Saint Louis entered a season full of anticipation and excitement a little short-handed. Without three players who were expected to be positive contributors this season, they fumbled through non-conference play with an 8 man rotation, and while showing some signs of greatness, ultimately struggled their way to a 7-6 record. It is easy to argue that the Billikens’ non-conference season could be summed up as inconsistent, and that would be a strong place to start. Let’s take a deeper look at how they fared.
Honestly, the Billikens really only had one true “quality” win, but boy was it a good one. Early in the season they defeated a Virginia Tech Hokies team that currently sits with an 11-2 record and is looking to be one of the contenders in the ACC. The game was highlighted by the performances of Jordan Goodwin and Javon Bess, whom at the time were getting ready to put the Billikens on the map as real contenders this year. Something to again consider, this was a Billikens team who was still working out some kinks. For starters, this was the first true competitive game for French and Goodwin, and also, the roster was still trying to gel the transfers/freshman with the other players. To beat a solid Hokies team at Madison Square Garden, with all that going against them, is not only a great win for the Billikens, but probably one of the best wins for the A-10 this non-conference season.
They had a couple chances to pick up another big win, but they dropped these games by rather ugly numbers, losing to Houston at home by 18, at Butler by 30, and Providence by 27. They did almost beat Oregon State, but the Beavers would not have been a true quality win, as there record will reflect once they get into conference play.
As good as that Virginia Tech win may have been, it is definitely, and rightly so, overshadowed by a bad loss to Detroit. The Titans are currently riding an 8 game losing streak, and are 4-10 on the season. Besides Saint Louis, the Titans’ other wins are against Houston Baptist and two Division 2 schools. Not exactly the best company to be in.
Not only did Saint Louis drop this game, but they did it on their home court. This was a game that the Billikens should have cruised, but turned into something they never could have expected.
Besides this game, there really wasn’t a “bad loss”. While they did drop another home game to Western Michigan, it does not come close to what happened against the Titans.
Non-Conference Grade: C
The fact of the matter is that the Billikens won the games they were supposed to win, and lost the games that they weren’t (with the exception of the two losses above). If these results were with the full roster, the grade might be a little worse, but from the group Coach Ford sent out on the court, the results were about average, with the two gigantic outliers (Virginia Tech and Detroit). The results don’t set them up well to make a big post-season tournament, but they did prepare the Billikens for A-10 play. With the missing pieces coming back, the Billikens will be a team to watch out for in conference play.