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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Landing on his feet

Ex-Missouri State coach glad to be reunited with KU’s Self

Kansas basketball director of external relations Barry Hinson, former head coach of Missouri State, has made himself at home in Allen Fieldhouse since reuniting with former boss and current Jayhawks coach Bill Self. Hinson previously served as an assistant under Self at Oral Roberts University.

Kansas basketball director of external relations Barry Hinson, former head coach of Missouri State, has made himself at home in Allen Fieldhouse since reuniting with former boss and current Jayhawks coach Bill Self. Hinson previously served as an assistant under Self at Oral Roberts University.

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— Nobody involved with the Kansas University athletic department has looked forward to this week with more enthusiasm than Barry Hinson, director of external relations for the school’s basketball program.

In recent years, mid-March had not been kind to Hinson, fired last March after nine seasons as head basketball coach at Missouri State, where he posted an average record of 19-13 and took the Bears to four NIT appearances, doing so three times in seasons with an RPI that normally earns teams invitations to the NCAA Tournament.

And it was that very record that was his undoing. After coaching Missouri State to a 22-11 mark in the 2006-2007 season, including a victory against Wisconsin, Missouri State president Michael T. Nietzel called a news conference at season’s end, but it wasn’t to gripe about the Bears getting snubbed yet again by the tournament selection committee. Nietzel gave Hinson a performance review that essentially was a preview to his firing. He might as well have shoved Hinson onto the plank, shoved a pistol in his back and told him to start walking.

At the notorious news conference, Nietzel praised the academic record of Hinson’s athletes, the “record of integration into campus and university culture,” the financial record of the program and its integrity and compliance with rules.

“There is no doubt that coach Hinson gets high marks in four of these five goals,” said Nietzel. “When it comes to the first goal, the ability to compete, I think we have had consistently good teams. What we aspire to have, however, are regularly excellent teams.”

Hinson stood on the plank and Nietzel tossed some of the coach’s blood to the swirling sharks below to make sure they knew they didn’t need to seek a meal elsewhere.

Hinson prefers not to look back on that news conference and instead talks about how lucky he is to be reunited with Bill Self, for whom he worked as an assistant at Oral Roberts University, before taking Self’s job (for two years) when he moved across town to head the Tulsa program.

Hinson is not allowed to instruct players, but attends practice every day and serves as a sounding board for Self. He makes the team’s travel arrangements, right down to pre-game meals, and is in charge of soliciting financial contributions from former KU basketball players for the construction of a new practice facility. (Hinson said Scot Pollard already is on board.) Hinson lives in Lawrence with his wife, Angie. They have two grown daughters.

“I love it,” Hinson said of his new job during a recent sit-down interview. “I’ve joked, ‘Thank goodness I lost my job in the greatest of economic times and at a time that it’s easy to sell your house.’ But I do love it.

“I’m watching Game Day on ESPN and the guys say with the exception of Kansas, this has probably been the second-best location we’ve had at Game Day. I mean, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I’m like a peacock. I’m just putting my chest out. I’m Kansas now. I’m a Jayhawk.”

At games in Allen Fieldhouse, Hinson sat behind the baseline, next to former Jayhawks reserve guard Jeremy Case, who said he has “learned a ton” from Hinson that will help him during his coaching career.

On the road, Hinson usually sits behind the Kansas bench. An Oklahoma State graduate, Hinson and first-year video coordinator Kyle Keller wore orange ties in Norman, where the color does to humans what red does to bulls. Purely a coincidence, no doubt.

Hinson, 47, said he strictly follows the rules of what he can and can’t do.

“I can’t coach, can’t recruit, can’t go out on the road, can’t speak on behalf of Kansas basketball to a recruit or a recruit’s family and I don’t do it,” he said. “Don’t do it. And it’s hard because I feel like I know coach extremely well. I went to school with him. I started coaching with him. I know his family. I’ve known the kids since they were babies. I’ve known his wife before they were married.”

Hinson knows first-hand where Self’s commitment to coaching defense originated, from legendary basketball coach Henry Iba. Hinson said he worked for him doing odd jobs in Gallagher Arena as a freshman at OSU as part of a work-study program.

