Daily Egyptian

Alumni challenge Hinson, recruits have his back

By Aaron Graff, @Aarongraff_DE

There are bandwagons and debates for everything in sports.

In March, five SIU men’s basketball players announced they will transfer at the end of the semester, leading to some fans, including former players, calling for coach Barry Hinson’s job.

“[People calling for my job] are going to have to put up with me for at least three more years, because I have a contract,” Hinson said. “People that call for my job, they’re calling for a lot of people’s jobs. I’m not a quick fix. I never have been and I never will be. The only heat I feel is the heat I put on myself.”

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The first three transfers, freshman guard Chaz Glotta, redshirt freshman guard K.C. Goodwin and junior guard Jalen Pendleton all made their decisions based off playing time.

Hinson said he was honest with them about the time they would get and they made the choices on their own.

Some are skeptical of that based on verbal commits from guard Mike Rodriguez and forward Rudolfs Stradnieks within a week of the first two transfers, because of the lack of scholarships that would be available if the players who transferred were still there.

“You look at the timing of the first two transfers, and then two guys committed right away,” 1988 to 1991 forward/guard Erik Griffin said. “It kind of makes you wonder, if everyone could stay, how would those guys be able to commit right away?”

Freshmen forward Jordan Caroline and guard Deion Lavender were the next two to announce they were transferring. Caroline said he wanted to play at the highest level possible. Lavender said he was not always happy in Carbondale and after his close friends left, it was the nail in the coffin.

Caroline was first on the team with 6.2 rebounds a game and second with 9.2 points a game.

Lavender started 13 games. He averaged 6.6 points a game and recorded 26 assists and 14 steals.

Griffin said the number of transfers could affect recruiting.

“Changes obviously need to be made,” Griffin said. “If you’re a player and you’re looking for a school, are you really going to go to a school where two starters just transferred?”

However, Griffin said Hinson has done something right since he started coaching at SIU.

“He’s entertained the media,” Griffin said. “He’s an entertainer.”

Former Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and NBA player Chris Carr said he does not appreciate some of Hinson’s comments to the media. He said if someone made a reference to his child as a puppy dog to be trained, as Hinson did after a 73-65 loss to Murray State on Dec. 17, 2013, he would not want his child to play for that coach.  

“If those are the kind of things being said to the media, I think one would have to question what’s being said at practice and in locker room settings,” Carr said.

Carr said if he was a prospect today, he would consider what kind of player he was, but would likely not want to play for SIU.

He led the Salukis to three NCAA Tournament appearances from 1992 to 1995 and had a six-year career in the NBA.

Carr said he is sure Hinson is doing his best to make the program good, but knows whatever he is doing is not positive.

“It can’t be with the amount of kids that are leaving the program,” Carr said.

Guard Mike Balogun was one of two players to transfer after last season. He said the decision was already made for him. He said it is unfortunate Hinson keeps playing with young men’s lives and it seems he’s giving up on them too early.

“You have to take the good with the bad,” Balogun said. “If someone has a bad streak, work with them and believe they’ll get better.”

But the past is in the past, and the future sticks by the coach.

Rodriguez said he could tell who was happy and who was not happy on the team when he made his official visit March 26. He said all blame should not be put on the coach because Hinson cares about his players.

“[Hinson’s] been treating me like I’m already on his team,” Rodriguez said. “Showing me love, pushing me to finish strong academically.”

Rodriguez promised next year’s team will have a better record than this season’s 12-21 finish.

He said the comments bother him, but he has his future coach’s back.

“I committed here and I’m going to stick with it, and I’m going to help this program,” Rodriguez said.

Griffin said every school has a bad recruiting class, and that it takes at least five years of building to earn a postseason nod. He said it will take the next coach more than five years because Hinson is taking steps backwards.

Griffin and Carr both said the majority of former players they have talked to agree on the matter. 

“It kind of stinks that a program that was so prominent at one time has fallen on such hard times,” Carr said. “With the new facilities and everything that’s going there, you would think it’d be at a different level. But it’s not.”

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected].com or at 536-3311 ext. 256.

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