CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois men's basketball team held its annual Media Day in the Cook Club at SIU Arena on Tuesday. Head coach Barry Hinson fielded questions from the media, and all 15 players had one-on-one interviews with members of the local press. Afterward, the team held an open practice.
Coach Hinson Opening Statement
"If I were to tell you that Louisville, Kansas or Kentucky were coming to SIU Arena, do you think we would sell out the arena? I think everyone would say, yes. I say that because we have the No. 1 football team coming into our stadium on Saturday. It would blow my mind if you come into the stadium and can't find a place to sit. I can't tell you how excited I am about our football team right now. That place should be packed and sold out. People should come up to the ticket gates and be told that the only seats left are on the berm. I hope that's what we are able to do."
"The one thing that's changed for the men is that we decided to practice like the women have been doing for the past few years. I think it has helped us a tremendous amount. Normally, today would be our first practice but we are heading into our 12th practice. We don't have anyone injured; we don't have fatigue, we don't have sickness, because we were idiots when it came to practicing. We never took time off and we had everyone getting fatigued and sick. We weren't smart enough to figure out how to avoid jamming everything into two weeks. I'm excited about this and I like it. We have a lot of coaches who don't like it, which is unbelievable in my mind, but they can keep doing what they've been doing."
Q: Are you close to where you want to be as a team?
"You want to coach to perfection, and we are nowhere close to where we want to be. At the same time, I like that there are a few things we can introduce here. I think the transition for a lot of the players has been easier and smoother this year. I think the biggest thing that has changed this year is that I'm not dealing with the police, lawyers and academics. I actually get to coach basketball. Last year, we didn't get to do that. We had a saying in our office, similar to construction site's saying of '25 days without an accident, 25 days without an incident.' In our office, we just wanted to go two days without an accident. That didn't happen until February when we went three solid days. This year we haven't had many incidents or anything that could derail our program."
Q: What do you expect from Desmar Jackson this season?
"I expect everything from our best player -- and that's what everyone is calling him on paper -- our best player. Your best player always has to be your hardest worker and has to set an example on and off the floor. Desmar struggled with every one of those things last year. I think he has improved in all of these areas and has done everything that is expected of him. He still has major challenges that lay ahead of him. I expect him to handle those things in a mature manner and we coach him like we do any other player. I expect great things from him. When it becomes more important to me than it is to you, then it is time to move on. We got to that point last year after the Wichita State game. I think he understood that I got to that point with him and we have had a much better relationship since the summer."
Q: What is the thing that has surprised you about this team?
"I think the biggest thing for us is that we are getting along. I think we have so many new guys that our biggest two challenges are the schedule and the new bodies. It's a blender right now. I ought to representing Ninja Blenders because we are just throwing them in there, literally, and seeing what happens. For the most part, I'm kind of excited about it."
Q: Do you feel that you will be a better perimeter shooting team this year?
"We better be. It can't get worse, it's impossible. It absolutely cannot get worse. My wife could shoot better from the 3-point line than we did last year and she is a horrible athlete."
Q: Have you decided on a rotation?
"I have no idea. We play nine guys, every once in a while we'll play 10. We are looking for those guys right now. We'll settle in with about seven guys. There is a little competition for the eight, nine and 10 spots. I think we are pretty solid with seven. I think you guys have heard about this, but the rules have changed. In the first month of college basketball, officials have predicted 60-75 fouls per game. Games are going to be extended 15-30 minutes longer, 99 percent of charges will be called as fouls. The NCAA has seen the lowest scoring output in 30 years. They have sent out a mandate to all the officials that if you put your hands on a guy it's an automatic foul. We are now doing the NBA continuation rule where if you hit a player who is going in an upward motion, it's an automatic foul. The game for the fans is getting ready to change in a dramatic way. I talked to Jay Bilas about this last week. I think we need more offense and entertainment but I think when you take out the charge -- where we can neutralize superior athletes by being a little more intelligent -- I think that takes away from what this conference has always been about. I think this will be a big challenge for us and mid majors. We had a meeting with some officials and they said not to be shocked if your point guard fouls out in the first half. I think we're getting ready to see much more points being scored -- ironically, it'll come from the free-throw line and not the game. I think you'll see the scores go up dramatically."
Q: You have a lot more regional teams on your schedule. Was that the plan?
"Yeah, it really was. We felt like our fans, when I first got here, we didn't play regional games. We've always play Saint Louis, and of course, we'd love to keep that series going. We've got Western Kentucky, we started a new series with Austin Peay, and I don't have a clue who started the series with Murray State. Whoever the head coach was who signed that deal is an absolute idiot. You're talking about one of the top winning programs over the last 20 years. If you look at our schedule, we're not jumping into the wading pool, we're not jumping into a swimming pool, we're not jumping into a pond, we're just jumping into the ocean. It's a little bold for me to do this, but I felt we needed to find out where we are and where we need to be."
Q: How do you feel the style of play will change with the newcomers?
"One of the things you do when you take over a program, the guys that you recruit in better fit what you do. No one can point their finger at anybody but me. All the new guys are the guys we felt fit our style of play and what we want to do, specifically our hybrid spot and how we want our point guard to play, the ability to shoot from the perimeter, a little bit of size and athleticism. If you look at what we've done with our squad, you'll be able to figure out it's similar to what we did at Missouri State and what we did at Kansas when we started recruiting to a system."
From: SIU Media Relations
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