Saluki basketball gets final standing ovation

Saluki basketball gets final standing ovation

By Tyler Dixon

For the final time this season, fans were able to admire and show their appreciation for the SIU men’s basketball team as more than 300 fans gathered in SIU Arena.

The voice of the Salukis, Mike Reis, was the moderator for the 2013-2014 men’s basketball postseason celebration. Along with words from Reis, Director of Athletics Mario Moccia, Chancellor Rita Cheng and Coach Barry Hinson spoke.

Reis said generations of Saluki fans have come and gone since the last signs of success from the basketball team. He said there was a buzz around campus that has been gone a while, but current fans will have something to talk about in the future.

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“You got to experience how things were rather than hear about how things were,” Reis said.

Every player was presented with a plaque along with the managers and special recognition was given to the four seniors who sat in the front row.

Fans were also able to get autographs from the entire team as well as Hinson. Fans of all ages gathered around their favorite players and were able to bond with them in a different way than watching them on the basketball court. Some fans even discussed March Madness picks with the Salukis.

Sophomore guard Anthony Beane was the first player to sign for fans as they lined up on the court. Beane said this was a different atmosphere than how he usually sees fans.

“With them showing up, you usually can’t find them in the crowd, cause we’re so focused into the game,” Beane said. “But being able to see them come support us, just being able to see their faces and meet all of them is a good feeling.”

The Salukis will lose four key players from this season’s roster in Desmar Jackson, Davante Drinkard, Bronson Verhines and Colby Long, but Hinson said the team is headed in the right direction.

“We will be the youngest in the Valley if not the youngest in the country,” Hinson said. “70 percent of our squad will most likely be freshmen and sophomores.”

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The Salukis have signed four players for next season but Hinson said he could not talk about a potential fifth player. Guards Chaz Glotta and Jordan Caroline along with forwards Armon Fletcher and Deion Lavender will wear the maroon and white next season.

Hinson said many athletic programs at other universities do not get the support from administration SIU does. He said athletic directors, chancellors and presidents at other universities, do not do half as much as they do at SIU.

“They go far and beyond what their call of duty is and they are absolutely an integral part of every bit of the success that we have, will have and are going to have in the future of this athletic program,” Hinson said.

Hinson said only positive comments about SIU would be accepted in the future.

“When it comes to this program and this university, anything that comes out of your mouth that is less than positive is 100 percent unacceptable,” he said. “Go Dawgs.”

Tyler Dixon can be reached at [email protected], @ tdixon_de on Twitter or 536-3311 ext. 256.

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