Saint Louis Hoops Media Day Recap

Saint Louis University coach Rick Majerus was only asked four questions during the Atlantic 10 Conference basketball media day video conference on Thursday, but the coach had plenty to say about his team going into his third season in charge of the Billikens.

"I'm just trying to make every practice everyday a good learning experience," Majerus said. "It's a shame that we don't have any juniors or seniors on the club, because you always want to get that kind of leadership. So I think although our future looks good, it's going to be a tough learning year for us. I don't know how to approach it any other way than the maturation level of these kids is what it is. When you say we returned three starters, we started (Brian) Conklin and Kwamain Mitchell. Willie Reed started but came out within the first four minutes. That's kind of a misnomer that he was a starter. And he averaged probably 18-19 a game in consequential games and most of those were in the league. It will be difficult for us. It is going to be a good learning experience for them and hopefully it portends good things for the future."

Majerus, who led the Billikens to an 18-14 record in his second year at SLU, was asked about his concerns for the upcoming season with what is likely the youngest Division I team in the country and how he will have to adjust his coaching philosophy.

"The main concern is they don't get discouraged," Majerus said. "And in terms of adjusting coaching style or philosophy, I'm very fortunate that I've got a very good staff and excellent assistants. I've got what they call a senior graduate assistant manager Tony Young and he can still play and (assistant coach) Alex Jensen who played for me at Utah and he can still play. When those guys get out on the court, at least they can demonstrate and when they do play or participate in a drill they are able to be exemplars relative to the effort and the technique required. But that's about the best we can do right now. We're also shorthanded. We only have 10 scholarship players. We're going to have 12. We've got a young man right now stuck with an NCAA situation over in Australia. And then our only junior, who was a walk-on to whom I had given a scholarship, Paul Eckerle tore his ACL. Now Eckerle was extraordinary, (Kevin) Lisch-like in his competitive spirit and in his attention to detail relative to the execution of fundamentals. Unfortunately he can't do much other than swim in a pool right now. I have named him a co-captain with Kwamain Mitchell, but the probably we have is exacerbated even by just having 10 guys. Then we had a walk-on tryout and one guy showed up and voila that guy made the team. We've got a good challenge ahead of us, but I think that problems do create opportunities in life and hopefully these guys seize the moment and the opportunity to get better and get more reps and get better coached. You don't know what their coaching quotient is coming in, but their attitude has been really good. We applied to redshirt Cory Remekun, a young man who just turned 18 out of Dallas, Texas. I don't think we'll be able to do that right now. I may still do it. I just don't think we can get caught with only nine players and I don't even know if the walk-on is game eligible. There's an NCAA-certification process with that but he's not someone that we would want to play in a game at this point in time."

Majerus was also asked to explain the situation of heralded 6-foot-8 freshman forward Cody Ellis, who is still in Australia awaiting word on whether or not he will be cleared by the NCAA to play basketball at Saint Louis this season.

"I really don't know that," Majerus said. "We've got a great compliance officer, but the woman who runs that, Janet (Oberle), is sensational. I get confused by it, frustrated by it. I would only say this, having coached a number of Australians and a number of players from foreign countries, like Hanno Mottola, the kid at Utah who was the first round pick of the Hawks a few years ago and just finished his career up with Moscow-CBK I think. All of those kids are better educated than any American kids. I say that; I'm not a very bright guy but I do have a couple master's degrees and did got to law school and I have a familiarity with the Lisches of the world, him having been the eighth academic all-american that I coached. Now, having said that, the school system in Australia, anything in the United States pales in comparison to that. There may be those outstanding like Sidwell schools in the country that might be better but on balance the Australian public school system is so far superior to ours in terms of math and science and how the kids are educated. It's just that they just don't grade like we do and I don't know if I can do justice to the explanation as I understand it relative to how the matter is trying to be resolved and what the young guy is doing. I just feel badly for the kid. Life goes on, you know, there's always going to be a coach at Temple, there's always going to be another league, another game, another tournament, but for the kid and in his moment and him having committed to this and having to go through this onerous process, I feel badly and my heart strings tug for his sake."

And with that, the Billikens coach was done with his portion of the A-10 media day video conference, which started with the announcement of the preseason league poll and the coaches' selection for the preseason all-conference teams.

Saint Louis was picked to finish 12th in the 14-team conference.

Sophomore point guard Kwamain Mitchell, who is the team's leading returning scorer after averaging 11 points per game as a freshman, was selected to the preseason all-conference third team.

ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE

Predicted Order Of Finish
(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. Dayton (33)
2. Xavier (18)
3. Richmond (4)
4. La Salle (2)
5t. Duquesne
Temple
7. Charlotte
8. Rhode Island
9. Massachusetts
10. Saint Joseph's
11. St. Bonaventure
12. SAINT LOUIS
13. George Washington
14. Fordham

2009-10 ATLANTIC 10 MEN'S BASKETBALL
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS

FIRST-TEAM
Lavoy Allen, Temple
Kevin Anderson, Richmond
Rodney Green, La Salle
Ricky Harris, Massachusetts
Chris Wright, Dayton

SECOND-TEAM
David Gonzalvez, Richmond
DiJuan Harris, Charlotte
Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
Marcus Johnson, Dayton
Damian Saunders, Duquesne

THIRD-TEAM
Bill Clark, Duquesne
Keith Cothran, Rhode Island
Jordan Crawford, Xavier
Dan Geriot, Richmond
KWAMAIN MITCHELL, SAINT LOUIS

DEFENSIVE TEAM
Dante' Jackson, Xavier
Jason Love, Xavier
Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
London Warren, Dayton
Garrett Williamson, Saint Joseph's

ROOKIE TEAM
Shamarr Bowden, Charlotte
Chris Gaston, Fordham
Aaric Murray, La Salle
Freddie Riley, Massachusetts
Terrell Vinson, Massachusetts


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