Scouting report: Saint Louis
Game info: 9 a.m. Sunday at Chaifetz Arena (Capacity: 10,600)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: KJR 950 AM
Stats/schedule: Click here.
Coach: Rick Majerus is 71-61 in his fifth year with the Billikens. He’s seven wins shy of 500 and has a 493-208 record in 25 years.
Prediction: Picked to finish third by league coaches in the 14-team Atlantic 10.
Series: SLU leads 6-7, including a 2-0 win streak with Lorenzo Romar as coach of the Billikens in 2000 and ’01.
Last meeting: Washington lost 71-70 at Saint Louis on Dec. 29, 2001.
Previous game: The Billikens won 61-42 at Southern Illinois, which was SLU’s first non-conference road win since 2005.
Photo credit: Chris Lee – McClatchy Newspapers
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Senior forward Brian Conklin (above, right) has scored in double figures in each of the first two games and leads SLU with 12.5 points per game. At 6 feet 6, he’s a solid rebounder and a presence beneath the rim. The native of Eugene, Ore. has good hands and knows how to finish. Conklin, who already has his degree, is a four-year starter and one of two seniors on the teams. He’s also a leader in the locker room.
— Junior point guard Kwamain Mitchell is a three-year starter who averaged 15.9 points as a sophomore. He has a team-leading 12 assists this season, including a career-high eight in the season opener against Tennessee State. Mitchell also leads SLU with a 5.5 rebounding average. He was named second-team preseason all-conference by A-10 coaches.
— Australian-born Cody Ellis, a junior forward, was a starter two seasons ago, but this season he’s coming off the bench. In the first two games, he’s tallied 13 and 11 points. Ellis is 4 of 8 on three-pointers.
— Last season SLU compiled a 12-19 and finished tied for ninth in the A-10 with a 6-10 mark. Majerus had never coached a losing team before then.
— The season began with two players (Willie Reed and Mitchell) being suspended for violations of the school’s code of conduct. They were the target of an investigation stemming from an alleged sexual assault against a female SLU student. Police never filed charges. Reed left school and declared for the NBA, but was not drafted. Mitchell returned for his junior year.
— The Billikens return five starters.
— Majerus is a defensive wizard and SLU ranked second in the A-10 and 35th in the nation last season allowing opponents 62.4 points per game. In the first two games this season, the Billikens have not allowed more than 43 points.
— The Billikens held Southern Illinois to 20.5 percent shooting in a 61-42 victory in their last outing. They tied a school record by limiting the Salukis to just eight field goals.
— Offensively, SLU was a mess last season when it averaged just 62.4 points, which was 232nd in the nation. Things are a little better this year, but the Billikens aren’t an offensive juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination.
— The Billikens were 1-5 in games decided by four points or less last season.
— In Seattle the game is being broadcast on Comcast Channel 412 (Digital Preferred Tier) and Broadstripe Channel 508 (Sports Tier). Roger Twibell and Steve Lappas will call the game.
F – Rob Loe, 6-11, 240, So., 2.5 ppg., 2.0 rpg.
F – Brian Conklin, 6-6, 235, Sr., 12.5, 4.5
F – Dwayne Evans, 6-5, 220, So., 3.0, 4.0
G – Kyle Cassity, 6-4, 200, Sr., 8.0, 2.0
G – Kwamain Mitchell, 5-10, 175, Jr., 9.0, 6.0 apg.
— Mitchell is a savvy veteran and this season he’s done and excellent job of taking care of the ball. He has three turnovers in two games and SLU had just nine in their past game. It’s going to be important for Washington to make Mitchell uncomfortable and force mistakes to generate transition points. The Billikens are a defensively sound squad and it’s going to be difficult to consistently generate points against them with halfcourt sets. Junior guard Abdul Gaddy will get the first chance to slow down Mitchell, but look for freshman Tony Wroten Jr. to extend defensively like he’s been doing and possibly rattle SLU’s backcourt. Junior center Aziz N’Diaye could be paired against Loe, which is an intriguing matchup considering the 6-foot-11 SLU forward is a three-point threat. He attempted 95 last season. The Huskies may assign senior forward Darnell Gant to Loe and put N’Diaye on Conklin who likes to occupy the paint.