Amtrak cancellation derails Southern Illinois basketball team
BY TONI GINNETTI Staff Reporter January 7, 2014 1:14PM
Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson instructs his team during a time out during the second period of a Missouri Valley Conference NCAA basketball game against Wichita State at the SIU Arena in Carbondale, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)
Updated: January 7, 2014 10:39PM
The hardest task this week for Southern Illinois hasn’t been playing games. It’s been getting to games.
The Salukis spent a snowbound Sunday night in a church in downstate Tuscola after their bus was stranded on I-57 returning from Normal following a 66-48 loss at Illinois State.
And when they tried to travel north Tuesday for Wednesday’s game at Loyola, weather struck again.
“We were scheduled to be on Amtrak, but all service out of Carbondale was canceled,’’ SIU coach Barry Hinson said.
“We haven’t had a chance to step forward [in practice] because we’ve been on the bus. We’re hoping to get on the floor at 7 p.m. to practice. That will be our first time on the floor since the Illinois State game.’’
Before their weather issues, the Salukis (4-11, 0-2 Missouri Valley) were dealing with performance problems on the court. After sophomore guards Anthony Beane and Jalen Pendleton struggled against the Redbirds, Hinson promised changes.
Their other problem will be facing a rejuvenated Loyola team coming off one of its best victories of the season and its first in the new conference.
The Ramblers (6-8, 1-1) dominated in an 89-57 victory against Missouri State, with sophomore guard Devon Turk scoring 30 points off the bench.
“For sure I’m leaving him on the bench,’’ Loyola coach Porter Moser said. “Our guys know that starting isn’t the whole deal, and we like that scoring push off the bench.’’
The beleaguered Salukis will get a respectful welcome from Loyola.
“You’re thankful they’re safe,’’ Moser said, “but we’re not talking about [their misfortunes]. We’re talking about what they do well and what we do well. I’ve known Barry a long time. I know those guys will be ready to play.’’