Saint Louis

Jordan Gathers

Atlantic 10 Tournament: St. Bonaventure upsets Saint Louis with a three at the buzzer (VIDEO)


Charlon Kloof finished with 22 points and nine boards, but it was his sixth assist of the afternoon that was the biggest play of the season for St. Bonaventure.

On the final possession of a tie game, Kloof drew a double team and found teammate Jordan Gathers open at the top of the key. Gathers buried a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Bonnies picked up a win over No. 1 seed and Atlantic 10 regular season champion Saint Louis, 71-68.

It’s a great win for St. Bonaventure, who was spurred on a second half comeback by some hot-shooting from Matthew Wright, but the bigger story coming from this is the Billikens.

What in the world is going on with them?

RELATED:’s latest bracketology

Saint Louis lost three in a row at the end of the regular season before seemingly bouncing back with a win at UMass in their last game before heading up to Brooklyn for the conference tournament, but they collapsed in the second half against the Bonnies. Saint Louis was up by as much as 13 in the first half before taking a 38-28 lead into the break, but the defense that carried the Billikens throughout the season was no where to be found in the final 20 minutes.

St. Bonaventure scored 43 points after the break. They were 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, including a pair of huge triples in the final minute, which is a number that is all-the-more impressive when you consider the fact that Saint Louis led the nation in defensive three-point percentage this season at 28.9%.

The Billikens are not a good offensive team. According to KenPom, they’re 176th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. They have to be elite defensively if they are going to win games, and, quite frankly, they haven’t been in the last three weeks. In five of their last seven games, Saint Louis has allowed more than a point-per-possession defensively, which is unacceptable for a team that is fifth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. You want proof? Saint Louis lost four of those five games, and in the fifth they were taken to overtime by A-10 bottom-feeder George Mason.

Those are a lot of numbers I’m throwing at you, I know.

To put it in layman’s terms, Saint Louis won a lot of games this season because they are as good as anyone on the defensive end of the floor. They have not played to that level on that end of late, and that’s why they are losing games.

As of this morning, Saint Louis was a No. 6 seed in Dave Ommen’s latest bracket. They’ll probably drop a seed line after this loss. I still think that, when they’re playing their best, the Billikens can win a couple games in the tournament and make the Sweet 16.

But they haven’t been playing their best in weeks.

It’s time to be concerned if you’re a Saint Louis fan.

Guard Marcus Bartley becomes Saint Louis’ third 2014 commitment

Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - Semifinals - St. Louis v Butler
1 Comment

With Jordair Jett and Mike McCall Jr. entering their senior season the Saint Louis Billikens could use some additional depth on the perimeter. First head coach Jim Crews and his staff reeled in Memphis native Davell Roby, and on Thursday night it was reported by multiple outlets that Decatur, Ill. native Marcus Bartley has verbally committed to the Atlantic 10 school.

Bartley, who attends MacArthur High School and played for the Peoria Irish this spring/summer, joins Roby and 6-11 center Austin Gillman as players verbally committed to attend Saint Louis.

Bartley’s recruitment gained steam during the summer thanks to his play with the Irish, and program director and head coach Gavin Sullivan stated in a story written by Scott Richey of the Decatur Herald & Review back in July that Bartley’s skill set will change as he gains strength.

“Marcus is going to be one of those players that will change a lot in college when he gets stronger,” said Sullivan.

“You could always see his length and skill set. Being that tall and lanky and being able to handle the ball the way he does, a lot of teams can see him being a (point guard), a combo guard or even play him as a (shooting guard) in their system.”

In addition to Bartley and Roby the Billikens will also have Central Michigan transfer Austin McBroom and Villanova transfer Achraf Yacoubou on the perimeter in 2014. In his lone season at CMU, McBroom averaged 10.9 points and 2.7 assists per game, proving to be one of the best newcomers in the Mid-American Conference. As for Yacoubou, in two seasons at Villanova he averaged 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game but the transfer year and a new system could result in increased productivity.

With Jett and McCall on the way out Saint Louis needed additional depth on the perimeter, and with Bartley’s decision to commit the Billikens have taken care of that need.

Saint Louis pushes New Mexico State aside to advance

Dwayne Evans Saint Louis
Leave a comment

Saint Louis came into this 2013 NCAA tournament as a trendy underdog pick to make the Final Four after winning the Atlantic 10 championship this past weekend. The Billikens took their first step toward that goal Thursday with a 64-44 win over New Mexico State in the Round of 64 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Dwayne Evans, fresh off winning the Most Outstanding Player award in the A-10 tournament, led Saint Louis with 24 points and six rebounds. Evans was the centerpiece of a Saint Louis gameplan that didn’t change and likely will not change for the remainder of this tournament. The Billikens thrive on defense at one end of the floor and efficiency at the other.

Saint Louis turned the ball over just 10 times, credit going first and foremost to point guards Kwamain Mitchell and Jordair Jett. Those two combined for 12 assists and four total turnovers. Their ability to facilitate is why Evans and sharpshooter Cody Ellis are able to get involved. Ellis finished with 12 points.

Saint Louis now moves on to face the winner of Oklahoma State vs. Oregon, which tips off in San Jose at 4:40 p.m. ET.

Oklahoma State is favored, but regardless of who advances to meet Saint Louis, the focus will be on the backcourts. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart is a physical and productive freshman guard who is one of the biggest reasons why the Cowboys are where they are right now. Dominic Artis’ injury hurt Oregon during conference play when he was forced to sit on the bench.

