Open
Close

Billikens Return to 101 ESPN Looking to Uphold the Hype With Size and Defense

The fact your Saint Louis University Billikens are preseason Atlantic-10 favorites is both an exciting prospect and a lofty ceiling for a team picked to finish last just two years ago.

But that was Travis Ford’s first campaign at the Billikens’ helm, and they did improve on that 2016-17 season’s 12-21 mark, going 17-16 last year and apparently showing A-10 coaches and media enough to pencil them in as this season’s A-10 team to beat. Some of this positive energy no doubt comes from top scorers Javon Bess (6-6, 220 lb Sr. ) and Jordan Goodwin (6-3, 210 Soph.) returning, along with top-100 freshman and Webster Groves product Carte’Are Gordon’s arrival (6-8, 257).

All three players fit a particular mold Ford’s put into his SLU recruiting practice: Big, physical athletes capable of occasionally breaking a backboard.

Bess, who transferred from Michigan State after his sophomore season, was picked for the A-10’s All-Defensive team last year on 244 rebounds and 41 steals. The senior’s aggressiveness down low helped notch him a conference-leading 160 made free throws and a team-high 13.3 points-per-game.

6-7, 235-pound Hasahn French also fits Ford’s Billiken blueprint, and the sophomore should build on a rookie season which saw 59 blocks to go with 9.3 ppg and 7.1 rebounds-per-game.

The Bills’ non-conference schedule isn’t anything to sniff at, with a Dec. 22 outing against No. 17 Florida State in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Fla.

FSU returns most of last season’s Elite Eight squad, including leading scorers Phil Cofer, Terance Mann and Braian Angola-Rodas, all of whom are likely hungry for higher ACC success. Butler (Dec. 1 at Chaifetz) will be another early Billikens test, as the Bulldogs received six AP preseason top-25 votes and will aim to do as much damage as possible before opening their Big East schedule.

Other notable non-conference opponents include Seton Hall and Houston, both of which have Big Dance aspirations and will play SLU knowing it’s a date the selection committee could look back on in early March.

All this said, Ford has always been a defensive-minded coach with a rebounding philosophy, and he’s got more of his type of players suiting up as Billikens this go’round. Whether we see a Chaifetz Arena banner-raising remains to be seen, but all signs point to another year of improvement, and you can hear EVERY game on 101 ESPN, still your home for Billikens hoops.

Your 2018-19 SLU Billikens 101 ESPN broadcast schedule (Television broadcast in parentheses)

Non-conference:

Tuesday, Nov. 6 – vs. Southeast Missouri State – 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Saturday, Nov. 10 – vs. Troy – 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Tuesday, Nov. 13 – vs. North Alabama – 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Saturday, Nov. 17 – at Seton Hall – 7 p.m. (FS2)

Wednesday, Nov. 21 – vs. Pittsburgh (in Brooklyn N.Y.) – 11 a.m.

Saturday, Nov. 24 – vs. Central Arkansas – 3 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Saturday, Dec. 1 – vs. Butler – 4 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Wednesday, Dec. 5 – at SIU Carbondale – 7 p.m. (ESPN 3/ESPN+)

Sunday, Dec. 9 – vs. Oregon State – 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Sunday, Dec. 16 – at Houston – 2 p.m. (ESPNU)

Wednesday, Dec. 19 – vs. NC Central – 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Saturday, Dec. 22 – vs. Florida State (in Sunrise, Fla.) – 1:30 p.m. (FS2/Fox Sports Midwest Plus)

Sunday, Dec. 30 – vs. Appalachian State – 2 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Atlantic-10 conference schedule:

Sunday, Jan. 6 – vs. Rhode Island – 3 p.m. (ESPNU)

Wednesday, Jan. 9 – vs. UMass – 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Jan. 12 – at La Salle – 5 p.m. (NBCSN)

Tuesday, Jan. 15 – at Fordham – 6 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 18 – vs. St. Joseph’s – 6 p.m. (ESPN 2)

Wednesday, Jan. 23 – at Duquense – 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 26 – vs. Davidson – 1 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Wednesday, Jan. 30 – vs. Richmond – 6 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Saturday, Feb. 2 – at Rhode Island – 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Tuesday, Feb. 5 – vs. Dayton – 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Friday, Feb. 8 – at St. Joseph’s – 6 p.m. (ESPN 2)

Wednesday, Feb. 13 – at George Washington – 5:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Feb. 16 – vs. La Salle – 4 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Feb. 23 – at Dayton – 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Tuesday, Feb. 26 – at VCU – 6:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Mar. 2 – vs. George Mason – 2 p.m. (NBCSN)

Wednesday, Mar. 6 – vs. Duquense – 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Midwest)

Saturday, Mar. 9 – at St. Bonaventure – noon

More: Miklasz – Mizzou Bounces Back, Fraud Alert for Ohio State, Plus the Heroes and Villains of CFB Week 8