The Fall Of The Salukis

February 15, 2012 – 1:46 am by Hickey

Every year in every team sport, we take the time to find out who the Coach of the Year is — but rarely does anyone figure out who is worthy of the title Worst Coach of The Year.

This season, one of the leading candidates for that ignominious title which I just made up has to be Southern Illinois’ Chris Lowery.

You remember the Salukis, right? Nice program. They’re no Northern Iowa, but for a long time they were one of the most consistent programs in the Midwest, with coaches Bruce Weber and Matt Painter parlaying their success into head coaching gigs in the Big Ten.

The success continued under Lowery, who became one of the hottest coaching prospects in the country in his first three seasons, all of which resulted in SIU reaching the NCAA Tournament. None was better than the ’06-07 season, when the Salukis earned a No. 4 seed and advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to No. 1 seed Kansas 61-58.

Instead of leaving for a more plum gig, Lowery displayed the unheard-of coaching trait known as loyalty, signing a seven-year extension to stay in Carbondale.

Unfortunately karma appears not to have paid off in this case, as pretty much everything that has happened since has been a disaster. The Salukis are in the midst of their third losing season in the five since that Sweet 16 appearance, and this year the losses have been historically awful.

On Jan. 21, SIU suffered the most lopsided loss in program history, an 85-42 pounding at Wichita State. Yet that may not even be the most embarrassing thing to happen to the Salukis this year — you’d have to look at their last two games for that distinction.

SIU’s last two opponents, Indiana State and Creighton, have gone a combined 24-for-26 from behind the 3-point line in back-to-back games. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Sycamores set a NCAA record by hitting all 12 of their 3’s on Saturday, a seemingly impossible feat in itself. But Creighton nearly replicated in Tuesday night, going 12 of 14 from beyond the arc. A program once built completely on defense has instead become a historical disgrace at it. And that is how you earn consideration as the Worst Coach of The Year.

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  1. 8 Responses to “The Fall Of The Salukis”

  2. Hmm…taking a pounding at the hand of the Shockers really has to hurt…

    By MJenks on Feb 15, 2012

  3. I agree

    By Anonymous on Feb 16, 2012

  4. Lowrey is pathetic and needs to be bought out by all meeans. Worst coaching job ive watched in all of basketball by far!!!!!

    By Anonymous on Feb 16, 2012

  5. I have heard that former NBA player and current Tuskegee Univ. head coach Leon Douglas is being asked by some friends in Detroit to take the So. Ill. job

    By annymous on Mar 15, 2012

  6. There’s a reason no other team approached Lowery after that 06-07 season. They saw through the disguise. He was never a good recruiter. The bulk of the players he recruited were gansters and the good players were ones referred to him by Weber. Notice Weber isn’t sending plauers anymore….. Lowery signed his seven year $750,000 per year deal, stopped putting in the work, put on 30 pounds, and bought fancier suits.

    By Digger on Oct 21, 2012

  7. SIU basketball has taken a gigantic shit. Bring back Rich Herrin!!

    By MJ on Jan 7, 2013

  8. Unfortunately this year’s team is no better than last year and attendance at the Arena is way down.

    I wss a student at SIU when the Arena opened and it was difficult to get a ticket. Hope the Saluki fortunes improve soon with better recruiting and coaching.

    By Rich Herman on Feb 8, 2013

  9. Rich Herrin?!?! Christ, bring back Joe Gottfried…..anybody…..QUICKLY!!!!

    By BigDawg on Feb 21, 2013

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