Billiken Blizzard Blows Into Town


On a wintery Friday night in January, fans will once again be flocking to the jewel of midtown at Chaifetz Arena for a marquee matchup in a game that reminds me of the peak days under Majerus.


While the podcast is titled the House That Rick Built, it does to a sense feel like I bring up the former Billikens' coach far too often.


But when you consider the fact that since the days of Majerus, we have hardly seen a team that remained competitive on a national scale, there can be some tendency to enjoy remiscing on the good 'ole days.


But now, Billikens fans once again have an oppurtunity to enjoy new moments in the history books, moments that we DO enjoy talking about and that don't involve a former player turned social media "star".


And boy were there some dark times post-Majerus.


Sure we had what was left of the Majerus recruiting class, but we then had to suffer once again through years of sub par play.


Through the ashes of an awful recruiting stretch at the hands of Jim Crews came the rising recruiting phoenix that has become Travis Ford.


With his arrival on campus, Travis Ford began a turn around that I have seen once before in my life.


But unlike the days of Majerus, an older coach who had proven his chops and moved into newer challenges, Travis Ford sat in somewhat of a limbo following an unceremonious ending to his tenure at Oklahoma State.


Following the commitments from the likes of Goodwin and French, Billikens fans were beginning to see another light at the end of the tunnel, the light from a coach hungry to win, and win on the biggest stage while in St. Louis.


Through the recruits and the energy of Travis Ford, the Billikens' face one of their biggest home games in a long while.


Sure, we have seen ranked teams come into town before, but not like this.


I mean Chaifetz Arena is sold out.


Let me repeat that.


Sold. Out.


Look, SLU made the tournament last year. I like to think they are a very competitive program on the national level.


But being realistic and honest, it has been some time since Chaifetz Arena was sold out.


We couldn't even do that against Seton Hall when the season was exciting and new.


But now here we stand, staring down the barrel of a winter storm fit for a Jake Gyllenhaal blockbuster and once again Billiken basketball feels like the hottest ticket in town.

I was always given a hard time growing up because I was an obsesssive fan of the Billikens.


Through the years of Soderberg, I was forced to tolerate the play ground banter of kids who chose to attach their wagon to premiere universities for the winning, not to mention trying to explain to a group of fifth graders what a Billiken is.


But my wagon was attached to a team for me.


I may as well have been a walking merchandise pop up shop for the Billikens Athletic department growing up, but it was never something I complained about obviously.


The lack of professional basketball leaves a sporting gap in St. Louis that realistically can only be filled by one team.


Whenever I considered my support for SLU, it never was about academics or national recognition.


It was about supporting the chance to see top livel basketball in St. Louis, games in which a local team represents the city on a national level.


After all, while newer iterations of the uniform have placed "Billikens" across the chest, for a long period of time it said St. Louis.


Too often I have felt like the impact of SLUs succes on a national level has been ignored by people locally.


While I don't feel the need to turn this into a promo for SLU admissions, I would think it reasonable that anyone who enjoys top 25 college basketball would like to see it come to St. Louis, and having a competitive team at SLU is the doorway to bring those games to St. Louis every year.


With the coming matchup it feels like once again, St. Louisans are acknowledging the excitement that can come from a good Billikens basketball team.

It was a scary thing trying to get onto the court after the Butler game some seven years ago.


The general nerves and anxiousness that comes with potentially doing something you shouldn't is enough to cripple a 13-year old without his mega famous podcast to bolster his ego.


Somehow, I found my way onto the court stumbling down the stairs pretending to sneak by a security gaurd who was probably well beyond caring.


After the dust had settled and the larger majority of students had vacated the court, I was able to stand on the court and enjoy the feeling that I had witnessed something special.


Now to me at the time, it had seemed like something special meant it would be on ESPN, but with age comes wisdom.


Witnessing a seventeen point dismantling of the number nine team in the country on your home court followed by a court storming is not just national news.


I recognize now that having a good team is a luxury taken from you in a flash by injury, coaching change, loss, any number of things.


As fans, it is is moments like 13-year old me standing on the court feeling like I had been apart of something that makes following a team so closely its concerning all worth while.


Moments like watching Kwamain bank down a three to a tie the game against Dayton after a completely broken down play.


But it's nice to be able to mention this moment to Dayton fans at a time like this.


Or just throw it back to the conference tournament last year.


So while I may not once again watch the fans rush the court against a ranked opponent at home, or see Kwamain knock down another banked in three at the buzzer, I certainly will enjoy every moment of this game tonight.

As both the "Billiken Blizzard" and a potential literal blizzard descends on Chaifetz, I sit in front of my computer finding it hard to sit still anticipating what is coming ahead.


For the first time in a long time, Billikens' twitter is a buzz, and it's coming from more than one place.


Since I began running the House That Rick Built, I have begun to find myself falling into the obvious A10 focused basketball accounts such as A10 Talk, Petey Buckets, and the more fan centrics like the Blackburn Review (BBR).


And after our interview with Sully from BBR, it feels things have only picked up.


Make sure to check out Zac's interview with Sully for the BBR podcast here: Apple / Spotify.



I cannot remember a time in my life when I had so much fun in the build up to a game.


I will be truly devastated when this game comes to an end, but for now, here's to making Friday night another unforgettable night of Billikens' basketball.


Who knows, maybe I'll find my way onto the court again.



Don't forget to stream the most recent episode of the House That Rick Built podcast with Collin Kessler and Zac Miller, presented by Mortage Partners Group.

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