Friday, February 5, 2016

So what is this team's weakness

Oh, we had several holes in the dike earlier in the season. Depth at the bigs was a big problem, but Green's return has helped solve that. Three-point shooting was not great, but we now have several options there and have improved drastically as a team. Our 3PT defense was not sterling, but our opponents are now down to 31.6%. We were getting pounded on the boards, but we just moved ahead of the opposition for the season in last night's game. Slowly we are fixing the problems. So, does this team have any significant weaknesses?

Here is one thing that impresses me

Josh Hagins has an A/TO ratio of 2.94, which is very nice; but then he is supposed to have that, because he plays point guard.

But here are some other A/TO ratios on this team from players who do not play point:
Jermaine Ruttley 2.11
Kemy Osse 1.67
Stetson Billings 1.67

Those are the kinds of numbers that win ballgames.

The disappointment? BIG disappointment? Marcus Johnson has an A/TO of 0.89.

MIS award

Most Impressive Statistic. This team does several things well, but I suppose the one thing that has impressed me the most is the fact that we hold opponents to 37.4% overall shooting percentage. It is tough to gain much traction when you are shooting at that rate.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Best rebounders

At the moment, here are our leaders in rebounds per minute played:
Shoshi .248
Hill .232
Woods .190
Ruttley .175
Isom .161


The only number that really surprised me was Ruttley. All the others are big guys or players who spend more time on the inside.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Encouragement from Beard's mistakes

Coach Beard has been a head coach, and he has been an assistant to one of the sport's legends. So he has done it, and he has seen it. BUT he has never done it before at the D1 level. And it is a little different watching someone do it than it is doing it yourself; and it is a little more complicated at the D1 level than at lower levels. Maybe not a lot, but a little.

Obviously, Beard has done a lot of things right. Most things. He has pushed the right buttons so far. But the logic above tells me that he also has to have made some mistakes. I have no idea what they might but, but I am sure he could tell you several. My point is that notwithstanding the great year we are having, our coach still has considerable upside potential. Imagine what he will be able to accomplish with a few years of D1 experience under his belt! It is possible we ain't seen nothin' yet (if we can get him to stay here).

One thing Beard will need to fix

Sagarin currently has us with the 225th-toughest schedule in the country. Only three Belt teams have an easier slate. We should have a lot of talent coming back next season, and more coming in, so we need to toughen up our non-conference schedule, since there is nothing we can do about the conference.

Calipari ought to be fired

With the talent he has, to be losing like they are, he is NOT doing his job.

Cheering defense

Not many basketball crowds appreciate half-court defense enough to cheer it. That is one good thing about the shot clock: it gives you an exact count as to how long you have held off the other team. And even if, like us, they habitually run deep into the shot clock, if the crowd rises to the occasion in the last few seconds, it can only put a little pressure on the opposition. Just a part of making a real home court advantage.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

You had better guard the arc

This from a Sports Illustrated article about Wichita State's resurgence this season:

For as good as its defense is, Wichita State could also use improvement when guarding the perimeter. Opponents are shooting 35.6% from three, making the Shockers the only top-10 team in kenpom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency to rank outside the top 100 for three-point percentage defense (they rank No. 234).

Wisconsin sticks with the plan

In 22 games so far this year, Wisconsin has had 110 individual starts. In one game sophomore guard Jordan Hill started, but other than that it has been the same five in every game.

Road trip disasters

The Sausage Factory has won one game away from Bud Walton all year, and that was to lowly Missouri, who would be in danger of losing to the Sunnyvale Nursing Home. Of course, they have played only six true road games all season, anyway. They can afford to buy plenty of wins - well, at least enough to be one game above .500.

Three-point shooting next season?

We currently are shooting 36.9% from the arc as a team, which is very acceptable, especially given our slow start. But if you look a little further into the team stats and subtract the seniors from the numbers, the players that presumably will be returning next season are shooting 39.9%.

