Ever feel like you don’t belong?

I’m already over writing about the Billikens; there’s only so many times one can waste a Wednesday night having an existential crisis.  I don’t have the energy and you don’t read any of this anyway.

With that in mind, I may try to shift the focus of the blog to general basketball questions that intrigue me.  And although they won’t focus on the Billikens per se, most of these will stem from my desire to understand where the Billikens sit within the broader landscape of D1 basketball.  Other than obvious wins and losses, can we explore how bad the Billikens are through deeper statistics?

First Up:  Which teams are most out of place in their conference?

To answer this question, we will have to set some standards of measurements across both teams and conferences.  First, let’s try to understand what the average team in each conference would look like, keeping in mind an average team in the Big 12 is going to look quite a bit different than an average team in the MEAC.

Stealing some basic principles from KenPom, we’re going to assign each team a “Game Efficiency” rating to standardize the playing field.  Game Efficiency (GmEff) is calculated using Offensive Rating (pts for per 100 possessions) and Defensive Rating (pts against per 100 possessions), both staples of KenPom’s Efficiency Margin which ranks all 351 D1 teams. However, GmEff the also factors in the pace at which the team plays. It’s my opinion that for two teams that are totally equal, the upper hand should be given to the team that traditionally plays at a faster pace. The formula is simple:

((Ortg – Drtg)/100) * AvgPace = GmEff

This formula essentially gives us the point value that each team would either win(+) or lose (-) against an average D1 opponent (average GmEff = 0.00).

Averaging the teams within a conference, we get the below rankings of conferences by GmEff:

Rank Conference Ortg Drtg AvgPace Gm. Eff
1 B12 110.84 93.40 70.24 12.25
2 ACC 111.51 95.07 69.37 11.40
3 BE 110.48 96.02 70.55 10.20
4 B10 108.49 95.45 68.99 8.99
5 SEC 107.00 96.29 70.62 7.57
6 P12 107.59 96.97 71.14 7.56
7 Amer 104.22 98.63 68.35 3.82
8 A10 104.02 99.47 70.32 3.20
9 MWC 103.29 100.33 70.00 2.07
10 WCC 104.98 102.07 69.10 2.01
11 MVC 101.93 99.38 68.37 1.74
12 MAC 103.55 103.09 70.91 0.32
13 CAA 103.14 103.24 68.87 -0.07
14 SB 100.94 102.68 69.62 -1.21
15 MAAC 101.70 103.59 71.05 -1.34
16 Ivy 101.88 103.96 70.09 -1.46
17 CUSA 100.64 103.04 69.80 -1.67
18 Sum 101.34 103.86 70.46 -1.77
19 SC 101.41 104.82 69.35 -2.36
20 Horz 101.02 104.60 72.04 -2.58
21 OVC 101.48 106.38 69.92 -3.43
22 BW 99.12 104.10 69.77 -3.47
23 Pat 99.77 105.22 68.45 -3.73
24 ASun 101.73 106.99 71.25 -3.75
25 WAC 98.65 104.19 70.94 -3.93
26 AE 99.23 106.18 69.96 -4.86
27 BSky 99.60 107.20 69.82 -5.31
28 Slnd 98.96 107.03 71.84 -5.80
29 BSth 97.52 106.17 68.95 -5.96
30 NEC 96.60 107.58 69.15 -7.59
31 SWAC 93.84 109.06 69.27 -10.54
32 MEAC 93.78 109.62 70.54 -11.17

No surprise here (sorry for the plain formatting, couldn’t quite figure it out). I think most people would have the conferences ranked in a similar order. There is, however, two things that I find particularly interesting:

  1.  The number of conferences whose “average” team has a below average GmEff rating (20 out of 32). And
  2. 50% of those conferences actually have above average Offensive Ratings.

