Dec. 21, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson received a standing ovation from fans in the team's first game since his post-game remarks went viral earlier in the week, and then his team responded with a 66-58 victory over Ball State on Saturday.
After last Tuesday night's loss to Murray State, Hinson ripped his club during a press conference. Within hours, the video had circulated to national media outlets making Hinson an overnight celebrity. He's taken to the airwaves ever since to decry a society where athletes are coddled and rarely criticized. He had used the term "mama's boys" to describe his squad.
As the teams were shaking hands after the game, one fan screamed "Hinson For President." It was a fitting remark directed to a coach who an hour later made a seven-minute appearance on CNN from his office via Skype.
The game itself featured two teams that have yet to distinguish themselves, with each squad posting just one previous Division I win. So it was no surprise that the game went down to the wire.
The Salukis (3-8) led, 58-57, with 3:53 remaining and closed out the victory with an 8-1 run. Jalen Pendleton led SIU with 21 points, including 12 in a row during one stretch of the second half.
"Jalen definitely didn't play like a mama's boy tonight and if that is how a mama's boy plays then all of us need to be mama's boys," joked senior center Davante Drinkard, who referred to Hinson as "the little man" in a widely circulated tweet after Tuesday night's press conference took the web by storm.
Drinkard was among the front-court players Hinson criticized in a now-famous rant in which the coach claimed that at least his wife would know to shot fake.
"We also learned to shot-fake on a couple and-one's," he teased.
The spirits were high in SIU Arena, even though the entire area was under a flash-flood warning from the five inches of rain that had fallen.
"(The fans) were unbelievable," Hinson said. "They're building Noah's Ark two blocks from my house -- that's how much it's rained in the last 24 hours. My two cats were going across the street toward the ark, and I was worried the boat may leave before this game."
The Cardinals (2-7) lost their sixth-straight game and have lost their last five by an average of 21 points. Their offense was either feast or famine today. They started the game by making 10-of-11 shots from the field, but they also turned the ball over 12 times in the first half. In the second half, they were a woeful 1-of-14 from 3-point range.
Ball State led, 53-51, with 8:38 remaining, but the 6-foot-2 Pendleton scored back-to-back buckets in the paint to put Southern back on top.
"There was a point in time in the game where we really needed a spark and I just grabbed (Pendleton) and said, hey - get this crowd going," Hinson said. "I thought he just played really well offensively."
The Cardinals fell apart in the final five minutes of the game, missing their last seven shots and committing three more turnovers.
Hinson seemed relieved to get the win and happy to change the subject back to basketball.
"This has been a taxing week on a lot of people," he said. "We didn't have really good fresh legs today. We've been practicing hard and we've had a lot of mental stress as well."
He hopes this week will be a turning point in the season.
"I know I've received a little bit of grief for saying I stand by what I said -- but I stand by what I said," he concluded. "We needed an alarm clock, we needed a wake-up call, and we figured it out at least for one game."