Travis Ford says he still keeps voicemails and text messages from people around the game that sympathize with him for the loss of Javonte Perkins. Things like, “sorry about that you guys were set up for a great year” or “what a shame, you guys were going to be really good.”

Reminders of what the world thought of his team without their preseason first team player.

Success lives on a razors edge. The team that Travis Ford built and planned for all summer gone in a blink of an eye. Now instead of a young developing team with a proven superstar to support them…it’s just a young team who need to figure out how to win games on their own.

The injury that sidelined Javonte Perkins is emblematic of how the entire season ended up being, asking the question “what if?”

What If Javonte doesn’t tear his ACL? What if they’re able to hold onto leads in some of their games? What if Marten Linssen doesn’t miss time in their game against Auburn? What if they don’t go on another 3-week covid pause? What if they don’t play every third day from January to March? What If? What If? What If?

The answer is it doesn’t really matter. There are what ifs to every season. Rarely do they feel so monumental, but they are there all the same.

Ultimately the Billikens end their A10 season with a beating at the hands of the number 1 seed and regular season champion Davidson Wildcats, a team who had their number all year, in the Semi-Finals. 84-69. The flurry of shooting and passing, movement and strength was just too much for the Billikens. Travis Ford said in the post-game press conference that he could tell at the first TV timeout that his group just didn’t have the pace to maintain.

Playing three-games in three-days is extremely difficult, especially when on day three you match up with one of the most active, dynamic, and fluid teams in the conference if not the country. But to the Billikens credit…it wasn’t for a lack of heart.

On the one hand, Ford is right to feel proud of his accomplishments. Many didn’t give SLU a chance of making the semi-finals when the regular season opened in October. But the young team figured it out and ultimately won 20 games. Many players took the next step in their development and now go into next season as legitimate stars in the league.

On the other, frustration rings through as despite not having that star player, the Billikens never seemed to be able to live up to their potential in big moments all-season. One, or two different outcomes and perhaps this team is NCAA tournament bound without the win today over Davidson or a tournament championship.

We will never know.

What is clear is that the floor on success and potential has been raised at SLU. Even in off years, with bad circumstances and a lack of luck, Travis Ford produced a top four team in the conference who, likely, will see at least one more game this year (more on that in a minute).

We are a long way from the basement dwelling days of the end of the Jim Crews era. But still not quite at the heights that many of the faithful hoped for. However, when considering where Travis Ford started this program from, it feels like this program is back to – at the very least—the status quo relative to its complete history. Which is an accomplishment that isn’t a guarantee as fans in Rhode Island, UMass, St. Joseph’s, and many more in and around the Atlantic 10 can attest too.

While it isn’t a sure thing, it seems likely the season is not over though. Going into the semi-final matchup SLU was considered a “next four out” team from the NCAA tournament, which suggests they should be given a high seed in the NIT tournament.

Not exactly the fairy tale ending you were hoping for, but an opportunity to end the year on a more positive note, and to spend more time practicing and playing before the year ends and off-season restriction pauses the work your allowed to do. It could also get you another home game at Chaifetz Arena.


There’s plenty of reason to feel sour about the Billikens end to the season. Getting thrashed never feels good, but there’s also plenty of reason to feel optimistic and excited for what’s next.

They are talented enough to make a serious run in the NIT tournament, the last time SLU won a post-season game was 2014, the last time they won two games was 2010…both viable possibilities.

Gibson Jimerson became a legitimate scoring star having one of the best seasons in modern Billiken history. Yuri Collins proved he can be more than just the passing point guard while also being a record setting star. Francis Okoro took major steps to being a dominant center in the league, Jordan Nesbitt proved he can be an extremely impactful player and Fred Thatch is the complete package.

All these players return next year and will look to take that next step. With talented reinforcements on the way.

“It’s hard to think about what’s next” Travis Ford said in his final presser of the 2022 A-10 tournament, “After the three days we’ve had and not playing well today…we have to get back, regroup a little bit, get our legs underneath us and freshen up a little bit. And whatever’s next…we’ll rally the troops and be our best.”