Bounce Back Time For Billikens

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

It has been a tough week for Billikens basketball. As tough of a week as we have seen in the 2018-2019 season. Two losses to top teams in the A-10, dropping the Billikens to a five way tie for second place in the conference.



There have been some key takeaways in the last two games that may explain some of these losses, but irregardless there are some added pressures now to each game the rest of the way. 


It would seem as though the Billikens are now to a point in the season where they have to win out in the conference tournament to make it to the NCAA tournament.


But without dwelling too much on the past, let’s look at the last two games.


Duquesne

This may have been one of the harder games to watch this year. The team we saw on the court was not as fluid as it had seemed in the past, and an early technical foul against Coach Ford set the tone for this issues with the officiating the rest of the game.


By the numbers, SLU out-rebounded Duquesne 54-31, but also had 11 more team turnovers at 23, and 12 more team fouls at 29. Safe to say, one of the biggest killers here was the Billikens giving away the basketball, or giving Duquesne free throws on bad fouls, keeping guys like Hasahn French out for the back end of the second after he fouled out with about 10 minutes left. 


As a team, SLU was 26-67 from the field (38.8%) and shot a measly 2-20 from 3 (10%). 

From an individual stand point, SLU’s primary backcourt of Goodwin-Isabell-Bess committed 14 turnovers (3-5-6 respectively), with D.J. Foreman kicking in 5 of his own. That same backcourt shot a combined 12-36, with Goodwin shooting 2-8, Isabell shooting 3-10, and Bess shooting 7-18. 

From the line, SLU was 19-22 (86.4%), with Javon Bess going 9-9, and Tremaine Isabell going 5-6 from the charity stripe. 


The Billikens lost this matchup on the road 77-73.


Davidson

SLU again was the better team in the rebounding category, beating Davidson 37-26 on the boards. They also saw an even split on turnovers and fouls, with one more turnover than Davidson at 13, and two less team fouls than Davidson at 18. 


The team shooting numbers saw a further decrease, shooting 17-49 from the field (34.7%), and 6-22 from 3 (27.3%) a significant increase from the Duquesne game. 


For fans watching this game, you may have like me noticed a number of times the Billikens gave away second chance opportunities to a good shooting team. We also saw a number of times where momentum was the Billikens way and they were unable to capitalize, or just saw silly mistakes, coupled with questionable officiating as usual, to make this another hard loss to take.


From an individual standpoint, SLUs usual backcourt shot s combined 8-22, with Goodwin going 2-6, Isabell shooting 3-9, and Bess only 3-7 which I think most fans would agree was way to low for one of our most reliable options on offense. Dion Wiley went 2-6 off the bench, contributing one of the biggest 3s of the game.


That same backcourt combined for 7 turnovers, 3 for Goodwin, 3 for Isabell, and 1 for Bess. Wiley added 1 and Fred Thatch had 2, for a total of 10 turnovers by the SLU backcourt unit.


And of course, SLU shot 13-20 from the free throw line (65%). Jordan Goodwin who missed two free throws with .4 second left in regulation had shot 8-11 from the line on the day. 


The Billikens lost this matchup 54-53.



Travis Ford

Coach Ford has come under some social media fire for the way the team has played in the last two games.


While it stands to reason Coach Ford needs to help this team find some footing again and turn things around, the loss of Demarius Jacobs has left him with 8 scholarship players, some of whom it would seem he has a hard time trusting in tight situations. 


This may fall on Coach Ford for his team building ability, but he now has to find a way to keep guys like Goodwin, Isabell, and Bess fresh throughout a game so they can close things out late.


The inability of the SLU offense to produce late in games and put people away has also been a glaring issue for the Billikens, another point Coach Ford will have to address. 


Summary

It’s a tough week. You face Davidson who is tied for first in the A-10 now, and Duquesne who is tied for second and had a big game Saturday against VCU, another top team in the A-10, although they did eventually lose that game.


While I like many fans decry the Billikens free throw shooting as one of the biggest issues with this team, it would simply seem like turnovers from the SLU backcourt, coupled with some bad fouls, and little to no flow on the offensive end again are contributing to SLUs first losing streak of the year.


This is still a young team, but it is time for the Senior leaders in Javon Bess and Tremaine Isabell to show their maturity and right the ship. 


While they both have been major contributors, they are going to have to find a way to step up more each game going forward, not necessarily in the stats column, but in making sure a set offense is run right so that the Billikens can consistently score when they need to and put teams away late.


Part of this will fall on the shoulders of Coach Ford, and it remains to be seen how the team responds going forward, but I would suggest tuning in to Coach Ford’s show on 101 ESPN for more thoughts from him Monday night at 7 PM.


We may not see SLU get back into the conversation for top 25 this season, but their season is a long way from over.