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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 8th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Saint Louis Billikens

Overall Rank: #66

Conference Rank: #5 A-10


2005-06: 16-13, 10-6, 3rd (t)

2005-06 postseason: none


Saint Louis may sneak up on people on a national level, but followers of the Atlantic 10 know that the Billikens will be a force to be reckoned with.  Coach Brad Soderberg has garnered higher expectations after a surprising 10-6 campaign last year and with four starters returning, anything but a trip to the postseason would be very disappointing. 


Who’s Out: Anthony Drejaj started 24 contests as a senior, averaging 7.8 points per game.  The 6-2 guard was a solid shooter from behind the arc, which leaves some questions as to who will step up and be a second long range threat.  Vas’shun Newborne, a 6-6 forward, was a nice option off of the bench during his senior season and averaged 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds.


Who’s In: The power forward spot will prove to be very important for the Billikens and most of the minutes will fall on freshmen.  Returning senior Justin Johnson might get the starting nod in November, but redshirt freshman Obi Ikeakor isn’t expected to wait on the bench for long.  Ikeakor, a 6-8 240 pound Houston, Texas native, missed last season with a knee injury.  If he can return to his prior form, Ikeakor could quickly become a dominate force in the A-10.  The tough and versatile Adam Knollmeyer and the super athletic Horace Dixon will provide some depth up front and are expected to contribute right away.  Shooting guard Dustin Maguire is a decent outside shooter and could help fill the role of finding a consistent long range shooter off the bench.


Who to Watch: The fun is in the frontcourt.  Ian Vouyoukas averaged a team high 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks as a junior.  The 6-10, 270 pounder is a great scorer in the paint, can hit the mid-range jumper and is a good passer out of the double team.  Soon, we’ll all know how to pronounce Vouyoukas.  The spot next to Vouyoukas is where it gets interesting.  Johnson, a 6-8 senior, has starting experience, but tends to lose his starting gig by the time the season is over.  That may happen again with the talented newcomers itching for minutes.


Final Projection: The depth is in the backcourt with Tommie Liddell, Kevin Lisch, Danny Brown, Luke Meyer and Dwayne Polk all deserving of a starting role.  A pass first point guard, Liddell will run the show.  Lisch is a dangerous shooter and should improve on his 11.1 points per game performance as a freshman.  The later three on the list should battle for the starting small forward spot.  Meyer has the most potential for a breakout season after battling injuries and playing much of last year at the four spot.  With the depth coming in up front, Meyer will be able to flourish on the wing.  Everything is there for the Bills to have a great season.  They probably won’t win their first conference crown since the Missouri Valley days, but if the cards fall right, a trip to the NCAAs for the first time in seven years isn’t totally wishful thinking. 


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

Tommie Liddell, Sophomore, Guard, 10.3 points per game

Kevin Lisch, Sophomore, Guard, 11.1 points per game

Danny Brown, Junior, Guard, 4.7 points per game

Justin Johnson, Senior, Forward, 2.9 points per game

Ian Vouyoukas, Senior, Center, 13.9 points per game

67 Old Dominion » Complete List » 65 Stanford

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