After defeat, Salukis come home to hundreds of proud fans

After defeat, Salukis come home to hundreds of proud fans
By: Carly O'Keefe
MARION, Ill. - There were no smiles among the Salukis as they got off the plane at the Williamson County Airport. But when they entered the terminal, a welcoming committee of committed fans immediately raised their spirits. "It just feels good to be home," said senior guard Jamaal Tatum. "You go home, people show you love."
Signs of support and enthusiastic fans have helped the salukis achieve success throughout the season, and the players say they're grateful for every hug and handshake they received Friday.
"It feels good seeing everybody out supporting us whether we win or lose, southern Illinois is like one big family. It's crazy. There are so many people who are touched by what we do, and all we do is play basketball," said senior guard Tony Young.
But to the fans, the Salukis have been more than basketball players, they've been hometown heroes.
"The players are really special, the seniors especially, Jamaal and Tony have given it their all," said Saluki fan Lori Cohen. "They're amazing and we're going to miss them so much next season."
And while they didn't quite make it into the Elite Eight, the fans still consider the Salukis top Dawgs.
"I hope they know they gave us a great season, and every game was excitement, and that's what Saluki Basketball is all about," said Saluki fan John Hawkins.