Our sixth MVCfans.com pre-conference season Q&A is with Todd Hefferman. Todd has been covering Southern Illinois University athletics for The Southern Illinoisan newspaper in Carbondale for the last three years. A Heisman Trophy voter, he is also a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. You
can follow him on Twitter at Todd_Hefferman and online: Dawg Blog
.Question 1.Last year, the Salukis slipped to 6-12 in the MVC and finished in 9th
place. The expectations among the MVC media are similar in 2010-2011.
What can Coach Chris Lowery do to keep this team out of a Thursday night
date in St. Louis?
A. Lowery has to find a go-to player/leader, or develop one, because right now, SIU is
lacking that element. They have some great parts in Mamadou Seck, Gene Teague,
Carlton Fay, Justin Bocot and Kendal Brown-Surles, and some great role players, but
he has to find a go-to player when the team needs a bucket, or a defensive stop, or
a player in general. He also has to keep Teague and Fay healthy, because if either
one of them go down, SIU becomes a much different team very quickly.Question 2.Some Salukis fans believe Coach Lowery needs to be replaced and feel he
has been retained only because he is in the middle of a 7 year contract
signed in April 2007 and the buyout would be too great for the school.
Can you offer any insight for MVC fans on Lowery's current conrtract
status and your personal feelings as to what expectations the school has
set for this year.
A. Lowery is signed through the 2013-2014 season at a base salary of $750,000 per
season. If the Salukis fired him before June 2014, they would have to pay him the
full remainder of his contract. The school had a clause in the deal in 2010 where it
could have made a move and only payed him through 2012, I believe, but it chose to
stay with him. The administration has not given me a number, as in terms of wins,
but I think they want to see improvement. I believe people expect SIU to be in the
top half of the conference every year, and to contend for either the Missouri Valley
Conference title and/or the NCAA tournament three of every five years. SIU should
make some sort of postseason tournament every four out of five years. This year, I
believe they'll be a little bit better than .500 and make some sort of tournament.Question 3.Wisconsin transfer Diamond Taylor is scheduled to play his first game
for SIU on December 22. What will he add to the Saluki lineup and how
high is his ceiling for the next 3 1/2 years?
A. Taylor gives SIU another big guard (he's Justin Bocot's size, really) and another
potential scorer. He can score at every position (3-point line, inside off the
bounce and in the mid-range), and has pretty good handles, so he might be pretty
good in transition, too. He gives SIU another athlete, too, because in practice he's
one of the best rebounders they have.Question 4.
Newcomer Mamadou Seck is averaging 10+ points/game and 7+
rebounds/game. Most MVC fans are familiar with Gene Teague and Carlton
Fay, but it is my opinion that Seck has been the most surprising player in
the MVC thus far. Have Saluki fans and coaches been surprised with his
production as well?
A. I think they've been surprised a bit by his offense, and how easily he has scored at
this level. They knew he'd play hard, and with a lot of energy, and that he'd be a
good rebounder and a good defender, because he came from a program that stresses
those two things, Southeastern Illinois College. Seck has taken a bit of a
leadership role, and played his way into the starting lineup. I thought he'd get
there, just because how well he uses his body and can dribble, but even I've been
surprised by how well he's developed into a scorer in the Salukis' system.
Question 5.SIU was the MVC's best program during much of the the previous decade.
How far away are they from returning to the elite of the MVC? In your
opinion, what is the single most important thing SIU can do to turn the
I think SIU is a year away from returning to the top/elite of the MVC, but it also
could happen this year. The Salukis have the parts: Good point guard, good inside
player, and good defensive players. The problem is, Creighton is better, Wichita
State is a little better and more confident, and Northern Iowa is in the best
position. The Panthers are just lurking just a bit under the radar, when they have
the talent to win the league, too. SIU could move right under those three teams if
it can get its swagger back at home, and find a go-to player. That's what the
Salukis need more than anything, is a go-to guy (Fay? Seck?), who can take over the
game when it's tied, or score that winning basket. Last year, down the stretch, it
was Kevin Dillard, or even Tony Freeman some games, and Teague. Today, who knows who
Thanks again to Todd for participating in our team by team MVC Q&A. Previous Q&A's can be found in the MVC links section of the forum.
Dec 13 - Drake Bulldogs - Mark Emmert
Dec 16 - Jim Benson - Illinois State
Dec 18 - Paul Suellentrop - Wichita State
Dec 20 - Steve Pivovar - Creighton
Dec 22 - Kelly Beaton - Northern Iowa
Dec 24 - Todd Hefferman - Southern Illinois
Dec 26 - Randy Beard - Evansville
Dec 27 - Todd Golden - Indiana State