Southern Illinois University men’s basketball team is off to an 0-2 start after facing a brutal one-two punch in Missouri and St. Louis. But one shining light for the Salukis has been the play of former Bosse standout Jalen Pendleton off the bench.
SIU coach Barry Hinson said Pendleton, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, likes his role.
“Yeah, I hope so,” Hinson said during a press conference. “Even with three fouls, we said let’s go to the spark. Then we put Jalen on the floor. He gives us that spark when he’s in the game and we certainly have to have that from him.”
Pendleton is the Salukis’ third-leading scorer (9.0) and rebounder (4.0) after two games. But Hinson is not planning to start him anytime soon.
“He’s that spark that you have to have coming off the bench,” Hinson said. “Quite frankly, Jalen’s played well in those games but we start guys that are consistent in practice and the things that we do. We would like to play with a little bit more size and we can’t do that with Jalen in the hybrid spot. It makes teams adjust to him as well. I think that’s one of the byproducts of bringing him off the bench. Then they have to make substitution packages based on our people.”
Hinson was asked if Pendleton replaced departed Jeff Early as the team’s “Energizer Bunny.”
“It’s too early to say,” Hinson said. “I hope so. We have a lot of roles changing. We needed solid point guard play and Marcus Fillyaw has provided that. We need to shoot the ball better from the perimeter; we haven’t shown any improvements at that yet. We needed better interior play and I think we will make great strides in that arena.
“The spark right now – the Energizer Bunny Rabbit – has been Jalen and I hope it continues to be him. If he can do that and accept that role that will certainly make us a better ballclub.”