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The Bears accounted for a quarter of the Salukis’ paltry 40 conference losses during that stretch. The assistant at Kansas now looks to revive the slumping Salukis and get the better of his old school and the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Hinson was introduced Wednesday as the new men’s basketball coach at Southern Illinois, signing a five-year, nearly $1.5 million contract with a school that finished this season 8-23 _ the Salukis’ third losing season in the past four.
The affable Hinson, 50, made no grand promises about any turnaround in Carbondale, saying only that fans of the Salukis _ just five years removed from a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament _ eventually would be satisfied.
“What we’re going to be able to accomplish is going to be spectacular,” Hinson said.
Before diving into restoring the Salukis, Hinson has some unfinished business at Kansas, where he has served the past two seasons as director of men’s basketball operations and two years before that as the Jayhawks’ chief of external relations.
Kansas plays Ohio State in a Final Four semifinal Saturday, then in the title game Monday night if the Jayhawks advance.
“I’m gonna work for the University of Kansas until Monday night at 11 o’clock, if that’s OK with you,” a smiling Hinson told a reporter.
Self called Hinson a “huge asset to our program.”
“Everyone within the university and department has enjoyed him being here so much but his goal was always to get back on the sidelines as a head coach,” Self said. “What a great opportunity that Southern Illinois has presented to him. I know there is not one guy in America that is more proud or will work harder representing Southern Illinois University the way Barry Hinson will.”
Hinson, with a 205-140 career record, replaces Chris Lowery, who went 145-116 in eight seasons with the Salukis but was fired March 2. Lowery’s teams made three NCAA tournament appearances and enjoyed the greatest run in the school’s history in 2006-07, when the Salukis posted a school-record 29 wins and grabbed its fifth regular-season league title in six seasons. At one point, the team was No. 11 in the AP 25, the loftiest ranking in the program’s history.
That season, the Salukis also came within an eyelash of making it to its first-ever round of eight in the NCAA tournament, pushing Self’s top-seeded Kansas to the brink in the West Regional semifinal before losing 61-58.
That was the last time the Salukis made the tournament _ a string of futility Hinson now is tasked to change.
Hinson was fired by the Bears in 2008 after his own failures to take that program to the NCAA tournament in nine seasons, during which time he guided Missouri State to a 169-117 mark. But his successes against the Salukis during that time didn’t go without notice Wednesday, when Southern Illinois‘ athletics director, Mario Moccia, noted Missouri State’s 10 wins over the Salukis during Hinson’s time with the Bears.
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