Benching Derrick Rose tonight against Suns can’t hurt, could help Bulls

Congratulations are in order for Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who played 40+ minutes in back-to-back games since Jan. 29-30, 2012 against the Heat and Wizards, respectively.

Now might be a good time for Rose to take a breather.

If I was Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, I would bench Derrick Rose for Friday night’s tilt against the Suns.

Call it a maintenance day or mental health day if it feels right. Just get Rose a breather.

While two games is admittedly a ridiculously small sample size, Rose’s struggles are just the most recent signs of an alarming downward trend.

Whether it’s the eye-test noticing misfired jumpers (many of them coming short) or a box score break down, Rose might be best served given a night off to recharge the batteries.

Rose has already played in 37 games and logged 1,129 minutes — the most since the shortened 2011-12 season, which of course ended in injury. He’ll need to get his endurance up as this season goes on, but giving him an extra day off knowing the team won’t play again until it plays the Rockets on Feb. 4 in Houston could work wonders for a player struggling to find his game.

Rose’s cumulative line from the last two games is rather ugly: 20-of-59 (33.9%) from the floor, 5-of-19 (26.3%) from the 3-point line, 15-of-40 (37.5%) on 2-point field goal attempts, two free-throw attempts, seven assists and 16 turnovers.

Yes, he had the game-winner in overtime on Wednesday night against the Warriors. But that shouldn’t change the perception of his struggles. Rose’s struggles are real and if they aren’t solved by the time the playoffs start, the Bulls will be in real danger of wasting of year of what is already a tight championship window.

So, what’s alarming?

  • 33.2 percent of Rose’s shot attempts are from the 3-point line, where he’s shooting 30.8 percent. When Rose was racking up three consecutive All-Star game appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2012, only 16.9 percent of his attempts were 3-pointers.
  • Three-point attempts are up at a career most 5.6 per game, while free-throw attempts per game is at 3.6 — down from the 5.7 attempts he averaged during his last three healthy All-Star seasons.
  • Rose is shooting only 46.1 percent on 2-point shots. Not good considering during his prime years, Rose shot 48.8 percent on attempted 2-pointers.
  • In his three All-Star seasons, Rose had a 35.7 percent assist rate and a 12.9 turnover rate. This season, Rose’s turnover rate has ballooned to 15.4.

There is no good excuse for Rose to throw up as many shots as he did last night when Pau Gasol was shooting 57.1 percent from the floor and Jimmy Butler was shooting 52.9 percent and getting to the line more often in one night (18 times) than Rose had in his last six games combined.

All things considered, Rose could use a night off.

While You Were Sleeping: Bulls beat Warriors in true gut-check game

I don’t get too low during regular season losses. That’s why you didn’t see me act as if the sky was falling when the Bulls lost on Sunday to the Heat at home.

And while I try not to get too high on regular season wins, Tuesday’s overtime thriller against the Warriors is probably as good as it gets.

Put as much stock into bad home losses to the Celtics, Pacers and Heat as you want. But do so at your own risk. As far as I’m concerned, it takes some real gumption to pull out road wins against superior Western Conference teams.

The Bulls are 12-6 against the West. Tuesday’s win represented the first for any Eastern Conference team against the Warriors in 15 games. The Bulls are 13-9 against teams with records at .500 or better and that’s puts them in the top four behind Atlanta’s 16-5 mark, the Warriors’ 15-6 record and within percentage points of the Grizzlies 14-10.

Over the course of an 82-game season, good teams lose bad games.

Bad losses aside, the Bulls’ body of work speaks for itself.


So, what makes Tuesday’s season win stand out above the other 29 regular season wins?

How much time do you have?

Those of you who lamenting the Bulls’ lack of defense and citing the fact they have allowed the most 100-point games in the Tom Thibodeau era should have seen a glimpse why that 100-point number can be deceiving.

Golden State hung 100 last night in defeat, but it was a hard 100. The Warriors shot 42.5 percent from the floor (48-of-113) and 27.3 percent on 3-pointers (9-of-33), while only attempting 12 free throws.

One-hundred eleven points, be damned. The Bulls held a team shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from the 3-point line — both league bests— well below their season averages. The Warriors needed 113 shots to get 111 points. The team that prides itself on shooting efficiency and gets 1.28 points per shot only score 0.98 points per shot.

For perspective, the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers average 1.10 points per shot.

