Providence Friars guard Makai Ashton-Langford (1) controls the ball against Saint Louis Billikens guard Jordan Goodwin

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Ford's Billikens Tout Nationally-Ranked Defense: 'It's Who We Are'

It's not just steals and rebounds where Ford's statistical focus lies. It's something a little more unique for SLU – deflections.

January 15, 2019 - 9:44 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Led by the best defense in their conference – and among the best in the country – Saint Louis University (12-4) is riding a four-game win streak and currently undefeated in conference play this season.

The Billikens are 12th in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to TeamRankings.com, limiting opponents fewer than 63 points per game. Coach Travis Ford's team, which was picked to win the Atlantic 10 this season, is 3-0 in conference play with a matchup against Fordam (9-7), Tuesday night in New York.

Ford touts SLU's focus on defense, which takes up about 75 percent of its practice time on a daily basis. Although he admits it shows on their offense, as the Billikens are the third-lowest scoring team in the A10. 

"It's who we are, it's the makeup of our team," Ford says. "We talked about it (Saturday) night in the pregame speech I just talked about playing to our identity, who we are. When you're on the road you have to be able to count on something and we can hopefully count on our defense and our rebounding." 

But it's not just steals and rebounds where Ford's statistical focus lies. It's something a little more unique for SLU – deflections.

"How many deflections do we get on defense is an indication of how active you are, how locked-in you are, how aggressive you are and we want to be aggressive. We want 35-plus deflections per game," Ford says. "It's proven for us that if we get those numbers we have a great chance for success." 

But in the more nationally recoginized stats, SLU is led by senior utility man Javon Bess. The guard/forward combo is making his case for A10 player of the year, as he's 13th in scoring (15.3 per game) and seventh in rebounding (6.8 per game) this year. 

You can listen to the full conversation Ford had with our Mike Claiborne on Sports on a Sunday Morning, here: