Desmar Jackson expected to boost Saluki back court.
Oct. 29, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois was picked to finish last in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll of league coaches, sports information directors and media, announced on Monday. The last time SIU was selected to finish last was in 1987, although that Saluki team ultimately finished sixth.
First-year head coach Barry Hinson returns four starters and eight letter winners from last year's team that posted a 5-13 conference record and finished in ninth place.
"You turn programs around by getting players that make you better and have great character," Hinson said during a morning conference call. "We need total culture change, not so much on the court, but off the court."
Hinson's team is deep at the guard position, having added Wyoming transfer Desmar Jackson to a trio of senior starters (Kendal Brown-Surles, Jeff Early, T.J. Lindsay), but the front court appears thin. The Salukis lost big men Mamadou Seck, Treg Setty and Harry Whitt from last year's squad. Making matters more difficult, All-Freshman team forward Dantiel Daniels is out five weeks with a leg injury, Hinson said, and freshman forward Chase Heins will likely redshirt after having surgery.
Several times during the conference call, Hinson noted how happy he was to be back in the MVC. He coached nine seasons at Missouri State, posting a 95-67 league record and finished as high as second place in 2000 and 2006.
"Anybody who gets a second chance does things a lot different," he said. "My fuse is a lot shorter. This is the way we're going to do it, if you don't like it, go somewhere else."
Hinson said the program is back on sound footing in the classroom, and he praised the department's academic advisors.
"What looked like a really bleak situation early in the summer, now looks like a light at the end of tunnel," he said. "I think we're going to make it APR-wise."
Creighton was tabbed as the favorite to win the MVC title in 2012-13. The Bluejays, ranked as high as No. 10 nationally in preseason polls, received 38 of 40 first-place votes.
Pollsters have accurately predicted the league's regular-season champ only 12 times out of 28 since 1985-86, but the preseason favorite Bluejays can take solace in that 25 of those 28 predicted champs have gone on to post-season play, with 17 of those 25 playing in the NCAAs.
No. Team (First-Place Votes)
1. Creighton (38)
2. Illinois State (2)
4. Wichita State
7. Indiana State
8. Missouri State
10. Southern Illinois
Doug McDermott of Creighton, meanwhile, heads a list of nine players who received pre-season recognition by the conference. McDermott, the reigning Larry Bird Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, was voted preseason Player of the Year by the voters.
Doug McDermott, Creighton (Pre-Season Player of the Year)
Colt Ryan, Evansville
Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
Jake Odum, Indiana State
Ben Simons, Drake
Gregory Echenique, Creighton
Anthony James, UNI
Carl Hall, Wichita State
Seth Tuttle, UNI