Jan. 4, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (7-6, 0-2) plays at Evansville (8-6, 1-1) on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Ford Center in Evansville in a game that will be televised on the Missouri Valley Conference's TV network.
The Salukis have lost three-straight games overall, and dating back to last season, they have lost seven-straight MVC games.
Saturday's game will air live on FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports Indiana (on FOX Sports Plus channels in the state of Indiana due to Indiana Pacers) and FOX Sports Kansas City (combined 5.9 million homes), Comcast SportsNet Chicago (4.9 million homes), ESPN3 (outside the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska), DirecTV (Channel 671), Dish Network (Channel 418) and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 748). The game will be joined in progress at 8:30 p.m. Central on FOX College Sports Atlantic (56 million digital homes).
Head coach Barry Hinson took questions from the media after Friday's practice.
What are your chief concerns with Evansville?
It's the same thing it's always been with Evansville. I'd get tickled with Marty (Simmons) and Jim Crews when they were there, I'd say,'you get off the bus, you walk through the door, and there's a janitor setting a back screen on you right when you came through the door.' Evansville's always been about constant movement, constant screening and sustained possessions. They make you guard for an entire 30-35 seconds. Our focus, we have to be in tune all the time defensively.
What's the challenge of facing a veteran club?
I think it's a loaded question. When you say veterans, for us right now, you're going up against somebody like Colt Ryan -- constant movement, constant screening. Everybody knows their role. You look at a stat from the other night -- their point guard had 19 rebounds. I've never heard of that. Was he Dennis Rodman dressed up? Everybody understands their role. They're a senior-laden ball club. They're very mature.
What kind of matchup nightmare is freshman center Egidijus Mockevicius?
It's the same nightmare we have with everybody else. When we run our 6-2 guy in there on him, everybody gets kind of excited. Right now, we're guarding 6-10, 6-11 with 6-2. As long as we can kind of keep Davante (Drinkard) out of foul trouble and keep him loose, because his feet are just giving him so much problems right now. I told you in our last press conference, we're just hanging on a thread every day with him with his injury. Hopefully, we'll just continue to get him a little bit healthier, but I don't think that's going to be possible with how much we're having to play him.
Is there any danger of falling too far behind in the conference?
I think we have to be realistic of what we can and cannot do. I've told our players we have to get better every day and focus on the little things. I ask our guys, if you'll give me great effort and have a great attitude, that's how we're going to gauge our performance right now. I think to put particular won or lost records on them right now only adds to the pressure. We understand our deficiencies, but it doesn't have anything to do with how you approach the game, how hard you're going to play and the attitude you possess. This is not a sprint, it's a marathon. I certainly see progress, I think our guys are making progress.
Do you need more from Desmar (Jackson)?
It's hard for Desmar to do more than what he's doing. I think there's more in his reserve. At the same time, when you score 29 at Utah State, you come in with a target on your back. When you're leading the team in scoring, when you're leading the team in assists, you draw everybody's focal attention. When you're not getting a lot of help from everybody that's surrounding you, that's hard for him to break out of. We certainly need more, we certainly want more, but a lot of that has to do with everybody's attention on him defensively, because he's the focal point.
How is Dantiel's (Daniels) progress?
He's still on crutches. I would like to say his progress is good, but any time you're still on crutches, I don't think that bodes well for playing really quick. We hope to have him back in a couple of weeks.
It's a homecoming for Kendal (Brown-Surles) and Jalen (Pendleton). Have you said anything to them about that?
I did see Jalen in the hallway, and I said you're going to play in this game, so get ready to go. I know how important it is for these guys to play when they go home, and I want to be a part of that process. I also told them they have to play well, if you're out there doing stupid things, I'm not going to play you.
How important is Jeff Early off the court as well as on?
I just visited with Jeff about that. I think our team grabs our energy from Jeff. As Jeff goes, so go we. I think that's the byproduct of him being a senior, it's a byproduct of his personality, but we obviously need him to be bubbly and energetic, because we certainly feed off that.
Have you spent more time working on free throws after missing so many the other night?
We treat free throws just like we do shooting, we spend time on it every single day. I've always said good free throw percentages are about the guys getting fouled, the right guys getting fouled. A lot of it has to do with fatigue, a lot of it has to do with the mental part of it. We came out today and had an hour of shooting and we'll do it again today.
Can you talk about the energy in the arena versus Bradley?
I don't think words can express how I feel about our fans right now. I'm completely blown away with how they've been with attendance, how they've been in our games. Our fans not only understand our deficiencies, but they realize it. I've gotten I can't tell you how many letters and people I've run into in the community who say, 'keep your head up, tell the boys we appreciate them playing hard.' The other night, I thought they turned the game for us. They rose to their feet, they got us jump-started. I'm just really happy to be a Saluki. I can see what's on the horizon and I like what I see.
How many minutes do you think Davante can play tomorrow night?
It's just hard going into every game. We don't know how he's going to react, we don't know how his feet are going to react. We don't know about foul trouble, match-ups, but we certainly need him to play extended time because he is our Lone Ranger.
Did anything happen with suspensions or injuries yesterday?
Is that not the statement of our program, when you have a media conference and the guy asks did anything happen yesterday, any disciplinary, any suspensions! I get tickled, but you're right, we actually went through a day yesterday with no drama, just a day. Like I said, we haven't been one week without any drama, but that just shows you the state of our program right now. Sometimes, you have to be a duck and let water go off your back.