College Basketball: Is This the Year Rick Majerus Returns To the NCAA Tournament

Paul SeaverCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2010

24 Nov 1998:  Head coach Rick Majerus of the Utah Utes looks on during the Maui Invitational game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii.  Indiana defeated Utah 52-49. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire  /Allsport
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

He learned under Al Maguire, one of the more successful college basketball coaches in the 60s and 70s. He has had plenty of success in his own right through the 80s and 90s. However, its been a while since Rick Majerus has coached in the NCAA Tournament.

A longtime and successful head coach at Utah, Majerus took a three year break from coaching from 2004-2007, but returned to the coaching ranks prior to the 2007-2008 season, this time in an attempt to return the University of St. Louis to the Big Dance.

Majerus has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2003 (Utah) and the Billikens have not danced since 2000, however is this the year the two come together to snap both of those droughts?

Majerus enters his fourth season as head coach at St. Louis, last season being his most successful as the Billikens nearly crashed a crowded Atlantic-10.

St. Louis ended up in the CBI last year, but were able to keep up their strong finish before falling in the CBI Finals in back-to-back games to VCU.

The Billikens have improved each and every year under Majerus and this year they intend to keep that trend going. Following their 23-13 season in 2009-2010, St. Louis returns its top five leading scorers from a year ago and looks forward to an opportunity to be one of the top dogs in the A-10.

Kwamain Mitchell, Willie Reed, and Cody Ellis all averaged double figures last year offensively and will look to improve on their numbers heading into 2010-2011.

With the likes of Christian Salecich and Brian Conklin also returning, the Billikens have depth and an incoming freshmen class highlighted by Rob Loe and Jordair Jett that gives St. Louis a very talented roster.

After ripping through a six game winning streak in the beginning of February, St. Louis looked poised to attack the upper half of a crowded A-10 conference that at one time or another appeared to be able to get as many as six teams into the Big Dance.

However, with too many tough games, loses to Xavier, Temple, and URI racked up against the Billikens, leaving them on the outside, looking in at the NCAA Tournament representatives from the Atlantic-10.

As Majerus prepares for the 2010-2011 season, the facts remain that the Billikens have a team that is strong enough to threaten in the Atlantic-10 and after the attention and toughness the conference showed a season ago, more A-10 teams could find themselves fighting for spots in the Big Dance.

St. Louis hopes to be one of them.


This article was originally featured on The Arena Pulse