Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bills Await Showdown with Depaul's Kleinschmidt

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bills Await Showdown with Depaul's Kleinschmidt

Article excerpt

St. Louis University will have to wait until Feb. 19 to see in person the leading candidate for the league's player of the year award. Due to a Great Midwest Conference schedule quirk, that's when the Billikens finally play DePaul and Tom Kleinschmidt.

The honor seems to be Kleinschmidt's to lose.

"Our team has found a way to win lately," DePaul coach Joey Meyer said. "A lot of that is a credit to Kleinschmidt. He's been able to make a big shot, a big pass when we needed it most, just put us on his shoulders some times."

A senior, Kleinschmidt is leading the league with almost 22 1/2 points a game. He's making half his shots from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range, and ranks third in the league with more than 4 1/2 assists a game.

It's about more than numbers.

DePaul had a strong first half against Dayton on Sunday, but the energetic Flyers cut their deficit to nine points in the second half. Then Kleinschmidt fought off Dayton - he finished with 30 points - and DePaul won 85-71.

"That DePaul team was well-coached by Joey and Tom Kleinschmidt," Dayton coach Oliver Purnell said. "He held us off almost on his own. He's the best player I've seen in the league."

A week of upsets in the Great Midwest left Memphis on top and a tight pack of others jockeying in the middle.

But Memphis coach Larry Finch didn't celebrate Friday's victory over Cincinnati or Sunday's last-second victory at Temple. That's because he still saw a game with Arkansas and league foe SLU dead ahead.

"I hope there's not too much emphasis put on the Arkansas game Thursday, because I'm concerned with the conference right now," Finch said. "We have a chance to do something we've never done before - win the league - but it's still early to even talk about that."

Around The Turn: Finch isn't the only one making title talk with caution.

"The regular-season conference race is still going to be a horse race before it's over," said Gene Bartow, Alabama-Birmingham coach. "Memphis still has to go to some tough places. They're going to end up with three or four losses in the conference. I can't imagine them going through this conference with only a couple of losses. …

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