SLU Going Away from 12-Man Rotation


Apologies for dropping the ball over the week of Thanksgiving. But as the Bills return to Chaifetz on Tuesday night, so does our coverage. Last week had its ups and downs for SLU. 2 wins against North Carolina A&T and Bradley were matched by 2 losses to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Mississippi State, all during the “Corpus Christi Coastal Classic”. What “Coast” they’re referring to baffles me. At the end of the week, Coach Crews admitted that it was “a hard week playing Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. That’s a lot of wear and tear.”

The “rebuilding” process, a term I’m reluctant to use so early in the season because of its implications, took a big leap forward. Towards the end of the week, the creases were ironed out, especially in terms of lineups and minutes. Coach Crews consistently refutes the importance of starting, saying it’s “a high school thing”. Instead, the minutes more accurately portray the player’s perceived importance.

In that case, the 12-13 player rotation fails to allow in-game growth. We saw that in the game against Bradley, where Brett Jolly proved himself the most viable option at center. Playing a season-high 32 minutes helped the big man to put in 10 points on 4/6 shooting. For a team that’s struggled finding an inside presence, despite having a surplus of large human beings on their roster, this is encouraging. Jolly’s all in favor of increasing minutes, saying “It definitely helped me get into a flow and get a better feel for the game.”

With the increase of minutes for some, comes the decrease for others. Against Bradley, Tanner Lancona, John Manning, and Davell Roby didn’t see any court time. Despite all starting more than half of SLU’s games, the numbers are disappointing. All three average under 2.5 points while shooting under 33% from the field. For the big guys (Manning and Lancona), they simply can’t rebound, averaging under 2 rebounds per game. Roby averages more rebounds than them, which isn’t acceptable. Seems like Crews inserted Lancona and Manning into the lineup at the beginning of the year just to add some experience. But both of them are non-contributors, and taking them out of the lineup isn’t a bad move. As for Roby, he’s talented and has a better chance to re-insert himself.

Looking forward, more minutes funneling towards Jolly, Marcus Bartley, and Milik Yarbrough, along with Austin McBuckets, Cash Yacoubou, and Mike Crawford (sorry, no creative nickname) create the most opportunities. Tuesday night’s game against Division-II Rockhurst offers a great opportunity to fill out the remaining 3-4 spots in the rotation. And not to overlook the Hawks (coming off of a big win against Haskell Indians Nation University on Saturday), but the Bills are traveling to #8 Wichita State on Saturday in their toughest matchup of the year. The Shockers are looking past the Bills, which might be a chance for them to steal a win.