SIU basketball programs express optimism, give fans unique opportunity at meet and greet

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KBSI) – Southern Illinois University held its second annual Saluki Meet and Greet at the Banterra Center on Wednesday.

Newly hired women’s head coach Kelly Bond-White wants to stay out of the spotlight and instead shine it on her players.

“I want to take the focus off me,” she said. “It’s not about my resume or anything like that. I just love the fact that I give our kids a speaking voice because I want the community to know them. It’s about them. They’re the ones giving the blood, sweat and tears. We’re just here to kind of guide them and make this the best product we can put on the floor for the fans to enjoy.”

At the meet and greet, fans got to converse with members of the men’s and women’s teams, snap some photos and even play a little pick-up. 

Bond-White said building on the success of last year’s team, which won the Missouri Valley Conference championship, will help carry this year’s squad forward.

“We’re just excited about what we’re building, the momentum that’s building after winning a championship last year,” she said. “And that’s what I told our girls. Let’s focus on every day, getting better, and the rest will take care of itself. I love the group we’re putting together. They’re tremendous young ladies of character, and I’m just excited to get going.” 

Men’s coach Bryan Mullins shared similar excitement about the direction of his program.

“Open gyms are extremely competitive. The workouts are extremely competitive, and everyone is here to win a championship,” he said. “Everyone is here for something that is bigger than themselves, and everyone is here because they understand how special this place is, and that’s really, really exciting.” 

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