Daily Egyptian

‘Buffalo hide’ Salukis grinding out tough wins

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson has said his Salukis have a lot of “buffalo hide” toughness, and their tendency to never give up reflects that.

The Dawgs have come back to win after trailing by double-digits three times this year: the season opener Nov. 13 against Air Force (15-point deficit), Nov. 21 at Sam Houston State (18 points) and Jan. 12 against Illinois State (12 points).

Hinson said the team’s construction makes the comebacks possible.

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“You got a good core of returning guys who’ve been through a difficult three years and you got guys who haven’t been through a difficult three years, but have added to everything we needed,” he said. 

And the players understand how important everyone on the team is to its success.

“It starts with the leaders,” junior forward Sean O’Brien said. “But at the same time, we have a deep bench with guys like Leo [Vincent], Ibby [Djimde], Armon [Fletcher] and Austin [Weiher] that have helped out a lot too.”

Junior guard Tyler Smithpeters said the key to being able to come back is mental fortitude.

“We don’t panic,” he said. “I think everybody is maturing on the court to where if we get down like we did against Illinois State, we don’t panic and just take the best shots possible.”

Smithpeters said he believes that will come in handy as the season progresses. 

“Every team will have to come back at some point in the season, so we’ll be ready when it happens,” Smithpeters said.

However, mental fortitude goes both ways. The Dawgs have had other wins where games came down to the wire.

On Nov. 28 against Portland, Jan. 2 against Northern Iowa and Jan. 17 at Drake, SIU lost leads in the second half, but came out on top.

The Salukis have a little saying to get through these games.

“‘One media timeout at a time,'” O’Brien said. “There are 10 of those throughout the game, so we got 10 rounds and we want to win all of those. That’s our goal.”

The comebacks and close games have Salukis feeling like they can win any game. With the calendar headed for February, and tough conference games coming up, they need that confidence. 

“We’re never down on each other,” Vincent said. “We never feel like we’re out of any game, so when you got guys like that on your team it’s easy to reel off wins.”

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

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