Majerus the Academician

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences. He is bouncing around the Northeast this week visiting several championship week venues.

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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Rick Majerus can coach. There was never a doubt over that. The St.Louis mentor also has opinions and doesn’t mind voicing them. At the Atlantic Ten Tournament opening round in Atlantic City on Wednesday Majerus took the opportunity to once again be heard. His Billikens just won a thrilling 62-60 overtime game against LaSalle. He spoke generically about being ‘fortunte to win’ and so forth. Then it came.

“It would be a shame to beat Xavier tomorrow and not to have them go to the (NCAA) tournament,” he said. ”But we aren’t going to win. I just do not like post season conference tournaments.” He continued as records captured and pens scribbled. “I really think academics is the most important issue. We are keeping these kids out of class for roughly four days, they are missing too much academic work. The regular season champion is the champion. In these tournaments you win a four day event, wear a championship t-shirt and walk around like you won something. That’s phony.” Majerus went on to note he has been successful in these events at Marquette, Ball State and Utah. In his two A-10 tournaments he’s done a credible job. He took a more talented Dayton team into overtime before losing a heartbreaker last season.  The LaSalle win was a nice one affording an opportunity to face Xavier.

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Majerus has pontificated about conference tournaments before. The Xavier comments were surprising. For one, XU is in whether they run the A-10 table or were upset. Secondly, saying your team won’t win doesn’t instill confidence in your players. Majerus did say later, “we will play our asses off tomorrow.” An outstanding coach, outspoken and thought provoking. Rick Majerus is never boring.

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Before the Majerus interview I met with the Billiken cheer/dance squad. Two years ago I interviewed Allie McLaughlin one of their members as a note in  another column. She’s now the coach. Personable but not the controversial notebook filler like Majerus. The Atlantic City venue has some schools claiming the casinos off limits to their spirit squads. Not St. Louis. “If they are twenty one they can go to the casinos,” she said. The narrow Billiken win gave them that opportunity.

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