The Full Court Press: Special March Madness Edition

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This is a special March Madness edition of the Full Court Press.

Our scheduled guests for this week’s show include…

  • Bob Ramsey: play-by-play announcer of the SLU Billikens
  • Ben Weixlmann: SLU writer for Scout.com
  • Vahe Gregorian: Mizzou reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch
  • Austin Kim: sports reporter for WCIA-TV in Champaign, Illinois. In addition to talking tournament, we will also chat about Bruce Weber’s dismissal as head coach at the University of Illinois, as well as some potential replacements with Austin, who helps cover the team.

Before we get any farther, I’d like to let you all know about a new contest that HSB is launching with our newest sponsor: McAlister’s Deli. The fine folks over at McAlister’s in Des Peres have agreed to donate a free fully catered lunch for 5-7 people each month. When I say fully catered, I mean basically their entire catering menu is open AND you can even have it delivered to your home or office completely free of charge!

This month’s prize will be given away to whoever wins our mini-bracket pool. The person who is able to select the most second and third round games correctly will win this month’s McAlister’s catered lunch. All you have to do, is send an email to Haenchenb9@gmail.com with either a screenshot or a link to your picks for the second and third rounds of the NCAA tournament. The games officially kick off on Wednesday with the play-ins, but you have until 10:30 Thursday morning to officially submit your picks.

You must follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook to be eligible. Of course, once you do follow slash like us, you are automatically entered to win a free Mizzou flag compliments of the fine folks over at CVS flags.

SEGMENT 1-Show Open

Details on our new contest with our new sponsor McAlister’s Deli!; Recap of Mizzou and SLU games from over the weekend

SEGMENT 2-Bob Ramsey

Bob Ramsey, play-by-play voice of the SLU Billikens joins the program to talk about SLU drawing a 9 seed in the West; Temple dealt the A-10 a death blow when they left for the Big East; Maybe the non-football schools in the Big East will make their own conference and invited SLU; Billikens earned a 9 seed; Memphis has NBA-type players, but college basketball is a team game; The Tigers entire body of work was mediocre; It’s gratifying to see SLU have the successes that they’ve had this year

SEGMENT 3-Ben Weixlmann

Ben Weixlmann of Scout.com joins the show to break down SLU v. Memphis; The Tigers should have been seeded higher; They at least played good teams; Don’t underestimate Rick Majerus, especially against a team like Michigan State; Billikens are starting to draw in some solid recruits; Butler could be heading to the A-10, that would be nice

SEGMENT 4-Vahe Gregorian

Friend of the show Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post Dispatch joins the show to kick off our Mizzou coverage; KC to Columbia to St. Louis to Omaha, such is the life of a Mizzou basketball writer; Mizzou might be at its peak performance; Kim English and Marcus Denmon will definitely benefit from an extra day of rest; The Selection Committee doesn’t really focus on match-ups;

SEGMENT 5-Austin Kim

Austin Kim hops aboard to talk about Illinois firing Bruce Weber and offer his analysis of the Big Ten teams in the Tournament

WIN A FREE FULLY-CATERED LUNCH FROM MCALISTER’S DELI!

The fine folks over at McAlister’s in Des Peres have agreed to donate a free fully catered lunch for 5-7 people each month. When I say fully catered, I mean basically their entire catering menu is open AND you can even have it delivered to your home or office completely free of charge!

This month’s prize will be given away to whoever wins our mini-bracket pool. The person who is able to select the most second and third round games correctly will win this month’s McAlister’s catered lunch.

All you have to do is join the official HSB Bracket Pool on ESPN.com!

The games officially kick off on Tuesday with the play-ins, but you have until 10:30 Thursday morning to officially submit your picks!

Hank’s Sports Blog will be giving away a free University of Missouri flag, compliments of the fine folks over at CVS Flags.

To enter, all you have to do is either follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook! It’s that easy! If you follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, then you’ll be entered twice.

 

Xavier denies SLU trip to A-10 Tournament Finals

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Tu Holloway led all-scorers with 21 points as Xavier knocked off Saint Louis University 71-64 Saturday afternoon to advance to the Atlantic 10 championship game. The loss dropped SLU to 25-7 heading into Selection Sunday.

Jordair Jett hit a pair of free throws to pull the Billikens within two with 2:34 left in regulation, but Mark Lyons responded on Xavier’s next possession with a three-pointer to push the score to 63-58 heading into the final two minutes.

SLU had a golden opportunity to make one last run at Xavier when Holloway’s three-point attempt with 30 seconds left clanked off the basket, but Kenny Frease somehow came down with the rebound to bail out his teammate and kill the Billikens’ chances.