Not only did the Bulls take the Warriors’ best shot on multiple occasions, they found ways to counter their attack and bear down defensively for key stretches. To see that out of a short-handed team is eye-opening.


Overcoming the backcourt blues

The Bulls won despite starting two back-up wing players, as Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy missed the game due to illness and injury, respectively.

Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich on the wings last night. And you could definitely tell that wasn’t going to work from the outset.

I detailed Hinrich’s struggles in a post yesterday and to be honest, he wasn’t great in Tuesday’s win, either. He only two assists (only one turnover) and shot 2-of-8 from the field — including 1-of-6 from the 3-point line in 38 minutes.

Albeit, that one gave the Bulls a lead with 15 seconds left in regulation.

At age 34, it’s impossible to not notice Hinrich in his stage of decline. If the Bulls had better backcourt depth, head coach Tom Thibodeau could probably hide Hinrich better. Prior to getting increase burn due to Mike Dunleavy’s injury, Hinrich was shooting a respectable 39.5 percent on 3-point attempts. Even then, his turnover rate (15.1 percent) being higher than his assist rate (14.3) is still a major cause for concern.


Bigs time

For all of Derrick Rose’s heroics (and we’ll get to that soon), it was the Bulls’ frontcourt which won Tuesday’s tilt. And that is despite David Lee going off for 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting (58.8%) from the field.

Joakim Noah played his best ball of the season. He ran hard and didn’t look to be laboring. That’s big for a guy riddled by knee injuries this year and foot injuries in recent seasons. Noah scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (58.3%) grabbed 15 rebounds (7 offensive, 8 defensive) and dished out six assists, while committing only two turnovers.

Fellow center Pau Gasol proved to be a quality facilitator, too, as he handed out a team-best eight assists. For good measure, Gasol tacked on 18 points (also on 7-of-12 shooting) and grabbed 16 rebounds (6 offensive, 10 defensive).

Interesting to note that Gasol and Noah combined to assist on four of the Bulls’ eight made 3-pointers.

Quite the contrast to Taj Gibson, who struggled to move the ball to open shooters when given the rock. It might be something to monitor moving forward.


“Shoutout to Derrick Rose…”

We were all thinking it, right?

Well, at least those of us who have heard Kanye West’s killer verse on Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like” were definitely thinking of it after Rose hit what turned out to be the game-winning jumper.

It wasn’t vintage Rose. Heck, it wasn’t even an ideal shot. But that was as ice cold as it gets.

Dribble. Jab step. Off-balance step-back jumper. Splash.

It was an important splash, too, as Rose played one of the ugliest games Bulls fans have seen from the former league MVP.

Rose scored 30 points, but needed 33 shot attempts (including 12 attempted 3-pointers) to get there. Rose didn’t even get to the free-throw line.

His lone assist led to Kirk Hinrich’s lone 3-point make, which gave the Bulls a late lead in the fourth quarter. But that came after 47 minutes and 45 seconds in which Rose racked up 11 turnovers.

Had Rose finished with no assists, he would’ve gone down in the record books with the most turnovers without an assist. Had he finished with no assists and 10 turnovers, he would’ve been the first to do so since Yao MIng had that dubious distinction in a Dec. 12, 2004 game against the Bobcats and the first Bull player to do it since Bill Cartwright against the Pacers in 1988.

Rose posted an all-time weird stat line that has yielded the following stat comps per basketball-reference.com’s play index (since 1985-86 season):

  • Rose’s 11 turnovers is tied with 10 others for the sixth most in a 30-point game. Only Chris Mullin (13) and Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson and Sleepy Floyd (12) had more than Rose’s 11.
  • His 1-assist, 11-turnover game is a first for a point guard. Allen Iverson had 8 turnovers (but 47 points) in this 2001 loss to the Hornets; Jason Williams, a more traditional PG had 8 turnovers in this 2002 loss to the Jazz.
  • Rose joined Kobe Bryant, Tim Hardaway and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf as the only guards to have a game in which they scored at least 30 points on 30 shots with no made free throws. Of that group Rose, Hardaway and Abdul-Rauf can proudly say they didn’t even attempt a free throw. Bryant missed his lone attempt in this 2012 win against the Warriors.

ESPN’s Bill Simmons tweeted: “Derrick Rose last night: 33 FGA, 11 turnovers, 1 assist and 0 FTA. That’s basically everything you don’t want from your point guard.”

