Daily Egyptian

Salukis reconstructed as a true team

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Saluki men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson could probably pursue a second career as a disaster recovery specialist if he wanted.

After last season’s 12-21 season and five player, two assistant coach exodus, Hinson had to fill six roster spots with four months until fall practices began. The team is 9-2 this season, and with a week until conference season starts it appears Hinson accomplished that mission.

“We’re 9-2 and we were picked ninth in the [Missouri] Valley,” Hinson said. “Right now, we’re on top of the Valley.”

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The five players who left after last season averaged 29 points and 13.5 rebounds per game combined. This year’s additions are averaging 21.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Hinson said he was honest with recruits’ families about how hard he was going to work them, and what their role would be.

The stats may seem like a drop off, but junior guard Tyler Smithpeters said the unselfish nature of the team picks up the slack.

“We care about the team more than ourselves,” he said. “Whether you play the most minutes or least minutes, it’s about getting the win.”

The Salukis have 139 assists in 11 games this year. At this pace they would finish the year with 404. The Dawgs had 274 in 33 games last season.

Junior guard Leo Vincent said the team’s chemistry has been the most significant contribution to their triumphs this year.

“We got a group of guys that like to see everybody succeed,” he said. “Everybody has bought in to what we’re trying to do.”

But, the team’s bond also goes beyond the arena.

“[Off the court] we all really get along together,” Smithpeters said. “Whether it’s playing

2K, or watching college basketball, or basketball in general, we have a good time together.”

Hinson said he enjoys practice everyday because he genuinely likes the players on his team, and the positivity echoes through the rest of the coaching staff.

First-year assistant coach Brad Autry dives on the locker room floor following Saluki wins and the team piles on top of him. 

“Every time we win, he just comes in and sits there. Then all of a sudden he starts yelling and just dives on the floor,” Smithpeters said. “It’s fun, but it really just gets us pumped up.”

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

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