Southern Illinois basketball coach Barry Hinson has a special request for SIU basketball fans, and it's simple.
"I'd like everybody to bring somebody else to the game Wednesday night. We've not been over the 6,000 mark this year and I'd like to do that for those three seniors," Hinson said during his press conference following Saturday's game vs. Miami University (Ohio).
Hinson is referring to the next and final home game of this season, when the Salukis play host to Northern Iowa at 7:05.
Wednesday's game is senior night, and three senior Salukis will be honored throughout the night for their contributions to Saluki basketball. Seniors Jeff Early, T.J. Lindsay and Kendal Brown-Surles will all be playing in their final game for the Dawgs. Hinson described the game as the second-most important game of the season, saying that the most important game will be the team's first game in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
It isn't the first time that Hinson has requested that people bring someone along to the next game. Hinson also asked the same "favor" before a home game earlier in the season.
In a very similar request, the Saluki coach stated that he wanted 6,000 fans in attendance vs. Fresno State in November of 2012. Despite not reaching the 6,000 mark, the Dawgs drew 5,409 in paid attendance to that game. Those who were in attendance got to witness junior Desmar Jackson nail a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to seal the 57-54 win over Fresno State.
As I have previously stated, now is a great time to be a Southern Illinois fan. Coach Hinson and the team have already taken many steps forward for the program, and the students have responded.
The Salukis are playing their best basketball to date, and arguably their best basketball in years. The team has already surpassed their win total from last year and currently sits at 12-16. Southern Illinois began its hot streak at home with a huge upset over Wichita State, who at the time was ranked No. 22 in the coaches' poll.
The Salukis then knocked off conference rivals Evansville and Missouri State, with their most recent game being a 74-68 overtime thriller vs. Miami University (Ohio) in the ESPN BracketBusters tournament.
Because there is no cost for SIU student basketball tickets, Saluki students have no reason to not go to the games. Even if SIU did charge students to attend sporting events, it would certainly be worth the cost.
Not only are the atmosphere and games entertaining for all, but all students should be proud to attend a school with such a prestigious basketball program and should take advantage of the great sports opportunities given to them while attending Southern Illinois.
Let's make this happen, Saluki nation.
As the recent performance has shown, the Salukis have not given up on this year. No way should Saluki nation give up first, or ever.
Regardless of the record, streak, performance, or previous years, I have watched the three seniors for the past three seasons that I have gone to school with at SIU, and I have an enormous amount of respect for all three. Their blood, sweat, tears and souls have gone into each and every game, and the very least we as a fanbase can do is to recognize what they have done.
Coach Hinson said he wants 6,000 fans at Wednesday's game.
Let's give him 7,000.