And he isn’t completely wrong. There aren’t too many nights where a 1:11 assist-turnover ratio is acceptable. Neither is 0 free throw attempts from a guy who attempted 11 shots in the paint last night. And on a team that features efficient scorers such as Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, attempting 33 field goals isn’t ideal.

Still, Rose’s offensive aggressiveness was a bit of a breath of fresh air. It was nice to see him play aggressively, even if he was careless with the ball much of the night.

Most importantly, Rose played 40+ minutes for the first time since the Bulls’ 100-94 win against the Pistons on April 15, 2012.

Talk about burying the lede. That might have been the most important thing to come out of Tuesday’s win.

Yet, because of the other oddness and randomness of the night, that minor nugget has been buried.

At least, for now.

Kirk Hinrich (And Other Bulls Problems)

Kirk Hinrich won’t single-handedly hold the Chicago Bulls back from winning the NBA title in June. But he sure isn’t helping matters much right now.

I found myself doing some hoops research last night as I searched for box score fillers for canceled games in Brooklyn and New York and stumbled across some numbers that would dishearten even the most loyal Bulls fan.

I even tweeted some of them.

Hinrich’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) is at a career worst right now, yet, his playing time hasn’t seen much of a decline. On top of that, he has struggled since taking Mike Dunleavy’s minutes since his ankle injury has had him sidelined since Jan. 3. Since then, Hinrich is shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from the 3-point line while averaging 26.7 minutes per game. That is as inefficient as it gets.

But wait, there’s more.

As of right now, Hinrich’s turnover rate (15.2 percent) is higher than his assist rate (14.6).

Not. Good.

Though, it could be worse. The player with the third lowest PER among players who have logged a minimum of 1,000 minutes this year is Magic big man Channing Frye, who inked a four-year deal this offseason worth $32 million at age 31.

Yikes.

And yet, Kirk Hinrich getting significant playing time at the age of 34 while posting a league-and-career-worst PER is only the tip of the iceberg.

The Bulls have slumped on both ends of the floor since Dunleavy went down with injury.

Since January 3, they are averaging 99.7 points per game on 42.8 percent shooting from the field. Opponents are averaging 101.1 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting.

In the 32 games before Dunleavy’s injury, the Bulls averaged 102.5 points on 45.2 percent shooting, while opponents averaged 98.4 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting.

I’ll come clean and admit I undervalued Dunleavy, who was shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from the 3-point line before the injury. While he won’t wow you with his points per game totals or his athleticism, there is something to be said about a player who doesn’t make mistakes, is efficient with his shot and knows where to be defensively. He’s basically what Kirk Hinrich is supposed to be. But much better at this stage of the game.

I saw a neat statistical note about Pau Gasol in today’s print edition of the Chicago Tribune.

The All-Star center (power forward?) has registered a double-double in each of his last six games and nine of his last 10.

Unfortunately, Gasol hasn’t been too efficient offensively during that stretch as he is only shooting 47.5 percent from the field. That’s a significant dip from a guy who is a 51.3 percent career shooter who is getting most of his points and attempts from 15-feet and in. The Bulls would be wise to get Gasol established on the block and get him as many opportunities at the rim as possible. That is where he is shooting 58.9 percent — which is a drop from the last three years in which he shot 67.1 percent, 68.0 percent and 68.7 percent in the last three seasons.

Perceived vs. Real Defensive Struggles

Don’t be totally fooled by the increase in points per game allowed by the Bulls’ defense.

Sure, the Bulls are allowing 99.2 points per game — the most since coach Tom Thibodeau took over. But the check out the Bulls’ defensive ranks.

  • 3rd in opp. effective field goal pct. (47.7 percent)
  • 8th in opp. field goal pct. (44.2 percent)
  • 2nd in opp. 2-point pct. (46.6 percent)
  • 10th in opp. 3-point pct. (34.8 percent)

Now, check out their ranks from 2010-2014

  • 1st in opponent eFG% field goal percentage (46.6 percent)
  • 2nd in opp. FG% (43.2 percent)
  • 2nd in opp. 2PT% (45.5 percent)
  • 2nd in opp. 3PT% (33.9 percent)

There is a direct correlation between the Bulls pushing the pace offensively, which has resulted in more shots offensively — which has led to opponents getting more chances.

