Southern Illinois

Louisiana Tech among eight teams participating in new in-season event

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There’s another in-season tournament on the college basketball landscape, as it was announced on Friday that the Gulf Coast Showcase will be played in Estero, Fla. in late November. There will be two eight-team tournaments, one for men’s teams (November 25-27) and one for women’s teams (November 29-December 1) with Louisiana Tech being the highest-profile men’s team in the event.

Michael White’s Bulldogs, who will play in Conference USA this season, are coming off of a 27-7 record (16-2 WAC) in 2012-13. With key contributors such as Raheem Appleby (14.9 ppg), Kenneth Smith (6.8 ppg, 5.0 apg) and Alex Hamilton (7.8 ppg, 2.7 apg) back in Ruston, the Bulldogs are capable of making their debut season in Conference USA a good one.

“The tournament format allows everyone a shot at a championship, which is nice,” White said in the release announcing the event. “Playing three games in three days should help prepare all of us for our conference tournaments.

“In addition, the quality of the programs in the field bode well for tremendous competition as it prepares us all for conference play. Very good conferences and programs will be represented.”

In addition to Louisiana Tech the men’s field includes Wagner, St. Bonaventure, San Diego, UNCG, UIC, Southern Illinois and Stetson. Wagner has the talent needed to be a factor in the NEC in 2013-14, and San Diego will feature one of the most underrated backcourts around in point guard Christopher Anderson and shooting guard Johnny Dee.

Howard Moore’s UIC Flames are looking to improve on their 18-16 campaign of a season ago, with forward Hayden Humes (10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Purdue transfer Kelsey Barlow being two of their key players. UIC and San Diego will meet in the first round, and that could be an entertaining contest. The other match-ups are Louisiana Tech/UNCG, Wagner/Stetson and St. Bonaventure/Southern Illinois.

The eight teams in the women’s field are UCLA, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, N.C. State, James Madison, Wright State, Grand Canyon and Southeastern Louisiana.

ICYMI: Wichita State loses to Southern Illinois on goaltending call in final seconds (VIDEO)

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Wichita State lost its third game in a row Tuesday night, falling to Southern Illinois, 64-62, after a Jalen Pendleton floater was blocked and called a goaltend. Was it, though?

Video has surfaced, embedded below, of the sequence, which sees Pendleton driving down the lane and putting up a layup before it was blocked by Ehimen Orukpe. Controversy ensued, but the call stood, making Wichita State 8-4 in the Missouri Valley and, if Creighton wins Wednesday, two games back of first place.

Take a look below. The action starts around the 0:11 mark:

Photo via SIU Athletics

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wichita State loses third in a row, falls to 9-point underdog Southern Illinois

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What has happened to Wichita State? A loss to Missouri Valley contender Indiana State is one thing. Falling to Northern Iowa was a game the Shockers likely wish they could have had back.

But Tuesday night showed a reason for real concern with Gregg Marshall’s team, as the Shockers fell to Southern Illinois, 64-62, at SIU Arena in Carbondale, Ill.

Wichita State led, 62-60, with 1:12 to play after a Carl Hall tip-in, but Jalen Pendleton tied the game with a layup on SIU’s next possession. The Shockers had a chance to take the lead with 0:12 to play but turned the ball over, setting up Pendleton for a jumper that was blocked but called a goaltend to take the lead with 0:03 remaining. That proved to be the game winner.

Southern Illinois was previously 1-10 in Missouri Valley play and ranked 255th in the nation in scoring, but three players scored in double figures Tuesday. T.J. Lindsey led the way with 14 points to go along with Desmar Jackson and Jeff Early with 11 each.

Hall and Cleanthony Early, Wichita State’s two biggest offensive threats who combine to average over 27 points per game, were held to just 15 points Tuesday night. Without those two producing, Demetric Williams was the only reliable scorer for WSU. He finished with 15 points.

The Shockers were also -7 in turnover differential. Point guard Malcolm Armstead had four turnovers for the second straight game, which did not help the offensive find its groove.

Wichita State now stand 1.5 games behind Creighton for the lead in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Four college hoops programs on the wane

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Few things in college hoops are more painful than the slow decline into mediocrity. Even worse is being unable to bust out of it.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

If Connecticut and Oklahoma aren’t careful, they’ll join George Washington and Southern Illinois in that territory. Call ’em the four programs on the wane.

First, the two stragglers.

George Washington won 77 games and reached three straight NCAA tournaments over a three-year span. Karl Hobbs’ team has been unable to recapture that form, finishing in the bottom half of the A-10 each of the last three years, mostly because of a middling defense and improved conference competition. (GW’s best years came when the league trailed the MAC, WAC and West Coast in overall strength. That’s not the case today.)

It’s not getting better anytime soon. Hobbs’ 2010-11 roster returns four starters from a 16-15 squad, but nothing to match the A-10’s top teams in terms of talent. If Dayton and Rhode Island can’t break into the Top 4, GW isn’t doing so anytime soon.

Southern Illinois has gone through a similar decline. The Salukis won at least 22 games between 2004 and 2007, capping the four-year run with a 29-7 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. Three seasons later, they finished ninth in the Missouri Valley.

Again, blame the defense. Chris Lowery’s defenses once were among the nation’s stingiest. Even an 18-15 record in 2007-08 belied the ‘D’ that forced turnovers and kept opponents off the boards. They’re now merely average. The overall record could improve because of three juco transfers, but until Lowry recruits better, the Salukis will keep dragging the bottom half of the MVC.

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel made his name through his high-profile recruits like Blake Griffin, Willie Warren and Keith Gallon. Unfortunately for Capel, Griffin was the only game-changer of the bunch and when he left, the Sooners stunk it up. Warren, Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin all went pro.

Now Capel’s left with decent, not great talent. And that’s an issue when you’re a good recruiter and a so-so coach. The Sooners’ defense plummeted last season, as Oklahoma failed to challenge shots, force turnovers or block shots. Most of that lies with Capel’s failure to either motivate his guys or teach them.

Part of the problem is that Capel, 35, is still learning how to coach. His team’s performance last season was a reflection of his abilities. But there aren’t any fabulous talents headed to Norman soon. That means Capel either becomes a much better coach quickly, or the Sooners are going to be stuck in the bottom of what’s about to be a much tougher Big 12.

Then there’s UConn.

UConn’s coming off an 18-16 season and is unlikely to improve on that after losing three starters and a key talent (Ater Majok). It’s not the Huskies are going to start dragging the bottom of the Big East. It’s that they don’t have any room for error.

Consider these factors:

  • Jim Calhoun’s age
  • NCAA sanctions
  • The brutal Big East

Calhoun’s 68 and has had a bevy of health problems through the years. It’s a testament to his reputation and the Huskies’ program that four-star recruits still head to Storrs. How long it continues with his age and the NCAA penalties (more looming?) remains to be seen.

The Big East is no place for teams trying to tread water, either. Other programs – St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence – have been stuck in the league’s bottom half for years, while consistent teams like Marquette and Notre Dame can’t seem to break through.

If the Huskies aren’t winning, they’re losing ground. Such is life in the Big East.


Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.