Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Hidden at the end of the recap of Southern Illinois' exhibition victory against Lincoln University is some surprising - and for Saluki fans, troubling - news. According to siusalukis.com's Tom Weber, head coach Barry Hinson is worried that he may lose Dantiel Daniels for the entire season.
I haven't seen any official news from the school or reports from the local writers, but it appears as if Dantiel Daniels, who did not play in the exhibition, suffered an undisclosed injury that could be serious enough to keep him out long term. According to an October 20 blog post by Tom Weber, Daniels was expected to miss about five weeks. Now it sounds as if that may have been optimistic.
A 6-5, 230-pound forward, he was the team's third leading scorer (8.3 per game) and second leading rebounder (4.9 per game) as a freshman a year ago. He also led the conference in blocks and was named to the All-Freshman team. Our own Doctor Geeves listed him as SIU's best player in his Missouri Valley Top 10.
This would be a significant loss for a Southern Illinois squad already short on talent. The team lost its leading scorer and rebounder in Mamadou Seck to graduation and guard Diamond Taylor has been suspended indefinitely. The loss of Danniels not only adds to that talent depletion, but leaves Southern Illinois short on size.
The three tallest players left on the roster are 6-9 junior Davante Drinkard (who only appeared in 15 games last year and averaged 3.6 points per game), 6-7 freshman Bola Olaniyan and 6-6, 264-pound freshman Chase Heins.
Olaniyan is going to redshirt this year, and Heins is currently inured and will be out for several weeks, which could cause him to redshirt as well.
Drinkard came off the bench in the exhibition, while 6-6 sophomore Antonio Bryer (who scored six points in 68 total minutes as a freshman) started at the five as the lone big in a four-guard line-up. That's just fine against a team like Lincoln, but they are going to have some problems doing so in conference against the likes of Creighton and Drake. The Salukis are going to need Daniels badly.
If he really does have to miss the whole season, what was already shaping up to be a rough first season in Carbondale for Barry Hinson could get even worse. The Salukis are going to have to rely on senior guards Jeff Early and Kendal Brown-Surles as well as junior Wyoming transfer Desmar Jackson if they are going to be competitive at all this year.