From 2010-14, Bulls opponents averaged 80.7 field goal attempts per game (11th fewest).

This season, Bulls opponents are averaging 86.7 field goal attempts per game (2nd most).

From 2010-14, the Bulls’ offense averaged 81.2 field goal attempts per game, which was the 10th fewest.

This season has seen a minimal increase in field goal attempts per game (82.4 percent ranks 13th), but the team has seen increased productivity at the free-throw line (26.6 attempts per game ranks second in the league) which is a marked improvement from the 22.6 attempts per game they averaged from 2010-14.

Tonight, the Bulls play a Warriors team that is the best in basketball. They rank first in scoring average, field goal percentage, field goal defense, 3-point percentage and third in opponent 3-point percentage.

Just know that whether they win or lose tonight, each individual game isn’t a referendum on what the season means.

We’re talking about one in an 82-game regular season that yields to a postseason that doesn’t begin for another 81 days.

Adam Gase’s value to Bears is in play calling, balance

The Chicago Bears hired Adam Gase as their offensive coordinator on Wednesday in a move that comes with mixed reviews from some Bears fans.

Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme addressed Gase’s role in the Broncos’ offense in Brad Biggs’ Chicago Tribune piece on Jan. 11 titled: “With Broncos, out, Adam Gase free to explore coaching openings

“Some question how much of a role plays in the offense with a maestro on the field like Manning. ‘People who say that really don’t know what they are talking about,’ tight end Jacob Tamme said. ‘Peyton does do a lot of things offensively and he does audible some plays. He has probably the best mind for a quarterback out there, but Adam Gase calls the plays and designs the game plan. He is a heck of an offensive mind and that’s not fair to him.'”

Adam Gase, The Playcaller, intrigues me moving forward.

Over the last two seasons, the Broncos have run 1,151 plays from scrimmage on first down. Of those plays, 581 (50.48 percent) have been pass plays, while 570 (49.52 percent) have been run plays.

Bears fans have yearned for that kind of balance in recent years.

Under Marc Trestman, the Bears ran 893 scrimmage plays on first down. Of those plays, 489 (54.75 percent) have been passes, while 404 (45.24 percent) have been run plays.

And that’s despite Matt Forte averaging 4.5 yards per rushing attempt on first down (293 attempts; 1,304 yards) the last two years.

More run plays on first down would benefit Jay Cutler — or whoever the Bears play at quarterback moving forward.

Cutler’s first down splits under Trestman are bad. In two years, he has dropped back to pass 396 times, rushing 24 times and throwing 372 passes. He is 237-for-372 for 2,674 yards, 14 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, a 3.76 interception rate and an 81.98 quarterback rating.

Whether the Bears’ quarterback next year is Cutler, a draft pick or anyone else in between, the team would be wise to minimize risk (especially on first down) by running the ball with an efficient back.

Based on his and head coach John Fox’s history of committing to running the ball, it would be fair to expect this trend to continue.

Statistical content via pro-football-reference.com.

Making Sense of Nonsense: Cubs acquire Dexter Fowler for Luis Valbuena, Dan Straily

During a segment of the Cubs Convention in which Joe Maddon and his staff were peppered with questions from fans, one stepped to the mic and referenced the team’s best postseason run came with Kenny Lofton wreaking havoc at the top of the order and asked how he planned to address that spot.

Maddon responded with stuff about the importance of getting on base, being able to run when on base to give opposing batteries fits and the value in scoring first. Maddon threw out a winning percentage for teams that score first that I imagine raised a few eyebrows.

Two days later, the Cubs front office responded by acquiring Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler in exchange for right-handed pitcher Dan Straily and third baseman Luis Valbuena.

WHAT ARE THE CUBS GETTING?

One year of Dexter Fowler.

Fowler will be a free agent in 2016. By acquiring Fowler now, the Cubs could extend a qualifying offer after the 2015 season ends. If rejected, Fowler signing with another team would net the Cubs a compensatory draft pick.

Fowler, who turns 29 on March 22. is the owner of a .271/.366/.419/.786 slash line and 104 OPS+.

He spent 2014 with the Astros, hitting .276 to go along with a .375 average. Before that, he spent six years with the Rockies where he averaged 10 homers, 30 doubles and 14 triples per 162 games to go along with a .367 on-base percentage, .793 OPS and 102 OPS+.

