Young Billikens Suffer Growing Pains

Saint Louis is going to have days like it did on Jan. 30 when it was beaten 62-36 at Richmond. Inconsistency is to be expected from a team that has all sophomores and freshmen on its active roster.

"I don't know when you're 18 or 19 years old how you can come out flat but we did and it's not the first time we have," coach Rich Majerus said.

However, Paul Eckerle has been able to get a unique vision of the bigger picture this season. The junior guard is taking a redshirt after injuring a knee and undergoing surgery last summer but he is still around the team every day.

On the whole, Eckerle thinks Saint Louis has made big strides in Majerus' third season as coach.

"Tremendous," Eckerle told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in describing the Billikens' progress. "We've got a lot of young guys with talent. Sometimes all they need is little extra encouragement and support.'

Saint Louis (12-8, 3-3) will try to get back on track after losing three of its last four when it hosts St. Bonaventure on Feb. 3. The Billikens then travel to La Salle on Feb. 6.

NOTES, QUOTES

- Saint Louis' 62-36 loss at Richmond on Jan. 30 was its largest margin of defeat since also losing by 26 to Xavier last season. It also marked the Billikens' lowest scoring output since they also scored 36 points against Dayton exactly two years earlier on Jan. 30, 2008.

- Saint Louis failed to make a free throw against Richmond, going 0-for-3. The Billikens also went 0-for-10 on three-point field goal attempts.

ON THE SPOT:

F Brian Conklin is becoming marginalized after starting 16 of the first 17 games this season. He scored 15 points in 20 minutes in a victory over Fordham on Jan. 20 in his first game after being benched in favor of F Cody Ellis. However, Conklin has combined for just four points and two rebounds in the two games since and failed to score in a season-low 11 minutes against Richmond.

QUOTE TO NOTE:

"We just played badly. You can use any metaphor, adjective or adverb you want but I think I summed it up and you can underscore the word badly." -- Majerus after the loss at Richmond.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP:

Saint Louis started the season streaky as it won its first four games, lost its next three then won its next three. Since then, the Billikens have split 10 games and are 12-8 overall and 3-3 overall. G Kwamain Mitchell is averaging 15.7 points and F Willie Reed is averaging 12.1 points and 8.1 rebounds.

PLAYER ROTATION:

Usual starters -- F Cody Ellis, F Willie Reed, F Jon Smith, G Kwamain Mitchell, G Kyle Cassity. Key subs -- G Christian Salecich, F Cory Remekun, G Justin Jordan, F Brian Conklin.

GAME REVIEW:

Saint Louis 75, Fordham 48
George Washington 67, Saint Louis 62
Richmond 62, Saint Louis 36

GAME PREVIEW:

vs. St. Bonaventure, Wednesday, Feb. 3
at La Salle, Saturday, Feb. 6
at St. Joseph's, Tuesday, Feb. 9
vs. Dayton, Saturday, Feb. 13
vs. Rhode Island, Wednesday, Feb. 17

IN FOCUS:

Saint Louis has lost three straight games to St. Bonaventure, including 72-55 on the road last season when the Billikens shot just 36 percent from the field, including 24 percent from three-point range. Jonathan Hall led St. Bonaventure with 31 points and four assists.

ROSTER REPORT:

- F Femi John has missed three straight games with a sore knee and there is no timetable for his return. He has started eight games in his freshman season but had come off the bench in his last three.

- G Jeff Reid is not expected to play again this season. He has been out since suffering a concussion in the loss to Notre Dame on Nov. 28.

- G Paul Eckerle, who is redshirting this season after undergoing knee surgery in the summer, said his rehabilitation is going well and doctors expect him to be completely healed by the time practice for the 2010-11 season begins next October.


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