Score the basketball. Fill it up. Attack the tin. Get buckets. It’s the first thing that draws most everyone to the game. Putting the ball in the hoop.
The inability to do any of these things consistently, this lack of scoring has been the albatross around the neck of the Billikens the entire 2017-2018 season. The defense has rarely been in question. It’s been relentless, intense, and utterly effective for most all 40 minutes of almost every game. But, the round ball through the round hoop…
The Billikens are 10-3 when they score at least 70 points, they are 6-12 when they don’t. As a squad, they shot 42% from the floor, 31.2% from three, and 65% from the line. But, it’s not just the shooting, it’s the lack of protecting the basketball. SLU has averaged 12.8 turnovers per game this season. 12.8. That teamed with poor shooting and you get a stagnant offense that lasts from the fall to the spring.
The lack of a true point guard to control the tempo and the flow, the Title IV judgment that suspended 4 rotation players, it’s all part of the stew that leads to where the team sits today. 16-15 with flashes of a Top 25 team, and flashes of a team that could lose to Binghamton.
But, everything the Billikens wanted this season is in their hands. Four days lie between this year’s squad and a dance in the NCAA Tournament. Can they score a measly 280 points between today and Sunday? If so, selection Sunday will be a holiday in the STL. But, if the turnovers, the missed free-throws, the missed front ends of one and ones, the ill-advised drives with no plan once they are in the air continue, the season ends tonight.
It’s up to Travis Ford and his players. It’s up to Davell Roby and Javon Bess to set the standard and lead this team. It’s up to the Billikens, them and them alone. Score the basketball like a Division I team and you’re in the tournament. Turn the ball over at a rate that would make even the Cleveland Browns embarrassed, and you’re headed back to the dorms with almost 7 months to enjoy that knot in your stomach.
It all starts tonight in Washington D.C. against George Washington on NBC Sports at 7:30pm.
Will they go dancing? It’s up to them. It’s up to the Billikens.
Follow Will Saulsbery on Twitter @will_KSDK