Game Preview: St. Louis University

Billiken

URI goes on the road to take on SLU on Saturday. SLU is coming off of a road loss to Temple which snapped their 9-game winning streak (all home games for SLU).

When playing at home, SLU scores 67 points while only giving up 55. Conversely, on the road, URI scores 61 points per game and gives up 72.

SLU only take about 49 shots per game. They average 6 steals per game and they average 12 turnovers per game. Looking at URI, they take 55 shots per game, average 6 steals per game, and also average 12 turnovers per game. These numbers are all very, very close (read: identical except for the shots). We can expect the two teams to have right around the same number of possessions.

Both teams really like to deliberately control the flow of the game and do not really score too many fast break or transition baskets. Both teams like to bring the ball up the court and set up their offenses and run their designed plays.

SLU, like a lot of the teams URI has faced already, has some real good size on the roster. SLU has 4 players listed as 6’8″ or taller. All four of those players are listed at 220 lbs. or heavier. Actually, 3 of the 4 are 240 lbs. or heavier. URI will struggle again to contain the size of SLU when trying to block out for rebounds.

While I think they will struggle, I do not think URI will get absolutely annihilated on the boards like in previous games where they were outrebounded by 20+. As a matter of fact, SLU averages 1 less rebound per game than URI does.

A few strategies to counter the bigs of SLU:
-Cory Remekun (#32): shoots 64% from the field but only 50% (16 of 32) from the FT line. This guy is a lot like Maia from Brown. When this guy has the ball, he should not get an easy lay-up. URI should foul him hard enough that the shot can’t go in (for a 3 point play). Make this guy earn every point. Hack-a-Shaq at its best.

-Cody Ellis (#24): shoots only 34% from the field but lights out from the FT line (91% – 51 of 56). Complete opposite than Remekun. Do NOT foul this guy. He will go up expecting to get hit. Just play solid defense and stay in his face. He likes to shoot three’s (28 of 79 from 3 – 35%) but is not very good and he is 6’8″-245 so he is not quick enough to really be a slasher and should not be able to get past the URI defender going to the hoop.

-Rob Loe (#51): a big man who only has 30 FT’s attempted on the season which is only 1.9 per game for him. This tells me he is a jump-shooting big man who is 6’11”. He also has taken 45 3’s this year (2.8 per game). I remember him from last year. He banged down a few 3’s because URI left him wide open. He keeps the defense honest but URI does not need to worry about him driving on the defense and going to the basket. Real strange for someone 6’11” 245.

-John Manning (#54): not going to analyze. He plays 7 minutes per game and averages 2.7 points, 0.7 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game.

SLU’s guards and small forwards are dynamic players though. They will require a lot of work for URI to defend and contain. They take a lot of the shots, score most of the points, and have some of the highest shooting percentages on the team.

A few strategies to counter the PG/SG/SF’s of SLU:

-Mike McCall (#11): has taken the most shots and as a result, scores the most points on the team. He is SLU’s premiere 3point shooter. He has taken 61 3’s (3.8 per game). Cody Ellis (see above) has actually taken 79 but is not nearly as much of a threat at 35%. McCall actually shoots 48% from 3. He needs to be guarded tightly up around the perimeter as that is where he likes to camp out.

-Dwayne Evans (#21): a SF at 6’5″ 230, is the second highest scorer on the team. He is also efficient shooting 47% from the field. He is also good from the FT line (55 of 73 – 75%) and he gets there often. His weakness is shooting 3’s. He shoots 25% (3 of 12) from 3. Like Doc Rivers used to do with Lebron (earlier in his career), if this guy is out around the perimeter, give him space. Give him an open 3. His game is to drive to the basket. URI needs to make sure they don’t play defense up on the perimeter and risk him getting a step on them going to the hoop. URI needs to keep him in front of them.

-Jordair Jett (#5): this guy just won’t graduate. Seems like he has been playing for 10 years (like Juan Fernandez from Temple). Jordair is the back-up PG and is primarily a facilitator of the offense and not really a focus in it. He backs up Mike McCall. This guy is a little (but sturdy) guy, 6’1″ 215, who doesn’t like to take 3’s (only 14 on the season – less than 1 per game). Most of his shots are drives to the basket as he has taken 53 FT’s. He is actually not very good from the line. He shoots 53% from the charity stripe. When he does drive (usually on the rare fast break caused by a turnover), a URI defender should make sure they chase him down and foul him before the ball leaves his hands. Again, not a flagrant-type foul; just a good, hard, basketball foul.

-Kwamain Mitchell (#3): he is the same type of player as Jett but the approach should be reversed. He is a another back-up guard who also has 3+ assists per game (Mitchell, Jett, and McCall all average just over 3 assists per game). While Jett has a high FG% but a low FT%, Mitchell has a low FG% and a high FT%. Mitchell shoots 70% from the FT line but only 29% from the field. As long as URI keeps him from finding open lanes to the hoop, they should be happy to have him settle for the pull-up jumper and avoiding the foul for those rare occasions when Mitchell shoots.

-Jake Barnett (#30): a 6’5″ 195 SF. Shoots from all over the court…not well, but he does not favor a certain distance. Approximately 41% of his shots are from 3 point land; the rest are from varying distances. But that does not really matter. He shoots 31% from the field and 31% from 3. It should be noted that he has hit 13 of 14 FT’s (93%). Same as Mitchell, if URI can avoid fouling him and force him to settle for jump shots, they will successfully contain him.

If URI is to go into St. Louis and pull off the win, URI should consider the defensive approaches from above to shut down their key players. Maybe not shut down everyone I discussed, but definitely McCall, Evans, and Ellis. On offense, URI will need to have someone else join Munford as a viable option. URI’s issues have been the inconsistency on offense from Malone and Malesevic.

Personally, I do not think defense will be a problem for URI as SLU’s most dynamic players are 6’8″ and under (Ellis is 6’8″, McCall is 6’0″, and Evans is 6’5″). I just hope URI can count on either Malone or Malesevic to have a good game offensively along side Munford.

SLU wins 66-57.

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