Recon: St. Louis (8-13), Sunday, 2 PM
Date/time: February 7, 2016 - 2 pm
Records: St. Louis 8-13 (3-6), SBU 14-6 (6-3)
Venue: Reilly Center, Olean, NY
St. Louis comes to town currently sitting in 10th place in the Atlantic 10 standings. This is a team that is still trying to find their identity following very successful seasons with NCAA Tournament appearances; after the last year and a half it seems like forever ago that SLU was a dominate team in the league. The Bonnies have won two in a row in the series, including a 16 point victory in Missouri last season. The Billikens are coached by Jim Crews, who took over from Rick Majerus in 2012. He is 74-48 during his tenure. St. Louis is on a two-game losing streak and have not played in a week, an 11-point loss at home to Duquesne. Prior to those losses to Dayton and Duquesne, SLU did win two in a row downing Davidson and UMass. They have two road wins this season over SIU Edwardsville (don’t think that really counts) and UMass.
March 4, 2015 - The Bonnies took care of business in St. Louis by a score of 64-48, in what could be considered their greatest defensive effort of the season. SLU only shot the ball 33% and had one of their lowest scoring games of their season. Andell Cumberbatch scored 17, Dion Wright 16 and Marcus Posely 10. St. Louis’s leading scorer was Ash Yacoubou with 11. The transfer from Villanova is averaging 12 points this season for SLU and is really their only scoring threat. He’s shooting 45% from the floor this season.
SLU comes into this game at 8-13 and on a two game conference losing streak. None of their six conference losses have been very close and they squeaked out a shocking home win against GW back on January 6th. They have matched their A10 win total of last season, which is an accomplishment. This team is getting better, albeit very slowly. They have a talented freshman in Jermaine Bishop and possibly the 6-1 guard can help the Billikens in the future; for the here and now this is a team that is devoid of offense talent. Coach Crews went with a small lineup and changed up some offensive philosophy and was able to win some games early on but that all crashed with a nearly 40 point loss in Dayton. They are ranked 184 in the RPI and only averaging 66 points a game. One area that the Billikens struggle is their shooting and they have had quite a difficult time finding hot streaks from the field. From a rankings perspective, SLU is 12th in points per game, 8th in points allowed per (72), 13th in scoring margin, 12th in FG%, 9th in FG% Defense, 12th in 3PT% and 12th in rebounding margin. Make no mistake, SLU is a poor club that struggles big time on the road. SBU should be huge favorites in this game, likely along the lines of 12 points or more, if we had to guess.
Roster: (from basketball state)
Stats: (stats from kenpom.com)
Keys to Victory:
This one should be an easy Bona victory, at least on paper. Statistically, the Bonnies average more than 12 points per game then SLU. They shoot the ball better, value the ball better, rebound better, defend better, and overall play better team basketball. All the intangibles lean towards SBU. If SBU’s Big 3 scores just their average, they are close to (statistically) knocking off the Billikens. This is a game that’s all about energy, intensity and focus. The only worry you have to have is SBU falling in a “letdown” type of game because they are still so fired up after the St. Joe’s win. Even good teams usually have one of these a season. However, this game being at home gives us far more confidence than if the team had to board a flight to St. Louis.
The Gut Feeling:
The Bonnies are the better team. No question about it. Throw in the fact that the game is in the RC on a Sunday afternoon and all systems are go for not just a win, but potentially a blow-out victory. We have talked in this space before about the potential for a let down game but this team seems to focused, too ready for that. I don’t see it happening here. SLU’s offensive struggles are real and consistent. This is an issue that has plagued the Billikens for nearly two seasons now. Throw in the travel (getting to St. Louis was never easy from Olean) and the potential hostility from the RC crowd, you can spot the Bonnies a 10 point lead before the game even starts (hypothetically). If the Bonnies come out of the gates with energy and intensity, make some shots early and build a decent lead this game will be over as we have no faith in SLU’s ability to come back from a deep hole.