Salukis play clean with ‘Dirty Dyana’

Salukis play clean with ‘Dirty Dyana

By Symone Woolridge

As the women’s basketball team sprints down court before a play is called, and are appointed to their position, “Dirty?” a Saluki teammate yells.

While the opposing team looks around in confusion, one Saluki gives off a sense of laughter and shakes her head thinking “you don’t even know.”

Sophomore forward Dyana Pierre has taken on a nickname that many people would turn their noses at.


Pierre’s nickname was taken from the Michael Jackson song ‘Dirty Diana,’ written more than two decades ago.

Ironically, Dyana “Dirty” Pierre makes her nickname the least bit true. The sophomore said she makes sure to shower specifically with Irish Spring body wash before each game.

“I just like that clean feeling when I play,” Pierre said.

The fragrance must work in her favor, as the Saluki is a scoring and rebounding machine. Accumulating seven double-doubles and averaging 14.8 points a game in the 15 games played thus far, Pierre is one of a kind.

Before taking her first step as a star basketball player, she did not know much about the sport. The Saluki started playing soccer when she was 10 years old, and dreamt of nothing else.

As a shy girl who could not figure out the difference between offense and defense, Pierre quickly got the hang of it.

The high school varsity forward became one of the city’s highest recruits. By the beginning of eleventh grade, Pierre was securing her spot on the varsity squad, but was forced to choose between her childhood passion and her new hobby.


Her basketball and soccer seasons began to conflict but Pierre decided she would rather shoot the ball than kick it.

The towering Saluki found herself sprouting and as the middle child of her family, she became the tallest of seven.

By her senior year of high school, Pierre was close to becoming a camouflaged soldier who tied up her Army boots rather than her basketball shoes. But before making any final decisions, Pierre considered basketball a priority.

She was recruited by SIU athletics and immediately knew SIU was where she wanted to be. She wanted to be away from home, but yet embrace her gift of being a great athlete.

As a college freshman, Pierre was ready for the maroon number to be stitched across her back but Pierre endured what is every athlete’s worst nightmare. At an open gym before the start of the season, Pierre jumped to grab the ball and her leg gave out.

She suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury that forced her to redshirt her first year. Pierre was extremely disappointed she was not able to show off her talents to Saluki nation.

Pierre said she felt a sense of disconnect from her teammates and was not as social with her peers.

“I was always cooped up in my room while everyone else was hanging out,” Pierre said. “By fall, I was hurt and didn’t get to know anybody and still had classes to worry about.”

Senior guard Jordyn Courier said Pierre is usually a very quiet person, but sometimes opens up. Courier and Pierre have been best friends since last year, and have enjoyed their time together.

From the funny jokes to shared laughter, Courier said Pierre will certainly be missed next year.

“When you first look at her you would never think she was like this,” Courier said. “But she has the giggliest laugh, like a four year old, she is so funny.”

Courier said Pierre has worked immensely hard on the court and progressed into a dominant player.

Pierre’s freshman redshirting experience only made her hunger for the game she grew to love even more. Last season she led the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding and even tied SIU’s tenth-highest single game rebounding total with 19 boards.

The Saluki ended last season with 36 total blocks, which ranks fourth in SIU history in a single season.

“She definitely leads by example,” Coach Cindy Stein said. “She works hard, she wants that basketball in critical moments. She likes being the go-to person – she embraces that.”

As this season’s leading scorer and rebounder, Pierre has burst out of her shell and has become a dominate leader for SIU.

Even after being trampled by multiple players through the low post area, Pierre continues to snatch rebounds, averaging nine per game.

She said her basketball goal is to increase her skills each day she steps on the court. Although she does not always properly box-out, she said her desire to catch the ball bouncing off of the rim is becoming second nature.

“I always like to think that no one can out-jump me when I go up for the ball,” she said. “I remember my high school coach told me to assume every shot was a miss and just go up for it.”

By her final year, Pierre hopes to end her SIU career strong. She would like to work on her outside shooting and become more versatile offensively.

“I want to be able to go out to the elbow and shoot jumpers,” she said. “And hopefully by my senior year coach will let me shoot a 3-pointer.”

With future dreams of playing overseas, or eventually residing on the West Coast using her exercise science degree to become a physical therapist, the forward sees herself achieving much more.

“My goal is to have a double-double every game and if not that, then 10 plus rebounds,” she said. “And even with that, if there’s still no win then those double-doubles mean nothing.”

Pierre and the Salukis will compete against Illinois State University Friday at 6:05 p.m. at SIU Arena.