Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The cost of rule changes

Rule changes in basketball (or any sport) maybe necessary to adapt the game to unforeseen changes in the climate or environment of the game. However, one thing they cost us is the ability to compare eras. Every change in the games makes the apple a less less like the apple to which you are comparing it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No peg to hang his hat

Almost every coach will have something that is characteristic of his teams, something that he emphasizes particularly and at  which his teams are especially good. Part of the problem last year is that we really never found that peg. Part of that may have been the fact that Wes was working with a team that had been successful under another man's system, and he no doubt was reluctant to change too much the things that had worked well previously. This year will be different in that respect, at least, because of the large turnover of players. This will be Wes' team, and he can put his stamp on it, for better or for worse. I am curious to find out what particular aspects of the game Wes hangs his hat on. Thus far he has not established one.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Does talent matter more today?

There was a day when coaches could recruit kids who had potential, knowing that they very likely were going to have four years to develop their gifts (and for a time they wouldn't even be eligible for their freshman year). With One-and-done and the plague of constant transfers these days, coaches probably feel fortunate if they have a player for two years, let alone four, or five with a redshirt season (the ideal for player development). No wonder coaches feel the pressure to recruit. The future is NOW. There is no future. Raw talent probably matters more now because there is much less of a chance to teach, since the players may not be staying long.

Of course, you cannot force a player to stay at your school, but I wonder if schools below the elite level are putting more of a premium these days on the likelihood of a player to stay at the school. How you measure such a thing, I don't know; but if you could somehow factor in loyalty, it would be worth something to coaches in recruiting. "He is not a world-beater now, but he appears to have potential, and he probably will stay with us, and he might be pretty good by his senior year."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Biggest crowd

According to Wikipedia, the world highest attended league championship event is the Australian Football League Grand Final, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It draws approximately 100,000 spectators.

Image result for Australian Rules Football Players

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spice up this next season

Want to make this next basketball season more enjoyable? Here is one thing that might help.

Pick out some down-and-out team that you sort of like, and become a fan. Keep up with their games, and maybe even their stats. Get to know their roster and a little bit about the team history. Have they ever had any notable success? Who were the big name players in their history?

By seeing the teams in front and jumping on their bandwagons you can stick out your chest and proclaim that you are a "winner," but in my experience, at least, that is not nearly as much fun as grabbing hold of a team and riding out the storm. It was a long time coming, but think how much fun the Chicago Cubs had at finally  winning another World Series.

So take on a little project for 2017-18. Find a team to "sponsor" as a fan. It might be one with which you have a logical connection (maybe your cousin-in-law once attended there), or it may just be because you like the name (Quinnipiac is fun to say). Just do it. My 92-year-old father does not keep up with sports (and couldn't remember it if he did), but when we watch games on television, he will usually decided who he is going to root for - and then promptly go to sleep - but at least he has his favorite. It makes being a fan a lot more fun.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What makes us dislike teams?

Sometimes the reason that we root vigorously against a particular team is just instinctive, but other times it is easier to pinpoint. It may be a traditional rivalry (Little Rock  vs. stAte). It may be because the team has an obnoxious player (or player's parent, see UCLA). It may be because of prolonged success (NY Yankees). Or because some relative of yours is from there and you merely want to perpetuate a friendly rivalry. It may be because the coach is a scumbag (West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisville). It may be because of some memorable, bench-clearing fracas or off-court confrontation in years past (see New Orleans). Or, as we said above, it may not be a definable reason, just a gut instinct.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The strange saga of Rick Ankiel

In 1999, Rick Ankiel was the hottest pitching prospect the St. Louis Cardinals had had in a long time. He pitched in the majors part of that season and all of the 2000 season, with a devastating curve ball and outstanding stats for a rookie. He was picked to start the first game of the National League division series and did OK for two innings. Then, inexplicably, he blew up in the third inning, throwing five wild pitches. He came back in game two of the league championship series, but was still hopelessly wild. After surgery, he appeared to get his control back, but announced that he was not going to pitch again.

Ankiel was invited to the Cards' 2007 spring training camp, and eventually worked his way to the majors as an outfielder. He played in the outfield through the 2013 season. In eleven major league seasons, he had a .240 average, 76 home runs and 251 RBIs. His best hitting season was 2008 when he had 25 home runs, 71 RBIs and a .264 average.

There were the obvious comparisons to Babe Ruth when Ankiel switched from pitching to hitting. However, the Babe was considerably better at both positions, having put up what possibly would have become  Hall of Fame numbers as a pitcher (2.28 career ERA), and you know what he did as a hitter. That is not to take away  from Ankiel's accomplishments, which were remarkable in themselves.

