SLU vs. Indiana State (Recap)


“Finding ways to win”. That’s what we said this team was going to need to do this year. There’s not a set formula for the “Billikids”. Every night could see different combinations that work, different players that step up, and, most of all, different ways of winning. The contest against Indiana proved all three to be necessary.

One of the questions posed pregame by me was who will replace McBroom when he has an off game. Right on cue, McBroom struggled from the field (1-8). A good explanation for the poor shooting is the right wrist that’s bothered him (x-rays negative after SIU), but Coach Crews shot that down in the post-game, saying he “wasn’t aware of the wrist affecting Austin”. With McBroom struggling, Marcus Bartley stepped up to earn his second spot.

“Marcus did a very good job for us offensively and defensively. He made a lot of nice decisions,” Jim Crews praised. And he has the stats to back it up. In 20 minutes of action, Bartley posted 10 points on 3-4 shooting, with 3 rebounds, and a pair of assists. Defensively, he stepped the defensive intensity that helped keep the Bills on the doorstep during an offensive drought of 9 minutes without a field goal.

Tough times bring out leadership, and that offensive drought showed leadership in the whole rotation. Although they didn’t score any field goals, they were able to go on a 17-8 run during the period. 17-8 run, without a field goal! Jim Crews admitted, “I’ve never seen anything like that.” With the shots not falling, the Bills attacked the middle, drew some fouls, and got to the free throw line. Very veteran move from the young team, and even more impressive to see them convert on 17 of the chances.

“Starting is for high school. We don’t worry about it as much [in college].”-Jim Crews

Another key laid out pregame was to limit turnovers, which proved important. A bad shooting night can turn into a blowout with a surplus of turnovers. But, Tuesday saw the Bills only hand it over 12 times to the Sycamores, significantly less than they surrendered against SIU and Harris-Stowe. Yet, they still didn’t win the turnover battle, only taking it from the Sycamores 8 times. Baby steps, though.

With Indiana State going small with their lineup, pulling out the bigs, rebounding went from the towers in the middle to “rebounding by committee”, according to Jim Crews. Across the board, the Bills crashed the boards with vigor. All 12 players nabbed at least 1 rebound, with “Cash” Yacoubou leading the charge with 7.

Finally, the most important way that the Bills were able to win this game came from bench production. Jim Crews has been adamant that “Starting is for high school. We don’t worry about it as much [in college].” Take Tanner Lancona and John Manning, for example. Both have started both games this year, yet only average 12.5 and 11.5 minutes respectively, significantly less than Mike Crawford (25.5 minutes per game).

Thus, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that SLU’s bench outscored the Sycamores 46-8. Most notably were freshmen Marcus Bartley and Milik Yarbrough, who both snuck into double digits in scoring. Also notable is the consistency of Mike Crawford, who’s slowly becoming the primary 6th man.  Lastly, Reggie Agbeko and Brett Jolly turned in solid performances in limited minutes off of the bench, grabbing a combined 10 boards between them.

With the bench playing this exceptionally, the season outlook is different. After the first contest versus SIU, the Bills looked shaky, and the season looked like it would be a long one. But, this performance shows potential. Not necessarily an NCAA tourney bid, but a .500 record and NIT bid isn’t out of the question.