SLU men’s basketball opens training with a huge menu, and an abundance of options

There were moments early Travis FordHis tenure at St.Louis University was when Billikens had barely enough players to do a productive workout and the rotation was easy because the bench was weak.

In his seventh season as coach, Ford was on the floor Thursday on his first official day of training with 16 players — 13 in scholarship and three rounds — and they were already thinking aloud about how many pieces would fit together.

Six experienced players return, including four novices, who expect to eat the most minutes. But early conversations suggest Ford could use a deeper seat than ever during a season that will deliver the highest expectations yet.

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“Depth is important as long as it yields,” he said. “We have a lot of players who can play; even the youngsters have been great in pre-season training. It’s good to have pieces and options. One thing we need to know before the first game and in the off-conference is where everyone plays and what the sessions are. There is still a lot to discover. , but having a good problem.”

Now, you can put four starters in ink with Point Guard Yuri CollinsGoalkeeper Gibson Jimerson, striker Jafonte Perkins and central midfielder Francis Okoro. Figure that the transfer of Javon Beckett or Fred Thatch Jr. would be the fifth initiator.

That leaves plenty to sort out on the bench.

The above players together with the return Terence Hargrove Jr. She is the basis of the offseason buzz. SLU is close second to Dayton in the most corners in the Atlantic 10.

Saint Louis University's first men's basketball practice

St. Louis University men’s basketball coach Travis Ford speaks with his team prior to first practice of the 2022-2023 season at Chavitz Arena on Thursday, September 29, 2022. Photo by David Carson,

David Carson

How healthy a team is and how reserve fare can go a long way toward dictating a team’s success.

“Players with college experience are definitely in rotation and will play important minutes,” Ford said. “There will be different new students called up in different games, but they will have their opportunities.”

Experienced players who take part in the rotation include moving the temple Jake Forrester college transfer Sincere Parker, which has ample potential. Kellen Thames has been the most recent student, in large part due to his defense.

Most seasons, Ford starts off many seasons and lowers them to eight or 7 and a half degrees in the middle of the convention season. The 2022-23 season offers more potential options.

Keep in mind that six players are proven contributors from a team that had an offensive season where the Billikens averaged 76.2 points. And that was without Perkins, who had a ruptured ACL.

“They did a really good job last year,” Perkins said. “I knew they could; everyone didn’t. Add me to the offense and we can do nothing but go up. Once everyone gets used to the way we play, it could be the deepest I’ve been a part of here.”

Saint Louis University's first men's basketball practice

St.Louis University men’s basketball coach Travis Ford walks the field as his team undergoes first practice sessions for the 2022-23 season at Chivitz Arena on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

David Carson, Post-Dispatch

Parker is the most interesting newcomer. He arrived with huge credentials. Perkins said it reminds him of himself – a goalscorer in many ways. Ford said Parker is surprisingly athletic and can bounce back and block shots.

“As of today, his crime will result in him being brought to court,” Ford said. “We’ll find out the defensive part later.”

The Thames were originally considered a prime candidate to take spare minutes at the vantage point, but Ford said he would take off the ball for a better chance of winning time. Thatch and Perkins will be Collins’ backups.

Beckett is also a new important piece. He was the team’s best player in the two matches he played on the European Tour in August. His defense would also be needed, and maybe shooting from his surroundings wouldn’t be as great.

“Rebounding is something we talked about,” Beckett said. “With my size, strength, and jumping abilities, rebounds can be easy points or defensive bounces to get out and run. I have to go in and be physical.”

Others are vying for minutes that include the transition to junior college Daniel RiveraAnd the new student Nick Kramer and Mohamedou Cisse and the new student Larry Hughes of three walks.

“Everyone understands our team,” Ford said. “The 16 players understand who they are. They know Yuri will play 35 minutes and Gibson will play Jafont. They see it. Young people are in a unique position as they learn from some of the top players in the country. They have to be sponges every day.”

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