Image result for rick ankiel

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Better than advertised

According to Verbal Commits, all of our incoming recruits are rated as two-stars, which means they are no better than average, or are not even on the ranking services' radars. Now, some of them might beat that. In fact, some of them are going to have to beat that if we are going to have any measure of success this season. Someone is going to have to be better than advertised.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dayton defense

(from ESPN)

"[Archie] Miller didn't have the elite recruits he might attract to Bloomington, but he had some dogs at Dayton, meet-me-in-the-alley players who anchored an Elite Eight run in 2014 that kicked off four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. When you played Dayton under Miller, you knew the Flyers were coming to fight."

I love it! That is what Little Rock basketball has been in recent years, and what we badly need to get back to!

Abdul-Jabbar hit the nail on the head

(from an ESPN article)

"They're there less than six months. It's not even six months and they're gone," Abdul-Jabbar said. "It's a travesty, I think. They're just using the college system as a stepping stone to the NBA, and that's really unfortunate. I think an education is vital to having a good life, and these guys aren't getting that opportunity. It's sad."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Our own Icelanders

Back in 2014 I noted that between LIU-Brooklyn and St. Francis-Brooklyn there were three basketball players from Iceland in that borough of New York. Given the small population of that island nation, I thought that was somewhat unique.

Well, we now have our own Icelanders in Little Rock. On 10 May, the Trojan women's soccer program announced their recruits for the upcoming season. Bergrós Ásgeirsdóttir and Hafdis Gunnarsdóttir are joining us. Glad to have them.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Want to guess?

Would you like to take a guess at which of our new players will be the most productive (and thus get the most minutes) this season?

I am going to guess Reedus, because he was pretty good at the juco level, Hadzic, because his father is a coach and he has some international experience, and of course Mompremier, because he is an experienced big man.

But there will be lots of minutes available to anyone who wants to work for them.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Softball pitchers

My sweet, 87-year old mother never weighed more than 100 pounds except when she was expecting one of us children. My father and I sometimes watch whatever athletic contest happens to be on television, which this time of year frequently is college women's softball. Mama recently commented on how many of the pitchers seem to be (how shall I say this?) somewhat "broad abaft the beam," and  that wide-screen television only exaggerates the impression. (She said it; I didn't.)

The best Trojan season ever?

"Best season" is a subjective superlative, but we can at least nominate candidates for the award. Back in 1972 (my first year of college) the statistics at Little Rock were incomplete,  but we do know that Charlie Johnson had a monster season. In leading the Trojans to a 16-9 record, he averaged 18.0 ppg and 16.4 rpg (2nd-best ever by a Trojan). No Trojan has ever averaged more points AND rebounds in the same season.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

An answer to the One and Done problem

Allow 13 scholarships, but stipulate that they are 4-year, non-transferrable scholarships. Thus, if a player is signed to one of them and  leaves school after a year, the school cannot award that scholarship to another player until the full four years of that player's tenure are finished.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The annual Name of the Year award

Wasn't it just the other day that we were grimacing just to look at the painfully thin frame of Manute Bol? Well, time does slip by, and now his son is being recruited and wins our annual Name of the Year.

Bol Bol.

Have fun with that one, PA announcers.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The standing jumps

The standing long jump was an Olympic event from 1900 to 1912. The standing triple jump was an event in 1900 and 1904. The USA's Ray Ewry (below) won eight gold medals in the two events, making him the all-time king of those events. He overcame childhood polio in order to become an international champion.

It seems that each year we see new obscure and contrived events being added to the Olympic program. I mean, even beach volleyball is an Olympic event, for crying out loud! It is curious to me why some of these far-fetched items should be added and the standing jumps should have been removed. Norway is the only country today in which the standing long jump is awarded a national championship.

Ray Ewry 1908b.jpg

Monday, May 8, 2017

Proof: The 3-point shot is completely taking over the game.


The article referenced in the link above proves that the 3-point shot is taking over the college basketball game (as if anyone did not already know that). It is turning into a game of HORSE. In the college game one in three shots is taken from a range that would have been considered a risky attempt a generation or so ago.

* NBA teams took the highest percentage of shots from beyond the arc (31.6%) in the league's history.
* NCAA Division I men's teams took the highest percentage of shots from beyond the arc (36.4%) in D-I history.
* NCAA D-II men's teams took the highest percentage of shots from beyond the arc (36.0%) in D-II history.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Wes feels the heat

From the official site:

"We all had high expectations coming into the 2016-17 season, and trust that no one is more disappointed than my staff and I. Our program will embrace the adversity and use it an asset as we approach this offseason."

Wes Flanigan is not on the hot seat yet, after only one season. However, it is several degrees warmer than it was at this time last season. At least he recognizes that fact.