Because it is certain to come up in conversation, Fowler has hit .245 with a .360 slugging percentage in 1,565 plate appearances over the span of 397 true road games. — most of which have come away from Coors Field.
Fowler’s value is in being a switch-hitting center fielder who can bat at the top of the order.

Against righty starters, Fowler is a .265 hitter with a .361 on-base percentage. in 2,057 PA Against southpaws, he has a .281 average and .376 OBP in 1,083 PA.

In 404 games (1,832 PA) as a lead-off man, Fowler owns a .271 average and .366 on-base percentage to go along with a respectable 12.6 walk rate. Leading off games (390 PA), Fowler has a .333 OBP and 46 of those dreaded lead-off walks (11.7 percent). When leading off an inning, Fowler has a .362 career OBP and 12.8 percent walk rate.

Last year, Fowler’s 13.1 percent walk rate ranked first among center fielders and fifth among all outfielders.

Clearly, the Cubs were in desperate need of someone with Fowler’s history of plate discipline. At minimum, Fowler’s presence buys the Cubs some more time to let Albert Almora’s bat catch up with his glove in the minors.

An unfinished product at this stage, Almora is a .294 hitter in the minors, but hit only .234 at Double-A Tennessee. His walk rate is a very low 3.4 percent, but his 11.8 percent strikeout rate is a positive sign at this stage.

WHAT ARE THE CUBS ARE GIVING UP?

Two years of Luis Valbuena; five years of RHP Dan Straily

Valbuena provided the Cubs with three years of a serviceable left-handed bat and quality clubhouse presence. His counting stars won’t wow you, as he averaged 15 home runs and 55 runs batted in per 162 games in his three years with the Cubs.. He also owned a .232/.330/.394/.724 slash line to go along with a 99 OPS-plus.

His value was in his handedness and plate discipline with a 12.4 percent walk rate and 18.6 percent strikeout rate in 1,241 plate appearances over the last three seasons.

To add perspective: Anthony Rizzo has a 10.5 percent walk rate and 18.2 percent strikeout rate in 1,674 PA since 2012.

The Cubs are selling high on Valbuena, who was acquired by the team from the Toronto Blue Jays in a waiver claim on April 4, 2012. Last year, he set career highs in hits (119), runs (68), home runs (16), RBI (51), doubles (33), on-base percentage (.341), slugging (.435), weighted on-base average (.342) and OPS+ (119).

Over the last three years, Valbuena has been a 6.2 WAR player (per fangraphs). That’s better than David Freese (6.1), Pedro Alvarez (5.1), Mike Moustakas (5.1) and Matt Dominguez (-0.5). Dominguez, of course, is the guy he will be replacing in Houston.

In 2014, Valbuena ranked second in walk rate (11.9 percent), third in isolated slugging (.186), seventh in weighted on-base average (.342) and 12th in WAR (2.7) among third basemen. Conversely, Dominguez ranked 20th in walk rate (4.8 percent), 19th in isolated slugging (.115), 24th in wOBA (.260) and  WAR (-1.7).

As for Straily, he was acquired with Addison Russell and Billy McKinney in exchange for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in July 2014. Not a big loss for the Cubs there as they still have Tsuyoshi Wada, Travis Wood, Jacob Turner, Edwin Jackson and Felix Doubront vying for a spot in the rotation. All while prospects C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson work on their craft in the minors.

CONCLUSION

The Cubs add versatility by being able to slot Fowler every day in center field every day, even if his defensive metrics leave a lot to be desired. The Cubs could use a combination of players to hold down third base until Kris Bryant is ready.

Tommy La Stella profiles to be the kind of player who can make up for losing Valbuena. He owns a 10.0 percent walk rate and 11.1 percent strikeout rate in the minors, while his 22.6 percent line drive rate suggests he makes solid contact when he puts the ball in play.

A platoon featuring La Stella and Mike Olt, while using Arismendy Alcantara in a utility role could be among Joe Maddon’s better options until Bryant is ready.

Of course, things can get complicated again if/when Addison Russell shows he is ready to crack the major league roster. Seems like a good problem to have, no?

All in all, both teams filled needs in what looks to be a fair deal.

SIU basketball problems starting to mount

Anyone concerned about the state of Saluki basketball?

Just me? Fine, be that way.

The arrow is pointing down at SIU — and it has nothing to do with Wednesday’s loss at Wichita State. Not that anyone expected the Salukis to be world beaters three years into Barry Hinson’s tenure, but the lack of competitive  is cause for concern.

