Barry Hinson speaks at Media Day
Oct. 23, 2012
By Amanda Erd
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki men's basketball head coach Barry Hinson fielded questions from the media during the team's annual Media Day on Tuesday at the Cook Club inside SIU Arena.
Q: Coach, I know you've been dealing with some injuries but have you been able to get a sense of the team's identity yet?
A: Let's go through our injury report right now...I can tell you how long guys will be out. Josh Swan, which we had anticipated would be a starter, will be out from 2-3 weeks. Dantiel Daniels at the minimum will be out for five weeks and possibly longer. We did anticipate Daniels as a starter. Right now we've got Diamond Taylor as you all know serving a suspension. Chase Heins just had surgery this morning and is out a minimum of probably 12 weeks. That's our injury report right now. We are really struggling with having enough guys to practice on the floor. I kid you not, we're putting Coach McGee on the floor to help us practice just so we can go 5-on-5.
Q: This exhibition game, do you treat it as a normal game as far as preparation, scouting, things like that. Is it the same thing with the players?
A: To me, an exhibition game is another opportunity for you to explain to your kids what you expect, what you want. For us, this is their first opportunity for us to see what we expect out of a coaching staff. We have a routine, and there's someone in this area who reported that we are fairly organized, we are organized to a T. We know exactly what time we want them to be here. We know exactly what time our NBA warm-up will take place. We know when we're going to eat, we know what we're going to have at halftime, we know exactly when we run out of the tunnel how we're going to warm-up. We know how we're going to dress, we know how we're going to attack the National Anthem, we know how we're going to shake hands, but we go through all of that and we have all of that planned out. Now, there will be some guys that are nervous. Obviously, we had a lot of guys that were nervous for Maroon Madness. We had a guy who is 6-9 that couldn't dunk the ball and was scared to death because the lights were on. So it gives us an opportunity to get all those wrinkles out before we play our first game.
A: How do you measure progress in anything? Whether it be in a corporation, whether it be as a teacher with a student, whether it be in an athletic program, how do you measure progress in your personal life? You get better every day. That's the only thing we ask for from our guys. We've got to find a way to get better every day. I've used this analogy and my athletic director reminded me of it last night, and I don't mean this in a derogative way at all. But we are literally going through house training. It's 24/7, keep our eyes on the guys and train them to do everything we want and what we want to do and what we want to accomplish and how we want to go about it. And I mean 24/7 in everything that we do.
Q: And how are they coming along with that, Coach?
A: We've had good days and we've had bad days. Just like house training. Every once in a while we've got a mess we need to clean up. We've been cleaning up a lot of messes.
Q: Can you talk more in detail just about the offensive system and defense you're going to be running this year?
A: The offensive system we want to play is the one where we put the ball in the hole and that seems to have been a problem here over the past few years. We're going to play just like we did at Kansas and just like we did at Missouri State. You've got to give freedom to shooters, give freedom to your guys. Everybody asks me 'who's going to be your go-to guy?' It's one of the five guys that's on the floor. I hate that statement 'who's your go-to guy?' What if you tell the media that all year long this is your go-to guy and then in the last 10 seconds it ends up in the hands of one of the non-go-to guys and he's thinking all along that coach hasn't called me a go-to guy and then he doesn't know what to do. So we don't want that. Everybody is a go-to guy that's going to be on the floor. Defense, we're going to play the exact same way we played at Missouri State and we're going to get after people. I don't think that defense is something that is lacking in our guys. When you talk about Coach Herrin, and you talk about Bruce Weber and Matt Painter and Chris Lowery, those are four individuals right there that knew what they were doing as a defensive-minded staff and did a great job. Now I know our numbers didn't show that last year, and for whatever reason, but we hope to get better not only in our offensive numbers, because if I'm not mistaken we were last in offense last year and 9th in defense, and hopefully we can improve on those numbers.
Q: Are you going to have to play a five-guard system with these guys out?
A: We have actually opened up the walk-on tryouts, I think, once again. We laugh about, that but guys, that's the truth. We are actively right now still searching for somebody we can have hopefully to help us on the practice floor, hopefully to help us possibly in a game. We can't absorb much more.
Q: What have you been most encouraged by so far in practices?
A: I've been encouraged by a lot of things, and it doesn't just happen at practice. I'm encouraged by our university, I'm encouraged by what our football team is doing, I'm encouraged by what our women's volleyball team is doing, because what happens is it's contagious. When everybody starts winning, it's contagious. Everybody starts speaking a little bit more positive about what is going on in the total athletic department. I'm encouraged by our guys' attitudes, by our guys' willing to learn. We've have 11 practices and nine out of those 11 have been pretty good. That's an 89 percentile right now. I've always believed this: you play like you practice, you're only as good as your seniors, and your best player has got to be your hardest worker. We've fallen short in some of those categories but we try to establish that every day as one of our cornerstones.
Q: Obviously you guys are going to have different rotations, but once you get your guys healthy again, will you have any problems with chemistry?
