Missouri State serves as homecoming for some Salukis

Missouri State serves as homecoming for some Salukis

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

For SIU basketball players, facing Missouri State on Sunday will be just another tough game against a conference foe.

For Saluki coaches Barry Hinson and Terrance McGee, games at Missouri State double as a return to familiar territory.

Prior to being hired at SIU, Hinson was the Bears’ head coach for nine seasons, leading them to a 169-117 record during his tenure, including four National Invitational Tournament appearances.

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Rick Kindhart, Missouri State assistant athletics director for communications, said Hinson was a positive influence who had a lot of good seasons in Springfield, Mo., and recruited high-quality players.

Hinson’s 2006 Bears team, which finished 20-8, is considered to be one of the biggest snubs in NCAA tournament history. Their No. 21 RPI is the best to ever be left out of the field.

Kindhart said Bears fans still respect Hinson and are cordial whenever the Salukis come to town.

As for the current Saluki coach, the game no longer holds any more significant weight than others.

“Not now,” he said of games in Springfield. “This is just a game — a roadblock in front of our destination. We want to make sure to take care of business.”

Still, there are reasons Hinson enjoys returning to his former workplace.

“I get a chance to see my mom and dad,” he said. “I’ve got lots of friends and family there and I get a chance to see my grandson.”

Hinson is not the only Saluki with memories of Springfield.

Assistant coach Terrance McGee played under Hinson at Missouri State from 2001 to 2003.

He averaged 14.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game in his two-year tenure at Missouri State and earned first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors his senior season.

He shared Hinson’s sentiment that the game is just another notch in the road, but appreciates seeing old friends.

“To walk back there, to see all the old friends and old teammates I had there come down is special,” McGee said. “The support system I had down there is awesome.”

Meanwhile on the opposing sideline, Bears coach Paul Lusk played for SIU from 1993 to 1995, making the NCAA tournament each season. He also served as an assistant for Matt Painter’s 2004 NCAA tournament team. 

Hinson and McGee will lead the Salukis against the Bears at 3 p.m. Sunday, looking for their first win in Springfield since Feb. 7, 2009.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3304.

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