Mitchell Steps Up As Billikens' Leader

Point guard Kwamain Mitchell may be only a sophomore, but he has emerged as the Saint Louis Billikens' leader.

At times, coach Rick Majerus wonders if the point guard is carrying too much of a burden as Mitchell runs the offense and is also Saint Louis' leading scorer.

However, Mitchell relishes the idea of being the go-to guy on an active 11-man roster that consists entirely of sophomores and freshmen.

"Coach has told me the job I have is difficult," Mitchell said. "It's been tough, not physically but mentally. I'm working at it. I like the challenge and I want to embrace it."

Mitchell has certainly done that as he is averaging 16.2 points a game. He is a major reason why the Billikens are 14-8, 5-3 in the Atlantic 10 despite their youth.

"We feel the sting of the losses but we've done a good job of learning how to move on, learn from the losses and concentrate on trying to win the next game," Mitchell said.

Saint Louis will try to build on a two-game winning streak Feb. 9 when it visits St. Joseph's. The Billikens then host Dayton on Feb. 13.

NOTES, QUOTES

- Saint Louis has the youngest roster in the nation as 11 of its 12 players are underclassmen. The only upperclassman, junior G Paul Eckerle, is redshirting this season after undergoing knee surgery last summer.

- When G Kwamain Mitchell scored 25 points and F Willie Reed added 21 points in the 67-65 victory over St. Bonaventure on Feb. 3, it marked the first time Saint Louis had two players score 20-plus points in a game this season.

ON THE SPOT:

F Cody Remekun has failed to score in any of the last four games while playing a combined 42 minutes off the bench. Remekun started five of six games from Dec. 22-Jan. 17 but his playing time has steadily decreased since he went back to being a reserve.

QUOTE TO NOTE:

"We did a good job hanging in through adversity." -- Mitchell after Saint Louis blew a nine-point with less than five minutes remaining before rallying for a 68-65 victory at La Salle on Feb. 6.

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 gone 7-5 to improve to 14-8, 5-3 in the Atlantic 10. G Kwamain Mitchell is averaging 16.2 points and F Willie Reed is averaging 12.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.

PLAYER ROTATION:

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

GAME REVIEW:

Richmond 62, Saint Louis 36
Saint Louis 67, St. Bonaventure 65
Saint Louis 68, La Salle 65

GAME PREVIEW:

at St. Joseph's, Tuesday, Feb. 9
vs. Dayton, Saturday, Feb 13
vs. Rhode Island, Wednesday, Feb. 17
at Massachusetts, Sunday, Feb. 21
vs. Xavier, Wednesday, Feb. 24

IN FOCUS:

Saint Louis has lost eight of its last 10 games with Dayton but split a pair with the Flyers last season, losing 47-46 on the road then winning 57-49 at home three weeks later. Mitchell led Saint Louis with 15 points in the loss while Chris Wright topped Dayton with 16 points. In the rematch, Saint Louis held Dayton to 31 percent shooting while Wright led the Flyers with 11 points and Marcus Johnson added 10.

ROSTER REPORT:

- G Kwamain Mitchell was named Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week with Charlotte's Shamari Spears after he scored 17 points, including the game-winning runner with 1.4 seconds left, in a 67-65 victory over St. Bonaventure on Dec. 3, then had 25 points in a 68-65 victory over La Salle on Feb. 6. Mitchell has scored in double figures in 16 straight games.

- F Willie Reed had 11 points and 11 rebounds against St. Bonaventure for his sixth double-double of the season.

- G Kyle Cassity had a career-high four steals against St. Bonaventure.


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