SIUE Basketball returns in full force with new coaches, strategies

Men and Women’s basketball are getting ready for the upcoming season, with both teams excited to get back on the court after a season disrupted by COVID-19. 


Men’s Basketball 


SIUE men’s basketball is getting ready for their season. The men’s basketball team was started back in 1967, 54 years ago. 


Head Coach Brian Barone, is entering his second season at SIUE as head coach. He is assisted by Charles Wells, Troy Pierce and Colin Schneider. 


Barone said he is very excited for the upcoming season and this year’s team. 


“We have a good group of young men that have really dedicated the last several months trying to bring a certain amount of effort, energy, every single day, while also being able to grow together as a team, on and off the court,” Barone said. 


Barone said the team is coming off a year where the team wasn’t able to practice before playing nearly 20 games over 43 days, and the team has been working hard in practices for this season.


“You go into every game expecting and preparing to win, and I think just continuing to grow the program forward after a year [where] we couldn't even practice is a really big deal. The goal each and every day is to be better than when you started the day. Winning would be a result of that,” Barone said. 


Shamar Wright, a redshirt junior guard from Murrietta, California, said the team is excited as well, as over half the team are new players. He said that the team works really well together, moving the ball around the court, which according to him is something different about this team than past teams.


“If we could do something special, then we can take some strides in the right direction for where our program has been going these past few years,” Wright said. 


Both Barone and Wright said they are excited to get back on the court and have the fans back. 


“We're excited to [have] the community really be part of what we're building here. We want [the community] to embrace us. We want to embrace the community, and we want to represent and build the brand of this university the right way,” Barone said. 


The men’s first game will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Vadalabene Center against Quincy University. 


Women’s Basketball


Head Coach Samantha Smith, leads the women’s basketball team in their 47th year. This is Smith’s first year coaching at SIUE. She is assisted by SIUE alumni Jazmin Pitts, Bradley Bruno and Ariel Massengale. Smith said that the team is really excited for the upcoming season.


“It's a new coaching staff, so there's been a new culture that's been established. The meshing of returning student athletes, new student athletes, new coaching staff, it's been a really welcoming experience so far,” Smith said. 


According to Smith, the team is just starting official practices but everything has been moving in a good direction. She said she understands the pressure of being a student athlete, keeping up with academics and athletics and that the coaching staff has been working hard on helping the players work through adversity to be the best possible athlete they can be. 


“Overall, we're just really excited for this opportunity that we have here to start something really special and to get off on the right foot. That's been a big part of what we're doing here is having this positive mindset and positive attitude,” Smith said. 


Jaida Hampton, a redshirt junior guard from Lansing, Michigan, said the team loves the coaching staff and their coaching style.


“We feel really positive, really good, we love the energy that Coach Sam [Smith] has. I think everybody pretty much enjoys that energy and the playing style that she's been putting in every day. That consistency and toughness, that she's trying to instill in us, has been really positive and we're just really eager to play,” Hampton said. 


Smith said she’s excited for the upcoming season and can’t wait to see what the team will do. 


“We are making some noise and making a name for women's basketball,” Smith said.


Women’s basketball plays their first game at 1 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Vadalabene Center against the UMSL Tritons. 

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