Whoever advances will have their hands full against a veteran Saint Louis backcourt in the Round of 32.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Saint Louis wins A-10 tournament title, reflects on Rick Majerus

1 Comment

BROOKLYN, N.Y.– Saint Louis was poised, calm, and in control of the tempo for nearly 30 minutes of game time in Sunday’s Atlantic 10 championship at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Then Virginia Commonwealth’s signature “Havoc” defense hit like a storm, turning a 13-point Saint Louis lead at the 11:45 mark of the second half into a one-point game with 8:53 to play.

But after that flurry of turnovers, it was back to Saint Louis’ senior leaders Kwamain Mitchell and Cody Ellis to seal the A-10 championship with a 62-56 win and an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

Mitchell was the biggest key for Saint Louis on Sunday, finishing with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go along with three steals. Ellis came alive in the second half after going scoreless in the first, scoring nine points, including key three-pointers down the stretch in the second half. His shot with 2:18 to play pushed the lead to six points, 57-51.

Saint Louis has now won the Atlantic 10 regular season championship and tournament championship in a year that was full of obstacles, including the death of former coach Rick Majerus.

“Rick’s footprints, fingerprints, his lessons are embedded in those guys,” Saint Louis coach Jim Crews said. “Because they’ve taught me things and brought light to this or that and when they take ownership like that, you have a chance to be a pretty good team.

“It would be great to say, ‘Hey this is for Rick, this is for Rick, this is for Rick, but…i just don’t buy into that,” he continued. “Rick’s life and friendship and his coaching the relationships that he had and the people he touched are a lot bigger than winning a game or winning a championship or having a good year.”

Mitchell, part of the group of seniors who he says felt compelled to help the team through the struggle, spoke about Majerus’ impact and legacy after the win.

“The quick reaction is to weep and feel sorry,” said Mitchell. “Coach Majerus meant a big part of the program and individually, including me.

“We didn’t let stuff like that affect the way that coach would want us to play. I could just hear him up there yelling with joy and just being part of a great group of guys.”

Saint Louis now waits for word Sunday of where it will be placed in the 2013 NCAA tournament.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Saint Louis beats Butler for third time, looks like Final Four contender in the process

Saint Louis Butler

NEW YORK — After their 72-55 win over Charlotte on Friday, I explained why the Saint Louis Billikens have the look and feel of a team that can make the Final Four.

The Billikens’ 67-56 win over the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday in the Atlantic 10 semifinals only reinforced my beliefs.

Butler has wins this season over the likes of Indiana, Gonzaga and North Carolina. Now consider this: Saint Louis beat Butler not once, not twice, but three times.

Saint Louis has a deep, experience-laden roster. They have guys who excel in a multitude of different areas. They are poised and do not make mistakes. Their season has been driven by and motivated by extenuating circumstances out of their control.

Sure, they will struggle against elite athleticism and physical frontcourts, but that appears to be their only real weaknesses.

“I think St. Louis is one of the best teams in the country,” said Butler coach Brad Stevens prior to the contest. “I don’t care where they’re ranked or where they’ll be seeded. Somebody who hasn’t played against them next week, they’re going to say uh‑oh.”

Stevens offered even more praise for the top-seed following his team’s tough loss.

“I’ve said all year to the people who have listened, and some that don’t, how good they are. They are a legitimate contender to win the whole thing.”

That is high praise from a coach who went to back-to-back National Championship games within his first five seasons as a Division I head coach.

Saint Louis will be a difficult match-up for teams who have not faced them before. They don’t make mistakes, play extremely physical, and run simple yet effective sets designed to control the flow of the game.

“Sometimes, when you don’t know you’re doing, if you don’t make mistakes and don’t turn the ball over, the opponent won’t know what we’re doing either.” Saint Louis head coach Jim Crews quipped following his team’s 14th win in their past 15 games.

Dwayne Evans led the Billikens in scoring for the second consecutive game, finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals.

Butler’s Roosevelt Jones spent much of the game guarding Evans. “He’s probably the most physical player that I have ever played against in my life. I thought that he should have been Player of the Year in the conference.”

But Evans was not the Billikens’ only source of offense. Saint Louis got 13 points from Cody Ellis and nine from both Mike McCall Jr. and Jordair Jett.

Brad Stevens continued in his praise of the Billikens.”The thing I go back to, is Cody Ellis and Jordair Jett are two of their best players. They’re not in the starting lineup. Their starting lineup is really good. So they have depth. They have physicality. They have toughness”

The Billikens trailed by as many as six points in the first half, but took the lead heading into the break on a buzzer-beating lay-up from Rob Loe. The experienced Billikens never trailed in the final 20 minutes.

“We’ve got eight guys that are juniors or seniors, and they’ve invested a lot into the program and invested in each other”, said Crews.

It would be fitting for Saint Louis to make a Final Four run with both VCU and Butler in the Atlantic 10 for the first time. But unlike both VCU and Butler’s Final Four appearances, Saint Louis’ would not come as a surprise.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

VIDEO: No. 16 Saint Louis claims share of A-10 title with win over La Salle

Saint Louis
Leave a comment

In what has been an emotional season after the passing of former coach Rick Majerus, but Saint Louis capped its regular season Saturday with a 78-54 win over La Salle and claimed at least a share of the Atlantic 10 conference regular season title.  It is the first share of league title for Saint Louis since the 1970-71 season.

Virginia Commonwealth plays Temple tomorrow and, were the Rams to lose, Saint Louis would claim the outright A-10 title with a 13-3 conference record. Check out highlights below from the NBC Sports Network:

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_