Saluki men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson arrived in Carbondale Thursday to start work with his new team after his last team Kansas lost to Kentucky in the National Title game April 2. He sat down with the Daily Egyptian Friday morning to assess his first day on the job.
DE: What approach have you taken with the team so far?
HINSON: The most important thing for our guys to realize is that this university is not there for them, we are there for the university … we never take the position that we have a right. Our position from day one is that it’s a privilege. Not only for me, but for our student-athletes, it’s a privilege to be able to go on a charter airplane to compete against somebody else, to live in the dorms, to have their books paid for, to have their room paid for and have their tuition paid for.
DE: You mentioned you’ve had disciplinary issues already?
HINSON: To me, disciplinary issues would be missing class. I had a couple guys miss class. We don’t miss class … Last time I checked, we were on scholarship and we’ve got people that have donated money to this program. We’ve got federal funding, we’ve got state funding; the people are paying for our guys to go to class. Do you think a ballplayer at Kansas can miss class and nobody know about it? I would hope that’s the same way here at SIU.
DE: What have you seen from the players in the short time you’ve been here?
HINSON: The analogy I would use is they’re all trying to be a sponge. They’re all trying to learn. But I didn’t even have any gear … I just didn’t have any time (to buy Saluki gear). I went from one academic meeting, and practice was going to be at 3 p.m., I didn’t want to be late. So what was my first impression? The first impression was that I thought I was going to bust an ankle in my shoes trying to demonstrate.
DE: How have the players responded to you?
HINSON: They were all positive, I hope. I’m pretty upfront. It’s a two-way street, communication. I told them when we first met, ‘I’m not Fidel Castro. This isn’t a dictatorship.’ If you’ve got something you need to say, say it to me. We handle it right now.
DE: How do you feel about your ability to keep players from transferring?
HINSON: First and foremost, you’ve got to be a communicator. So we’ll communicate and find out. But I don’t anticipate any players leaving. If players leave, it will be because we’ve both come to the conclusion that it’s not best for Southern Illinois basketball that they be here.
DE: So nobody has told you they’re leaving?
HINSON: I don’t know of one player leaving. I’ve not read one paper, I don’t get on message boards, I don’t do that. I don’t know of any players leaving. And if they do, they leave. But they have not communicated that with me at all … I asked all of them, ‘Anybody want to transfer? Anybody getting out of here?’ Nobody raised their hands, so I was like all right, let’s go.
DE: If any players do leave, how do you feel about your ability to recruit this late?
HINSON: There’s always players, you just got to find them. I’ve got a short list of players that are out there that I can look at. I’ll hit the road in the next couple weeks and I’ll get a chance to see these guys, and we’ll just see what happens.
DE: Have you talked to recruit Travis Wilkins yet?
HINSON: I have talked to Travis and his father, and we’re hoping to make a decision pretty quick on what we’re going to do there.
DE: How did he feel about the coaching change?
HINSON: He was disappointed. He was very disappointed. He wasn’t recruited by me, he was recruited by Chris (Lowery), but hopefully we’ll have some information here pretty quickly.
DE: What about Bobo Drummond?
HINSON: I’ve had great conversations with Bobo. I’ve talked to his mentor, I’ve talked to his high school coach and his AAU coach, and everything’s been positive.
DE: Any thought to who you will bring on as assistant coaches?
HINSON: We’re working on that right now. Priority No. 1 is our players, priority No. 2 is trying to figure out what we’re going to do with the staff, but we’re working on that as we speak … I am not in a hurry. We may be well into the summer before I complete my staff.
DE: How has the move to Carbondale been for you?
HINSON: Everything’s been positive. I’m not living in a dream world here, but it’s been great. I went out to eat last night at Italian Village, and not one person knew me. I walked into 17th Street Grill, and two people knew me. One was actually from Springfield, Mo., of all places. I’m going to be out and about in the community, but I’m pretty low-key right now.