The lack of progress in Year 3 falls squarely on Hinson.

In the sake of fairness, Hinson didn’t come into a great situation. And he has played an important role in cleaning up some of the administrative mess that was left upon his arrival. Specifically, he has made sure the “student” portion of the student-athlete agreement is being honored and enforced. There is value in that, I suppose. But what else does he have to show for his efforts?

I understand the Salukis are in a rebuilding mode, but this is the team Hinson wanted to field. There are no Chris Lowery recruits to be seen on campus. At this stage, Southern should be seeing progress from its juniors and sophomores who were a part of Hinson’s first recruiting classes.

Anthony Beane is carrying the load for the first class (more on him in a bit) but Jalen Pendleton has regressed and Bola Olanyian is still a project.

Sean O’Brien has been serviceable and has some upside, while Tyler Smithpeters’ freshman year was a nice building block, but it’s safe to say that in an ideal world, he would have been better served redshirting his first season on campus. K.C. Goodwin did take the redshirt, so the jury is still out on him. The rest of Hinson’s second recruiting class featured four junior college players, three of which (Mike Balogun, Marcus Fillyaw and Hunter Gibson) are no longer on the team.

Fillyaw, of course, was the punchline to Hinson’s infamous rant.

Of course, Hinson also watched Lowery’s last two solid recruits (Dantiel Daniels and Treg Setty) walk away to Colorado State and Ohio, respectively. Not that SIU couldn’t use an upperclassman’s body that has been through four years of building.

Jordan Caroline headlines this year’s freshman class and he has shown flashes of a player who can be a contributor to a winner. But he’s also had his struggles. He’s a freshman, it happens.

The Valley is solid this year with Wichita State and Northern Iowa at the top, Indiana State and Evansville competitive and Loyola progressing. I can’t say SIU should be in the Valley’s top four, but they should definitely not be in the bottom four looking at another Thursday night under the Arch, either.

At minimum, Southern Illinois should be better than a team with a 299 RPI against a 326th strength of schedule.

That’s unacceptable.

And to think, where would SIU be without Anthony Beane?

Better yet. Where would SIU be if Tim Jankovic had not opted to go to SMU with Larry Brown, leaving his assistant (Anthony Beane Sr.) on the open market. Southern Illinois lucked into Beane and doesn’t have much else around him — and it shows.

The biggest gripe I’ve had with Hinson is that he’s never been in charge of a rebuilding project. Full credit goes to Steven Jung, who pointed it out when Hinson was first rumored to be a coaching candidate and reminded us of that fact last night…again.

Hinson’s first D-1 head coaching job came taking over Bill Self’s Oral Roberts team in 1997-98. Hinson followed Self’s 21-7 squad with a 19-12 season and a 17-11 season before moving on to Missouri State. That is where he took over for Steve Alford, who left behind a Sweet 16 team that returned its second, third and fourth leading scorers. Hinson averaged 18.7 wins during his career at Missouri State, but never made the NCAA Tournament — even on the heels of Alford’s team’s Sweet 16 run.

Team that with his willingness to leave one year into the rebuilding process and it’s not a good look for the Salukis.

And yet, Hinson seems beloved. He definitely gets plenty of love from his contemporaries in Coach of the Year voting, finishing third two years ago and second last year. Other coaches love him because he isn’t a threat to them. Think of the coaches other coaches hate: Calipari, Krzyzewski, Pitino, Alford, etc. No one goes out of their way to compliment a guy they have to go up against in recruiting. Unless, of course, he isn’t a threat.

Hinson is a worthy adversary, but truly isn’t a threat. So, by pumping him up, opposing coaches do so in hopes of maintaining status quo. I talked to a source who referenced how Tom Izzo does this a lot and referred to his comments from when Bruce Weber and Bill Carmody were let go from Illinois and Northwestern, respectively.

This is not a place SIU wants to be right now or moving forward.

Seeing the Salukis pile up losses is agonizing and it’s only made worse seeing the team take a step back from what looked like a year of progress a year ago. Hinson is currently safe because there is no AD, but know that at least some people above that post aren’t happy with where SIU (basketball and football, for what it’s worth) sits in the standings or with its perception.

Unfortunately, it might take a fresh set of eyes from a new director of athletics to bring change to Carbondale.