“You’re talking about a kid who was the head coach at Stillwater Junior High and I met Mr. Iba. I’m going to his house. I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Hinson said. “We go out there and it’s snowing like a booger. I’m sitting in Mr. Iba’s living room and the phone rings and it’s Bobby Knight. Then the Fed Ex guy comes and he’s got a package from George Raveling at Iowa. Then Dean Smith calls.”

Hinson recounted the conversation as if it took place yesterday. He picked it up at the point he pulled a notebook out of his brief case.

“Young man,” Iba told him, “you’re not going to take notes. I’m going to talk and you’re going to listen. I’m going to tell you eight things. The first thing I’m going to tell you, all you pups, the only thing you’re concerned with is how to put that orange thing in the hole. And what you pups have got to figure out is how to keep that orange thing out of the hole.”

Hinson said he began to panic when Iba reached Point No. 5.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to ask me to repeat the eight points,’ ’’ Hinson said. “So I don’t even hear Points 5, 6 and 7 because I’m scared to death he’s going to ask me to repeat them all and I’m trying to go back in my mind to figure out Points 2, 3 and 4. Ever since I’ve coached, Point No. 1 has been my philosophy. If you come out of Oklahoma State, that’s what it is. You hear what coach (Self) talks about all the time.”

Hinson said he was on the verge of going into broadcasting when he received a call from Self and Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins.

“It’s been one of the most humbling experiences in my life because I’ve gone from telling people what to do to asking a manager if I can have a pair of socks,” Hinson said. “I’ll never forget what my dad (Bob Hinson) told me before I came here. He said, ‘Son, if Lew Perkins asks you to clean up that bathroom, you go in there and make sure that’s the cleanest bathroom in the University of Kansas. No matter what they ask you to do, you do it.’ It’s been humbling, but not in a degrading way. I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

It could be just a one-year stop for Hinson, whose coaching resume makes him an attractive candidate for the many Division I coaching jobs that will be open, but it will be a year he’ll never forget.

“I’m blown away, I mean blown away, by the family atmosphere in our athletic department,” Hinson said. “Blown away. That all starts from the top. I’ve been here long enough, I’ve read the papers, I know Lew’s taken a few bullets here. From my side that I get to witness every day, people enjoy coming to work. There’s a family here. I go in those Olympic sports offices on a daily basis. I’m telling you, there’s no faking going on over there. You’re talking about one of the largest athletic departments in the country and everybody loves everybody. That’s Indiana Jones right there. He’s out there looking for that. I’m telling you, that’s the Holy Grail.”

Hinson never found the Holy Grail of all college basketball coaches, never received that invitation to the dance.

At Kansas, making the NCAA Tournament field is a given. Perhaps if the Kansas players knew as well as Hinson what it feels like to be on the outside looking in, they would have shown more excitement when the CBS cameras caught their reaction in the Naismith Room in Allen Fieldhouse during the selection show.

In 2005-2006, Hinson invited CBS into his basement to film the Missouri State team’s reaction, which he expected to be one of jubilation.

“We’re 21 in the RPI,” Hinson said. “We don’t think we’re in, we know we’re in. We’ve got everyone and their dog associated with our program and our family in the basement because we know we’re in. And we’re juiced because we know we’re in. They go through the first regional. We say it’s OK. They go through the second, still OK, we’ve got two more regionals to go. Then we go through the third regional and we’re still not in. And then the thought crosses my mind going into the fourth one and then I start worrying. You could just see the mood has gone from giddy to just solemn. It’s like, uh-oh, our wildest nightmare, there’s no way this is going to come true, but it sure does look like there’s a possibility. When the last teams flashed on the board and that happened, I’m thinking, ‘Well, there’s another regional, isn’t there?’ You’re just sitting there and you know you’re on national television. There was probably 30 seconds of silence and everybody’s staring at the screen. We’re numb. We were stunned.”

CBS filmed Hinson’s team again the next year and the Nightmare on Barry Street replayed.

At long last, Hinson’s in the tournament. It’s not his team, but it’s his school now. Forgive him if he enjoys it like a kid who just opened a pack of baseball cards to find an image of World Series star Ryan Howard staring at him.