Not much learning curve with Black

Oliver Black has spent this season learning the Beard system, so he will be jump-started for next season, and that is going to be a huge plus for us. Having a big man that does not have to have "on the job training" is a luxury at our level.

Big men next season

What with Lis' upside seemingly unlimited, and Oliver Black's return to play looming in the future, the play of our big men could a major strength for our team next season. I have no idea how Coach Beard will use them, or even if he will use them fully, but I like what I am seeing. If Black is as good as I think he may be, to the point that he can't be left on the bench, then we might see a lot of 6-11, 6-9 combinations up front. Wouldn't that be nice! Plus we will have Jalen Jackson and Maurius Hill to throw into the fray. Nice to have the options.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Don't count out Wisconsin just yet

During Bo Ryan's tenure the Badgers never finished worse than fourth in the Big Ten, which was a remarkable record. It looks unlikely that they will do that this year, though. They are currently 8th, with nine games remaining, so that will be a tough pull. However, they have won their last four games to pull to 5-4 in conference play and their four losses were by a total of 15 points, so they have not been out of any of the games. They do not have a senior starter, and outstanding freshman center Ethan Happ is just starting to come into his own - another in a long line of late-blooming big men for Wisconsin. Who knows?

It helps to be far-sighted with this team

One of my friends at work will use the phrase "passing the eye test" frequently when describing a team in some sport, either positively or negatively. "They don't pass the eye test" means that when you look at the team, they do not look like the would be particularly good.

The Trojans do not pass the eye test - and I love it! We do not have much height. We do not play flashy basketball. We play at a slow pace. All the gurus that are trying to change college  basketball to make it "more entertaining" must really hate us, because we play ugly basketball, at least they way they view things.

But look what happened with Georgia State, just for an example. They are shooting 44.1% on the year. Against us they shot 39.1%. They are shooting 33% for the year from the arc. Against us they shot 23%.

Many fans don't look at the negatives - that is, what you prevent your opponent from doing. They look at the positives, at the flash and the glitter and the big offensive numbers. To them we are ugly, because they are nearsighted. They do not look beyond the surface. To appreciate this team, you have to be far-sighted.

History in the making

Josh has been a stat sheet stuffer during his distinguished career in Little Rock. He will be in the record books as one of the all-time best in games played, FG made, 3PT shots made, FT%, assists, steals, and points scored, which shows his versatility and his consistency. Just as when Will Neighbour was in his senior year, but even more so, we are watching history in the making.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Maurius fits the pattern

Maurius Hill is third on the team in offensive rebounds, even though he is 8th in minutes played. But he fits the mold of our good offensive rebounders from the past. Not tall, but gritty and dependable.

Three-point shooting just in time

We are not a big team. Shoshi is not a big scorer, and Green has yet to show what he can do. That leaves us to undersized power forward types. We have accomplished amazing things so far this year mainly by grit and defense, because our shooting was not anything special. But in the second half of the season our shooters have stepped up and have added an extra dimension to our game - just in time, because we are starting to play teams for the second time this year, and it always helps to have seen a team firsthand.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The pressure is on

We are 18-2 with eleven regular season games left. If we lose one more regular season game, that would put us at 28-3. I assume that would give us a bye to the semis, so if we won there and lost in the finals, we would be 29-4. I just do not know if that would get us an At-large or not.

As things stand now, we have wins over San Diego State (RPI #50) and Tulsa (#62) - good, but not great. The toughest opponent remaining is Arlington at #102. Our loss to #32 Texas Tech won't hurt us, but the one to #204 Arkansas State will. Right now our schedule ranks 226th according to Sagarin, which will really hurt us.

If we win out to the finals, we might stand a chance of an at-large. But if we lose another one, I am afraid we need to plan on winning the tournament (which I hope we do, anyway, of course). Louisiana Tech had a similar situation a couple of years ago and missed out, and their conference is a little more highly-regarded than ours. The Bubble Watch sites will be cranking up here before long, so we will get some more expert opinions. It will be a nice compliment even to be on those watches.