Salukis entertain fans during Maroon Madness

    Barry Hinson addresses the crowd at Maroon Madness.

    Barry Hinson addresses the crowd at Maroon Madness.
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    Oct. 20, 2012

    By Tom Weber

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki basketball fans got their first look at this year's men's and women's basketball teams during Maroon Madness on Saturday evening at SIU Arena.

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    First-year men's basketball head coach Barry Hinson used a microphone to address the crowd, imploring them to support the team this year.

    "I may need someone from the crowd to score for us next Saturday night," he joked, noting that several of his players were injured. "I won't guarantee wins, but I promise we'll play our butts off. "

    The Salukis are coming off a tumultuous year in which they lost a school-record 23 games and finished ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference. The coaching staff was replaced, and the new staff inherits four returning starters and eight letter winners.

    The strength of this year's team is expected to be its back court, where a trio of senior starters -- Kendal Brown-Surles, Jeff Early and T.J. Lindsay -- all return. Added to the back court mix is junior Desmar Jackson, a Wyoming transfer who was the Mountain West Conference's fifth-leading scorer in 2011.

    "We had a scrimmage this morning for the first time, and I was pleasantly surprised," Hinson said. "I thought our guys did what we asked them to do. We shared the ball and made the extra pass. We're not a really good offensively skilled team, but we have an opportunity to be if we take better shots."

    SIU's front court is led by All-Freshman team member Dantiel Daniels, who led the conference in blocked shots as a rookie last year. He did not participate today, along with Josh Swan, Chase Heins and Desmar Jackson. The men will play an exhibition game a week from today when they host Lincoln (Mo.).

    The women's team took the floor first for Maroon Madness, and after a brief introduction from head coach Missy Tiber, conducted a short scrimmage with a running clock.

    "We just want to thank everyone for coming out this evening," Tiber said. "There's a tradition of women's basketball that's been here, and I believe this fall we'll return SIU women's basketball to glory."

    The women return four starters and six letterwinners, led by sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin, who was the MVC Freshman of the Year last season. Macklin is the league's top returning scorer after averaging 16.5 points last season.

    Macklin took the microphone after the scrimmage to thank the crowd, saying, "we're happy to have you all here, and we're hoping we can get the support we need this season to change the program."

    The Salukis also return fellow 2012 MVC All-Freshman honoree Alexus Patterson, who averaged 6.6 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game as a starting center in 2011-12.

    The women will play two exhibitions -- Nov. 3 against Central Methodist and Nov. 6 against Missouri-St. Louis -- before opening the regular season Nov. 13 versus Central Arkansas at SIU Arena.