Next, let’s figure out who the worst teams are and how they stack up against their conference average to determine who is crowned the Most out of Place (MooP):

MooP Rank Conference Worst Team GmEff (Team) Difference
1 ACC Boston College -1.27 12.68
2 BE DePaul -0.63 10.83
3 A10 Saint Louis -6.76 9.96
4 P12 Washington St. -2.24 9.79
5 Amer Tulane -5.32 9.14
6 WCC San Diego -6.49 8.50
7 MAC Miami OH -8.17 8.49
8 WAC UT Rio Grande Valley -11.97 8.04
9 BSky Northern Arizona -13.23 7.93
10 MVC Bradley -5.85 7.59
11 BSth Longwood -12.69 6.73
12 SEC Missouri 0.85 6.71
13 SC VMI -8.98 6.62
14 Sum Western Illinois -8.13 6.36
15 SWAC Alabama A&M -16.54 5.99
16 B12 Texas 6.41 5.84
17 AE Hartford -10.68 5.83
18 CUSA UTSA -7.25 5.58
19 Ivy Dartmouth -7.02 5.56
20 SB Appalachian St. -6.62 5.41
21 MEAC Florida A&M -16.46 5.29
22 Pat American -8.95 5.22
23 Horz Detroit -7.67 5.09
24 CAA Drexel -5.09 5.02
25 ASun Kennesaw St. -8.75 5.00
26 Slnd Central Arkansas -10.47 4.67
27 BW Cal St. Fullerton -7.66 4.19
28 B10 Iowa 4.86 4.14
29 MAAC Niagara -5.37 4.03
30 NEC St. Francis NY -11.39 3.80
31 OVC Tennessee Tech -7.03 3.60
32 MWC UNLV -1.07 3.14

Ahhhhh, sweet sweet proof.  As expected, SLU (#3) is one of the most out of place teams in basketball, having a GmEff Rating 9.96 points off from the average A10 team.  In fact, they’re 4.5 points off from the second worst team in the A10 (Duquesne). A truly embarrassing discovery.

You’ll notice that the other teams that round out the top four:  Boston College (#1), DePaul (#2), and Washington State (#4), aren’t exactly independently terrible.  In fact, DePaul is a pretty average team, the problem is that they’re in an a conference dominated by good basketball programs and, as an effect, are very much out of place.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is also not a measure of the conference competitiveness.  Just because the UNLV is closest to it’s conference average among all other does not mean that there is a normal bell curve for this data.

In case you were wondering where SLU ranks among all 351 D1 teams, this stat puts them at #302, with a 27 rank gap between the next team in a “top 8” conference (Tulane, Amer, #275).

Good grief. Go Bills.

-billikev

 

 

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A bunch of losers.

Let me make something clear.  Just because no one expected the Billikens to be any good does not make this season any less of a disappointment.

The Billikens don’t have a lot of talent, maybe any talent.  The Billikens don’t have any depth.  They look inept on offense and pathetic on defense. These are all things we could have predicted and many actually did.  But I was promised a new attitude, a new culture, more excitement.

One thing is for certain: the Billikens are losers. They have loser players, with loser attitudes, and countless examples to back it up.  The losing culture established by Jim Crews is persistent and annoyingly prevalent.

For those who look for hope in the three transfers sitting at the end of the bench and the top recruits who have pledged their talents, just know that untested quality talent isn’t going to cut it.

Over the last ten years, ZERO teams have had three consecutive seasons with winning percentages under .35 followed by at least two consecutive seasons of moderate success (winning pct >.6).  I’m not saying it won’t happen, I’m just saying it hasn’t happened. Last night, when Kansas State was up by 400 points with under 8 minutes to go, I saw two of their JV guards dive for a lose ball while Jalen Johnson and Davell Roby looked at each other trying to assess blame. THAT is what needs to change; talent is not a catalyst.

Davell Roby simultaneously preaches about leadership to the media while showing none on the court.  A transfer from Harris Stowe unlikely to score a single point this year is the only one who appears to have any pride playing for a D1 basketball program. Our university president wears white new balances with cuffed khakis. The tuba song is played in the first five minutes and not the last five minutes. THAT is what needs to change.

This might be a losing season, but this isn’t a lost season.  Lost seasons are for programs of obscurity and teams defined by their own pitifulness, which can be more damning than a blowout loss to a superior opponent.

I’ll still watch, obviously. But I won’t be looking to see which players might be able to play a role next year.  I won’t be trying to determine which Jim Crews recruit will transfer to a more appropriate league.  I’ll be watching for the tubas.

Go bills.

-billikev

 

Billikens score 124; will be terrible.

