Daily Egyptian

In the War Room with Warfel: How to stop the bleeding

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

A war room is where tough decisions are made, it’s where the General has to make the best call for all of his soldiers. What is the best call for head coach Barry Hinson and the Saluki squad with UNI coming to Carbondale tonight?

With the Southern men’s basketball team reeling on four straight losses, when does the bleeding stop for the Salukis?

Many fans were hopeful with previously 0-5 Bradley coming into town on Sunday, this would be the game the Salukis would turn the leaf. After the game, Hinson spoke on how the players themselves are struggling with confidence, after dropping four games in a row.

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“That locker room needless to say is crushed,” Hinson said. “They’re really struggling right now and we’re all struggling.”

When a team is struggling with confidence, no matter how how much experience they have, they need a win to put the gauze in the wound.

The Dawgs have been inconsistent all season – at times they have looked like the best team in the MVC like their plays during the second half against Illinois State which almost won the game.

Then, there have been the Salukis who lost to Valparaiso after being up seven early, losing to Drake after getting in a ten to nothing hole early and the last nail in the coffin being against Bradley on Sunday, being up by as many as eight.

Southern was picked to finish third in the conference in the preseason but after four straight losses the question is how far will the Salukis fall? Are they able to rebound?

Last season the Dawgs started conference play at 2-3. They won six of their next seven games and were able to finish second in the conference. With the pressure mounting on this Saluki team and their confidence at an all time low after the Bradley loss, Hinson said not to blame the players.

“If you want to blame somebody blame me,” Hinson said. “These young men are doing everything they can do right now, I believe in these guys.”

At the beginning of the year with the tough schedule, Southern had competing against the likes of Kentucky, Buffalo and Murray State. Hinson put up the expectations of winning a conference championship early on.

“We’ve talked so much about winning a conference championship,” Hinson said after the loss to Bradley on Sunday. “We finally got to the point three weeks ago, we decided we’ve got to play one game at a time.”

Regardless of how the Salukis finish at the end of the conference season, it truly comes down to the conference tournament in March. Going back to the 2005-2006 season in the conference championship the lowest seed won was UNI in 2016 over Evansville. The Panthers were a four seed.

So, for the Salukis to finish fourth, what would they realistically need to do in terms of wins? First off, the Dawgs must win against UNI tonight.

At 2-4 in the conference Southern is tied for seventh with Missouri State and Indiana State. A win would, first off, tie the Salukis with UNI at 3-4 in the conference, then the Dawgs would have to root for an Indiana State loss to the surging Valpo in Terre Haute.

Also, they would be rooting for a Bradley win against Illinois State to bring the Redbirds down to 4-3. Drake and Evansville both play against each other on Wednesday at 3-3, a loss by either would help in the chase for a four seed.

Loyola also plays Missouri State on Wednesday and Saluki fans must root for a route in that game to move up the standings.

If Missouri State and Indiana State both lose on Wednesday and the Salukis take off the tourniquet to relieve the pressure with a win against UNI – they would be sitting in a tie for fourth place. An Illinois State loss would also pull Southern within two games of third place.

While it may feel like SIU is falling, Hinson must bandage the wound our team is experiencing during tonight’s game.

Saluki fans should buckle in for what is still a very open race in the Valley.

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at
@warfel_adam.

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