ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rick Majerus has always shielded freshman players from the media, reasoning they have plenty to worry about already.
This season he'll be muzzling more than half the roster. Saint Louis University has seven freshman and four upperclassmen in what Majerus believes is the ``youngest team in America.''
He won't adjust his principles just because the situation leaves a shortage of spokesmen.
``I've never let freshmen talk to the media my whole life and I'm not going to start this year,'' he said. ``You're going through a very rigorous academic adjustment, you're going through a very big social adjustment and a very big basketball adjustment.''
Last season, Majerus was the new guy, discovering the strengths and weaknesses of a largely inherited team and forever complaining that there wasn't enough time in the day to mold them to his liking. He seems to have a sense of dread approaching season two of a rebuilding effort at a school that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2000.
cozy, $77 million Chaifetz Arena is likely to help develop a home-court advantage. It can't happen too quick for the coach, whose team opens Nov. 14 against Missouri-St. Louis.
``They're going to get shellacked,'' he said. ``There's a train wreck coming. It's inevitable.''
The recruiting class headed by point guard Kwamain Mitchell of Milwaukee, appears a good one. ranked it in the top 40 nationally and ranked it second-best in the Atlantic-10.
``I keep telling everybody Kwamain is going to be really good,'' senior forward Tommie Liddell III said. ``I think before it's all said and done he'll have a pretty good career at Saint Louis.''
The problem: Saint Louis needs them right away. Majerus is entering his 22nd season and is 438-162 with 11 NCAA tournament teams. He's never had a losing team. He's also never had a team this green.
``It's going to be a bloodletting,'' he said. ``They have no idea. I understand that, but they don't; they're young.''
Majerus didn't plan on having senior stalwarts Liddell and Kevin Lisch surrounded by a bunch of kids. But he's not big on fortifying with junior college talent and he likes all his youngsters, so he's prepared for the learning experience.
seven. We're just going to take our lumps.''
Most of the talking will be done by the often loquacious coach along with Lisch, a preseason all-conference pick who led the team in scoring, assists and steals, and Liddell, who averaged 12.3 points and is the top returning rebounder. The two other upperclassmen combined for 12 starts last season.
Liddell was the lone player made available after an 86-40 exhibition victory over NAIA Harris-Stowe on Wednesday - Lisch needed precautionary X-rays on his back after a fall on his tailbone, and Eberhardt served a one-game suspension for academic issues.
How did the team look?
``Young,'' Liddell said. ``Everybody looks young out there.''
He'll get used to it, just like being a voice of the team.
Majerus has never forgotten Butch Lee's embarrassment during the NCAA tournament in the 1970s when the Marquette star was quoted as saying, ``English is my most best subject.''
``It just kills the kid and I'm not going to let them get in that situation,'' Majerus said. ``This way they don't have to worry about this pressure, they don't have to worry about making those mistakes, they're not going to get blindsided.''
Majerus hopes to groom Brian Conklin, Willie Reed and Brett Thompson. But the coach sees no kiddie superstars in the making such as Memphis' Derrick Rose or Kansas State's Michael Beasley, the top two picks in this year's NBA draft.
``I like these players, they're going to be real good,'' he said. ``But they're not going to be real good right away.''

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