Night Line: In Wake of Majerus Passing On, His Billikens Push On

Posted by BHayes on January 11th, 2013


Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

No team endured a more difficult first month of the season than the Saint Louis Billikens. November was a struggle on the court, as they listlessly stumbled to a 3-3 beginning. Not the opening that the preseason Atlantic 10 favorites had hoped for, but all that mattered little on December 2 when news came that former coach Rick Majerus had passed away. The controversial Majerus’ legacy is still being sorted out, but what cannot be denied is the SLU basketball revival he oversaw. More importantly, as he had done at each of his previous coaching stops, the charismatic Majerus profoundly impacted many of his players’ lives along the way. His passing left this Saint Louis basketball season at a crossroads; a disappointing year could easily head into complete freefall, or a core that Majerus brought to SLU could use their old coach’s passing as inspiration for a turnaround. Nine wins and zero losses later, it appears quite clear which direction the Billikens have chosen.

Saint Louis Is Happy To Have Kwamain Mitchell Back

Saint Louis Is Happy To Have Kwamain Mitchell Back

Majerus’ death will be a motivator for St. Louis right up until the moment their season ends, but there are practical reasons for the turnaround as well. For starters, none of the three early season losses look especially bad anymore, now that Santa Clara has surprisingly continued its winning ways (12-5 on the year) with the Broncos even giving Duke a scare at Cameron Indoor Stadium at the end of 2012. The December schedule also relented somewhat for the Billikens, as their next six games came in the friendly confines of Chaifetz Arena, and only one pitted St. Louis against a top-200 team (Valparaiso). Six straight wins had to help their confidence before the Billikens’ next real test, and SLU responded against a solid New Mexico team, delivering a resounding 60-46 New Years’ Eve victory. Also making things easier against the Lobos was the return of senior guard Kwamain Mitchell, who had made his season debut just three days earlier. Mitchell may not have been his sharpest self against New Mexico (or even tonight against UMass), but SLU head man Jim Crews has to feel better with his star player back on the floor.

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.


This Week in the A-10
By Christian Marge | November 24, 2008

PLAYER OF THE WEEKKeith Cothran, Junior, URI.  Quite simply, Keith Cothran had his best week as a collegiate player, leading URI to a 2-0 week with wins over Monmouth and Virginia Commonwealth.  In back to back games, Cothran set new career highs in points, as he poured in 18 against Monmouth, and 23 against the CAA favorites, VCU.  Cothran shot a blistering 17-26 (65%) from the field during the two-game stretch.  On the year, the junior is averaging 14.7 points and 1.7 steals per game, while also shooting 42.9% from three point range; up 19% on the young season, from his figure last season.

HONORABLE MENTION: Aaron Jackson, (Sr.) Duquesne; Dionte Christmas, (Sr.) Temple; Rodney Green, (Jr.) La Salle.

(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10′ each Monday morning.)

GAME OF THE WEEK:  November 21st, 2008.  Xavier 63, Virginia Tech 62.

In a week full of close games, this one took the cake as Xavier’s Dante Jackson nailed a half-court buzzer beater to lead the Musketeers to a one-point win in the semifinal of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.  Jackson had been 0-8 from the field before he let his miraculous shot fly.  The win for Xavier marked the first blemish for Virginia Tech.  In fact, it marked the first game any ACC team had lost this season, as the conference had gone 29-0 til Jackson’s shot banked off the glass and dropped through the net.

HONORABLE MENTION: St. Bonaventure 64, Rutgers 63 (OT).

GAME OF THE UPCOMING WEEK: Ahmad Nivins (21.0 ppg., 12.5 rpg) leads Saint Joseph’s out to Maui to face a Texas Longhorns squad in the Maui Invitational.  Texas has excellent balance, led by A.J. Abrams and Damion James.  The Hawks’ Tasheed Carr, formerly of the Big 12 (Iowa State) will try to contain Abrams and frustrate the Longhorn attack, as SJU would prefer to keep this contest in the sixties.

RPI BOOST OF THE WEEK: Xavier (Current RPI: No. 13)

A perfect 4-0 on the week with your lowest ranked opponent at RPI#119 (Missouri) will certainly boost team standing.  The Musketeers made a final jump, leaping fifteen spots by knocking off Memphis to claim the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship.

RPI FALL OF THE WEEK: Charlotte (Current RPI: No. 319)

It’s difficult to fall harder than the 49ers have to start the season.  Their lone win on the season came against RPI #337 UNC-Greensboro.  A strength of schedule at 299 and a 1-3 record hurts the ‘Niner cause.  RPI help is on the way if Charlotte can seize the opportunity in a loaded Anaheim Classic field this coming weekend.

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