Barry Hinson will become the fourth head coach in league history to appear in 10 or more MVC Tournaments.
March 6, 2013
By Jordan Johnson and Amanda Erd
CARBONDALE, Ill. - No. 10 seed Southern Illinois will play No. 7 seed Missouri State in the opening round of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Thursday night at 8:35 p.m. at the Scottrade Center.
After starting the conference season 1-10, the Salukis finished the regular season by winning six of their last eight games.
SIU head coach Barry Hinsonwill become only the fourth head coach in league history to make 10 or more MVC Tournament appearances, behind Dana Altman (14), Rich Herrin (13) and Jim Molinari (11). Hinson was 11-9 in MVC Tournament games in nine seasons at Missouri State.
Hinson fielded questions from the media after Thursday night's practice.
Q: Are you excited to be back at Arch Madness this week?
A: I love this tournament. Obviously, I enjoy the venues we play at on the road, but I've been to the championship game three times in the nine years when I was at Missouri State, we were in the semis a few times and it's just a fun tournament, and I tried to let our players know how much fun it really is. Hopefully, we go in there and play well. Now whether we will win the ball game or not I don't know, but I do hope we play well.
Q: Coach how crazy is it that the 10th seed is the hottest team going into the tournament?
A: Well, I hope they're right, I hope they're right, everybody talked to me today in the conference call that we were the hottest team in the Valley, which I like hearing that, but at the same time our guys have really struggled handling success until lately and we haven't even talked about it. We talked about one thing and one thing only and that's Missouri State. I'm an old guy, I'm an old school guy and I believe this all my life, you take one game at a time at this time of the year. It's all about survive and advance and there's only one thing on our mind and that's Missouri State.
Q: How well are Jeff (Early) and Dez (Jackson) playing right now?
A: They're playing well but they've got to sustain it. I think Jeff will sustain it, Dez has been somewhat of a roller coaster this year. Hopefully, he will continue it. I think the best thing for us is that from what I understand, their parents are going to come to the tournament, and I always think when your parents are in the house I always think you play well.
Q: What do you tell Dez to stay out of foul trouble other than that you just don't take as many chances defensively?
A: To me, staying out of foul trouble is exactly opposite of what you think. I think you have to be more aggressive. You get in foul trouble when you're not aggressive. It always works that way and I know it's an oxymoron but that's the way it is. The harder you play the more aggressive you are, the less amount you have the opportunity to foul, and we just got to get him to play a little more aggressive specifically on the defensive end.
Q: Is there anything Dantiel (Daniels) can do to have that dominant game?
A: I certainly hope so. We struggled in our five slot offensively but not defensively. We are really playing good defense right now with our big guys. I made no boast about it, I said it all along. I think the biggest think you have to do is your big guys have to find a way collectively to get a double-double, and we've done that very few times, but in order for us to be successful, I think that's what needs to happen.
Q: How good do you feel knowing you're playing your best basketball of the year?
A: I think that every basketball team shoots to be playing their best at the end of the season. Every player shoots at the end of the season to be playing their best basketball and we are right now, we really are. I think that's the goal of every coach, there's different ways to get there, different variables. We've taken the same route almost every year I've been a head coach and my teams have always played well coming down the stretch and I just hope we continue the trend.
Q: Offensively, you've gotten better, is it being patient or taking the right shots or a combination of all of them?
A: I think there's a combination. I think first of all our offense is better because we've become more unselfish. We've passed the ball, we are executing more on offense, we are getting the ball were it needs to be, we are attacking right and we are not panicking, we are not panicking. We come out of a timeout and we say what we are going to run, we are actually executing that, and quite frankly guys our defense is better because our offense is better.
Q: How do you think winning on the road for the first time in a while is going to help since obviously the tournament is here?
A: I think with the road win that just speak volume for our confidence. I didn't realize we had lost eight straight games to these guys. I had no idea, I'm reading the game notes right before walking on the floor and I'm kind of upset about it. I talked about it in our huddle with the guys, we don't lose eight-straight games to anybody, I don't care if we play the Chicago Bulls, we are not going to lose eight-straight games and I think coming out of there it gave us a little motivation.
Q: As far as the tournament as a whole, is this the best possible set up for you guys as far as the draw and getting to play Wichita if you do win?
A: I think right now, regardless of the setup, you have everybody uses this term and I going to talk to my guys about this tomorrow, every coach in America is saying win or go home. I don't believe that. I think the key in being successful, especially in tournament play are three things: I think you have to have great attitudes, you have to have unbelievable effort and I think you have to continually demand out of yourself as an individual player to focus on what we want to do and what we want to accomplish. I think if you do those three things, I think you have success. I go back whether you win the ball game I don't know, but I think those three intangibles right there allow you to play your best.
Q: Going forward, you said retention has been a problem with the Salukis and you said you may have 80 or 90 percent new people. How confident are you that you can keep the guys you ask for?
A: Let's get one thing straight. Everybody on this basketball squad is going to be back next year if they're healthy. Now, we're dealing with some serious athletic injuries. At the end of the year, attrition always takes place; guys want to transfer, guys want to leave and all that. I don't anticipate anything, now when I said 80 or 90 percent, I'm bad at math. And that was also at a moment when our guys weren't playing really well and I was very upset. Because of our circumstances right now with the APR, we're not looking to get rid of anybody; we can't afford that. We want to make sure that we do everything we could possibly do to make sure we are academically fulfilling our requirements for the APR. In order to do that, our guys have to have a great second semester. If they don't, then that's when you have attrition that takes place.
Q: Coach, how fitting is it that you're playing Missouri State in the first round?
A: I'm past it now. I think once you play these guys twice, it's just another opponent. It's not another opponent, I'm not an idiot. I didn't like getting fired from them. But I've said all along I'm a Saluki. I'm not a Bear, I'm a Saluki. The bottom line is, the emotional part of it, for the most part, is gone and we've just gotta play. It didn't matter who this game was going to be. It very well could've been Illinois State, it could've been somebody else. It could've been Drake, could've been Bradley. You've just gotta get ready to play the game. And I go back, we try to do those three things: attitude, effort and focus. And hopefully we can have some success.
Q: Do you feel like the team has that urgency that it all comes down to this?
A: I think they have an urgency to succeed, but I don't think these guys feel any pressure at all. Why would they?We're the 10th seed. There's not one, I mean other than our fans, when we run out of that tunnel there's nobody that thinks we're gonna win the ball game; we're the 10th seed. We've got no pressure on us. I'm serious, we're going to have fun. I'm looking forward to it.
Q: Do you think that will help you? Just going out and playing?
A: Sure. I think when you're relaxed, I think when you play hard, I think when you go back to the three intangibles I talked about, I think if you focus on those three, the games are a lot easier than what it is. There's going to be tight moments, there's going to be pressure, we know that. But there's been tight moments and there's been pressure over the last eight games and we won six of those.