Saluki Sports Update
In some ways it was like a relief. No, not really as losing is never, ever, a good feeling.
Yet it was difficult to convince yourself Barry Hinson’s 2018 SIU team was going to challenge for a spot in the NCAA’s March Madness game.
Yes, the Salukis fooled us once late in the season when they put together back-to-back impressive wins and had won nine of their last 11 outings.
Then came back-to-back convincing losses to Loyola and Evansville and the writing was on the scoreboard. SIU would have needed divine assistance to have won the Valley tournament. Not necessarily so to advance to the final game, but to have upset Loyola…yes, a major upset.
So what’s hot now? The NCAA selections Sunday. Four weeks of fun, although tiring basketball on TV and observing the never-ending game of musical chairs in the college basketball coaching game.
My SIU radio friends, Mike Reis and Greg Starrick, both told me two weeks ago that Paul Lusk was out at Missouri State. It simply would not be announced until the Bears’ season ended.
Of course they were correct and we hate it as Paul is one of the finest. Note we did not say “best” coaches, as records speak for themselves.
But Lusk, who transferred to SIU after spending time at Iowa, is a gentleman and, in our opinion, will still contribute somewhere as a college coach.
There will be dozens and dozens of coaching moves, however, as it’s simply part of the college game. Win or else…as long as schools can afford to pay the ever-growing size of salaries.
Some coaches will be able to hang on to present positions by receiving bids to the NIT and there’s even a third post-season tournament now that may save others.
Put them all together and there’s possibly 100 teams that will have their seasons extended in the next week.
Which, of course, reminds us once again of the 1967 season when the Salukis became the toast of the town in New York City where they won the NIT by defeating St. Peters, Duke, Rutgers and Marquette over a 10-day period.
The college game was different back then. Only 36 teams were involved in postseason tournaments…13 in the NIT and 23 in the NCAA.
It almost seems like a mirage now that SIU accomplished what it did. Beating Duke, Rutgers and Marquette.
Of course there was a guy named Walt Frazier around to set the pace and he proved later just how special a basketball player he actually was.
His honors are staggering, included being a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team or NBA’s Top 50.
And, like most champions and standouts, he has never forgotten his roots. He’s returned to SIU for many special occasions and remains a Saluki fan.
Incidentally, SIU “fans” are a current concern right now as attendance at both football and basketball games is down.
However, we’re hoping and expecting better times are ahead in both basketball and football.