Chaifetz Arena: What Effect Will It Have on Saint Louis Basketball?

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer IJune 2, 2008


Saint Louis University has invested a fair amount of money in the past five years into athletics. First, they hired big-name Rick Majerus to coach the men's team. Although first-rate coaches usually come with high expectations and are high maintenance, this was not the case as SLU was already working on the Chaifetz Arena before he was hired.

Richard Chaifetz, a now successful business man and 1975 alum, donated a substantial amount of money to Saint Louis University for the naming rights. Without his contribution, it is pretty fair to say that the construction would have taken a lot longer.

Anyways, how does this arena affect the future of SLU men’s basketball, you might ask? Not only does Majerus have tremendous pull on recruits, but now with a brand-new arena, high-level recruits will be more inclined to play at SLU. Having Majerus as above-average tutelage will not only help out the player individually, but it will make the entire team stronger.

Majerus has already shown his ability to recruit without complete knowledge of the arena. He has inked four 3-star recruits, including headliner Brett Thompson, a 6’11” center who is widely regarded as one of the best big men in the Midwest.

SLU basketball hasn’t had this much promise since Larry Hughes played. Before Hughes, local fans may remember a high-scoring team of H Waldman, Erwin Claggett, and Scott Highmark who led the Billikens to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.

After 36 wins in the past two seasons, I think SLU is on the verge of getting to the Big Dance. These recruits will certainly help on that front.

Chaifetz Arena now gives SLU the finest facilities in the Atlantic 10, a conference that features a money-making machine in Xavier. If Majerus can persuade recruits to join his corps, rather than surrounding schools, SLU can built a legitimate program from years to come.

There were two players that Majerus barely missed on, leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. Tyler Griffey, the senior phenom from Saint Louis chose Illinois over Kansas, Georgia Tech, and SLU. He would have been an amazing addition, as his 6’8” frame allows him to take the ball to the rack, or shoot the outside jumper. Secondly, another local product, Josh Harrellson, signed with Billy Gillespie and the Kentucky Wildcats.

I would venture to say that if these decisions were two years in the future, both players would have chosen SLU as their college destination. Once Saint Louis University can show the have the fan base to back the Chaifetz Arena, and the role players to boot, they will start seeing more interest from four and five-star recruits.

It is about time people got excited about SLU basketball. With a solid starting lineup this year, that may feature as many as three Majerus recruits, watch out for SLU to sneak up on some teams and make a serious run at playing in March.

With the beautiful Chaifetz Arena up and running, there is no reason to doubt Majerus’ chances at making this program known across the nation.


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