#48 St. Louis Billikens: College Basketball 111 in 111


st. louis billiken cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With Rick Majerus having to step down due to health concerns and the injury to starting point guard Kwamain Mitchell, the season has gotten off to an auspicious start for a St. Louis Billikens team that is expected to contend for the Atlantic 10 title.  How they are able to overcome those two obstacles will be the determining factor when the dust settles in March.

ST. LOUIS BILLIKENS
Last Season: 2nd, 12-4 in A-10, 26-8 overall
Predicted A-10 Finish: 5th

Projected Depth Chart
C: Rob Loe (Jr)/John Manning (So)
PF: Cody Ellis (Sr)/Cory Remekun (Sr)/Grandy Glaze (So)
SF: Dwayne Evans (Jr)/Jake Barnett (Jr)/Jared Drew (Fr)
SG: Jordair Jett (Jr)
PG: Mike McCall Jr. (Jr)/Kwamain Mitchell (Sr)/Keith Carter (Fr)

Gone: F-Brian Conklin, SG-Kyle Cassity

2012-2013 Outlook:
Majerus has faced health concerns in the past and won’t roam the sidelines this year due to heart issues.  Assistant Jim Crews takes over on an interim basis and does bring some head coaching experience to the table having been the lead man at Army and Evansville for a combined 24 years.  Still, you can’t help but wonder how Majerus’ absence will affect the Billikens.

Making matters worst, the coach on the floor and team’s top returning scorer, Kwamain Mitchell underwent surgery to fix a fracture in his foot earlier this week.  As a result, he is expected to be in a walking boot for six weeks and when you factor in recovery time, might not return until conference play tips off.

With Mitchell sidelined, the point guard responsibilities will fall into the hands of either Mike McCall or Jordair Jett.  Both guys are capable of filling in but are best suited playing off the ball.  Neither possess the playmaking abilities nor defensive tenacity of Mitchell but must hold down the fort for the first couple of months.  Freshman Keith Carter likely gets thrust into the rotation right away as well to provide some needed backcourt depth.

The frontcourt also has to replace leading scorer Brian Conklin.  Starting power forward Cody Ellis is back and his ability to stretch defenses with his shooting is his strongest asset.  Key reserve Rob Loe will likely step in the starting five while John Manning adds another big body to play behind Loe..  Cory Remekum should see a larger role off the bench as could seldom used sophomore Grandy Glaze who provides the Billikens with an undersized but physical, rebounding presence.

Speaking of undersized, 6-5 swingman Dwayne Evans returns as the team’s top rebounder.  He will need to increase his scoring load early in the season to help offset the losses of Conklin and Mitchell.  Three-point specialist Jake Barnett and lengthy freshman Jared Drew are also options on the wing.

I expect this to be one of the most competitive seasons the A-10 has ever seen.  St. Louis has a chance to cut down the nets and earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament if Mitchell is able to regain form in time for a March push, but St. Joseph’s, UMass, Butler, VCU will all be in the mix as well and I didn’t even include typical conference powers Temple or Xavier on that list.  Due to the loss of Mitchell and uncertain timetable of his return, I have to bump St. Louis down this low (just to give you an idea, I had them in the top-30 prior to the Majerus and Mitchell news.)  Once he returns though, expect SLU to be a top 25 caliber team and dangerous opponent down the final stretch of the season.

Player to Watch: Dwayne Evans
The Billikens will be a grind it out, defensive club until Mitchell returns since they lack a whole lot of offensive firepower.  Somebody has to step into the go-to role on the offensive end and Evans or Ellis seem the most capable of filling that void.  Since Ellis is a fairly one-dimensional player, Evans’ versatility will allow him to be a more well-rounded threat.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 vs. Texas A&M (CBE Classic)
11/20 vs. Kansas/Washington State (CBE Classic)
11/28 at Washington
12/2 vs. Valparaiso
12/5 vs. North Texas
12/22 vs. Loyola Marymount
12/31 vs. New Mexico

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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