Saluki swim and dive makes its own unique contributions to men’s basketball


The SIU swimming and diving team cheers Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, during the Salukis’ 75-70 loss to the Evansville Purple Aces at SIU Arena. (Luke Nozicka | @lukenozicka)

By Jonathan Thompson

The SIU swimming and diving team can be distracting.

At recent SIU men’s basketball home games, the team has shown its support for Coach Barry Hinson and his squad by shouting, dancing and making ridiculous faces in their swimsuits at the opposing team while they shoot free throws.

Andy Ross, a senior captain of the swim team, said the idea was inspired by Arizona State’s “curtain of distraction,” where students and guests come out of a curtain in costumes in an attempt to distracted the opposing team.


Hinson said he is very pleased with the team’s help, crediting the victory against Bradley to the swim team. The Braves shot 48.4 percent from the free throw line that game.

“The first time we did it, [Hinson] was so happy with us he got us pizza,” senior captain Nolan Hillard said. “He got us so much pizza I basically had a whole pizza to myself and I couldn’t even finish it.”

Hillard said when the opponent’s players make eye contact with the swimmers and divers, “that’s when you know it’s working.”

“You are a little bit uncomfortable being in your swimsuit at a basketball game with 5,000 other people around,” Ross said. “But as soon as we did it the first time, I think we just got comfortable and kind of forgot about anything else around us.”

The swimmers and divers plan to have different themes at upcoming games. They could be seen in their pajamas as the Salukis took on Evansville.

Bobby Wood, a senior from St. Louis studying aviation management, looks to distract the opposing team Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, during the Salukis’ 85-65 win against Bradley at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

“The pajama thing was kind of last minute,” Hillard said. “At first we were going with a 1960’s theme because of the NIT 1967 team was there.”

While this is the first year the team has shown up to basketball games, it is a tradition they’ve long held for SIU’s volleyball program.


“We do one volleyball game a year,” Ross said. “Usually a rival, or a big opponent they want a lot of people to show up for. We’re kind of used to putting 25 articles of clothing on, and then take them off every time they scored. By the end, if they got all 25, we were in our suits.”

They call it the “strip game,” something volleyball Coach Justin Ingram is a big fan of, Ross said. It has gained more popularity each year, he said.

“The first year we did it a lot of people left because they felt ridiculous,” he said. “The second year we did it, everyone stayed and we even got some recruits involved that year. … We honestly didn’t think it was going to get big on the first place.”

You can catch the swimmers and divers back in action as the men’s basketball team takes on Wichita State at 6 p.m. Wednesday at SIU Arena.

Staff writer Jonathan Thompson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheReal_Jt3.

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