This was a game plagued and defined by fouls. Ugly, slow, A-10 conference basketball. You looked down for 3 seconds and when you looked back up someone was at the line. Both teams were in the double bonus with over seven minutes left. Four players in total fouled out, and the teams shot a combined 63 free throws on a total of 50 personal fouls.
I repeat, 50 personal fouls.
And with 50 personal fouls comes a lot of unplanned substitutions. And when that happens things can one of two ways. Straight down the drain, or the way of the unsung hero. And tonight’s unsung hero for the Billikens was Rashed Anthony. He only clocked 10 minutes, but they may have been the 10 most important minutes for any player in the game.
His stat line wasn’t much to look at. One rebound to go along with two blocks. But his relentless effort on defense kept SLU in the game in the 1st half. A half that ended 26-26. Coach Ford raved about Anthony in the post-game presser.
“He may be one of the best teammates I’ve ever been around…in my 21 years as a college head coach.” If you’re a parent reading or hearing that about you child away at school, there is not a higher compliment as to the kind of person your child has become. Anthony’s teammates Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French had even more glowing praise.
Goodwin, “He is a team guy…whenever you need him he is there…he’s the first guy to talk to me when I’m getting frustrated. He grabs me and tells me to calm down.” Both French and Goodwin stated that if they call him at any time, Rashed Anthony is there whenever and wherever you need him.
What better praise as a person and teammate could someone want?
Those ten minutes, that one rebound, and those two blocks don’t look like much to anyone who wasn’t in the arena, but that’s why numbers do lie. And why numbers never, ever tell the entire story.
Travis Ford and the love of the grind:
Coach Ford called it a “Grind it out game.” They needed it that way, and they wanted it that way. Ford knew the Bills “were not gonna go out there and try to our score them.” The more and more I talk with Ford, the more I realize how much this scrappy, undersized point guard from the bluegrass state loves the grit, the physicality, and the grind of a knock down drag it out college basketball game. It’s safe to say, the guy’s got a lot of Stockton in him.
The continued offensive growth of Hasahn French:
The kid had himself a night. A career high 17 points, 9 rebounds, and a career high 6 blocks. The only hole in his game as a freshman is his work from the charity stripe. He was 5-11 on the night, and 6-13 from the floor. As MJ the GOAT would say, for this kid, “The ceiling is the roof.”
Bess with his third straight double: It wasn’t pretty for JB tonight, but he had another one of those Scottie Pippen type performances. 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. This after two games of 17 and 11, and 13 and 16. His jumper may come and go, but his effort never does.
Jordan Goodwin’s quiet 28-point night: Seriously, if you can have a quiet 28 in the NCAA, he just did it. 7-14 from the floor, 13-16 from the line to go along with 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. It all seemed to come slow, like everything in a game that moved like molasses during a Vermont February.
The Billikens get the next week off before heading to Richmond next Saturday to take on the 9-15 Spiders who are somehow 7-5 in conference and ahead of the Billikens in the A-10. Ford said he’ll plan out the week to help his players get their legs back under them and focus on their academics.
A week with no hoops here in the STL, what am I supposed to do? I guess I’ll just watch some more clips of Claggett and Highmark burying threes off of sick dimes from H Waldman. Until next Saturday, long live the grind.