Barry Hinson should charge admission to his postgame press conference.
The Southern Illinois coach was at his entertaining best Tuesday night following his team's 59-45 defeat by Creighton. He can turn a phrase with the best of them, and he's not afraid to be brutally honest at times.
He also made a point to thank Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen for helping him get back into coaching in the Missouri Valley. Hinson spent nine seasons at Missouri State before his dismissal, resulting in a four-year exile to an administrative post at Kansas.
“When I interviewed for this job, I told everybody I wanted to come back home,” Hinson said. “Your athletic director (Rasmussen) had a major part in me having the chance to come back to the Valley. I just want to thank the people of Creighton for giving me the opportunity to come back to the Valley.”
Hinson's return hasn't been easy. The Salukis stand 11-16 after Tuesday's loss and occupy last place in the league with a 4-12 record. Their recent play has improved, mainly because Hinson has a team that has little to play for playing hard.
Then again, there is St. Louis, where the Valley holds its conference tournament next month. Hinson told reporters of an almost daily conversation he has with Jeff Early, a native of Puerto Rico who led the Salukis with 12 points Tuesday.
“Jeff keeps talking about March Madness, saying, 'Anything can happen, Coach, anything can happen,'” said Hinson in an accent that was a mix of Bob Marley gone Ozarks. “He's right. I'm just excited that my guys are playing hard.”
Some other Hinson observations:
>> On the technical referee Zelton Steed called on him for protesting a charging call on T.J. Lindsay: “I take great pride that I'm a nice guy but I made up my mind the second time around I was going to be more aggressive in protecting my players. I deserved the technical but I was right in what I said. I probably should have paraphrased it.”
>> On what he said to Steed: “I can't tell you right now or my mother might ground me.”
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>> On his game plan: “We knew that beer was on sale for 99 cents to start the game. I told the guys, 'Make it awful to make sure they drink a ton of beer so that they get so drunk they can't cheer in the second half.' It worked except for one guy behind my bench. He was on my butt the entire night.”
>> On a pregame report that called his team, which had won three of its previous four games, dangerous: “I promise you we're very dangerous but not to our opponents. We're dangerous to ourselves on a daily basis.”
Bench comes up big
Will Artino wasn't the only Creighton reserve who played well against the Salukis. Creighton coach Greg McDermott singled out forward Ethan Wragge and Nevin Johnson for their contributions that complemented Artino's 13-point performance.
“Even though Ethan only hit one shot, I thought defensively he did some great things for us,” McDermott said. “He put out some fires and got back to his man, was solid on the backboards and in blocking out.
“Nevin hit some big shots as well and played solid defense. We got some good contributions from our bench tonight, and that was a big difference in the game.”
Johnson scored six points and grabbed two rebounds in 15 minutes, while Wragge made 1 of his 2 3-point shots, had four rebounds, an assist and a steal in 17 minutes. Overall, Creighton's bench outscored the Salukis 24-18.
Bits and pieces
>> Doug McDermott was honored in a pregame ceremony for becoming just the third Valley player to score 2,000 points in three seasons. The other two? Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird. McDermott was presented a commemorative basketball by his father, then received a loud ovation.
>> Creighton has won 11 straight meetings with Southern Illinois, and is 6-0 against the Salukis in three seasons under Greg McDermott.
>> The Bluejays never trailed, marking the fifth time this season and the 41st time in 169 games at the CenturyLink Center that they have led wire-to-wire.
— Steven Pivovar