Senior Brian Conklin hit four of nine shots and six of nine free throws to finish the game with 14 points, but he was a non-factor in every other aspect of the game, failing to register a single rebound or assist. He fouled out with 18 seconds left.

Kwamain Mitchell and Dwayne Evans both nearly had double-doubles for SLU. Mitchell finished with 10 points and nine assists, while Evans pulled down eight rebounds to go with 11 points.

Cody Ellis and Jordair Jett both came off the bench and scored in double figures for the Billikens who finished the game shooting 40.7% from the field and hitting just six of 24 three-point attempts as a team.

SLU simply did not have an answer for Xavier’s offense, allowing them to shoot 53.3% from the floor and 45% from behind the arc. They also out-rebounded the Billikens 29-23.

Mike McCall, SLU hold off LaSalle to advance to Atlantic 10 semifinals

Brian Conklin scored 14 points to help SLU knock off LaSalle to advance to the A-10 Tournament semifinals. (Photo: Mel Evans-AP)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Saint Louis University hit nine free throws in the final minute to hold off LaSalle 78-71 Friday night to advance to the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament semifinals.

The Explorers trimmed the Billikens’ lead to just four points with 37 seconds left, then forced Conklin to burn the team’s final timeout on the inbounds play. Mike McCall responded for the Billikens out of the timeout, hitting a fast-break layup and the subsequent free throw to push the score to 74-67 with 28 seconds left.

“Every time the coach would call a time-out when [La Salle] made a run, and we would huddle together and say ‘they just made their run now it’s our turn,’ ” Conklin said. “It’s something that over the course of the season we’ve grown and when teams make a run at us, we just don’t get frustrated, we just make another run back at them.”

LaSalle tried to mount one last charge, but SLU forward Dwayne Evans blocked Ramon Galloway’s three-point attempt into the hands of McCall, who was fouled and hit the subsequent free throws to ice the victory.

“I thought our guys played hard. I thought they played very smart and with toughness,” coach Rick Majerus said. “Credit to La Salle capitalizing on our errors, omissions at times. La Salle is a good team, I hope they can get another chance, they deserve it.”

McCall finished the game with a team-leading 16 points. The sophomore guard hit just five of 11 shots, but was three for three from the charity stripe.

Jordair Jett hit four of five shots from the floor and four of five free throws for 13 points off the bench. Jett, who entered the game averaging six points per game, also had five rebounds for the Billikens, who out-rebounded the Explorers 28-27.

Kwamain Mitchell (15) and Conklin (14) also finished in double figures for the Billikens. SLU finished the game shooting 44.6% (25 of 56) from the floor and 45% (nine of 20) from behind the arc.

Dwayne Evans accounted for nine of SLU's 28 rebounds. (Photo: Mel Evans-AP)

LaSalle guard Earl Pettis led all-scorers with 18 points. He was one of three players to finish in double figures for the Explorers, who hit 25 of 56 shots from the field and eight of 20 from three-point land.

SLU trailed 2-0 early in the first half, but a Rob Loe layup followed by a three-pointer from Mitchell sparked a 14-0 run that put them ahead for good.

Despite limiting their opponents to just two points through the first eight minutes of the second half, the Billikens were unable to pull away, allowing the Explorers to claw within six heading into halftime.

Losses by top-seeded Temple and St. Joseph’s meant that LaSalle was the lone Philadelphia-area representative left in the A-10 tournament. After the game, Conklin and Mitchell admitted that they were surprised by Temple’s early exit.

“Philly has great basketball and, you know, it was surprising to see Temple and St.Joe’s go out, and they are a great team, they’re going to be great in a few years,” Conklin said. “Temple is going to be back next year, along with La Salle.”

Mitchell added: “Brian hit the spot, like he said, Saint Joe’s had a great team. Temple, it’s surprise that go they lost, but they’ll come back.”

SLU will take on Xavier in the semifinals Saturday afternoon at 2:30.

A-10 TOURNAMENT UPDATE:

(8) MASSACHUSETTS 77 (1) Temple 71

Jesse Morgan and Chaz Williams combined for 41 points to help UMass knock off top-seeded Temple 77-71 Friday afternoon in Atlantic City. The Minutemen used a 13-2 run, highlighted by three consecutive three-pointers, to build a five-point lead with just under three minutes left.

(4) St. Bonaventure 71 (5) St. Joseph’s 68

Friday’s second quarterfinal game featured 24 lead changes and nine ties, but in the end it was St. Bonaventure who prevailed over St. Joesph’s 71-68. A-10 Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson hit a free throw with 92 seconds left to break a 68-68 stalemate. St. Joes’ Carl Jones scored 24 points, 19 of which came in the second half, in a losing effort.

