Daily Egyptian

Column: Dawg talk with Dodd

Barry Hinson deserves MVC Coach of the Year

Coach+Barry+Hinson+reacts+after+beating+Illinois+State+Saturday%2C+Jan.+13%2C+2018%2C+during+the+Salukis%27+74-70+win+against+the+Illinois+State+Redbirds+at+SIU+Arena.+%28Brian+Mu%C2%96noz+%7C+%40BrianMMunoz%29
Coach Barry Hinson reacts after beating Illinois State Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, during the Salukis' 74-70 win against the Illinois State Redbirds at SIU Arena. (Brian Mu–noz | @BrianMMunoz)

Coach Barry Hinson reacts after beating Illinois State Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, during the Salukis' 74-70 win against the Illinois State Redbirds at SIU Arena. (Brian Mu–noz | @BrianMMunoz)

Brian Mu–noz

Brian Mu–noz

Coach Barry Hinson reacts after beating Illinois State Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, during the Salukis' 74-70 win against the Illinois State Redbirds at SIU Arena. (Brian Mu–noz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Nathan Dodd, Sports Editor

In his fifth season at the helm of the SIU basketball program, head coach Barry Hinson has faced more adversity this year than in any other season as a head coach.

From managing season-ending injuries to key players and playing a majority of the year with a six or seven-man rotation, Hinson should be the MVC’s choice for Coach of the Year.

There are two games left in the season and the Salukis are locked in a race to secure a spot in the top three of the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

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After a 3-4 start in MVC play, the Salukis rattled off five consecutive wins and also won eight of its last nine contests.

Not only has Hinson kept an injury-riddled team in contention for a Valley championship, SIU is only one game away from a 20-win season.

If the Salukis reach the 20-win mark, it will be the second time in Hinson’s tenure at SIU to reach that plateau.

There has not been a Saluki team that posted two 20-win seasons in three years since the 2005-06 and 2006-07 teams did so.

The Salukis also have another thing going for them this season: a chance for postseason play.

Hinson has made it clear that, if selected, the Salukis are only interested in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

Since Hinson has taken over, the Salukis have failed to appear in either.

However, Southern is ranked at 79 in RPI by the NCAA amongst all Division I programs.

A win on Wednesday against the first-place Loyola Ramblers, who hold a ranking of 42 in the RPI, could push SIU’s ranking into the top 75.

In the last 16 years, there have been 68 MVC teams finish with an RPI ranked 75 or higher and every team received a bid to the NIT or NCAA Tournament.

There is the argument, however, that Loyola’s head coach Porter Moser should be the favorite to win Coach of the Year honors.

After all, in just two seasons the Ramblers have improved from a 15-17 club to, currently, a 23-5 team. All of this season’s success also came with the departure of star player Milton Doyle.

Picked to finish third in the MVC preseason polls, Loyola surpassed expectations and is likely on its way to the program’s first MVC regular-season title.

However, Hinson’s squad was selected to a fifth-place finish in the same poll and has exceeded expectations without multiple key players.

The resilience and grit that Hinson has instilled in his players have reestablished the “Floor Burn U” mentality that used to grace the hardwood of SIU Arena.

With tournament hopes in sight, Southern still sits at a 19-10 record. While not impossible, the Salukis could find themselves in a first-place tie if they win out and see Loyola fall in its final two matchups.

For now, all that Hinson is worried about is the task at hand: defeating the Ramblers at SIU Arena for Senior Night.

No matter what happens in the final two games, in my opinion, Hinson should be locked in as the league’s choice for Coach of the Year.

Sports editor Nathan Dodd can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NathanMDodd.

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