By now we’ve had a full day to digest the 20 pt beat down that took place at the Barclay’s Center last Saturday. Honestly, it could have been worse. The Billikens hung with Louisville for a good portion of the game due to a career performance by Junior guard, Mike Crawford. Saint Louis played a bigger, more athletic, more mature team, and did not embarrass themselves until the last 6 minutes or so. I can live with this.
The scary takeaway from this game is Ash Yacoubou’s lackluster play. Previously the team’s leading scorer and arguably their most valuable player, Ash allowed himself to be completely taken out of the game. He was a non-factor. After averaging 12.5 field goal attempts in the team’s opening 4 games, Ash registered just 2 Saturday evening. The Cardinals clearly tailored their defensive game plan around stopping Yacoubou, so it is understandable that his numbers would take a hit.
The concerning thing to note here is that this no-show performance against stiff competition continues a trend that began in A-10 play last year. Ash had a similar start to his season in 2014, posting big numbers against lesser opponents. However, when A-10 play began his production quickly dropped. In his brief career at Saint Louis, Ash has shown a propensity for lackluster performances in SLU’s biggest games. (2pts against Wichita St., 2pts against VCU, 0pts against Rhode Island…etc.) If the Bills have any hope of contending in the A-10 this year, they’ll need their best player, and only Senior to channel his inner Jordair Jett, and put this team on his back when it matters most. Opposing teams are going to continue to game plan around limiting Ash’s production. He’ll need to fight through those schemes or at least find other ways of impacting the game, rather than allowing himself to become a non-factor. Here’s to hoping Ash uses Saturday as motivation for the rest of the year. The Bills will certainly need him going forward.