Jan. 14, 2013
By Chelsea Cunningham
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (8-8, 1-4) returns to action with a men's basketball game at Bradley (10-7, 2-3) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised locally on WSIU and also broadcast on Comcast Chicago.
The teams met 12 days ago in Carbondale, a game won by Bradley, 66-60.
SIU head coach Barry Hinson had his weekly teleconference this morning with the media.
Q: How do you feel about playing Bradley twice at the start of the conference season?
A: "Well, this season we've had a lot of quirks. Geno (Ford) and I have a lot in common, and we'll be two kissin' cousins when we get into Peoria tomorrow. This game concerns us just like any other road game. They came into our building and beat us by six. I don't put a lot of thought into when you're away from home and guys are struggling. I've been in that arena nine times, and there is a lot of barley and hops for two hours prior to the game. I expect the same old Bradley crowd that we've had for nine years, and they'll be rocking and rolling. I'll hear all of the short jokes possible that you can hear from the student section to my right. It will be one heck of a game. It always has been and always will be."
Q: Explain the last couple of games. What have been some of the keys to your success?
A: "You look at what Ben (Jacobson) has done at Northern Iowa, when your back is up against the wall, you have to respond. You have to find an avenue on which you can find some light at the end of the tunnel. We just completely harped on our guys. We went four-straight days where we didn't even work on our offense. We are still not very good defensively. We really struggled in that category, and obviously that has a lot to do with our size. There was a time period when we played Wichita State and we guarded a 7-1 guy with a 6-2 guy. That's what we've got, and we really can't stop anyone when they throw the ball inside. In our defense, a lot of that has to do with the height of our kids and athleticism. Now that Dantiel (Daniels) is back, this should help us out a little bit. He is still so gingerly on his ankle right now, and he isn't moving very well. We don't anticipate playing him a lot against Bradley. We played him 22o minutes against Indiana State, but it was more of a half-court game. Bradley is more of a transition-oriented team, and they are so athletic. I think we're still going to have to be small against these guys."
Q: Tell us about Desmar Jackson and your meeting with him. His game has made some great strides.
A: "When we got back from Evansville on the bus, I told the staff I was done. It was probably one of the greatest decisions I've ever made as a head coach. My dad taught me a long time ago that when you're upset, you have to wait 24 hours before you make a decision. We were scheduled to practice that day and I canceled practice. It had a lot to do with my dad and what he taught me, which was to wait, and go through some things. On Monday, we practiced and we did not have a very good practice. I had a heart-to-heart with Desmar and I basically told him he needed to go home. I had met with him at length and I had met with his mother. I basically gave him a week to convince us. We did not want him starting class second semester and repeating what had happened first semester. We asked him and gave him a road map of things we expected him to do during that week. He did everything that we asked of him, and consequently he played better. I could care less about the points, and I know people laugh when I say that. We have bigger issues than him scoring points right now. We're just going to need him to grow up and be a young man that can be responsible and held accountable for. He has done that over seven days. I talked to him a long time yesterday -- 2013 will be a new year for him and I together. His mom and I are on the same page. We certainly are making strides and I hope it continues because he does have talent. I think when he puts effort, I think he's pretty good. That includes academics, in the community, and him being responsible. He is a pretty good kid when he does all of that and he is focused."
Q: In the past, the team has not responded well to success. Do you think the guys have responded well to their win on Saturday?
A: "We really didn't practice a whole lot yesterday because we have a couple of guys that are banged up right now. We're trying to wait to see if they'll be able to play in the game against Bradley. We really did not go very long yesterday. We just went for an hour and a half, and basically did a lot of walk-throughs. We watched a lot of film when we played Bradley. They are just so good defensively and there's a reason why they're one of the top programs in the country with steals. I just love (Dyricus) Simms-Edwards and (Walt) Lemon, I think they're a heck of ball players. I think it gives them a lot of athleticism around the basket. We've got to figure out what to do with (Will) Egolf coming in. When we played them here, there was (Jordan) Prosser and (Jake) Eastman that could step out, or more specifically, Eastman that could step out and make threes. But now Egolf is back, and this gives them a whole different look. We practiced and they gave us some different looks.They played zone, they played triangle-and-two, and they played man. I think man is probably their best defense. We have certainly gone up against that, and we've tried to go up against the box-and-ones. We know that everybody's going to try to do some of that against Dez (Jackson). We've tried to look at some of that stuff and tried to get ready for it."
Q:Have you seen an improvement in the last two games, as far as keeping the defensive focus for 40 minutes?
A: "Our defense right now, our numbers don't speak for the effort we are giving. I'll go back, when your 6-2 guarding 7-1, I don't care. Where that really comes into effect is when you're offensive rebounding. I mean we had a series at Wichita State where we were just busting our butts and we're blocking out. The same thing happened the other night against (Justin) Gant and (RJ) Mahurin from Indiana State. We're in the best position and we're blocking out. The ball comes off at an angle where it doesn't matter. You know they get it and they stick it back in. Well, you know that's 1-for-1, 2-for-2, 3-for-4, 5-of-6 all through the game. It hurts our statistics and hurts our field goal percentage defense. This is one of those years where we just have to turn and look the other way. We're like every other team in the country, we want to hold teams under 40 percent. That's just not going to be possible for us this year based on what we have."
Q: Without airing dirty laundry in public, what are some of the issues Desmar Jackson had that led you to that point?
A: "I pretty much aired it all out when I was at Wichita State. This is my philosophy with players, it always has been, and it's not going to change. The philosophy is really simple, when the game of basketball, academics, and going to school means more to me than it does to you about your life, then it's just time for us to move on. I love my players and in order for me to tell a player that he has to go home, it takes a lot. I just got to the point where I was absolutely frustrated...worn out, and for lack of better terms, I was done. Somebody game me something this week that talked about Abraham Lincoln. It said that the worst disservice that we can do is to do things for others in which they can do for themselves. When we start enabling our players, workers or children, we put ourselves in a predicament. I had just gotten to the point where we weren't going to do it anymore. They're just little things that are important to me and other coaches in the country. When you look at it in that regard we felt like we had to move on. He knew I was serious. My wife overheard someone in the stands say 'Oh he's just playing games with Desmar, and it looks like it's workin' and my wife turned around and said 'Well you obviously don't know my husband because he doesn't play games. He was serious.' My wife told me I was an idiot when I told her what I was getting ready to do. My wife has said that too me for 32 years consistently."