Are you going to continue to let it happen to you? Are you going to continue to let that fifteen feet between the line and the hoop take every dream from your hands? There is a point where you make a decision as a program to change. And to this point, that decision has not been made.
Do you change your late game rotation? Do you hold teammates and players accountable for costing you games? Or, do you keep trying to make up those free points somewhere else? A somewhere else you’ve yet to find in the past four seasons. These are the seemingly simple questions you have to answer over the next 7 games.
SLU came into Saturday’s tilt against La Salle 17-7 and 6-5 in Atlantic 10 play. Take care of the ball, hit your throws, and you’re probably looking at 5-2 or 6-1 and finishing at worst 22-9 before your title defense begins. Or, keep doing what you’re doing and limp into the conference tourney with 10 or 11 loses and praying for a miracle, or the NIT.
First Test of Seven
You can say all the in conference play cliches you want. But, if the Billikens want to be considered a true tournament contender they would need to wipe the floor with these guys. 11-12 and 2-9 in conference…and you got these guys at home? This had better be a wire to wire manhandling.
The first half was exactly that. After a sluggish first 5 minutes the Billikens absolutely destroyed La Salle. On the break. At the Rim. From Deep. From Mid-Range…and on the defensive end. It was barely a contest. SLU hit the break up 45-24, 20 minutes away from getting right after a week off. La Salle went 10 deep trying to find answers…but none came.
The Billikens Go Billikens
The first three and a half minutes of the second half was the worst stretch of basketball i’ve seen in some time. Missed Dunk. Missed layup. Foul..turnover….missed free throws. It was a cocktail of terrible. La Salle was able to cut the lead to 15. Finally a Demarius Jacobs double clutch two handed throw down stopped the tide.
JAMTIME Demarius Jacobs. https://t.co/FK48MFX1UY
Through seven and a half minutes of the second half SLU had 6 points, 8 turnovers, and 7 fouls. Then it got ugly. I have been watching basketball since 1992, and I have never seen this many fouls in one half of a basketball game. And hands down the most in a game ever.
52 total fouls. FIFTY-TWO. 36 in the second half alone. This was atrocious. The second half took nearly two hours to complete. And the crowd let the officials know their disdain for this type of officiating. Coach Ford admitted it was a “physical game” in which his team “didn’t adjust” as well as it could have. But, wow…the refs need to watch some game tape.
J-Good Drives the Bus
The engine that drove the Billikens to victory was in the chest of Jordan Goodwin. He did what he’s done so many times these past three seasons. He imposed his will on a game and pushed every player on the court to a victory.
In comparing Jordan Goodwin to Marcus Smart, Coach Ford said that “They are very similar…Their will to want to be great” is their greatest trait. And it’s true, all the compliments that the Coach heaped upon Goodwin. If you’re on the floor with J-Good you’d better be engaged…you’d better be leaving everything out there.
Despite the zebras attempting to turn this into a 5 hour affair, SLU did what they needed to do and put away a team they should. Javonte Perkins dominated the offensive end finishing with 24 points and a much needed 8-9 from the stripe. The clock hit all zeroes and the Bills headed to the locker room with a little hitch in their giddy-up and an 84-69 victory. 18-7, 7-5, and sitting in sixth place in the conference.
Wins like this get a squad back on track. If the Bills want to lock a ticket to dance, these next three games have to be wins. At a 10-15 UMASS, home on ESPN2 versus 17-8 VCU, and then at home against the 4-21 St. Joe’s Hawks. You run through these 3 and you’re sitting at 21-7, that’s something the committee can’t ignore.
Until next time…long live Marcus Smart