get a tow, but I-57 was closed.
SIU head manager Mark Morrissey tweeted a picture of the stranded bus.
With brutally cold temperatures expected in the area, it’s good to hear that the team is on its way to a hotel in Tuscola. According to the Daily Egyptian, the athletic department hopes to get the players back to Carbondale on Monday.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.