Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SLU's Crawford Finds Health, Scoring Touch; as Illness Subsides, Guard's Offensive Production Is Up; College Basketball

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SLU's Crawford Finds Health, Scoring Touch; as Illness Subsides, Guard's Offensive Production Is Up; College Basketball

Article excerpt

Former St. Louis University teammate Rob Loe got in Mike Crawford's ear last season, suggesting the SLU guard should focus his effort in practice on the defensive end of the floor. The offensive part, he told Crawford, would happen.

And besides, Loe might have recognized what Crawford already knew that he just wasn't all that good defensively.

"Rob would always say, 'if you're playing defense well, your offense will come, especially in this offense,'" Crawford said. "That made a lot of sense. He was a great defensive player. Rob kind of just told you how it was, that's all there is to it."

So, it was natural for coach Jim Crews to praise Crawford's best offensive game for the Billikens in their win Wednesday over Texas- Pan American by noting his dedication to defense.

He compared the 6-foot-4 sophomore's potential to that of former Billikens Mike McCall and Jake Barnett, who arrived as poor defensive players and made it a strength.

"When you do extra work before or after practice, no one thinks of doing defensive slides," Crews said. "Mike has been very dedicated to do the extra, putting the time into being committed to it, and it's paying off for him."

The offensive part did come around in SLU's last outing. Crawford came off the bench to score 19 points, making three of four 3- pointers and eight of 10 free throws.

He then revealed after the game that he had been battling an unknown medical issue that led to a loss of 10 pounds and a general decrease in strength. With the weight regained, he is feeling his old energy despite never getting a diagnosis on his problem.

Crawford had averaged 12 minutes over a seven-game stretch before playing 25 and 26 minutes in the last two games. His 19-point effort was a career high, pushing his average to 6.0 for the season.

"I really feel strong physically and have a little bit more energy at times," he said. "It's more like a confidence thing. You feel stronger out there and so you can do some things you probably couldn't have done earlier. …

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