Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 12/23/11
ST. LOUIS Billikens coach Rick Majerus knows all too well about the challenges facing Arkansas State coach John Brady. After all, Majerus finds himself in a similar situation. Gone are the glory days of Final Four appearances for the two veteran coaches. The two now face the task of continuing rebuilding efforts at new schools. But Brady is not ready to compare the two situations just yet. "They have a nice following and tradition here with basketball," Brady said. "We don't have much of that where I am, so it's a little different. They're in the A-10, big city, brand new arena with suites. It's a little different, but we are both trying to rebuild programs." Saint Louis used a season-high 18 points from Dwayne Evans and 12 points from Brian Conklin to beat Arkansas State, 70-46, Thursday night at the Chaifetz Arena. But much of the story was centered around the matchup of two Final Four coaches. Majerus coached 15 seasons at Utah and took the Utes to the NCAA Tournament ten times. He led them to an appearance in the National Championship Game in 1998. But following a four-year break from coaching, Majerus returned to the bench at Saint Louis, hoping to turn around a program that hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since the 1999-2000 season. Brady spent ten seasons at LSU before coming to Arkansas State, leading the Tigers to two SEC titles, six postseason appearances and a trip to the 2006 Final Four. But he was fired just two years later and was introduced as the coach at Arkansas State barely a month after being let go from LSU. The two coaches found themselves in unlikely spots Thursday night, trying to continue rebuilding efforts that ten years ago they wouldn't have imagined having to do. "I think there's something to that," Majerus said. "I can't talk about his spot but I know I'm in a great spot. I like St. Louis. I like the fans. I like the kids." And both coaches appear well on their way to turning things around. Majerus has the Billikens (11-1) off to their best start since 1993-1994 and helped them earn a recent ranking in The Associated Press poll for the first time in 17 years. Brady has already led the Red Wolves to a share of the western division Sun Belt Conference Championship, back-to-back double-digit SBC wins for the first time in nearly 20 years and an undefeated 13-0 record at home last season. "We're better than we were three years ago, but we're not quite to where we can beat a Top 25 team," Brady said. "We haven't made that step yet. We need to see if we can get that done in the next year or so." The Billikens are hoping to take that step this season. Many project them to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years. Brady and Arkansas State hope to soon follow.
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