The difference in Jordan Goodwin on the court has been obvious, but coach Travis Ford has been more impressed by what he has witnessed and heard at other moments during St. Louis University's last three games.
Goodwin has been SLU’s leader in words per game for three seasons. But after a loss to Seton Hall, Ford noticed that the junior guard was putting his talk and actions to better use.
What he was saying had intent and impact.
“In the Seton Hall game I felt like my leadership wasn’t that good,” Goodwin said. “A lot didn’t go well and I remember not saying anything. I’m the vocal piece of the team, so when things aren’t going well I need to be the one to make everyone feel good, tell everyone we’re all right.”
Goodwin’s production during a three-game win streak entering Sunday's home game against Southern Illinois University Carbondale has been impressive as well. He has averaged 17.3 points and 11.7 rebounds and shot 58 percent since the Seton Hall game.
He spurred SLU’s comeback at Boston College on Wednesday with a huge second half as the Billikens improved to 6-1 thanks in large part to his personal 9-0 run that came amid SLU’s 21-0 burst.
“The biggest thing is he’s not letting anything bother him,” Ford said. “He has not wavered from his intent of being a great leader and moving onto the next play. That’s the biggest difference from the first few games. He let little things bother him or if I said something to him. He’s as locked in at this point as I’ve seen him.”
Goodwin’s positive energy was even visible Wednesday to assistant coach Corey Tate, who was watching on TV in St. Louis because of a leg injury that kept him from traveling.
“Just watching Jordan’s body language, I knew eventually if they kept giving us opportunities we’d be OK,” Tate said.
Goodwin, a former Althoff High star, is averaging career highs in scoring (16.1 points per game) and rebounding (9.1 per game). A career 39 percent shooter his first two seasons, he is shooting 53 percent through seven games.
He continues to do the dirty work on the offensive boards, creating an abundance of scoring opportunities in the process. And he has made better decisions on shot selection, opting for the 3-pointer in fewer and better situations.
These are the types of things Goodwin discussed last week with Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, when he visited one of SLU's practices before the Billikens' game at Boston College.
“He told me that people don’t like doing the things we do — diving on the floor, playing hard all the time,” Goodwin said. “That’s what he gets paid to do in the NBA. We went to a Celtics game and he showed a lot of those things. He told me to be myself and don’t do anything I can’t do. He said to do what I’m good at and try to cover my weaknesses.”
Goodwin continues to excel as the country’s best 6-foot-3 rebounder. Last season he finished in the top 10 in the country in offensive rebounding. This season he’s creeping up the overall list.
He also is getting 2.4 steals per game. He remains the only player in SLU history to record a triple-double. The only issue at this point is his 50 percent free throw shooting.
The talking part comes naturally. But Goodwin said this season is different because Javon Bess was the player who spoke up in hard times last season. He realizes his words and actions now carry more weight.
“Last year I didn’t have this role. JB was the first one to say something so I listened to him,” Goodwin said. “Now I understand it’s my job. I have to talk to everyone when things aren’t going well. They can’t always hear it from coach. Everyone is going to get tired of hearing coach say something over and over. It’s different when it comes from me or Hasahn (French) when it’s something they can relate to.”