A: It's hard to have chemistry problems when you only have 10 guys, because if all of those guys show up they know they're going to get to play. Chemistry problems usually come about when you don't get a lot of playing time. Everybody that suits up this year is going to get a chance to play and that even considers our walk on. We had an incident in practice the other day where a guy rolled his eyes and was moping around and pouting and I said, how in the world can you pout when you know you're going to get to play? It blows my mind. I think once you find out that we know everybody is going to get to play, because you look at our squad...Chase Heins most likely is going to be a redshirt, Bola is going to be a redshirt based on the NCAA. So there you go from 13 scholarship players, now you're down to 11, and if you don't get Dantiel Daniels back, now you're down to 10. That doesn't count anything else. The suspension now, that brings us down to 9, and you know everybody is going to get to play. I can imagine our team chemistry would be extremely exciting.
Q: Do you sense that the players have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, so to say?
A: I get asked all the time how do our players feel about me, how do our players feel about the upcoming season and I think you should ask those guys. I told them yesterday when I met with them that if you don't like me, tell the media. I don't care. I said there are days when I don't like you. Be honest with them. I've told our guys when they get here today in front of the media to just speak what's from their hearts. I mean, be smart and don't be idiots and throw out bold statements or bold predictions. I made a prediction on the floor the other night at Maroon Madness. I don't know how many games we're going to win this year, I don't have a clue. But what I do know is that we're going to have guys that represent our university, represent our program, and play their tails off on a nightly basis. And you're going to have a head coach and a staff that when we walk out of that tunnel that we expect preparation to win that game. Because I don't know what else you want. I mean, I've heard it all. 'Coach, you're in 10th place,' 'how are you going to get through the year,' I've heard all that. What do you want me to do? You want me to show up to practice every day and tell our players 'hey, you know we're not going to be very good this year. Let's go out today and be average.' Do you do that at your work? Do you try to write a story average? No, you're going to try and do the very best that you can. I know how that works. That's the same thing I tell our fans. We can't be good unless our fans show up. We need our fans.
Q: How are you going to try and energize the fans?
A: Just like I just did. I mean, what does a fan want to hear? They want to hear that you love our school. They want to hear that you love your players, that you respect the past and those that have come before you. They want to see that you act right on an off the floor. We've fallen short in that category. I've gotten up in front of our own athletic department last week and the first words out of my mouth were 'I apologize.' I'm ashamed at some of our behavior and how we've brought negative publicity to our university and our athletic program. It bothers me. But I want you to know, and understand this now, that's not what we expect in any way, shape or form. We expect to get up every day and to represent Southern Illinois University, not only as an athletic department but as a university and as an academic program. I think the only thing I go around and tell our fans, and I believe this, it happens from our staff, it happens from radio personalities, it happens from the TV, it happens from our student newspaper, from our chancellor, from our athletic director, from our fans...anything out of our mouths that's less than positive about our university or our athletic program is 100 percent unacceptable. So how do you get your fans riled up? How do you get people to talk positive about your program? Well, I think that's the first step.
Q: Can you talk about the development of Bryer and Drinkard, since you've stated they're going to have to play bigger roles?
A: Yeah, they're going to have to play a lot bigger roles. I would say right now that Antonio Bryer has made the most improvement of any of our big men that we've had on the floor because he's had the opportunity to be out there on a consistent basis. Antonio Bryer will go from virtually playing no minutes last season to being our starting center when we open this season on Saturday night. Davante is really struggling with his feet. It's been well-documented that he's had a lot of injuries with his feet. He continues to make improvement, but that's limited improvement based on his health.
Q: Is he well enough to play this weekend?
A: You know what, I hope so. We're planning on it. One thing you guys will find out about me with injuries is I don't play possum. If they're hurt, they're hurt. I don't gain an advantage by that at all.
Q: Have you altered the way you practice at all because of the numbers?
A: Yeah, we have. We really have. Like I said, we have Coach McGee out there.
Q: How do your upperclassman guards, Lindsay, Brown-Surles, and Jeff Early, who do you think will have a big season?
A: All of them. If you heard me say earlier, I think you're only as good as your seniors. I think your seniors are absolutely the backbone of your program. We had a circumstance yesterday in practice where we didn't have a group of guys that came together. Instead we had a group of guys that wanted to gripe and moan at each other. They were very soft and we've got to get over that. Because obviously we had issues with that last year and I don't want to find a groups of guys that you know, I don't want to use a coaching cliche but when the going gets tough and we don't have the tough right now to get going. We've got to establish that. We've got to quit making mistakes and pointing fingers, and blaming and we've got to learn to point the fingers back at ourselves and that includes the head coach.
Q: You've been doing this for a while, but has this been an eye-opening experience?
A: This is my 32nd year to coach and we've had more issues happen since I've been here, the Thursday after the National Championship game, we've had more issues in that time period than I've had collectively over 31 years. With that being said, it's okay. Because what it does is it energizes you every day. My assistant coaches have a saying: You've got put on your boxing gloves and come to fight every day with this group, because we've got a battle every day. And that's okay. Like I said, I accept the challenge. I knew for the most part what I was getting into. Certainly we've had surprises. Every program in the country right now has surprises. Every program in the country has adversities. Every program has injuries. Not to the extent that we have, but at the same time we accept the challenges and we'll find a way.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about how the get-to-know experience has been between the freshmen and the coaches with the returning players and how everyone is meshing together so far?
