In front of a packed house, on Billiken Blizzard Day, Saint Louis University got their first win in five tries against their bitter rivals, the Dayton Flyers.
In what was a complete team effort, the win stands out as an emotional high point in addition to it being a key victory for the Billikens chances at the NCAA tournament. SLU now sits in clear position as second place in the Atlantic 10 and is only a game back in the loss column of leading Davidson.
Here are my 10 Takeaways from the Billikens win in the Arch Baron Cup.
One – Playing with Emotion
The pregame comments from SLU’s players showed that they knew exactly what this game meant and how they knew they needed to respond. Throughout the game, the Billikens showed passion and did so in both loud and quiet ways.
The quiet way was diving on the floor. The chasing down loose balls. The loud was a usually subdued Yuri Collins turning to the crowd and screaming “Lets Go!” after a made jumper. Or yelling in Flyers PG Malachi Smith’s face after pulling down an important rebound.
This team cares more than anyone. That’s a fun thing to watch and cheer for.
Two – Complete Team Effort
Everyone on the team made an impact. It’s very rare you look up and down the lineup and say no one had a bad game. I could name every guy, but we saw something different out of everyone.
If you get this kind of performance from everyone, regularly. This team will be hard to beat.
Three – Marten’s Back
It’s been a frustrating time for Marten Linssen this last couple of weeks. But it seems he’s finally back to his usual self. Doing so just in the nick of time as they needed him against a very good, big team.
Yuri said post-game that they are unstoppable when he and Marten are out there. The pair combined for 33 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 blocks…all on just 11 shots. Unstoppable.
Four – Defensive Adjustments
The Billikens adjusted to a more paint protection-oriented defense in this version of the Arch Baron Cup, in contrast to the last time they saw the Flyers in Dayton. Learning from that loss in that they are athletic enough to get to the perimeter while staying compact and not leaving defenders alone on an island is a great adjustment from game to game and bodes well moving forward.
They also limited UD’s ability to get out and run in transition, leading to fewer easy buckets. All in all, it was a great overhaul of ideology leading to a win.
Five – Rivalry Fuel
This game leads to a legitimate understanding of what this rivalry is. The players are passionate about it and play like it. It took a concerted effort from the SLU players apparently to stay in the moment and not lose control. According to Yuri Collins, on every opportunity, the players would come together in a huddle and make sure they were still on target. “Togetherness” was the key, according to Billiken leadership. Through the highs and the lows.
Credit them for finding that control and not allowing their emotions to take over.
Six – Packed Arena
To build on that. SLU’s home-court advantage is as impactful as anyone else’s in the country. The full arena was deafening and repeatedly impacted Dayton’s ability to communicate between players and from the bench to the players. On at least two occasions, Flyers guard Malachai Smith would try to relay a play to his team only to be shouted down as not hearing right from Anthony Grant on the bench. Dayton ultimately ran the right play, but confusion led to a shortened clocked and assisted the Billiken defense.
If the fans can continue to come out like they did this afternoon, defending home court will be a lot easier.
Seven – Impactful Without Scoring
Jordan Nesbitt’s only points in this game were the two coming from the dunk at the end. Yet he had his fingerprints all over the game. He was a defensive stopper, physically assertive, active on the boards. He brought that energy you need from him.
Despite not scoring, Jordan is time and time again making positive impacts. He deserves a lot of credit for playing without the counting stats to boost his confidence.
Eight – Playing with the Lead
SLU has dramatically improved its ability to execute while in control of the game. To play with energy while playing a slower-paced game. This was a serious problem early in the season (losses to UAB, Belmont, and Auburn all happened this way), now SLU is closing not only the weak teams…but stronger ones too.
Saint Louis is improving. In all things.
Nine – 50/50 Balls
The highlight of the game may just be the steal, dive, and pass for an open three that came with just under 9 to play.
Put a star by that one. Collins pokes ball away, Hargrove hits floor to wrestle it away from Dayton, Jimerson splashes 3 to put SLU up 11 with 8:53 to go. Linssen, who is playing his tail off, goes over to fire up the student.
— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) February 5, 2022
SLU weathered a four-point run from UD, and the steal effectively was the counter punch showed the Billikens won’t give up the lead.
All game, the Billikens dived and jumped on every possible loose ball and won more of those 50/50 balls because of it. It was the difference.
Ten – Playing Under Control
Yuri Collins managed to be more emotional than we’ve ever seen and completely under control all at the same time. It was a sight to see the usually reserved guard let out a roar after pulling down a tough rebound.
After making his statement to be A10 Player of the Year against George Mason, Yuri followed it with an arguably even better performance in the Arch Baron Cup.
SPECIAL NUMBER ELEVEN – Trap Game
SLU goes to La Salle next before back-to-back games with St. Bonaventure…then gets La Salle again. It would be easy to overlook that game against a conference cellar dweller. Especially coming off of back-to-back emotional wins and now going on the road. It’s imperative that SLU takes care of business and doesn’t see all the hard work slip away.
Carter Chapley has burst onto the scene becoming one of the most trusted voices in Billikens Athletics and beyond for Scoops with Danny Mac.
Starting at the University News, Carter joined Scoops in 2019 and has provided coverage primarily on Saint Louis University Athletics, including Basketball, Soccer, and Baseball. He has also written on such major events as the NCAA Tournament, Arch Madness, the NHL All-Star Game, the founding of STL City FC, and the NCAA reaction to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
You can find Carter more on Twitter at @ChapleyMedia where he will always be talking Billikens, Sports, and More!