Editor's Note: Because of an early deadline, stories from Wednesday's SIU men's basketball game can be found at thesouthern.com.
CARBONDALE — In his 31st Division I season, former Saluki forward Doug Novsek still believes college kids want the same things they did when he played in the late 1980s.
"The kids themselves are the same, but the people around the kids have changed, the influence of people, and it's not always negative," Novsek said. "You hear that, but it's not always negative, but there are more people around these kids and in their ear. It's different in that regard, but I don't know that the kids are really any different. They want a sense of discipline. They want to be coached, for the most part."
After stints with Indiana State, Southwest Texas, Illinois State, Nebraska, Nevada and Evansville, Novsek is back in the Missouri Valley Conference as a quality control consultant with the Salukis this season.
Nevada captured three Western Athletic Conference titles during his tenure with five postseason appearances, including the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Six of his former players went on to the NBA, including first-round draft picks JaVale McGee and Luke Babbitt.
Novsek watches practice but can't, per NCAA rules, coach the Salukis on the floor. He reviews film and suggests things for Hinson, who admitted he brought on Novsek to help him develop as a head coach. Novsek is the only "quality control consultant" in the Valley, although Indiana State and Missouri State have similar positions in addition to their three assistant coaches, director of basketball operations and graduate assistants. Indiana State employs Austin Butts as the special assistant to the head coach, and Missouri State has a video and analytics coordinator named Alec O'Reilly, who works with the men's and women's basketball teams with pregame and postgame analysis of video and statistics.
"He has been nothing but a blessing to me, our program, and our players, and it's good to have another guy that you competed against in your league, and the eyes that he had not only on us but our other opponents," Hinson said.
Novsek said some of his ideas are not taken, and that's OK, but some of his suggestions are working. SIU (5-3) entered Wednesday night's game against Saint Louis (6-1) with five wins in its last six games after falling at then-No. 2 Kentucky and current No. 17 Buffalo to open the season.
"It's a little bit of bringing some of the experience from what I had. Not really changes, but some tweaks here and there," Novsek said. "Barry is someone who really likes to hear ideas. He doesn't always do 'em, which, a lot of guys don't, but I think he's really interested in trying to strengthen what he does, and that's kind of what I'm hoping to do."
Novsek, a star at Lawrenceville High School who finished third in the Illinois Mr. Basketball voting after leading his team to an undefeated season in 1982, originally signed with West Virginia. He fell ill his freshman year and transferred to SIU to play for Allen Van Winkle in 1983. He played in 10 games as a true freshman, as the Salukis finished 15-13 overall and 7-9 in the Valley. It was his only winning season at SIU, which spanned two years with Van Winkle and two with MVC Hall of Fame coach Rich Herrin between 1985-87.
Van Winkle resigned in the middle of a scandal involving paying players that eventually put SIU on probation by the Valley for the 1985-86 season. Herrin went 8-20 in his first season with four Valley wins but went on to capture 225 victories between 1985-97, the second-most in Saluki history. SIU improved to 12-17 his second season, as Novsek set the school record for 3-point field goal percentage as a 6-foot-4 senior forward. Novsek sank 87 of 184 from behind the arc (47.3 percent), shot 44.7 percent from the field and averaged 14.4 points per game. Guards Steve Middleton (19.1 points per game) and Kai Nurnberger (10.1) also averaged double figures.