ELON, N.C. -- Late start today due to delayed air travel. A whole bunch of people in suits wielding Blackberries and Blackjacks, talking about internal voter metrics or somesuch, seem to suddenly be travelling from New England to the mid-South today, all at once. Couldn't figure out why. Let's go! Southern Illinois.
Positives cancel out negatives in the grand scales and wheels of the Boubacar, and the end result is the non-committal yellow arrow. But there's no team that will make its fans as screaming-yellow-zonkers agitated than SIU.
Aside from two home losses against ranked teams that few teams would have an easy time winning (Indiana convincingly, and Butler by an A.J. Graves buzzer-beater), the Salukis are as frighteningly dominant at home as they've ever been. Not naming any team names, but I've seen fear in opposing players' eyes as they come out of the tunnel to meet that loud, crazy, maroon blob-monster of a crowd. But on the road, it's a completely different story.
At home, the 2007-08 Salukis are men. Away, they're boys. Jekyll, Hyde. Ask head coach Chris Lowery, he'll tell you it's a toughness issue. SIU is 0-4 on the road, including an embarrassing showing last Saturday at Illinois State in which the Redbirds broke out 25-5. In SIU Arena, they're a different team, as evidenced by last night's 77-64 trouncing of Bradley
And somewhat off the subject, because talking about the 2007-08 Salukis gets depressing pretty quickly, but there are 17 teams left in Division I that are undefeated at home and winless on the road. Many are power-conference teams that stayed home for all of 2007 and are ill-equipped for life away from the confines (we're talking to you, Oklahoma State). There's Presbyterian (see below), 0-17 in their guarantee games and a dominant 2-0 at home. But the team with the best sample size is Morehead State of the OVC, which is 4-9 overall. If you've been reading this paragraph from the beginning, you know where all that happened. Siena.
Yesterday we were talking about how good the Saints were, and how great they looked on the Full Court Sunday against Saint Peter's, but we were focusing on the streaky start, not the flat second half. Last night, after a 53-52 loss to Fairfield
, Siena tumbled seven spots the real-time State Of The Other 22 index from No. 4 to No. 11.
Man, they really miss leading rebounder Alex Franklin
, without him they don't have the guy to catch the missed shots and fling it up the floor to the quick guards. The Stags, a team Siena had beat handily on the road just a month ago, were able to draw the Saints into a 60-possession slog. Franklin should be back this weekend for the big Niagara game.
Missouri State? Seeing them last night on the Deuce in a dominant 71-47 win over Wichita
, you'd never know these particular Bears were playing so timidly to start the season that Stephen Colbert took them off notice. After losing to Creighton last Saturday, head coach Barry Hinson yelled so loudly at his team that everyone in the press room could hear every word. Nobody's really publicly saying it, but Hinson is basically singing for future suppers this season. He had to fight for his job last summer, and with the Bears moving into a new arena, 9-7 (2-2 MVC) isn't the kind of progress that would dissuade the administration that a full fresh start isn't needed.
Also, How 'Bout™
tiny and aforementioned Presbyterian College? Despite losing 19 of its first 20 D-I games, the future Big Southing Blue Hose got its/their first-ever big-boy blowout, 52-35
over the Black Knights of the Patriot League. I've been waiting two-plus months to use this, but Army really got Hosed in this game.
Or How 'Bout™
Oklahoma Panhandle State? Big rodeo school
then, Division II basketball powerhouse now! Beat a nominee for mid-major punching-bag of the year, Colorado State, in a 97-91
rocky mountain shocker. Head coach Tim Miles probably wishes he was back at North Dakota State right about now.
Finally, How 'Bout™
Texas-Pan American? We're big fans of Tom Schuberth and find him great to talk to, and we don't think the South Texas independent gets nearly the amount of respect that they deserve. The Broncs (10-10) could be on its way to it second straight near-.500 season despite a tough indy schedule... this really could be another Corpus Christi waiting to happen. Schuberth's charges has won four of five, including last night's 71-63
downage of less vague Lone Star directional Texas-San Antonio (UTPA is in Edinburg
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