Preparation for a rigorous and exhaustive basketball season is a difficult process. For a team to be successful amidst a coaching change makes the season even more challenging.
Coach Barry Hinson took the reigns of the Saluki men’s basketball team last spring and led the team to a 14-17 overall record in his first year. With the resignation of head coach Missy Tiber, SIU women’s basketball team members said they expect success under rookie Saluki coach Cindy Stein.
“We expect to compete,” sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin said. “We expect to compete for an MVC conference title and win games in the MVC tournament.”
Stein, a Peoria native, comes to Carbondale with a Sweet 16 appearance and a 252-202 record against NCAA opponents. The Saluki women’s basketball team finished 5-26 this season with a 1-17 conference record.
Sophomore forward Jemeeka Bouie said most players hit a wall in their skill progression because of the controversial season.
“We kind of came to a standstill with our development with everything that was going on,” she said. “We all have to be willing to work hard so we can get the maximum out of our team.”
Macklin said the team should pay more attention to individual responsibilities.
“We have to focus more on what we can control,” she said. “We have to go hard in practice and do what we can to our best ability.”
The former MVC Freshman of the Year also said the team must exert the necessary effort to succeed.
“I hope this year we can highlight more on player development. We were a talented team last year, but talent only gets you so far,” Macklin said. “What’s talent if you don’t work hard day in and day out.”
As the team’s leading scorer and leader, she also said Stein told her that most teams’ best player also works the hardest.
Saluki men’s basketball point guard Anthony Beane Jr. said Hinson also gave him a piece of advice that helped him through the season.
“He told me that if I wanted to be a great player in Division I basketball, I had to develop a better shot,” he said. “I was always good at attacking the rim, but when I added the (3-point shot) to my game, I noticed how much more effective I could be.”
Beane Jr. also said Hinson wasn’t afraid to reprimand the team when they relived past mistakes.
“In the beginning of the season, when we lost a few games in a row, He reminded us that if we wanted to have a repeat of last season then we should keep playing for ourselves and keep playing selfishly,” Beane jr said. “He had to help us get rid of a lot of old bad habits.”
The Saluki men improved their 2012 record by six games after an 8-23 campaign the previous season, and they protected their home court as they collected a 9-4 record at the SIU Arena.
However, their signature win of the season came Feb. 5 against Wichita State at home. The Salukis won 64-62 against a nationally ranked rival and an eventual NCAA tournament Final Four team.
Freshman guard Jalen Pendleton said Hinson’s certainty in his players helped propel them forward.
“He told us to keep fighting,” he said. “Before the game, he said he wasn’t afraid of (WSU), so that gave us confidence as a team.”
Freshman guard Jemeeka Bouie said the team gave Hinson its all because the players knew how much he wanted them to succeed, which is something the women’s team should mirror.
“The men really bought into what Coach Hinson was all about,” she said. “They were willing to sacrifice and go the extra mile because they knew he wanted the best for them.”
Despite the women’s poor season start, they were able to win their opening 2012 MVC tournament match against the Evansville Purple Aces. However Freshman forward Azia Washington said the team didn’t redeem itself with just a surprise tourney win.
“We were excited to beat Evansville but we weren’t expecting to lose in the second, third, or fourth game because we really felt that we could win the tournament,” she said. “We’re just as competitive as any other team in the Valley, and we wanted to win it all.”
Washington said she and the rest of the team are excited for a new start with a new coach.
“It’s like a sense of relief that everything’s going to be different,” she said. “ It’s exciting, because good or bad it’s going to be different than last year.”