For the next five days, Beyond the Arc will detail what some teams need. Hey, we’re in a giving mood.
Raise your hand if you predicted St. Louis’ 10-1 start. What’s that? You thought this would’ve happened last year before injuries and suspensions sent the Billikens to 12-19 season? Fair enough.
But that doesn’t mean everything going exactly to plan with Rick Majerus’ team. If he could ask Santa for a few things for Christmas (and send something back) here’s what it would be:
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Must have: Continued accuracy from beyond the arc. Or close.
The Billikens hit 44.1 percent of their 3-point attempts, fourth best among D-I teams and a remarkable jump from previous seasons under Majerus. (The best before now was 35.9 in ’07-08, his first season.) That’s by far the most important factor for a team that was offensively challenged – and at times inept – the last few seasons. A full season out of Kwamain Mitchell helps.
The defense has been smothering pretty much everyone this season, but that’s always been the one constant under Majerus. The offense? Not so much. And making shots from deep? That’s essential.
Stocking stuffer: Another appearance in the Top 25.
St. Louis had just earned a spot in the rankings when it dropped its lone game of the season, 75-68, at Loyola Marymount. Since they won’t get another shot at the Lions, expect them to move back into the rankings soon. If not after this week (Thursday’s game against Arkansas State should be a gimmie), then the first week of the new year.
And if that happens, the Billikens will have earned it. They play Dec. 31 at New Mexico, its final non-conference tune-up and a game where the Lobos will be favored.
Planning to re-gift: Dwayne Evans’ offensive production. The sophomore played 33 minutes in Saturday’s 65-35 romp over Alabama State, probably because Majerus was hoping he’d find his shooting stroke. Didn’t happen. He’s now 3 for 14 in his last two games and just 38 percent on the season, a sizable drop from his freshman year.
Offense isn’t Evans’ thing – he’s there for defense and leads the team in rebounding – but when a team’s four other starters all score at least 1.05 points a possession (Brian Conklin, Jordair Jett and Kyle Cassity are way above that), and two other guys on the bench also top that, it’s a notable deficiency.
Hey, every team needs a durable, defensive-minded player. Evans is that guy. But a few buckets would be nice.
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