Mike McCall can picture Rick Majerus squatting into a defensive stance and hear Majerus's claim that he gets lower than McCall.
McCall, a St. Louis junior out Foreman, and the rest of the Billikens have been honoring their late coach with their play.
The Billikens are 14-2 since the colorful Majerus died of heart complications on Dec. 1, and 17-5 overall, including a 75-58 upset of then-No. 9 Butler last Thursday.
Not to mention the team is tied for the Atlantic 10 lead.
"Coach is still with us," McCall said. "We think about him every day. We just try to do what coach would want us to do."
For McCall, that has meant improving on the defensive end.
Pressed into the starting lineup right out of high school, McCall averaged 10.4 points per game to become the first freshman to lead St. Louis in scoring since Larry Hughes in 1997-98.
Yet he found himself in a more limited role off the bench for much of last season.
"I had to get better defensively," McCall said. "I struggled a little bit to transform my game. College players are just as good as you. I think I've improved my all-around game. I've become a better shooter and a better ballhandler too."
McCall fought through last season's demotion to reclaim a starting job and help the Billikens reach the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Entrenched as a leader this winter, the 6-foot guard is second on the team in minutes (30.3) and steals (27), third in scoreing (10.4) and second in the Atlantic 10 in 3-point field-goal percentage at 45.3.
McCall and Neuqua Valley graduate Dwayne Evans, who leads the Billikens with 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds a game are two of the three St. Louis players to start every game.
"Last year's team was good, but I think this year's team is better," McCall said. "We have all the pieces. I don't see why we can't make it back to the tournament."
Mike McCall file
College: St. Louis.
High school: Foreman.
Numbers: 10.4 points, 2.8 assists.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun