After Kansas finishes its run in the NCAA tournament, Barry Hinson will be on the clock as coach of the Salukis — and he has a lot of work ahead of him.
The first thing Hinson has to do is repair relations with a fanbase that is disillusioned, with the success of the past a very distant memory. Those relations would be helped with more wins, obviously, but the process starts long before Hinson gets his first crack on the court.
What stares Hinson in the face on day one is the tall task of keeping the roster together and finding replacements for some likely departures.
From the immediate reactions after Thursday’s press conference, it sounds like everybody loves Hinson as the new coach, but it was guarded optimism. Hinson was in Carbondale for a few hours at that point, and the positive image might fade with some players over the next few days and weeks.
Freshman forward Treg Setty said Thursday a couple of departures were still possible, even though he is committed to stay.
What Hinson will need to do is make sure he keeps the best players from going.
This could be difficult in the case of freshman forward Dantiel Daniels, who saw teams that gave him scholarship offers in high school — VCU, Colorado State and Western Kentucky — go to the NCAA tournament this year while SIU had to deal with former coach Chris Lowery’s dismissal.
But if Hinson stays true to his record of strong academics and a commitment to the weight room, he won’t have a hard time convincing the current crop of players to stay. Lowery brought several recruits here with the same promises, but they were promises he couldn’t keep during the latter part of his tenure.
But even if Hinson manages to keep a majority of the players here, he’ll still have a few spots to fill. Hinson said he wanted to focus on developing players so there will be a foundation of guys who have been with the program for four or five years, but he won’t be able to do that right away.
“I am not into quick fixes. I want to make sure we do it right and get the best kids to fit our program,” Hinson said. “We’re not rebuilding. I’m not into that term.”
But this late in the recruiting game, Hinson’s going to find trouble getting freshmen to fill out the roster. He might have to rely on junior college players that he said he only wanted a sprinkling of at SIU.
Even if his recruiting prowess is as good as Athletic Director Mario Moccia said it is — Hinson did recruit Kyle Weems, the 2010 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, to Missouri State — it won’t be easy to recruit this late in the game, with most schools already signing recruits months ago.
So if Hinson wants to avoid a rebuilding year, he’ll have to focus on keeping the current Salukis from wandering off to other programs.
Joe Ragusa hosts “The Saluki Report” every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on WIDB.net The Revolution with Sam Donets and Kyle Fisher.