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Bay Area Billiken

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  1. Billiken Roy, I think you have some very valid points. Whatever the reason, there has just been too much change and lack of continuity at SLU, from coaches to AD's. If I recall from my early days out here, that first Gonzaga coach was Dan Fitzgerald, who was from the Bay Area. Gonzaga was not that good in those days, an average middle of the conference team in the WCC. Next came Monson, who is the son of the old Oregon coach. Then came the current coach, Few. Few was an assistant to Monson, who is now at Minnesota. But overall, the Zags seemed to play the same type of system. As far as I recall, they have always been an up tempo team. They always had hot 3 point shooting guards from Santangelo to Frahm to Dickau to the guy they have now. Gradually, the Zags began to get the bigs too, and they have two horses inside now. SLU has gone from Rich Grawer to Charlie Spoonhour to Lorenzo Romar to Brad Soderberg, all of them with different coaching styles and philosophies. Soderberg was only with Romar one year. How many AD's has SLU had? There was Jim Bakken, followed by Joe Yates, followed by Debbie Yow, followed by Doug Woolard, followed by Cheryl Levick. I still believe that Rich Grawer was the true saviour of the Billikens and the SLU basketball program. My 4 undergraduate years coincided with Ron Ekker's 4 years at SLU. There was no Billiken mascot, until my roommate and I sat in Ekker's office our Senior year and refused to leave until he let us restore the Billiken. There was no pep band (and the current SLU band is one of the very best pep bands); there was a rent a band of some sort. We formed our own renegade band in the dorm to play at the games on the other end. There were no cheerleaders; there were the Billy Lou Strutters. I was on the SLU campus the summer that Grawer arrived and heard him tell someone that he wanted to get a band that played next to the opponent's bench. For a time the old Alumni Trumpeteers were resurrected. Cheerleaders returned. The games moved back to Kiel Auditorium, which was a great venue for college hoops. Conventional wisdom at the time of Grawer's dismissal was that he could not get SLU to the next level. Part of that was due to NCAA gerrymandering on Selection Sunday, as one Grawer team won 25 games and another won 27 games. Those records should have resulted in NCAA bids. One of those teams was 24-9 on Selection Sunday and relegated to the NIT; another was 23-9 on Selection Sunday and again went to the NIT. I hated to see Grawer get fired, but I was happy and pleasantly surprised shortly thereafter when Charlie Spoonhour was hired. Charlie Spoonhour was revered at SLU. He was a good bench coach. He went to the NCAA largely with Grawer's recruits. Then he landed Larry Hughes and made another NCAA appearance. Hughes left after one year, and Spoon resigned after the following 15-16 disappointing season. After Spoonhour resigned, Lorenzo Romar was hired from Pepperdine. Romar has proven to be a good coach. He was not there long enough at SLU, only 3 years. IMO, his chief problem was going after all those blue chip West Coast recruits that he was unable to land. Continuity is important, and SLU has not had it. Plus, SLU has played in a much, much tougher conference over the years than Gonzaga. A fairer comparison would be comparing SLU with Marquette and DePaul.
  2. I am planning to go to at least some of the WCC Tournament in Santa Clara. Even though Gonzaga and St. Mary's have had great seasons, the tournament is really up for grabs. Among the 3 Bay Area arch-rivals, USF beat Santa Clara twice this year, Santa Clara beat St. Mary's twice, but St. Mary's beat Santa Clara twice. All of them were close games except Santa Clara's blowout win at St. Mary's when the Gaels were dead cold. St. Mary's and Gonzaga get byes into the semi-finals on Sunday. USF would have to win 4 games, while Santa Clara would have to win 3 games to get the NCAA automatic bid. I think St. Mary's will get an at large bid if Gonzaga wins the tournament. Gonzaga will be in the NCAA irrespective of what happens in the WCC Tournament. But the problem for St. Mary's could be if someone else wins this thing, like host Santa Clara. Then the Gaels would be on the bubble because there are questions as to whether the NCAA would take 3 teams from this 8 team conference.
  3. I think this year's trouble is a product of Lorenzo Romar leaving after only 3 years, missing out on recruits for various reasons, nonetheleast of which is that St. Louis University is in the Midwest and not on the West Coast, going after the wrong recruits, allowing those that could have been signed to go elsewhere (like SIU and SMS), and the injuries to Seniors Reggie Bryant and Tom Frericks. My biggest concern is that the old Billiken Jinx has not made an unwanted reappearance. Negativism breeds more negativism. Next year will hopefully be a better year.
