Is Bartley the Answer?
(St. Louis, MO) – Marcus Bartley is back in the Southern Illinois lineup. Is he the missing piece to carry the Salukis to the upper levels of the Missouri Valley Conference?
The former Saint Louis University player transferred shortly after SLU hired Travis Ford to man the Billiken coaching post. His arrival at SIU was cause for celebration for coach Barry Hinson and the Saluki faithful.
Hinson recruited the Decatur, Illinois native during his high school sophomore season, but Bartley ended up in St. Louis with Jim Crews’ SLU team that had just made back-to-back trips to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
While the Billikens fell from 27 wins to 11 in Bartley’s freshman season, the 6’5 guard finished third in the A-10 in three-point shooting. With just 11 wins again in Bartley’s sophomore season (Crews’ last) the athletic guard again led SLU in long distance accuracy and was on the A-10’s Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
Enter Ford and exit Bartley and Hell-O SIU.
Coach Hinson had preseason high hopes for what the red-shirt junior could provide for his team.
A broken bone in his right (shooting) wrist held Bartley out of his first six games this year and his debut came against, you guessed it, Saint Louis U. With 12 points in is personal curtain raiser, I asked coach Ford what he remembered about Bartley, who didn’t transfer immediately upon the announcement of Ford’s hiring.
His praise was strong and sincere.
In spite of the Chaifetz Arena defeat, Hinson could barely contain himself concerning the difference his transfer will make to the banged up Saluki squad. Center Thik Bol is yet to play a game, Armon Fletcher is playing injured and Bartley is at less than 100%, but Hinson believes his presence will be felt.
Hinson believes guard Sean Lloyd is the defensive catalyst and the combination of newcomer Kavion Pippen and Bol (when healthy) can be as dangerous an interior combination as there is in the Valley. Jonathan Wiley is filling that four spot quite well, so the missing ingredient, despite the strong play of sophomore Aaron Cook, is that truly named ‘lead guard’ that Hinson believes he has in Bartley.
The sixth year SIU head coach evaluated Bartley’s first game game and exuded confidence that he will be a difference maker.
In two games (both losses) and one start, Bartley has scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out nine assists. He is six for six from the free throw line and three of eight from long distance.
Conference season is about to launch and Bartley is joining the lineup at the perfect time. He has a chance to lift the Salukis to greater heights.
Editor: Cover photo courtesy siusalukis.com.