Hinson's Eventful First Year

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By WSIL Sports

CARBONDALE -- A new year has dawned but problems from the past are still plaguing the SIU men's basketball team.

Earlier this week, Antonio Bryer became the 16th scholarship player in the last five years to leave the program before graduating. It's just another setback in a laundry list of issues for first-year Saluki coach Barry Hinson, who's also had to deal with players getting arrested and an ongoing academic crisis.

"It's the most drama I've had in the collection of 32 years combined," Hinson said regrettably. "You can take all 31 years I've coached prior to this, add up everything, and we couldn't even get close to what's happened this year."

Picked to finish last in the Missouri Valley Conference's preseason poll, SIU's season started on a positive note. The Dawgs opened the year on a three-game winning streak, including a 17-point road win at New Orleans in Hinson's debut.

After losing to St. Louis, SIU topped Fresno State on a game-winning 3-pointer from Desmar Jackson. The victory prompted Hinson to throw cheers towards the crowd of more than 5,000 after the game.

"I'm proud of the effort our fans made, cause there's no chance we win that game tonight unless they're here," Hinson said after the game. "It was really special."

The early momentum didn't last though. SIU dropped two of its three games in a trip to the World Vision Classic in Logan, Utah, including an eight-point defeat to then 2-6 UC Davis. The losses continued in more ways than one when the Salukis opened conference play Sunday. Dantiel Daniels went down with a severe ankle sprain as Missouri State beat SIU by 11. Hinson called the loss to his former team humiliating.

"You know what, sometimes coaching is hard," the former Missouri State coach said. "You've got to put on your big boy pants and handle it and be a man about it and that's just the way it goes."

The coming weeks won't be any easier. SIU plays two of its next three games on the road in one of the toughest mid-major conferences in the country. Yet Hinson remains optimistic.

"I expect to win every game we play, no matter who the competition is, no matter when it is, no matter what the circumstances are," he remarked. "Whether we have players, we don't have players, we have suspensions, we have sickness, I don't care; I plan and coach to win every game."
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