Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SLU Is a Little Thin on Depth

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SLU Is a Little Thin on Depth

Article excerpt

St. Louis University limped away from the 2015-16 basketball season with an array of issues, including four players who were dealing with various foot injuries.

Austin Gillmann and Elliott Welmer were recovering and Mike Crawford and Marcus Bartley had played some or all of the season with their maladies.

On a team that used 13 players, the injuries weren't debilitating. But it's the type of scenario the Billikens can ill afford in coach Travis Ford's first season, which started with his first official practice Saturday.

SLU took the court with only seven scholarship players who will be available when the season opens next month. The other two were sidelined with minor issues Crawford was nursing a hamstring strain and Reggie Agbeko an aching mouth after having four wisdom teeth pulled.

Neither is a big problem in early October but a reminder how thin the roster will be. Ford started practice knowing that he needs to balance his desire to push the players hard and give them the rest they need.

"Conditioning is important as well as managing practices and them getting rest when they need it," he said. "I'm not good at that and I need help from the coaches to let me know. My philosophy is that I like more. I like to practice and go hard because that's the way I played.

"I have to realize with this team we are shorthanded and a little injury riddled, but we need them fresh when the games start. I told them in the locker room, we want to make practices so that games are easy. That means hard and maybe a little long at times."

Ford developed a pretty good sense about his team through the spring and summer. He said if it was time for a game, he envisioned Crawford, Jermaine Bishop and Davell Roby among the starters. This year some of the starters figure to get more minutes than they've seen in the past.

The Billikens had 11 players average 10 minutes or more last season when former coach Jim Crews spread the playing time. The previous season they had 12 average 10 or more. That will not be possible anymore.

"If we practice hard like this, I'm not saying the games will be easy but conditioning-wise we should be able to hang on," guard Davell Roby said. …

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