(3) Xavier 70 (6) Dayton 69

Tu Holloway scored 21 to help Xavier knock off Dayton.

Quotes via Atlantic 10.

The Full Court Press: Ben Weixlmann (March 1)

Ben Weixlmann, Atlantic 10 writer for Scout.com, joined The Full Court Press Thursday morning to talk Billikens & A-10 hoops.

You can follow Ben on Twitter and read his articles on Scout.com.

March 2-FULL SHOW

SEGMENT 1-SHOW OPEN

Recapping the latest SLU and Mizzou games

SEGMENT 2-Wiexlman Part 1

Thoughts on SLU’s win over Xavier; It has been a bad couple of days for the A-10; There’s plenty of parody in the A-10; Who’s going to replace Temple if they leave?; Fran Dunphy should win conference COY

SEGMENT 3-Wiexlman Part 2

SLU’s about as close a team could be to being a lock without being a lock; No one wants to face a Majerus team in the tournament; Duke would probably pose the most problems for SLU; What makes this team successful?

Next week on The Full Court Press: Jarrett Sutton will join the program to some Mizzou hoops as they prepare for the Big 12 tournament.

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Grand Finale: Conklin, SLU roar back to beat Xavier on Senior Night

ST. LOUIS – Senior Brian Conklin put on a show in his final game at Chaifetz Arena, racking up 23 points and six rebounds to help Saint Louis University knock off Xavier 70-59 Tuesday night. The victory improves the Billikens to 11-4 in the Atlantic 10 and guarantees them a first-round bye in the A-10 tournament.

SLU’s halftime deficit may have been just 10 points, but they looked like a team on the verge of a total collapse after the first 20 minutes. Their long-range shooters hit just two of 12 three-pointers, while their usually airtight defense had allowed the Musketeers to shoot 52% from the floor.

“In the first half, they were tentative offensively,” SLU coach Rick Majerus said in an interview with Post Dispatch writer Tom Timmerman. “They don’t understand that your defense drives your offense, so we had a bit of complacency defensively.”

Playing in front of the second largest crowd in the four-year history of Chaifetz Arena, the Billikens roared back from a 10-point halftime deficit, outscoring the Musketeers 30-9 over the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Perhaps the biggest turning point of the game came when Dezmine Wells missed a dunk five minutes into the second half that would have given Xavier a three-point lead.

Earl Austin Jr. called it an omen during the radio broadcast and sure enough, SLU grabbed its first lead of the night on the very next possession behind a lay-up from Conklin.

Xavier attempted to stage a late comeback, cutting the score to 64-54 with two minutes left, but Conklin responded with a jumper to drive in the final dagger for SLU.

Things went so well in the second half for SLU that Majerus was even able to call a timeout with two seconds left to sub out his two seniors, Conklin and Kyle Cassity, and let them get a standing ovation from the energetic crowd.

“I knew we weren’t going to lose this one,” he said. “I definitely wasn’t going to go out with a loss. That wasn’t going to happen, so I was not worried at all [at halftime].”

Cassity, who, to avoid upsetting the team’s rotation, turned down an opportunity to start in his final home game, chalked Tuesday’s victory up to a strong defensive performance.

“It was all defense,” he said. “We didn’t do much different on offense. We hit some shots, but defensively, we just stopped them.”

Kwamain Mitchell headed to the locker room early in the second half after a collision with a Xavier defender left him disoriented. He returned with about four minutes left and finished the game with 14 points. Mike McCall also scored in double figures for the Billikens, who finished the game shooting 38% from the floor and 28% from behind the arc.

Dezmine Wells finished recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Xavier, who out-rebounded the Billikens 34-30.

If Temple wins tonight, they will clinch the A-10 tournament outright. If they lose, however, SLU could grab at least a share of the title with a victory Saturday morning against Duquesne. Tip-off in that game is scheduled for 11 am in Pittsburgh.

Quotes via STLToday.com

Hank’s Sports Blog will be giving away a free University of Missouri flag, compliments of the fine folks over at CVS Flags.

To enter, all you have to do is either follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook! It’s that easy! If you follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, then you’ll be entered twice.

 

The Full Court Press with special guest Bob Ramsey

It is a special edition of the Full Court Press on HSB Radio and HanksSportsBlog.com as Billikens play-by-play announcer Bob Ramsey joins the show to talk about SLU’s strong start to the season.

Here are some notable excerpts from my interview with Rammer, which can be heard in its entirety here. (Click “here” for the link)

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