2007-2008 Saint Louis Billikens Basketball Preview
Saint Louis Billikens - Atlantic 10
2006-07: 20-13, 8-8, 7th
2006-07 postseason: none
Of course the big news at Saint Louis is the coaching change. Gone is Coach Brad Soderberg and in comes coaching and ESPN legend Rick Majerus. That already has the city and the conference buzzing, but the improvement of the team goes well beyond Coach Majerus. Unlike last year, the Billikens actually have some depth to work with and if a few frontcourt questions can be answered, Saint Louis will be a contender in the A-10.
Out of necessity, the Billikens started four guards and one big man during the 2006-2007 season. The one big man, Ian Vouyoukas, is gone. The 6-10 Greece native averaged 12.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during his senior campaign and while the team will not have the quality to replace his production, they do have the quantity to more effectively fill the post. However, Obi Ikeafor and Justin Johnson will not be around to provide the frontcourt depth. Ikeafor transferred after playing in just five games last year and Johnson has run out of eligibility after seeing quality minutes off the bench during his senior season. Seldom used walk-ons Wendell Bryant and Jeff Coffey will also not be suiting up for the blue and white this year.
Coach Majerus will need the newcomers to provide some depth and it is power forward Barry Eberhardt who will be the most important this year. The 6-7 junior college transfer is a solid scoring threat in the post and can hit the mid-range jumper and even step out beyond the arc. After the coaching staff adds a little more toughness to his game, Eberhardt will be everything the team needs out of a power forward. There is room for the perimeter group to make an impact as freshmen. Wing Marcus Relphorde has good size at 6-7 and his versatility will be an asset sooner than later. Combo guard Paul Eckerle is a quality shooter and Anthony Mitchell will add even more versatility to the backcourt.
Who to Watch:
Tommie Liddell, Kevin Lisch, Luke Meyer and Dwayne Polk all started at least 31 games last year. Liddell and Lisch are the superstars and the lone returning long range threats. Liddell is also an extremely effective rebounder out of the backcourt. While both can run the point, it is likely Lisch will be the guy to run the show for now. Yet, it was Polk who started most of the games last year at the point. While he did do a decent job keeping the turnovers to a minimum, he is not a great scorer and if the team wants the best five players on the floor, Polk will probably not be among them. Meyer played out of position at the four last year and should be moving to his more natural three position. He is not a great shooter, but will get to the basket effectively and he will not have to worry about getting beat on the glass as an undersized 6-5 power forward anymore.
Final St. Louis Projection:
The depth up front is still not great and Meyer will still see some minutes at the four. Seven-footer Bryce Husak started two games and averaged 2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds last year. The senior has run out of time to make an impact, but he will get every opportunity to start. So will Adam Knollmeyer, who only averaged 4.0 minutes per game in 21 contests as a freshman. The 6-9, 235 pound Linn, Missouri product is the versatile power forward that the Billikens prefer and will do damage on both sides of the floor, both inside and out. Ideally, Husak, Knollmeyer and Eberhardt will handle the bulk of the minutes at the four and five, but thus far none of them have proven they can handle the minutes. With a little luck from the Billiken, the frontcourt will at least be serviceable and that will open up the perimeter to win games for Coach Majerus in his first year at Saint Louis.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Kevin Lisch, Sophomore, Guard, 14.9 points per game
Tommie Liddell, Junior, Guard, 15.4 points per game
Luke Meyer, Senior, Guard, 9.5 points per game
Barry Eberhardt, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Bryce Husak, Senior, Center, 2.1 points per game
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