Media members saw a different Barry Hinson after Sunday’s 70-67 loss to Drake.
Over the years, we’ve seen bubbly Barry. We’ve seen angry Barry. We’ve seen defiant Barry. And, anyone who has covered Hinson’s teams for more than two weeks has occasionally seen stand-up comic Barry.
But, the Barry Hinson who appeared in the media room Sunday — I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Frankly, after Sunday’s loss, I didn’t know which Hinson to expect.
It had been a strange game. The Salukis couldn’t buy a bucket. They didn’t turn the ball over. They didn’t take bad shots. But, even shots from point-blank range refused to fall through the net.
CARBONDALE — Thik Bol's season ended before it got started Sunday, and after another disappointing home loss, SIU's men's basketball team ente…
There were times the Salukis didn’t guard particularly well. But, in the final four minutes SIU was tenacious, nearly pulling off a double digit comeback. Armon Fletcher’s potential game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer.
Those circumstances could have resulted in a Buoyant Barry, someone happy that the team fought back from adversity to take the game into overtime. They could have resulted in a Testy Barry, someone ticked off that the defensive intensity on display the final four minutes was absent the remainder of the game.
Instead, we got a Barry Hinson who seemed genuinely at a loss for words.
It turns out, there was a good reason for that.
Thik Bol, SIU’s lone preseason All-MVC selection, had knee surgery shortly before the season. Late last week he had been cleared to play and practiced with the team twice. Initially, the knee seemed to respond well.
But, Saturday night the knee became swollen. By Sunday morning, the plug was pulled on Bol’s season.
That is devastating news. But, it was just the latest setback for this injury-riddled team. Marcus Bartley missed the first month of the season with a broken hand. Rudy Stradnieks missed a game with a hand injury and was unavailable due to the flu on Sunday.
Eric McGill is out indefinitely (possibly for the season) with a hand injury. Sean Lloyd suffered a broken nose at UNI and played Sunday with a face mask. Jonathan Wiley injured his knee in Sunday’s first half. His status is uncertain. And, Fletcher’s knee remains touch and go.
Hinson went through the litany of injuries during the press conference, at once appearing to be searching for answers and a way through the adversity. He shook his hands as he spoke, seemingly hoping to pluck the perfect words out of the air.
He was emotional, expressing concern for his team. And, frankly, he seemed flustered. And, veteran Barry-watchers know Hinson is rarely at a loss for words.
Possibly, the anomaly of an unsure Hinson has me overthinking the situation. He had only been aware of Bol’s setback for several hours.
In the grind that is NCAA basketball, Hinson will have had 72 hours to find answers when the Salukis tip-off against Evansville at 7 p.m. tonight. I suspect the fire will have been restored.
As to the answers Hinson found, that will be determined.
LES WINKELER is the sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at email@example.com, or call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.