This game couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. With the Flyers reeling, they could have very easily have lost their last four games, a trip to Saint Louis may just be what the doctor ordered. The Arch-Baron Cup, the Harewood Horse Trophy – these are the type of things men yearn for.
If Archie can’t get his troops up for this one, I’m not sure where we go from here.
The Palindrome Game, Dayton’s 73-37 whomping of Saint Louis back in late January, will go down in Arch-Baron Cup lore. Obviously a beating of that magnitude is going to result in some bad feelings from the losing side, which makes this particular ABC meeting noteworthy. Will Jim Crews rely on some malevolent tactics to get even with Archie Miller? God I hope so. The Arch-Baron cup needs to ratchet up the violence a bit, get on that Crosstown Shootout level.
The Billikens, as you probably know, have been just dreadful this season. SLU has just two top 100 RPI wins this season, Davidson and George Washington the unsuspecting victims. Outside of those two victories, Crews’ squad has been shredded apart, piece by piece. The Bills are currently 5-9 in the conference, which may be an indication that the Atlantic Ten just isn’t that sold this season (I’m on record saying Saint Louis couldn’t win a league in the nation outside of the SWAC and MEAC – and here they are with five wins in the A10).
Say what you will about Jim Crews, some Priders would sooner give Hillary Clinton a savage rogering than shake Crew’s hand, but I like what he has done with this season’s Billiken team. After it became clear that Saint Louis had absolutely no chance of salvaging their season, he turned to some of his freshmen and gave them the opportunity to gain some crucial experience as the year draws to an end. To be fair, SLU is a relatively young team across the board, but Crews has drastically altered his starting lineup from the beginning of the season, particularly in the backcourt.
Although the lineups may have changed, SLU’s identity as a basketball team remains the same, they are shitty. The Billikens are minor threats from the perimeter, currently shooting 31.6% from three. They are anemic on the glass and they turn the ball over on nearly 20% of their possessions. The one thing Saint Louis has going for them, if anything, is the ability to get to the charity-stripe and convert. Approximately one quarter of their points have come from the foul-line this season.
We spoke about the season seemingly slipping away from the Flyers this week on the podcast. Although it’s certainly not time to hit the panic button, a loss to the Billikens should cause alarms to go off. Losing ownership of the Arch-Baron Cup, after a week in which UD lost back-to-back games for the first time in two years, would shock the system.
SLU’s backcourt has been completely revamped. After starting the season with Miles Reynolds and Mike Crawford as the starting guard, Crews turned the keys over to newcomers Aaron Hines and Jermaine Bishop. Hines, a JUCO transfer, barely got off the bench for the Bills before the A10 schedule began. He is not the type of player that immediately jumps out at you; he’s not even an average shooter and hardly makes an impact on either side of the floor.
Bishop is a different story. Like Hines he barely left the pine before the A10 slate began. Crews threw him out on the floor once the conference slate commenced and he has been nothing short of a revelation for SLU since. He can score in a variety of ways and means, shooting nearly 90% from the line. Bishop is a keeper, Crews might want to throw Hines back in.
Mike Crawford moved from the two to three, giving the Billikens another adept ball-handler on the floor. Crawford is the team’s most consistent long-range threat, one of those players that are not of much use if they aren’t knocking down shots (we call this the Fabrizius Threshold). Ash Yacoubou and Reggie Agbeko round out the Saint Louis frontcourt. Yacoubou has a well-rounded game, capable of taking his defender outside. He is also one of the worst free-throw shooters in the league which gives his opponent the leeway to guard him aggressively. Agbeko is a prototypical garbage man who hovers around the rim on both sides of the floor.
The SLU bench is captained by Davell Roby, Miles Reynolds and Milik Yarbrough. Roby is an inconsistent scorer who hasn’t made much of a jump in his sophomore season. Reynolds lost his starting gig but is still a player capable of putting the ball in the basket when called upon. Yarbrough has seen his minutes cut drastically as the season has progressed. That’s not good.
Taking a look back at the prior St. Louis game, the Billikens had about as poor an effort as one could have. 39% from two, 13% from 3 and 4 of 11 from the charity stripe. Now, SLU is by all accounts terrible in almost every offensive metric you can think of. About the only thing they do reasonably well is get to the free-throw line and they weren’t able to do that in the last game against UD.
It’s apparent, both statistically and if you watch UD, their main weaknesses are turnovers on offense and teams that can shoot the three on defense. Now any road game seems to come with peril and the confidence in the Flyers is at a season low. However SLU is the SLUmp buster this team needs. They’re well below average in a lot of categories, including their ability to turn you over 19.8% (269th) and make threes (or for that matter any FG) shooting 31.6% (297th). If the Flyers can’t win this one, they would appear to have serious problems without Pollard.
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I refuse to believe Dayton can lose this game, outright refuse. Flyers take care of business, get back in the winner’s circle and keep the Arch-Baron Cup in the Gem City. Dyshawn Pierre takes home the Harewood Horse trophy, scoing a game-high 19 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.