Billikens basketball season is heating up with the first couple of games under the belt followed by big out-of-conference games. If you don’t know much about the team or are new to the team like myself, allow me to give a quick rundown of my knowledge as team manager. Celebrating his fifth year as Head Coach at SLU, Travis Ford spent the early days of his career as traditional point guard at the University of Kentucky and former Head Coach at Oklahoma State. This season, the Bills must push through their loss of Redshirt Senior and St. Louis local Jevonte Perkins due to his season-ending ACL injury. Perkins averaged 17.1 points last year. Nonetheless, the Bills do have help from junior Yuri Collins as point guard. Collins is Coach Ford’s guy; with the most assists at the Billiken home opener, he is the one to make calls on plays for the Bills. However, Ford still has choices for big men, with Terrance Hardgrove Jr. as the likely pick for his Power Forward. Other picks for shooting guard include Rashad Willams, Andre Lorenson, and Gibson Jimerson. Jimerson provided good shots during practice, highlighting that he deserves his spot on the lineup. Willams, on the other hand, will do shooting drills after practices. One of his drills includes making 20 shots in a row.If he misses two in a row, that means he must restart.
After losing Hasan French last year, the center spot is one to watch. Ford will probably start Senior Martin Linssen, a redshirt who played for Valprasio and UNC Wilmington, as he will likely fill the gap French left behind. Linssen knows the playbook and has more experience than Francis Okoro, a transfer from Oregon, and Lassina Traore, the only true freshman on the team. The main issue is going to be filling in for Perkins. However, there is help from small forward Jordon Nesbit, who is a Redshirt Freshman transfer from Memphis. During the Harris-Stowe game, Nesbit only played 18 minutes, yet made 19 points and 9 rebounds. Despite his young age, he has potential to aid in filling in the mid-range paint shots the Billikens are missing without Perkins.
Upon the passing of coach Ford Stuen, there have also been changes within the Billikens coaching staff. Ford’s banner will stay in the rafters in his commemoration In his place, Graduate assistant Phill Forte has been added to the arsenal. He once played for Coach Ford at Oklahoma State.
The Billikens had three good out of conference games with wins against Central Arkansas,Harris Stowe and Eastern Illinois as they beat each team by at least 4o points. If you are looking for a fun challenging home game that should be on people’s minds, SLU’s Dec. 18 game against Auburn will be a good treat. If you are looking for more fun players to look out for, Marhiki Strickland is on the list. His one-handed dunk brought the crowd to their feet during the Harris-Stowe game. Strickland currently sits behind Fred Thatch and Hargrove but played 7 games while averaging 2.7 points.
Aside from this, games always present opportunities for free gear and a good time. The next time the team plays at home is Saturday, November 20, at 4 o’clock.