TSX: Billikens Notebook

The Atlantic-10 Conference-opening loss to Dayton on Wednesday will likely be Saint Louis' last game before a decision is made on the status of suspended players Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed.

The two were suspended in October for violating the school's code of conduct, with the opportunity to apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1.

Reed, who looked to transfer but changed his mind, has filed for reinstatement, and Mitchell, who all along maintained he wanted to return, likely has to. It's expected a decision will come soon, possibly by Jan. 9.

Even if the two are reinstated, they may not play this season. Coach Rick Majerus said he would tell Mitchell it was in his best interests to sit out the entire season, spend a semester getting back into the academic flow, and then having two years of eligibility left. The same would likely go for Reed, though his issue is complicated by the fact he and his father were very critical of the university in comments made immediately after the suspension. Despite both being suspended, the Mitchell and Reed situations are different enough that different outcomes are possible.

In any case, the final adjudication of the event would end a cloud that has hung over the team all season. The absence of Mitchell, the team's point guard, and Reed, its starting center, has turned what was a promising season for Saint Louis into a difficult one, with four freshmen getting significant playing time.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Saint Louis (5-9, 0-1 Atlantic 10) was without Rick Majerus in Wednesday's 60-50 loss to Dayton, and the head coach will also miss the next two games with a leg injury suffered in the Bowling Green game on Jan. 1.

Guard Paul Eckerle ran into Majerus while chasing a loose ball and opened a cut on Majerus' leg. The cut became infected, and as part of his treatment, Majerus has to stay seated with his leg elevated, which precluded him from coaching the Dayton game or from flying to Pennsylvania for the team's two-game road trip against Temple and Duquesne that starts Jan. 9. Associate head coach Porter Moser, the former head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock and Illinois State, will run the team.

The school says Majerus, who also missed all of the practices since the Bowling Green game, is expected to make a full recovery, and the players say that there isn't a drop-off while playing for Moser, whom Majerus has said he has given more responsibility to than any assistant he's ever had. If Majerus' recovery proceeds as expected, he should be back for the game against St. Joseph's on Jan. 15.


-- Saint Louis had another challenging shooting night Jan. 5, going 5-for-24 on 3-pointers and shooting just 36.5 percent overall in its 60-50 loss to Dayton. Starters Cody Ellis, Jordair Jett and Paul Eckerle were a combined 2-for-11 from the field.

-- Saint Louis' free-throw troubles continue. The Billikens were 4-for-9 at the line in the second half against Dayton, and Saint Louis missed several shots when it was in position to tighten the game. In its final game in a three-game tournament in Cancun, Mexico, Saint Louis shot 38.5 percent at the line.

-- The Billikens had four players shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range through Jan. 2, topped by junior G Paul Eckerle's 52.2 percent mark (12-of-23). Freshman G Jordair Jett was shooting 44.4 percent from behind the arc (4-of-9), junior G Kyle Cassity 43.2 percent (19-of-44), and freshman G Mike McCall 41.7 percent (15-of-36). As a team, though, the Billikens were shooting only 37.0 percent from behind the arc.

BY THE NUMBERS: 47.0 -- The percentage opponents were shooting against the Billikens through Jan. 2.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We still have a lot of confidence in ourselves and think we can be really good. There's not a loss of confidence at all." -- Sophomore F Cody Ellis, after the loss to Bowling Green dropped the Billikens to 5-8 on the season.



-- at Temple, Jan. 9

KEY MATCHUPS: After playing the team with the best record in the conference (Dayton), the Billikens take on the team with the second-best mark. The Owls were holding opponents to just 39.3 percent shooting and under 60 points a game through Jan. 2. The Billikens were giving up just 64 points a game.

FUTURES MARKET: Willie Reed, last year's leading rebounder, would be a great help on the boards if he is reinstated. Opponents were outrebounding Saint Louis by nearly five a game through Jan. 2. Reed averaged a tick under eight rebounds a game last season.


-- F Rob Loe, who has seen limited playing time since the Mexico trip, had nine points and seven rebounds against Dayton in 19 minutes. He had played just 14 minutes total in the previous four games as he battled food poisoning in Mexico.

-- Junior F Brian Conklin scored a career-high 22 points in the loss to Bowling Green after posting what was then a career-high 19 points in the previous game against Ole Miss.

-- Freshman G Jordair Jett leads the Billikens with 24 steals through Jan. 2.

-- Junior G Kyle Cassity led the team in scoring through Jan. 2, but his average fell under 10 a game (to 9.9) when he scored only six points in the loss to Bowling Green.

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