I'm used to girls named Lindsay being teases.
See Lindsay Lohan.
But Lindsey Willhite, who is one of the best sportswriters in Chicagoland, put together a nice lil' interview with SIU men's basketball head coach Chris Lowery.
Allow me (SIU hoops beat writer for the Daily Egyptian) to break down some highlights.
Lowery never pulls punches or fails to say what he believes. While the conversation became even better after I turned off the recorder, the on-the-record stuff was pretty good, too. Here's a sampling:
When a story starts like that, you know it's gonna be good. Just don't go Bob Kravitz on me.
Joe College: I never thought I'd see the day when Southern Illinois would be letting its opponents shoot 43.6 percent.
Chris Lowery: Well, we've never had six freshmen either. We've always been older. We've never had such an influx of young players, but we've never been able to get that good of a young player like we have right now. We have some freshmen playing a lot of minutes -- and we have freshmen come in for freshmen. It's never been that way. ... Another thing, we've played a hard schedule. We've played as tough a schedule as anyone in the country with six of our first nine being on the road.
Lowery has talked in previous media sessions (which I have been a part of) about how he has had to adjust to a young squad and how in the past he didn't "waste his time" with youngsters because they would learn as they got older. SIU is usally senior heavy and if you look at its most successful teams and you can link its success with the senior leadership provided by Jamaal Tatum, Tony Young, Darrin Brooks, Stetson Hairston, Kent Williams, etc. The combination of youth and a rugged road schedule might take its toll now, but Lowery continues to stress "it's not about now, it's about March."
JC: Do you do the schedule?
CL: Yeah. Not very smart. But I think what it does, it makes us tougher. It makes us stronger in our league. That's why our RPI over the past six years is 22. Because we played people and we've had success. That's developed who we are in our personality. But we're going to take some lumps early and we know we're going to get better because we're going to continue to coach them and work them.
Fresno State football head caoch Pat Hill became a media darling when he said his Bulldog squad would play anyone anywhere. That's the kind of fearless scheduling that makes good players want to play for you. Who wants to star against the Little Sisters of the Poor when they can show their talents against teams such as Duke and UCLA and in NBA arenas such as New York City's Madison Square Garden or Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Thumbs up to coach for not scheduling Cupcake City College.
JC: Is this the end of the NIU-SIU series?
CL: It's the end right now. Obviously we want to look at it again. How it came about is we wanted a game in Chicago and this is the closest we could get. Bryan Mullins, our senior (point guard from Downers Grove South), we wanted to bring him home in his last year. We were very fortunate to get this game.
As a Chicago kid, I want SIU to play the Chicagoland schools (DePaul, Northwestern, UIC, Loyola, NIU) not only so I can see my soon-t0-be alma mater but so the program can get exposed to the city's best hoopsters and kids who want to go to a darn good university. I hope to talk to B-Mull, Ryan Hare, Kevin Dillard and Tony Freeman and see how they feel about this pseudo-homecoming.
JC: OK, I have to ask this only because I see this on the DePaul message boards: They seem to think (Jerry) Wainwright's on his way out and they think somebody like you could come in and save them. You're not going anywhere to save people, are you?
(Note: Lowery's in the second year of a seven-year extension that pays him $750K per year).
CL: The biggest thing for me is, I want to win. That's No. 1. The only way I would leave Southern is if I thought I could go and win somewhere. I make great money. So I don't have to take a job where I feel is going to be detrimental to my career. I don't think I'm going to go anywhere that's detrimental to winning. And that's the thing: I've always been a part of winning, from high school to college to assistant (coach). Every step of the way, I've had some success. At this point, I don't need to go anywhere just for money.
Lowery's name is going to come up anytime a college job opens up. That's just the nature of a good young coach who is one win from his 100th as the Salukis head coach. At a practice before the Charlotte game, I asked C-Lo about the program and what it would mean to win your 100th so soon after following great coaches such as Bruce Weber (now at Illinois) and Matt Painter (now at Purdue) in continuingn their tradition of winning. Lowery said while the SIU job has been a stepping stone for Weber and Painter, it is different for him because he's an alum and that he wants to take the Salukis to their highest level. It sounds like his ties to Southern are strong, even if big sacks of cash come a-callin' for the 36-year-old star guard turned head coach.
That's comforting to hear, I guess.
And that's where I clicked stop on the recorder.
Oh Lindsey, you tease!