Billikens Open Exhibition Season

The Saint Louis University basketball team opens the preseason on Tuesday with an exhibition game against Cardinal Stritch University at Chaifetz Arena.

The Wolves, in their first season with former SLU guard Drew Diener as the head coach, went 27-6 in the 2009-10 season and lost in the first round of the NAIA Division II national tournament.

Stritch lost two of their three leading scorers from that squad, but return two starters — 6-foot-5 senior forward Brandon D'Amico (17 points per game, 62 3-pointers) and 6-4 junior forward Navjot Singh (9 points per game).

"It will be a great opportunity for our guys to play in a great arena against a big time opponent," Diener said in a press release. "The experience we gained from our game vs. UWM last season was very beneficial to us. We look forward to competing against SLU."

Saint Louis U. enters its fourth season under coach Rick Majerus with plenty of questions after the team's top two scorers, junior guard Kwamain Mitchell and junior forward Willie Reed, were suspended from school for the fall semester.

"We've kind of moved backwards to square one," Majerus said. "It's all young again. You're going to have a freshman point guard in all probability — not in all probability, you're going to have a freshman point. And you're going to have four of your 10 guys are freshmen. The thing is we're just young. We went backwards. We're going to be good next year but I don't know what we're going to be this year. We're going to be young. Young is not where you want to be."

The Billikens return six players from last year's 23-13 squad. Sophomore combo forward Cody Ellis (10.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game) is the leading returning scorer and rebounder.

Ellis is the only proven scorer on a team that will struggle in that department this season or at least until Mitchell returns for the second semester as expected.

SLU will be looking for more scoring out of junior shooting guard Kyle Cassity (6 ppg, 41 3-pointers, 117 assists), junior power forward Brian Conklin (6.2 ppg) and sophomore shooting guard Christian Salecich (6.4 ppg).

Sophomore forward Cory Remekun will step into a bigger role this season after blocking 32 shots last season, but he has yet to show he can be an effective scorer in the post.

Redshirt junior guard Paul Eckerle returns after missing last season with a knee injury.

All eyes on Tuesday will be on an impressive incoming freshman class highlighted by 6-11 New Zealander Rob Loe and point guards Jordair Jett and Mike McCall.

Jett, a physical guard who is listed at 6-1 and 210 pounds, is the more experienced of the two after spending last season at a prep school and has the early edge to start at the point. The 6-foot, 165-pound McCall is a quick guard who is better than Jett on the perimeter.

Freshman Dwayne Evans, a 6-5 forward, could emerge as a player who does a little bit of everything for the Billikens but will likely make his mark as a rebounder and defender early in his career.

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