By now, I’ve had some time to digest the Billikens’ first game of the season, in which SLU scored 72 points in the second half to defeat Division III opponent Greenville College 124-85.  Don’t let that score confuse you, we will be terrible.

If you knew anything about Greenville College, it’s that they ranked highest in College Basketball in both points scored (112/game) and points given up (110/game) across all divisions.  They don’t play anyone over 6’5 and they press the ball handlers relentlessly; hoping to force a turnover before the ball gets played inside for a remarkably uncontested lay-in. It’s chaos, obviously ineffective, and frustratingly repetitive.

Although this structure of play is unlikely to be seen again this year, the Billikens struggled mightily against a Division III press. By the time the final whistle blew, SLU had accumulated a whopping 27 turnovers on what ended to be 25% of their possessions. SLU already ranked in the bottom 50 of the NCAA in turnover percentage. Let’s hope that a faster paced game does not equate to more ball handling sloppiness.  When the Billikens beat the press and got on the fast break (which was often), points came easy.  Like, Mike Crawford and Gillman both had dunks, easy.  109 of SLU’s 124 points came from a mixture of layups, dunks, or free throws. SLU only made 6 actual jump shots the entire game.  They shot 3-17 from three, with Crawford himself going 0-6 and Roby tossing an airball.

Now, I don’t think SLU will actually go 0-32.  I have them pegged anywhere from 11 to 14 wins and going 3-15 in conference play.  But make no mistake, this year will be tough. Ford will hold his players to a standard that most of them can’t athletically meet, a refreshing strategy but hardly realistic. Ford is establishing a program, and the current roster will be an example of play, not a model for success.

So we have to review this season through a different lens. Is SLU bad because of the game plan? Or because of the talent? Both the responsibility of the coach, but only one that we can realistically assess him on this year.  Now, before we read too much into the first exhibition game of the year, let’s amplify it with some hot takes:

Reggie will lose his starting job to literally anyone

No one enjoys Reggie fumbling around a basketball court more than I do; it’s provided comedic relief over the past two terrible seasons and I thank him for that.  But it’s clear to me that Ford’s focus this season will be individual development and Reggie has reached his peak. When Reggie plays, that means that a combo of Neufeld, Gillman, Welmer, and probably Jalen Johnson are sitting on the bench. And Reggie’s court presence steals some much needed in-game exposure for some of our younger talent. Look, if SLU is competitive, Reggie will play.  He takes high percentage shots and his hustle on the boards add value that bench players can’t duplicate.  But SLU probably won’t be competitive, so it’s not worth benching small potential over fully developed shit. Then again, the term “potential” associated with Neufeld and Gillman makes me giggle.

Aaron Hines will be the primary point guard

There was absolutely zero indication of what the Coach Ford offense would look like when the Billikens took down Greenville. Thinking back, I can’t even think of a time when the Billikens had to set something up on offense?  It was mostly all chaos followed by easy buckets.  That being said, I think Aaron Hines will be leveraged as the primary point guard because of two reasons:

  1. He’s one of the most athletic guys on the team
  2. He can’t play any other position

Don’t get me wrong, both Jermaine Bishop and Davell Roby are plenty able, but they can also play the 2 and 3 position when required. With the inability of our bigs to play fast (jury is still out on Welmer), I think that SLU will be playing with a smaller line-up this year and running like hell. Look for a line-up consisting of Bishop, Roby, & Moore rotating among the 2 and 3 spots, with Bishop owning point when Hines is on the bench.*

*I know nothing about basketball.

Jalen Johnson will shoot so so so much

Jalen Johnson is the only product that Travis Ford can trot out on the court as his own. Signing on as a late recruit last Spring, Jalen Johnson is a guy that can play just about any position on the court.  Seeing as SLU has been terrible at offense, I expect Johnson to shoot a TON this year. And while our good pal, Chris, has already tagged him as his main squeeze because of his ability to walk and be a lefty, I will hold out judgment until probably the first real game of the year. It’s not my style to over-commit on my opinions.

