NEW YORK -- In a season filled with tragedy and adversity, the Saint Louis Billikens completed the "double" -- winning the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament titles, beating Virginia Commonwealth 62-56 in the final on Sunday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
3 Thoughts Moving Forward
1. How deep can this team go? It obviously all depends on matchups, but Saint Louis is going to be a team that no one wants to see paired next to them in a few hours. I don't think there's any doubt that this team has the skill, ability, and composure to go to the Sweet Sixteen or further.
2. What kind of matchup will be tough for the Bills? I personally believe a team with quality big men such as Louisville or Gonzaga would present a tough challenge. Dwayne Evans is a great player, but at 6'5", there are some limits to his game going against 7-footers.
3. Will Crews be named permanent coach after the year? Some fans really want to know this, and there's really no set answer. He's absolutely the right guy for THIS year. Athletic Director Chris May must now determine if he's the right guy going forward. Also, does Crews want it moving forward? Lots to pay attention to in the coming months. But for now, enjoy the NCAA Tournament, folks.
1. Kwamain Mitchell's three-pointer with 4:52 to play, putting SLU up 54-48. VCU was gaining momentum, and Mitchell lulled the defender to sleep and hit an absolutely cold-blooded triple with the clock running out.
2. Cody Ellis' three-pointer with 8:25 left, putting SLU up 49-45. VCU was absolutely taking control of the game. It looked as though the Rams may end up winning and winning convincingly. Ellis stemmed the tide.
3. Ellis' triple with 2:15 remaining, putting SLU up 57-51. Dwayne Evans made a beautiful move and drove the lane, only to find Ellis to knock down the three. It was essentially the dagger.
Shaka Smart: "They were the best team in the league in the regular season and they were the best team in the league in the tournament."
Smart: "They're going to be a very, very tough team for someone to play in the NCAA Tournament."
Smart: "In terms of Saint Louis being an NCAA Final Four team, sure, they could do it. They definitely could do it. I think it all depends on match-ups. . .They have all the ingredients of a team that can make a run in the NCAA Tournament. They're very well-coached. They've got older guys that don't get rattled. They're good inside, they're good outside, and they defend.
Cody Ellis: "We stayed composed. We had trust in each other that we could get out of the little slump that we were in. . .The boys did a great job. The composure was unreal. This is a testament to how far we've come this year."
Jim Crews: "We're obviously very thrilled to win a championship, and as we went into the season or into this week I should say -- when they announced that the tournament was in Brooklyn, I was really excited because I just think -- it's an exciting thing."
"Kwamain is a really good player, but if I'm going to be on the mountaintop cheering for something, it's cheering just how he's matured and how he's grown."