When staring at the standings, the stark difference between 8-11 and 9-10 isn’t as arresting as 1-5 and 2-4. That was what the St. Louis University Billikens were facing heading into Wednesday night’s tilt versus the Dukes of Duquesne.
Another loss and your thoughts move to "What could have been?" and "if only." A win against a 13-5 team and you can still think, “Hey, we can compete in this league,” and “the NIT isn’t a dream, it’s in our reach.”
One win or one loss on a frozen Wednesday evening and the outlook, morale, and reality of a season all can change.
The first ten minutes of the game was pockmarked by fouls. Bess and French both got two quick personals and had to sit. This is not good for a team that only goes 8 deep. But, through quick rotations, imaginative lineups by Coach Ford and an absolutely dominant first half by Jordan Goodwin, the Billikens hit the half up 34-22, and their best defender, Bess, had fresher legs for the second half than he has had all season.
The second half was an example of how this team has the ability to capture a lead, hold a lead, and put a team away. Duquesne never truly posed a threat. Yes, the trapping press in the last five minutes gave some fits and caused a couple turnovers, but they never cut it under 12.
Suffocating defense, efficient offense (save some poor free throw shooting) and the Billikens put together a complete game for only the second or third time this season.
Jordan Goodwin continued his growth into one of the best freshman in the A-10 and possibly the nation. He went all 40 minutes and notched the first triple-double in the history of SLU basketball. The first in all 102 seasons. 102 seasons, and in the 2,604th game the Billikens got their first triple double.
The More Foreman the Better Foreman:
When asked if he had a little more spark by being in the starting line-up DJ Foreman replied “yeah, yeah I did.” He scored a career high 21 on 7-10 shooting with some acrobatic and nifty spins and up and unders around the rack, culminating with a one hand monster put back that brought the crowd to a deafening roar. How’d he get all those finishes? “Playing off J-Good, JB, and D Roby…they’re great passers and it’s just playing off of them.” That’s the SLU way, pass the credit where the credit is due.
The all-around dominance of J-Good:
The rebound chain, the first triple double in the history of the program, 13 points, 2 blocks, 4 steals, and a smile even Magic Johnson would be proud of. The kid had himself a night. But, does he have the best handles on the squad? Roby doesn’t think it’s Goodwin, but on the way out of the presser Goodwin said “Hey, I did have somebody on skates today…”
Roby and the 1k Club:
I asked Coach Ford, after all these years of coaching, if giving a senior a hug on his way off the court after an accomplishment like that, if it still does it for him. “It’s what it’s all about.” He added that it goes to show “If you stick with something, good things usually happen…In today’s society, it’s easy to quit…but he stuck with it…he probably didn’t see this coming his freshman year…but he stuck with it. He stuck with it.”
Coach Ford and Scorer’s Table kick:
Let me set the scene. The court is 94 feet long, of which about 50 feet is spanned by the press and scorer’s table. Coach Ford and SLU bench is at one end, and I sit about 5 seats from the other.
It was a bad call. The kind of bad call that no matter the score it makes a coach’s blood boil. The leucite, steel, and plastic table covered in wires, monitors, laptops, and bottles of water came a good two inches off the court when Ford let go with a kick even Tom Tupa would be proud of. The best part, SLU was up about 12 at the time. The man has one level of intensity. It starts and 40 and ends at triple zeroes. That’s my kind of coach.
In all, a needed and great win. Two days off and then a trip to Marcus Camby’s stomping ground out at UMass. Will SLU build on this and grow? Will this buzzer to buzzer team show up for a second game in a row? If so, the A-10 will take true notice.
Until then, long live the 1,000 point club. Good on ya, D-Roby.