Oct. 13, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Saluki men's basketball team held an open practice for the media on Saturday morning -- the second day of practice as the team prepares for its first season under first-year head coach Barry Hinson.
"All you can ask for is great attitude and effort, and they've provided that," Hinson said. "They've bought in, and as long as they do that, we'll be successful."
Southern Illinois returns four starters and seven lettermen from last year's team that finished 8-23. The foundation of this year's squad is expected to be a trio of senior guards -- Kendal Brown-Surles, Jeff Early and T.J. Lindsay -- along with forward Dantiel Daniels, who was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman team last year.
There's still a getting-to-know-you process going on between players and coaches in these earlier sessions, Hinson said.
"We're teaching them how we want them to practice and what we expect," he explained. "For example, value the basketball and don't turn it over, value rebounding, what's a good shot versus what's a bad shot. All of that stuff that's being taught, I believe it takes 21 days to create a habit. We have 19 more practices to go."
In terms of style, the Salukis will play at a faster tempo than the defensive-minded teams of recent years, according to Hinson, seeking to push the ball in transition.
"Their heads are spinning right now, because we're putting so much stuff on them," Hinson said. "In their defense, they've had a different program for four years -- both defensively and offensively."
The Salukis have seven new players on the 14-man roster, including Wyoming transfer Desmar Jackson. Jackson is a 6-foot-5 guard who was sixth in the Mountain West Conference in scoring two years ago. He sat out last season due to transfer requirements.
"There's certainly a bit more excitement for me because I'm back on the floor teaching, and I have my own program," said Hinson, who won 169 games in nine seasons at Missouri State from 1999 to 2008. "I love this time of year. I love practice. This is where teams are developed. I get to be with these guys every single day and I enjoy that."
Next Saturday, fans will get their first look at the team at the Maroon Madness scrimmage at SIU Arena at 5 p.m. Southern will play its first exhibition game two weeks from today, when it hosts Lincoln (Mo.) at 7:05 p.m. on Oct. 27.