By Carter Chapley
St. Louis, MO
Going on the road and winning a game in enemy territory is not easy. It’s even more challenging to go into a said territory, for the first time in a season and for many the first time ever, fall into a 9 point hole in the first 6 minutes, not make a field goal until 7 minutes into the game, all against a Power 5 conference school…and still, come back and win a convincing fashion.
The Bills made a statement to its fans and anyone else watching yesterday. Getting a significant win is excellent, topping the Boston College Eagles 64-54 in Boston, but how they won was far more impressive. It would have been easy to break down and let a horrible start let the game get away from them entirely. Still, instead they persevered and ground the Eagles and showed the kind of winning basketball that the same team showed last season when winning 4 games in 4 days in Brooklyn.
I’ll be the first to admit I believed, there was cause for concern after the High Point game this time last week, but it is clear the team has turned a corner and have made two impressive performances since. The offense has some issues to be dealt with. Still, the defense has shown against two significant opponents, that it has the attributes necessary to push this team over the top.
SHOT CHART (by Proxy)
My typical source for shot charts is not available due to the nature of the game (an away game), but that shouldn’t be a problem moving forward. Though I don’t want to deprive anyone of a vital stat, I felt relevant.
The Billikens scored a quarter of their points because of their commitment to dominating on the glass.
What has been most impressive of the Billikens in their last two games is their ability to play their own game and force other teams to play to them. Not the other way around. The Billikens forced the Bruins and the Eagles to play a gritty, paint driven, rebound oriented game. A game style that concretely favors their own abilities. Despite the failure to find a successful plan for Seton Hall, Travis Ford and his staff have done an excellent job preparing the group for success. Installing a style of play that works.
Jordan Goodwin- 5 Stars
I said Jordan had a quietly excellent night Saturday when he supplemented Hasahn French’s career night over Belmont.
There was absolutely nothing quiet about Jordan yesterday afternoon.
Jordan is a star for this Billiken team and is the emotional compass this team follows. Him setting the tone for games is what has forced, or allowed, the freshmen group to buy into the defensive mindset. Jordan is the first to dive for a loose ball, and to take a charge. Something he did all afternoon in Boston. Jordan’s intensity and defense are so impactful that when he adds offense to that mix, the Billikens are downright dangerous. The Bills went on a 21-0 run when Goodwin got cooking on offense.
Hasahn French- 3.5 Stars
I’ve said it before, but to get full marks you have to play. Hasahn sat for 16 minutes in the first due to foul trouble. He has been far better about his discipline and staying in games, even noting how that was a point of focus for him out there. Unfortunately, that didn’t work yesterday.
That’s the bad part.
The good news is…
Hasahn was still able to be extremely efficient in his limited minutes. Getting his second double-double in as many games. Hasahn did all he had to, to make sure his team came out on top. Having the highest offensive rating on the team at 114, Has was able to pick his spots, knowing that Jordan Goodwin was there to carry the load.
If Hasahn had played more in the first, this would be a 4.5-star night. Even granted how impressive it was, the Bills were able to play without him for extended periods.
The tandem of Goodwin and French have lived up to their pairing as the featured members of this team. If the Billikens want to continue to win significant games, they will have to continue to lean on the pair.
Gibson Jimerson and Javonte Perkins – 4 Stars
The pair of new Billikens continue to impress as two-way players. Gibson Jimerson nailed some clutch 3’s early in the game and continues to be one of the most reliable defenders on the team. Whereas Javonte got the most playing time, he’s had in a Billiken uniform, providing some critical bench scoring and 9 rebounds.
Javonte is beginning to pass the Travis Ford litmus test of ‘If you play defense, you’ll play often.’ His offensive capabilities are clear from his time in JUCO, but his defense has been suspect to this point. Part of that is adapting to new systems.
For the first time, Javonte seemed to always know where he was supposed to be. He used his length and quickness to be a disrupter. He ultimately got more opportunities due to Hasahn’s foul trouble. Still, he performed excellently as a substitute and earned more opportunities in the future.
I group Jimerson and Perkins because right now, they are playing similar roles. Bench scoring while providing plus defensive substitutions. Gibson is already playing “starting minutes,” playing 24.1 a game, fourth-highest on the team. If Javonte is really starting to turn a corner, as the last two games have indicated, I think it’s only a matter of time before Javonte joins him.
Yuri Collins- 3 Stars
On a night where seemingly, nothing worked on offense for the freshman point guard, Yuri proved why he is such a valuable recruit. Yuri played 29 minutes of tight defense and made countless hustle plays to give his team scoring opportunities. He was only credited with the 1 steal, but on multiple occasions, it was Yuri’s pressure that forced many of Boston Colleges 18 turnovers.
Yuri is a pivotal player in this team’s success. But it speaks a lot to Collins value as a player when he can have an unproductive night on one end, and still be noticeable on the other.
So. Overall the Billikens earn an A- from me. A strong road performance, with struggles in the opening and closing moments. But it was undoubtedly, an impressive Billiken win.