Conklin Shines In Exhibition Opener

ST. LOUIS —Brian Conklin tallied his first points of the exhibition season just 58 seconds into the Saint Louis University basketball team's game against Cardinal Stritch on Tuesday.

The NAIA Wolves struggled to find an answer for the Billikens' 6-foot-6 junior power forward during the remaining nineteen minutes of the first half.

Conklin finished the half with 13 points on six-for-six shooting from the field. The halftime didn't do much to throw the big man off his game either, as he connected on both of his attempts in the last 20 minutes.

The Eugene, Ore., native averaged 6.2 points per game last year, but with void the created by junior forward Willie Reed leaving the program, Conklin will need to step up both offensively and defensively this season.

"I felt great getting my wind again," he said. "I'm just trying to get back into midseason form."

Despite Conklin's perfect statistical night, he's well aware that there is plenty of room for improvement.

Coach Rick Majerus was quick to point out to reporters in the post-game press conference that Cardinal Stritch outrebounded the Billikens on the offensive glass, a facet of the game that Conklin especially has excelled in over his first two years at SLU.

When asked about his perfect night from the field, Conklin responded with a wry smile.

"It was OK," he said. ‘It wasn't bad."

The mood wasn't overjoyous after the game, as the Billikens did what they should have: exploit their height advantage and score inside. In fact, inside two-point territory, the Billikens shot 23 for 27, or 85 percent.

Junior guard Kyle Cassity reiterated that the offense should have been more aggressively looking to feed the post.

"We needed to get more post touches," Cassity said. "But when Conklin goes eight-for-eight, that definitely helps."

As for Conklin, it seems as though he has found a new role as the primary big man in the Billikens' offense in the absence of Reed.

"We just have to find our niche," Conklin said. "My role is going to be getting post touches and trying to contribute inside. I've got to crash the boards and play good, hard post defense."

Whether it is scoring the ball or becoming more committed to play stronger defense, Conklin made significant strides in the Billikens' first exhibition game.

"I'm just excited and ready for things to come," Conklin said.

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