  4. Someone from St. Louis should respond to Bernie in Bernie's Press Box. His column is way off target and very skewed. 1. Citing Lorenzo Romar. IMO Romar is a good coach. But at SLU, Romar kept recruiting prime West Coast players and not landing them: Jamaal Sampson (1 year at Cal), Chuck Hayes (Kentucky), Ryan Hollins (signed with SLU but allowed to go to UCLA when Romar left, and now playing limited minutes there). Sure Romar is getting players at Washington, BUT WASHINGTON IS ON THE WEST COAST! Romar signed Vashon's Nick Kern, who would have been that elusive power forward, but you all know that tragic story. Irrespective of the reasons, the cupboard was bare when Romar left SLU. 2. Academics are an issue. No one has said that only Rhodes scholars can play for SLU. But SLU does not have a P.E. major, and that seriously hampers SLU's ability to get some JUCO's into SLU. It is ok for Bernie to cite Gonzaga. But Gonzaga has built a strong program with good continuity of coaches. Gonzaga gets 4 year players out of high school. Gonzaga's success has allowed the Zags to recruit and sign some prime players like Morrison. And although this year the West Coast Conference is up overall, in general over the years the WCC was not nearly as strong of a league as at least the upper echelons of C-USA. The WCC is composed of 8 private schools, 7 of them Catholic schools. There are no programs now in the WCC like Louisville, Cincinnati, or Memphis. The point is that Gonzaga built its program by winning in the weaker WCC and then doing well when it got the chance in the NCAA Tournament. This is not meant to take anything away from the Zags. But the situations at SLU and Gonzaga have not been the same. This latest firestorm with Bernie seems to have stemmed from Bernie not having or ignoring the facts re Lorenzo Gordon. The SLU supporters were more than justified in calling Bernie on that one. 3. No SLU supporter wants the Billikens to be 8-20 with an RPI of 207. This year has been a big disappointment. But better days have to be around the corner. It does not help the cause to have the main columnist in the city's only paper taking these shots at SLU. When I was at SLU during the Ron Ekker Era, we at least had Bob Burnes in the Globe-Democrat to try to defend our honor in print and on KMOX.
  5. Tonight's win over Memphis is the best possible response to Bernie M.'s column.
  6. Kudos to the Billikens. Coming home and seeing that score has made my day, my week for that matter. Memphis has often run into trouble in St. Louis. Keep the faith. Better days are ahead for our Billikens. We will survive this year. Can we just find that power forward somewhere? And tonight's win is the best possible response to Bernie M.'s column.
  7. Coach Bennett of St. Mary's was at the playoff game tonight at DeLaSalle High School, no doubt watching DLS star forward Theo Robertson (6'5"). Coach Dick Davey of Santa Clara was at the last home game. I wished Coach Bennett good luck, and he thanked me. He is a real good coach, a true rising star. DeLaSalle won over Monte Vista. Monte Vista has a star 6'3" sophomore to watch in Cory Higgins, son of former Golden State Warrior Rod Higgins.
  8. And per kenpom.com, Indiana's RPI under the old formula is 41, a stark 27 spot loss. An RPI of 41 usually gets a team into the NCAA; an RPI of 68 usually results in the NIT. But what if that team is from the Big 10 and has 10 conference wins?
  9. After last night's buzzer beating loss at Wisconsin, Indiana is 14-12, 9-6 in the Big Ten, with an RPI of 68. All things being equal, Indiana would be out of the NCAA Tournament. However, as revealed on last night's telecast of that game, no team with at least 10 conference wins in the Big Ten has been left out of the NCAA Tournament except Michigan, which was on probation. Indiana closes the regular season at home against Northwestern, so IU will probably get those 10 conference wins. Will the NCAA give the Big Ten only 4 teams: Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Minnesota, with Minnesota itself on the bubble with an RPI of 49?
  10. It will be interesting to see how closely the NCAA follows this new RPI when selecting the tournament field. If the NCAA actually follows the new RPI as closely as it followed the old one in the past, that could finally force BCS teams from the big conferences to go on the road.
  11. You are right. SLU was a #7 seed in 1994.
  12. Yes, that seed does mean a lot. Look at SLU's trip to the NCAA in Atlanta, Larry Hughes' freshman year. SLU won a fight to the finish first round game as a 10 seed over UMass. #2 seeded Kentucky won a cakewalk over totally outmanned South Carolina State. The Billikens had nothing left in the tank and got blown out in Round 2 by Kentucky. On the other hand, Spoon's second NCAA team won an 8-9 game over Minnesota in Round 1, and gave #1 seeded Wake Forest fits in Round 2 before falling 64-59. But I think, in general, the seeding is very important. Getting to play an easier game in Round 1 is an advantage. Of course, there have been some shockers there too over the years. Remember Princeton?
  13. I meant to look at the 2004 RPI, not 1994.
  14. Billiphan, with all due respect, I am not wrong. Look at the 1994 RPI at kenpom.com. The teams that received automatic bids are listed in parenthesis. Sure, there are many teams with low RPI's that get automatic bids from their conferences. There is no NCAA Committee discretion there. The point here is the at large bids, not the automatic bids. The only 2 variances with the RPI for at large bids last year were #60 Washington and #70 Air Force getting in to the exclusion of #38 LSU and #43 Utah State.
