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SLU basketball adjusts travel plans in aim to solve road woes

When his schedule permits, coach Travis Ford likes to go to road games two days in advance.

As such, St. Louis University leaves Thursday for Saturday’s St. Joseph’s game, and will follow a similar itinerary for next week’s game in Massachusetts.

Finding the keys to success on the road is a never-ending conundrum for coaches and Ford will soon have to discover if the Billikens expect to challenge for the top of the Atlantic 10.

“It’s not often that any team in our league travels with their fans on the road,” Ford said. “That means everyone in the locker room is playing everybody else.”

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Billikens has found no consistent code in the A-10 road game. This is one reason he hasn’t challenged for a regular season title since 2014.

In the past five seasons, they have been 17-24 away from Chaifetz Arena in the conference, seventh best record at the time. They are 20-32 for the entire road in that section.

SLU starts A-10 play in four of the first six games.

“The road is tough because you don’t have enough energy,” said senior Fred Thatch Jr. “I try to focus on defense. If you play well, even if the game doesn’t go your way, it gives you energy and everything goes well. If you guard, you have a chance to win the game.”

Ford hopes that more bonding and more time together will be the one little thing that connects to that energy.

In this year’s true road game, SLU went on a rampage loss at Iona and nearly upset Auburn. The Billikens went 4-5 in conference road games last season.

Their worst regular season record in recent years was 5-4. Otherwise, those teams have at least seven wins for him on the streets of the league.

Ford is looking to get off to a quick start with an extra day away from home.

“I’ve done it before, especially during breaks when they’re not at school,” he said. “A lot of people are from St. Louis and I think it’s good for them to run away together when there’s girlfriends and family responsibilities and a lot going on. Because most of them are from here.” , we found that they don’t have much to hang out off the court.

SLU has seen road games spiral out of control in recent years, leading to one-sided outcomes and insurmountable losses. Except for Ford’s first season at SLU, when he inherited the entire roster, the Billikens had his five road losses by more than 20 points.

Conversely, SLU has had impressive victories inside and outside the conference, including Boise State, Seton Hall, Kansas State, and Boston College.

Still, some A-10 arenas are hard to crack. The Billikens have not won in his four outings to Davidson since the Wildcats entered the conference. They have lost in his final eight games at Dayton. No wins in six trips to VCU. SLU will be playing with them all in the next two months.

Some venues are known for their so-called hostile environments, such as Dayton and VCU. In other road games, SLU is at Fordham, averaging 312 fans per game. George Washington (1,426), St. Joseph (1,494) and Davidson (3,120).

“We have to stay connected in their arena and generate our own energy as a team,” said senior Terrence Hargrove Jr. “Especially during conference play.”

Under Ford, SLU finished 11th, 6th, 6th, 4th, 4th, 5th in the regular season. According to kenpom.com, the Billikens are expected to have the road advantage in seven of his nine games in his conference.

Leverage it well and you could be close to the top as the season draws to a close. An unexpected loss can quickly undermine that pursuit.