Nov. 2, 2009
EDWARDSVILLE, ILL. - The start of the exhibition season means things are beginning to ramp up for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men's basketball program.
The Cougars entertain MacMurray at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the first of two exhibition games. SIUE also plays Illinois College on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Right now is not the time to worry about matchups and how many minutes played everyone receives, said SIUE Coach Lennox Forrester.
"Our No. 1 goal is to win and give 110 percent," he said. "We're treating this like a real game. It will be no different that if we play (University of) Illinois or Illinois State."
Illinois and Illinois State will be the first two games on the regular season schedule. The Cougars play at Illinois in the season opener for both games on Nov. 13. SIUE's home opener is Nov. 15 against Illinois State at the Vadalabene Center.
Forrester said just getting his players to play hard for a focused 40 minutes will be a top task.
"It will be a good test to see where we are at," he added.
SIUE enters the season with seven players returning who saw action last season.
Mark Yelovich (Mt. Zion) returns as the team's leading scorer with 13.7 points per game last season. The Cougar sophomore became the first freshman to lead the Cougars in scoring since all-time leading scorer Jason Holmes did it his initial season during the 1993-94 campaign.
The Cougars also return senior Aamir McCleary at point guard. McCleary boasted 116 assists in his first season as a Cougar.
Nikola Bundalo, one of two players who appeared in all 30 games last season, returns at the center position. He led the team in blocks with 36 and rebounds with 145.
The SIUE coaching staff also will be evaluating the newcomers on the rosters as well as the returners. Forrester left who would be starting Wednesday's as well as Saturday's games up in the air. "Every day the players are being evaluated," he said.