A: It helps a lot when you get to be with them more on a consistent basis. The get-to-know part has really increased since October 12th, because we have an opportunity to be with them now 20 hours a week, if not more. You can only be with them you know for 20 hours athletic-related but you can be with them a lot more than that including travel and stuff like that. This is when teams bond. Because when you just have eight hours a week and two of those can only be instruction, I think that limits the whole get-to-know thing. So now, this is when the bonding takes place. This is when it happens. When you throw a guy out of practice or you have a bad practice or you bring the guys in and out of the office all day long and tell them how you were disappointed, that's been my approach for years. I hope to have the respect of our players because I've told every one of them 'I was extremely disappointed in what happened yesterday at practice and how you responded to not only intensity, but adversity and it can't be that way.'
Q: What are your feelings on the Valley this year?
A: I think it has been well-documented how I feel about this conference. I'm extremely disappointed that out of 10 schools, only one voted to have a Missouri Valley Conference media day, and that was our athletic director. The price of convenience is often detrimental for the good of the cause. I believe that in concern with what happened here along with Missouri Valley media day. As far as the Valley itself, I'm really excited that we're going to have a team ranked in the top 10. I think that bodes well for our conference. You've got a team that was one game short of making the Final Four and going to Madison Square Garden, I know Northern Iowa is going to be good, I know Wichita State is going to be good, I know Evansville is expecting one of their best and some polls have them ranked as high as third. I just like this conference. I always have. You go down through the Valley and you see what we have. How many mid-major conferences are going to be able to talk about that at their media day? In all honesty, how many can do that? When you look at our conference and we're going to play nine road games and seven of them have the opportunity of being sold out on the road? I mean that speaks well. I've been a part of this conference for nine years previous, and this is going to be my 10th year to be a part of the Missouri Valley and I don't mind telling you, I don't mind carrying the torch for this league.
Q: Have you talked to other coaches in the league about this absence of media day? What have they said?
A: Well, the other schools voted against it. I don't know if the coaches did, but they took a vote by the athletic directors and I don't think there is going to be an athletic director that is going to vote to what his coach doesn't want to do on media day. You've got my view. We'll see how much power we have if we have media day next year or not. I don't mind the traveling. I don't care if you have it in Anchorage, Alaska. I'll be there.
Q: Do you think you'll be a better shooting team?
A: I hope so. Me and the Lord talk about that every night. And sometimes in the morning and sometimes before practice. I think this, all humor aside, I think shooting percentages go up a lot of times when you take better shots. Bad shots lead to poor shooting percentages. I think our guys will take better shots and I think we'll do a better job of getting the ball inside. That's how you get better shooting percentages. The ball has got to start inside before you shoot outside. And there will be games when we don't do that. I think our guys have done a good job of distributing the ball. Now I will say this, don't be alarmed by the yellow tape that is around the first three or four rows at the exhibition games. That's there just to protect those people from errant passes that may happen during the game. So we will put yellow tape around the arena for the first four rows. Please have your eyes up at all times. It's worse than a foul ball to get hit in the head with a basketball.
Q: Are you leaning toward redshirting Pendleton this time?
A: I don't think we can. If we redshirt Jalen then we are going to be down to seven or six guys. I know Northern Iowa has had great success playing seven or six guys every year but we've got to have more than six or seven guys. So it is our intention to play Jalen Pendleton this year because of what has happened with out disciplinary situations and our injuries, we're not going to be able to do that. Everyone knows that it is a huge deal to me that in order to build this program we have to have redshirts. At least we'll have three in Chase and Bola.
Q: Are you able to tell us how long Diamond is going to be suspended?
A: I think this is the best way to answer that question: I'm really upset at Diamond. I'm really upset because you know the easiest thing for me to do right now is to bring him out of suspension based on all the things that have happened. And I can promise you, that's not happening. We're not sending a message specifically to him. We're sending a message to our team, to our university, to our fans, to our community, and to our state. We're sending a message to other players that we recruit. There is a right way and there is a wrong way. I don't know if this is the right way, but it's my decision and I am supported by my athletic director and my chancellor, but I'm really upset.
Q: Going back to the freshmen, can you talk a little bit about what you've seeing out of them so far and if they are on schedule and making progress?
A: Well, I've never seen a freshman on schedule for anything, and that includes life itself, but I will say this. I am really encouraged...Bola is probably one of the better rebounders that I have coached in a long time. Chase Heins has the skill, the shooting skill, of a perimeter player, but has the body of a big guy. Anthony Beane, Jr. is going to be tenacious on defense and can get his shoulders past people and get to the basket. If I had to pick anybody that's made the most improvement, Jalen Pendleton. I think Jalen is going to find himself in the lineup quite often.
Okay guys, thanks for coming. We'll see you Saturday.