  15. What RPI calculation are you looking at? I would like to see it.
  16. I disagree with you re the RPI's effect on the selection of the tournament field. Because our Billikens, in good years, often were on the bubble, I have watched the RPI closely for years, especially after a Rich Grawer coached team was left out. There are usually only 2 or 3 variances between the final RPI ratings on Selection Sunday and the NCAA field, not 10. This year, that number might be higher because this year's RPI seems a bit odd, perhaps due to this new formula about home and road wins, and because this year more mid-majors would be in to the exlusion of more big conference teams. On the other hand, I do not think the RPI plays nearly as much of a role in the actual tournament seedings once the NCAA field is determined.
  17. The RPI simulation at kenpom.com still has the A-10 with a conference RPI of #14. But last year the A-10 was #7. That is quite a fall for our future league. Right now the A-10 would have only its automatic bid winner in the NCAA field. Only 3 A-10 teams have RPI's below 100: #61 George Washington, #86 St. Joseph's, and #95 Temple. I do think this year is an aberation for the A-10. Otherwise, people like Bernie M. are going to have more fodder to use.
  18. after last night's big road win at BC. That would put Pitt back in the NCAA field.
  19. But will the NCAA give SIU a seed like that? Although the NCAA has strictly followed the RPI in choosing the field in recent times, usually with only 2 or 3 exceptions, the gerrymandering seems to come in the seedings. (By the way, a beneficiary of one of those RPI field exceptions was Mizzou several years ago.) The SLU team that made the NCAA in Charlie Spoonhour's second year was 14-0 at one point, finished 23-6, and was ranked throughout that season, finishing at 25th, which SIU is currently ranked in one poll. I don't know what SLU's RPI was that year. The NCAA gave that SLU team a #6 seed. The Billikens were sent to Wichita in the Midwest Regional, where they lost to #11 seed Maryland, led by freshman Joe Smith. If the NCAA strictly followed the RPI in the seedings, then SIU indeed would be a 3 seed. But I am a Doubting Thomas on that one.
  20. Yes, Pittsburgh's RPI was #64 before last night. And Pittsburgh won last night at Boston College (#9 RPI) by a score of 72-50. The road win at BC should help Pitt's RPI when the new simulated RPI rankings come out today.
  21. No, I do not think SIU should be a 3 seed, more like a 6 seed. Although SIU's RPI is 12, that is not reality. That SIU team barely beat a poor Indiana State team last night, a team that had trouble making shots ... I have nothing against SIU. It just seems the RPI system is a bit skewed.
  22. I also hope Mizzou doesn't go after Randy Bennett. Bennett has done an outstanding job out here at St. Mary's, which is 24-7 and finished 2nd to Gonzaga in the WCC regular season. Both the Zags and SMC get byes into the WCC Tournament semi-finals. SMC was 2-27 only 3 years ago, the year before Bennett was hired.
  23. Sure upsets happen, and despite those RPI ratings, in my view for SIU to beat either Cincinnati or Louisville would be an upset. From what I have seen of these teams on TV, I do not think SIU would beat Cincinnati or Louisville. I am not saying it couldn't happen. SIU has a higher RPI than Wisconsin and Michigan State too. SIU doesn't have the inside beef like these teams from big conferences.
  24. Despite all the expressed claims about various factors, in the recent past, the NCAA field has strictly mirrored the RPI, with only 2 or 3 exceptions per year. One year, Butler received an at large bid with an RPI of 74 or thereabouts. One year SMS was left out with an RPI of 31. As I recall, one of Rich Grawer's SLU teams was left out on Selection Sunday with an RPI of 47. Those were the days when the old MCC was considered a one team league, and Xavier was a perennial roadblock for SLU. There used to be an unwritten de facto rule that a team from a power conference had to have at least a .500 conference record to get an NCAA at large bid, but that was broken several years ago when a team with a sub-.500 conference record from the ACC (Was it Wake Forest?) received an at large NCAA bid. At this point, per a pure following of the RPI, the MAC would have 4 NCAA teams: #27 Miami-OH, #41 Akron, #42 Buffalo, and #46 Kent State. The MVC would have 3 NCAA teams: #12 SIU, #34 Wichita State, and #44 Northern Iowa. Right now the NCAA would cut off at #52 Notre Dame. That number inevitably will fall once the upsets begin in the mid-major conference tournaments. Big conference teams #53 West Virginia, #54 Pittsburgh, #70 Indiana, #74 Texas A&M, and #79 Iowa State would be out. Despite recent history re the RPI, I do not believe that all those big conference teams will be left out. At this point,I think the MVC will get 2 teams, not 3, and the MAC will get 2 teams, not 4. This is a strange year, with the West Coast Conference (#10 Gonzaga and #29 St. Mary's) ranked as the 7th toughest conference, the MVC ranked #8, both ahead of C-USA (#9), and SLU's future league, the A-10 having fallen all the way to #14, with only 1 NCAA team, its automatic bid, per a pure following of the RPI. Finally, despite SIU's great year and recent past, I do not understand how SIU could have a higher ranking than Cincinnati (#16) and Louisville (#24), among many others. Does anyone really think that SIU would beat Cincinnati or Louisville in an NCAA game on a neutral floor?
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