Even more so, Jalen Johnson will be needed a lot this year.  Mike Crawford is fragile and honestly, not a particularly great three-point shooter when he is healthy.  Did you know that Milik Yarbrough, the defected man baby, had a higher 3pt percentage last year than our designated 3pt shooter? What if I said that two of the three categories in which Crawford ranked in the top 2,000 NCAA D1 basketball players were Turnover Pct and Fouls Committed per 40 minutes. His value add (free throws, the other ranked category) is not worth keeping him on the court logging significant minutes.  I have no doubt that Johnson will be given the freedom to become the team’s top scorer, but that feat alone won’t impress the dejected Billiken fanbase.  Our other freshman, Zeke Moore also deserves a shoutout for going 10-10 from free throw, hitting a rare SLU 3 pointer, and throwing down the most athletic home-team dunk in Chaifetz memory.

 

It will be a long year, but remember what recruits are coming in.  All is not lost.  Only 364 more days until next year’s basketball season, gotta toughen up.

zdiav6

Go Bills.

-Billikev

 

 

And he will come again, in glory.

I’ve kind of forgotten how to do this. On top of that, there’s been so much that has happened since our last post that I don’t even know where to begin.

We hired Travis Ford. FOUR sophomores left the program. We added three transfers, an incoming freshman, and one of the best recruits in the region in Jordan Goodwin. There are zero coaches left from the Jim Crews era. And little did I know, the Billiken is actually an amphibious demon here to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

I think for the most part, we’re just going to let those stories pass.  Any commentary we we have is mostly going to be worthlessly dated. Travis Ford was #3 on our “big board” so you can assume we like the hire.  Everything he’s done since he’s taken over as head coach has tickled me.  Those transfers can’t play for another year but I’ve heard they’re making our starters look like Brett Jolly. Wait.

Brett Jolly. Holy shit.

tumblr_maogyciqhd1r5pjkqo1_500

Travis Ford is the best thing to happen to this University since Pestello is forced to recall BINGA BINGA the Billiken in two weeks.

On top of getting rid of Jolly (ICYWW, Jolly moved to Arkansas-Fort Smith, D2), Travis Ford performed effing INCEPTION on one of the top 100 recruits in order to get him to commit to SLU:

 

In case you don’t have any interest in listening to the clip, Jordan Goodwin tells Randy Karraker that the ghost of a Billiken chased him in his dream.  He found himself at Chaifetz arena and knew that where he needed to be – I’m not making that up. That shit is lit.

Ghosty Billiken infiltrating dreams is NEXT LEVEL recruiting strategy.  Pitino can keep his strippers, we have GHOSTY BILLILKEN:

GhostyBill.png

(Side note, I think it’s safe to say: If the Baby Koopa Billiken visited Goodwin, it’s likely that cat would have taken his talents elsewhere.)

One thing that particularly pissed me off about the interview: When asked what Ford did that was “special” or different from other coaches in the recruiting process, Goodwin answered (paraphrasing here): Nothing. But he was at every single one of my games.

Now, why does that piss me off?  You might remember that SAME explanation given by Jayson Tatum for his decision to commit to Duke last year (I KNOW THERE WERE OTHER REASONS, #1 BEING ITS DUKE, STFU).  Arby’s Representative, Jim Crews, decided to coerce Tatum by inviting him to a Billiken Roast over Winter Break, when the student section was empty and you could hear, word for word, the obscenities coming from 208. What a dream environment.

Travis Ford is an absolute workaholic. Unfortunately, we may have another year before we get to see some of the fruits of his labor.  My only request is that he spends about as much time at Webster Groves as he does trying to convince Agbeko that travelling is, in fact, still in the rule book.

Go Bills.

-Billikev

 

Housekeeping Items

Welcome to the new site, we’ve gotten rid of all the noise that existed previously (ie. recent scores, STLToday news feed) and put the focus on our unusually below-average content.  It’s likely you never clicked that crap anyway.

Last year it was easy to get burnt out writing about how garbage our team was and it’s possible that it won’t be any different this year.  But, I can tell you that I’m heading into this season that I’m as amped as I’ve been in a couple of years. If nothing else, I think I have realistic expectations.

Speaking of, I think I’m going to try and do some prediction posts this year as well.  We’re getting away from the Weekly Rant format so we don’t have wait for each other to post content. Don’t worry, they’ll be plenty of passive aggressive bickering between our posts.