Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men's basketball coach Marty Simmons isn't complacent with the team's best start in school history. Even though the No. 5-ranked Cougars are 15-2 overall and 8-0 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, Simmons knows that for the Cougars to have continued success they will have to improve.
"We have to get better in some areas," said Simmons. "We are a team that has to do the little things to be successful. To our guys credit, they have done a good job."
SIUE will ride on the nation's longest Division II winning streak (14 games) as it travels to play traditional GLVC powers Southern Indiana on Thursday and Kentucky Wesleyan on Saturday. The Cougars sit in first place in the conference, two games ahead on the loss side in front the Screaming Eagles and Indianapolis.
"Our guys have had a good mentality," said Simmons. "They are looking forward to the challenge of playing both of those teams on the road."
The key to the Cougars winning streak has been their defense, giving up an average of 58.4 points per game.
"You have to credit the guys for that," said Simmons. "These aren't easy teams we are playing. A lot of these teams have guys who can shoot the three. You exert a lot of energy trying to fight through screens to take away those threes."
One of the key components to that defense is senior Tim Bauersachs (Pinckneyville), who had a career-high 21 points in a win over Quincy last Saturday. Bauersachs is fourth in the GLVC in field goal percentage at 63.3 percent.
"He is one of those guys who takes what the defense gives him," said Simmons. "He doesn't take bad shots and he believes in the system."
Fellow senior Dan Heimos (Waterloo) also takes high quality shots. Heimos is third in the conference, shooting at 65 percent as well as leading the league in blocks with 43.
After Heimos got into foul trouble against the Hawks this past weekend, he was replaced by redshirt freshman Doug Taylor (McClure). In 12 minutes of play Taylor recorded three blocks, two steals, and two rebounds to spark SIUE's interior defense.
"Doug has a great knack for blocking shots," said Simmons. "He has done a very good job. You will continue to see him improve not only this year but later in his career."
The Cougar offense leads the GLVC in field goal percentage at 50.3 percent per game, while holding clubs to 38.7 percent each contest. To go along with that SIUE has six players averaging more than eight points a game.
SIUE battles at Southern Indiana on Thursday night at 7:30 before heading to face the Panthers on Saturday afternoon at 3:30.