Beginning Monday, June 21st,
2004 CHN began unveiling 144 Team previews in 144 Days. CHN ranked the
nations top 144 teams, and is unveiling one per day leading up until the
opening day of the 2004-05 Season.
144 Teams in 144 Days home page, and check back
each day to see which team is previewed next.
#76 Saint Louis Billikens
2003-04: 19-13, 9-7, 7th
2003-04 postseason: NIT
By Joel Welser
Billikens will hope to have a good year as their last in the Conference
USA. Starting next season Saint Louis will compete in the Atlantic 10.
Head coach Brad Soderberg led Saint Louis to the NIT in his first two years
and will attempt to return the Billikens to the big dance for the first time
since 2000. The squad will need to increase their offensive skills, while
remaining one of the best defensive teams in the nation, in order to fulfill
Who’s Out: Josh Fisher and Chris Sloan won’t be an easy duo to
replace. Fisher scored 11.7 points, grabbed 4.3 boards and dished out 4.3
assists per game. Sloan averaged 9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds. Saint Louis
has plenty of options to replace them, but nobody who can step in and
immediately fill those shoes. Ross Varner played in 31 games but only
averaged 2.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game. At 6-8,
Varner’s post presence off the bench will be missed. Little used Phillip
Hunt and Wendell Bennett are also not returning for the 2004-2005 season.
Who’s In: Incoming freshman Dwayne Polk is a true point guard. He
has the ability to become a great floor leader. The 5-9, 160 pounder,
should see some minutes off the bench this year. Luke Meyer, the only other
incoming freshman, is a solid scoring threat whether it be posting up or
beyond the arc. JuCo transfer Antwan Alexander has three years of
eligibility remaining. He is an explosive player who could step in and make
an immediate impact. Vas’shun Newborne also joins the Bills from the junior
college ranks. The 6-6 forward can play either the 3 or 4 spot and should
compete for minutes at both of those positions. Bryce Husak, a 7-footer
from Iowa, was redshirted last season. For his freshman year, he is still a
work in progress. At 250 pounds, he is a not just a tall body. Husak is
athletic and a defensive weapon, but his offensive skills still need
Who to Watch: Senior guard Reggie Bryant led the team with 16.4
points per game as a junior last year. The absence of Fisher will leave
this team in the hands of Bryant. The 6-2 guard is a major scoring threat
and finished fifth in scoring in the conference. He is a consistent shooter
with great range and could very well end up in the top five in CUSA scoring
once again. Other scoring threats on the floor for the Billikens won’t
allow opposing defenses the luxury of keying in on Bryant.
Projected Conference Rank: Six teams from CUSA made the NCAA tourney
last year. A much improved Marquette and TCU will add more fuel to the
fire. The last year of the CUSA as we know it will be another good one.
Saint Louis can have a solid year and still finish 8th in the conference and
earn another trip to the NIT.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
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