Comments

mojayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

First of all, I am a life long Jayhawk and KU alum. I live in Springfield, and there has never been a finer man or a finer PR man for Missouri State University. As mentioned, Barry had moderate success at MSU and never did get over the top. However, as a spokesman, and a man of character and integrity, there has never been a finer man here. After meeting him and Steve Alford before him, I would rather have my son play for Barry than for the arrogance of Steve Alford any day of the week.

Good luck Barry and I hope your next coaching job is at a school easier to recruit to than MSU. You deserve another opportunity when the time is right. In the mean time, isn't it great to be a Jayhawk!

Rock Chalk

MinnesotaJay 10 years, 10 months ago

Without him, Missouri State was 11-20 overall and 3-15 in conference this season. Serves them right. Good luck to Barry.

KUPROUD 10 years, 10 months ago

Missouri State president Michael T. Nietzel: "I think we have had consistently good teams. What we aspire to have, however, are regularly excellent teams." Well, you might have just lost your chance for even mediocrity for the next decade when you dumped Coach Hinson. A mid-major MVC team like Missouri State that has "consistently good teams" is a rarity when competing for NCAA bids. Big mistake, Mike, HUGE. But thanks for making Coach Hinson available to become a Jayhawk.

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

I was expecting KU or Tigers at Sprint this week, and bought tix at a premium couple weeks ago...so it goes. Last week my job was terminated and I'm out of work, so I went yesterday to the free practices at Sprint hoping to raise some cash by selling my tickets. Little or no demand, so sad, our Hawks or the Kittens could have made the KC Power & Light district a jumping place. I saw a dad with large family all wearing Sooner garb watching OU practice & I asked him if he wanted to buy my tix, he said he couldn't afford them, so I gave them to him. Didn't have heart to tell him I was also not able to afford them....

I've had pleasure to be at several Final Fours Danny freshman year in Dallas our 1st. I wonder if it helps us to have OU go all the way, as they have a 'chance.' Anything to help our conference helps us, well except MIZZOU, can't go that far.

AS for article on Barry it is nice to have winners, champions as well as 'good guys'.

Rock Chalk always.

fiberman2000 10 years, 10 months ago

I saw a dad with large family all wearing Sooner garb watching OU practice & I asked him if he wanted to buy my tix, he said he couldn't afford them, so I gave them to him. Didn't have heart to tell him I was also not able to afford them....

It people like you that make a true Kansas Fan. Good luck you to in the future and what a nice gesture to do. RCJH

KU1979 10 years, 10 months ago

"Time heals all wounds" in regards to Barry Hinson.

"Time wounds all heels" in regards to Michael Nietzel. Also refers to Dean Smith, but that's another story.

omng392 10 years, 10 months ago

Lighthawk... That's the coolest thing, I've heard from anyone in a long time.

maclothier 10 years, 10 months ago

I know as an OSU alum I was hoping Hinson found his way back on to the Cowboy staff, but our own coaching change threw a wrench in that! Good to hear Hinson enjoying himself and I hope he finds a coaching job sooner than later. And to Mr. Neitzel, good move. Nice to see that worked out for you.

Brian Skelly 10 years, 10 months ago

I can say as a KU AND SMSU alum (undergrad / grad) having Hinson hit "rock bottom" in Lawrence is a blessing for all parties involved.

Hinson's teams never stunk up the place, but they never were lights out either. Of all his seasons there, they definitely got hosed twice without making the Big Dance. Others were close, but probably no argument.

And as you can tell from the article and other interviews, he's probably happier to be in Lawrence than some of the people who've already been there awhile... and trust me when I tell you its genuine. He's the real deal.

Here's to hoping he either becomes a full time assistant for Coach Self, or finds a Head Coach position that treats him as if he's a head coach, and not the guy who followed Steve Alford... which is pretty pathetic looking back on it now.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 10 months ago

His Missouri State team had really bad timing in 2006. It was shocking that they didn't get in, and then the Valley went out and won all of their first round games. It was just a great conference that year.

