March 1, 2011
This is the latest installment of our monthly feature called, "Ask the AD." If you have questions for Saluki Director of Athletics Mario Moccia, feel free to submit them by e-mail.
Why does the opponent shoot at the Dawg Pound in the first half instead of the second? Free throws can be more critical in the 2nd half, so wouldn't you want the students behind the glass?
My understanding is that the Dawg Pound really came into its own during the 2001-02 season when SIU began its NCAA runs, and the seating configuration has stayed that way ever since. The student end could certainly be flip-flopped, if that was determined to be of critical importance. I do know the coaches like their offense to be right in front of them in the second half. We also have about 11 rows of season ticket holders in the south end bleachers that we would have to move to the north end. My only other concern would be having our students in such close proximity to the visiting team. The Missouri Valley Conference recommends against this practice, but you see different set-ups at different arenas. It is something to discuss in the off-season.
Is there a plan in the future to move volleyball matches to the Arena to take advantage of the nicer facility, seating, video board? Most other MVC schools play volleyball in their main campus arena where men's basketball is played.
I have spoken to our head coach, Brenda Winkeler, as well as our facilities people, and everyone agrees we should play some matches in SIU Arena. In fact, we are planning to host the team's early-season tournament in the arena next season. However, the smaller size of Davies Gym does give us a distinct home court advantage, plus there have been many upgrades including the locker room, a new roof, banners and paint. Also, since both men's and women's basketball practice in the arena beginning in early October, it makes scheduling volleyball there a bit more difficult. Coaches traditionally like to play where they practice.
Do you foresee any more football realignment this year or teams moving from FCS to FBS, such as UMass?
When the moratorium ends, I would assume that many teams would consider moving divisions. Villanova and UMASS have been in the news about making a move, and more regionally, Northern Kentucky and North Alabama. As you know, the University of North Dakota and the University of South Dakota are finalizing their transition to FCS football, and USD will be joining the MVFC in 2012. Recently, we have seen that Montana is going to stay at the FCS level and Appalachian State is considering a move, so I am sure the process of University officials contemplating moves will keep up for quite some time.
What are your plans for turning around the men's and women's basketball programs?
At the end of each season, I sit down with the head coaches of both sports and go over what I feel needs to change in order for us to improve. There are some things that are in athletic administrator's direct control and some that are out of our control. An example would be the recruitment of players and their talent level. Administrators can't recruit off campus and can't evaluate talent. Now, we certainly will discuss past recruiting tactics, why we had success in the past and not the present, player development and retention and how players are progressing emotionally and physically during their careers as a Saluki. There are many factors that I have identified that I believe will assist us in a turnaround. Identifying them is the easy part -- successfully implementing changes is more difficult, but certainly attainable.
Next season is the 10-year anniversary of the 2002 Sweet 16 for the men's basketball team. Will anything be done to celebrate the anniversary?
Since I have been at SIU, we have had the 60-year reunion of the 1946 NAIA National Championship team, and the Rich Herrin era and the Jack Hartman era reunions. I know a few years prior to my arrival we had a Paul Lambert era reunion as well. The 2002 Sweet 16 team sure is something to consider having, but individuals like Coach Weber and Coach Painter, plus the many players who play professionally overseas, would probably be unable to attend. We will discuss this as we make plans for next year's promotional schedule. The one-hundred year anniversary of Saluki Basketball is on the horizon, and it is going to take about a year to plan that entire event. We will invite every single living basketball alumni back to the event, which will be an amazing sight to see.
Would you look at inducting whole teams into the Saluki Hall of Fame? I am referring specifically to inducting the 2002 and 2007 Sweet 16 teams.
From what I am told, previous administrations were not interested in inducting teams to the Hall of Fame, so parameters for consideration were never set up. I don't recall that we have even discussed this in my tenure. I asked a member on the Hall of Fame selection committee and he recalls the committee discussing the 1983 football team, but the consensus was that a reunion was more appropriate than induction to the H.O.F. The 1967 NIT team is inducted, so there is some precedent and we will discuss this at our next in-person meeting. Certainly, the 2002 and 2007 Sweet 16 men's basketball teams would be discussed at that time.
Why was the announcement of the Walt Frazier return to SIU not publicized until less than two weeks before the event? Many folks from out of town had already made plans for that weekend.
With Walt currently calling games for the New York Knicks, his schedule is very demanding during the NBA season. He gets a small window of time off during the NBA All-Star weekend, and he was also considering going to the Caribbean for a business matter. We didn't want to go public with Walt Frazier's return to SIU until we were absolutely certain that he could attend. We are very grateful that he made time to come back for the weekend and the Jack Hartman era and hope to see him again in the arena soon.