Saint Louis Billikens
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank: #1 Atlantic 10
Saint Louis Team Page
Saint Louis finally pulled everything together last season and reached the NCAA Tournament. The program spent years under Coach Rick Majerus having a lot of bad luck and failing to live up to expectations because of it. The 2011-2012 campaign ended with a trip to the NCAA Tournament where they beat Memphis and took Michigan State down to the wire. This year’s team is even better, but the bad luck struck again. Coach Rick Majerus is taking this season off following a health scare. Jim Crews will be the interim head coach. Coach Crews has a ton of experience at Saint Louis and elsewhere throughout his long coaching career and this should be a smooth transition, even with the relatively late change on the sideline for this year.
2011-12 Record: 26-8, 12-4
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jim Crews (interim)
Coach Record: First season at Saint Louis, 354-348 overall
Coach Majerus is not the only person who will not be on the Saint Louis bench this year. Brian Conklin led the Billikens with 13.9 points per game. The 6-6 forward was also second on the team in rebounding. He may have been a bit undersized, but Conklin did a lot for Saint Louis. The other loss is Kyle Cassity. The 6-4 guard was never a major scoring threat, but he did start 21 games last season and did a fine job taking care of the ball and playing defense.
Incoming freshmen Keith Carter and Jared Drew have the talent to make an immediate impact. Carter is a smart and quick guard who can help out at the point if needed right away. Drew, a 6-5 wing, is a great athlete who can use that skill to help out on the glass. And Saint Louis needs help in the rebounding department. But it is Drew’s ability to play tenacious defense that will earn him playing time right away. If Drew lives up to his defensive abilities, he could play a much bigger role than most expect.
Who to Watch:
Things got a little worse when Kwamain Mitchell underwent foot surgery in mid-October. He will likely miss the first week or two of the season. Mitchell is the senior leader and point guard for Saint Louis. He is the man who sparks the offense with his playmaking and scoring ability and spearheads the defensive effort as well. Mitchell averaged 12.4 points per game as a junior and added 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals. He is a quality shooter and all-around scorer, but his playmaking ability will be key this season. While Mitchell is out, the Billikens may find some other scorers. As long as they do not lose too much, that will be a good thing. The backcourt does not have another proven scoring threat at the moment, but that should change. Mike McCall Jr., who averaged 7.0 points per game as a sophomore, will be asked to pick up his scoring load. McCall is known for his defensive efforts, but he is a capable shooter and has the talent to finish around the basket a bit more too. Jordair Jett is not a shooter, but the 6-1 junior can score. He may do it off of the bench again this season, but Jett can provide an offensive and defensive spark. Forward Dwayne Evans will play on the wing as a small forward part of the time, but he is really an undersized power forward. Despite his 6-5 frame, Evans is an amazing rebounder. He averaged 7.3 rebounds per game last year and added 7.9 points. The Billikens will want him to take the next step when it comes to scoring and Evans certainly has the potential to be a double-double machine.
The more time Evans spends at the small forward spot, the better Saint Louis will be on the glass. Cody Ellis is ready to step into a starting role after averaging 10.1 points and 3.4 rebounds as a junior. The 6-8 Australian is not a strong rebounder since he spends so much time on the perimeter. Ellis knocked down two three-pointers per game and connected on 38.1 percent of his attempts. He is a nice bench player due to his size and shooting ability, but he may just be too productive to leave on the bench too often during his senior season. Rob Loe is not a traditional post player either. That works out just fine for Saint Louis. Loe, at 6-11 and 240 pounds, has the size, but he too will spend a lot of time on the perimeter. Loe is a more of a shot blocking threat and the Billikens will need him to be a little tougher on the glass. With Evans on the floor, at either forward spot, Saint Louis will be a decent rebounding team, though more production from Ellis and Loe in that regard would be beneficial. Cory Remekun, a 6-8 senior, will provide experienced depth in the frontcourt. This is a very talented group with some emerging stars like Evans and established stars like Mitchell. If Coach Crews can keep things rolling like they did in 2011-2012 and Mitchell does not miss much time, this is a team that can make a bigger run this March.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Kwamain Mitchell Senior, Guard, 12.4 points per game
Mike McCall Jr., Junior, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Dwayne Evans, Junior, Forward, 7.9 points per game
Cody Ellis, Senior, Forward, 10.1 points per game
Rob Loe, Junior, Forward, 5.2 points per game