SLU vs. Southern Illinois: Start time, TV info, Quick Thoughts


For the first time in Chaifetz history, the arena will be sold out for a Billikens home opener on Saturday. Give the credit for that to Coach Jim Crews: he hasn’t lost a home opener during his tenure at SLU. The Salukis of Southern Illinois travel to St. Louis with a 2-0 exhibition record, with big victories over the University of Saint Mary and Southwest Baptist. It’s been a rebuilding project for Coach Barry Hinson, now in his second season as head coach. When he took over the job in 2012, the Salukis were rock bottom with an 8-23 record. Last season, Hinson finished second in MVC Coach of the Year after bringing the Salukis to 14-19 with a 9-9 record in conference, the first time they were .500 in conference in the last 5 years. Here’s what to look for during the home opener Saturday night:

“We’re wired to do well. [But] sometimes they get mixed up on what makes them look good”-Coach Jim Crews

Youth vs. Youth

As we know, SLU’s entering this one very inexperienced, with Coach Crews saying, “We have 6 freshmen, and they’re all going to play.”  The same goes for the Salukis, who have only 4 returning players from last year, and a Overall, lots of sloppy, low IQ basketball plays can be expected, and should be tolerated to an extent. Like I said in the last article, 19-20 turnovers is absurd, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 14-15 is bearable early on.

Anthony Beane vs. Austin McBroom

Both point guards are headed towards breakout years in their respective conferences, leading to a great head-to-head battle between the two on Saturday. Beane was voted second team all-MVC last year after averaging nearly 15 points per game last year, while playing a team high 1126 minutes. As one of only two returning starters from a season ago, a lot of the shooting is on him, evidenced in his 18 points per game in SIU’s two exhibitions. Sounds familiar right? Austin McBroom is picking up a lot of the same opportunities left behind by starters from a year ago. Only difference is that Beane has a solid 5 inches on Austin. Should be an interesting battle, and a test of leadership for both players.

Ash Yacoubou

The hype continues to grow for the transfer from Villanova, and rightfully so. Although he hasn’t played a regular season game in over a year, Ash was very candid last week in saying he’s “not scared” of opening night. With two years of practice against elite opponents under his belt, Yacoubou’s going to turn a lot of heads this season, and may be the key to any potential postseason run. Plus, he has some “showtime” in him: “People are really going to enjoy watching him [Ash] play,” said Coach Jim Crews.

The growing pains will be apparent from the start, undoubtedly. But “they’re making long strides,” according to Crews. “There’s a big window for them to keep getting better.” At the end of it all, it’s not about discussing potential (which is a dangerous word to use) or speculating on lineup combinations, but whether or not all 13 men on the roster have bought into the system. More specifically, whether or not they can buy into the Billiken way of  basketball, which was instilled in the St. Louis community since the late, great Rick Majerus turned the program around.

Start time: 7:00 p.m. CST

Location: Chaifetz Arena, Saint Louis University

Where to Watch: Fox Sports Midwest