The Sports Delorean: SLU’s Unusual Run to the 2000 Tournament
With last night’s win over struggling Xavier, majority opinion is that, barring any unexpected collapse, SLU has now slid off the bubble and punched a ticket to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 12 years.
If you access the STL sports database in your melon, that means the last time the Billikens basketball team snatched the local spotlight in March was conveniently slotted in between the Rams‘ mind-blowing Super Bowl run, and Jim Edmonds joining the Cardinals in exchange for Kent Bottenfield.
Let’s just all thank god that Y2K didn’t shut down our TV’s so we could watch all of it.
2000 was Lorenzo Romar’s first year running the show and the end of the regular season had the Bills well outside the Tournament bubble. Not unusual when you post a 15-13 record and lose five of your last six games. But like every other mediocre team, they had that automatic bid dangled in front of them – win the conference tournament and skip right in.
After scraping by Southern Miss, SLU had the Cincinnati Bearcats looming in Round 2, the same Bearcats that had spent the entire season in the Top 5 including 11 weeks as the top ranked team in the nation. The same Bearcats that had crushed the Billikens by 43 points five days earlier.
Let’s just say that, three minutes into the game, SLU caught a lucky break. That break happened to be Kenyon Martin’s fibula.
Losing the consensus player of the year and eventual NBA #1 pick just days before the real tournament started was devastating enough for Cincinnati to let the Billikens slip by with an unexpected 10-point win. Next on the agenda was Tulane, then tournament-bound DePaul and just like that Romar’s gang had crashed the field of 64.
How did they do when they got there?
After putting up the second lowest point total in any game throughout the 2000 Tournament, they fell in the opening round 48-45 to Utah, coached by…Rick Majerus.
Finally, after over a decade of waiting, it’s looking more and more likely that SLU will get to see Rick Majerus’ smothering defense in the Tournament once again. Only this time from the other side.