Dan Harris 10 years, 10 months ago

jchief-He didn't say he was going to Kansas but we can keep our fingers crossed. I'm more concerned about the Bison right now! Go Hawks!!

jchief40 10 years, 10 months ago

Well based on his comments I am almost sure of it. Maryland is out of it and he said he wants to play with other good players and coach and win the tournament. Well.. that pretty much rules out St John's. Not that Roberts is a bad coach but over there he isn't liked THAT much. Bring on the Bison - I agree.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Everyone,

"Hinson knows first-hand where Self’s commitment to coaching defense originated, from legendary basketball coach Henry Iba. Hinson said he worked for him doing odd jobs in Gallagher Arena as a freshman at OSU as part of a work-study program."

Repeat after me:

There is no connection between the basketball Bill Self coaches and the Okie Baller tradition.

There is no link between the basketball Bill Self coaches and Hank Iba's brand of ball.

There is no link between the basketball Bill Self coaches and Eddie Sutton's brand of ball.

None. Zero. Zilch.

Any connection between Bill Self Ball and the Okie Baller tradition is made up entirely between the ears of jaybate.

Hank Iba did not create any distinguishable brand of basketball.

Hank Iba's legacy was not passed down to Don Haskins, Jack Hartman, and Eddie Sutton.

And Hank and Eddie never passed it on down to Bill Self and Barry Hinson.

jaybate is wrong, wrong,wrong about these connections.

He was always wrong.

He always will be wrong.

Uh....not. :-)

troutangler 10 years, 10 months ago

You guys are clueless and you don't know half the story. If Barry was such a great coach, why did no one hire him after last season? His teams consistently underachieved and he didn't do enough to get in when the committee left us out. In 2006 you can make a case that he got screwed, but that was the same year he said we didn't need to win a game in St. Louis in the conference tournament. We proceeded to put up something like 41 points against UNI in the quarterfinals. In 2007 we had no case to get in. Winthrop kicked our tails in the Bracket Buster and that was an NIT team all the way.

Throwing players under the bus, making excuses, folksy slang terms that got old quick, lack of player development.....I'm probably still leaving stuff out.

My favorite Barry quote: "There aren't a whole lot of games you really want to win, but this is one of them"

  • After getting beat by ORU at home in the Bracket Buster game one year.

Bearinthewoods 10 years, 10 months ago

I have been a MSU/SMS fan for approximately 40 years, and I think there is another perspective on Barry than contained in the article and in the comments following it. Let me begin by saying that there is not a better person in the world - if I was a parent of a potential recruit, I would want Barry to be his coach because I know that he truly cares about his players. Unfortunately, he is not up to being a head coach at the mid-major or higher college level.

He did not just "follow Steve Alford." Steve Alford was not considered successful until after his Sweet Sixteen run which was made possible by a miracle shot during the MVC tournament. Otherwise, the team was probably headed to the NIT. Barry was initially received with much anticipation. Unfortunately, he was not successful in nine seasons. As each season passed, it became more apparent that the team did not progress during the season, there were game substitutions that defied logic and he often made off the wall statements after the game. As to recruiting, he relied on a unusually large crop of local players that appeared to have Division 1 talent. Most of his out of the area recruits either did not qualify or simply were not up to the talent level required to play at the top of the MVC. As to the statements that MSU got what it deserved with this year's record, perhaps some of you KU fans should have seen the Bears play. I asked a local retired coach what he thought was the cause of the Bears' losses, and he stated that "they are slow, can't guard, can't rebound, and can't shoot - otherwise they are pretty good." Coach Martin was left with the dregs of failed recruiting classes - other teams constantly exploited these weaknesses and Coach Martin simply couldn't coach away the total lack of talent. For you KU fans that think he was screwed by MSU, please answer the question why he wasn't hired by any other school after he was fired? Why was he the lowest paid coach in the MVC year after year, and there was no school attempting to "steal him away".

I agree that the Bears deserved to be in the NCAAs in the past during Barry's tenure and were screwed by the committee. The committee simply wasn't going to allow 5 bids from the MVC. But, Barry said we didn't need to win a game in St. Louis in the conference tournament, and we didn't. I fault him for not motivating the team to understand that winning is always the goal. On the road, sometimes the team seemed to be in a fog and not prepared.

So, before the Jayhawk fans blast MSU, you should "walk a mile in our shoes." Not every school has the tradition of KU, high school all-americans standing in line to sign, and the ability to pay a Bill Self to coach. You learn from your mistakes as a mid-major and hope the next guy will be more qualifed than Barry.

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