Like Willie Nelson, Southern Illinois University’s men’s basketball team is “On the Road Again.” But the Salukis, mired in a three-game losing streak, are hoping for a different refrain when they travel to Loyola of Chicago for a Missouri Valley Conference game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
SIU’s bus made national headlines after it got stuck in a blinding snowstorm on Interstate 57 near Tuscola, Ill., on Sunday night. The Salukis were trying to return to Carbondale from Normal, where they had lost 66-48 to Illinois State that afternoon. They had to sleep on the floor of a church near Tuscola before leaving for Carbondale Monday morning.
“Sleepin’ in a church on the floor is always better than sleepin’ on a bus,” tweeted SIU sophomore guard-forward Jalen Pendleton, a Bosse High School graduate.
Two accidents on I-57 delayed a tow truck getting to SIU’s bus near midnight Sunday. Almost all of the hotels in the Tuscola area were booked that night, so they stayed at a nearby church. More than 100 vehicles were stranded in the storm between Normal and Carbondale, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
SIU, 4-11 overall and 0-2 in the MVC, left for Loyola (6-8, 1-1) on Tuesday. So far this season, it has been a case of so goes Pendleton, so go the Salukis. In their four wins, he is averaging a team-high 19.3 points on 61 percent shooting. In their 11 losses, he has averaged 9.4 points on 46 percent shooting.