Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Substitution strategy

All else being equal, you would want your best starting five on the floor for the entire game. However, that is not practical, because there are several other factors that enter in. First is morale. Everyone wants playing time, and if they never get on the floor because they are not quite as good as the starters, they will be looking elsewhere, especially in today's revolving door transfer atmosphere. So, the coach has to balance morale with team efficiency.

Second is the fatigue factor. If a player is at 95% because of fatigue, do you pull him to put in another player that is 90% as good as he is? That is the kind of decisions a coach has to make. Then there is the problem of player availability because of foul problems, how certain players mesh together, etc., etc. There is a lot to be considered.

Rivalry games

“You can throw out the records when these two teams play.” How many times have you heard that? But it its true often enough to have the ring of a proverb to it. For example, this past season we lost five games, and one of them was to Arkansas State.  They won only eleven games, but one of them was  over us.

The advantage of paying your dues

Some coaches come to college directly from the pros or other parts. However, most of them serve their time as assistant coaches, many for several years under several different coaches. There is a big advantage in this system both to them and to the schools who will eventually hire them as head coaches. They get a broad perspective of philosophies and coaching styles. They get to observe coaching mistakes up close and ugly, and also to benchmark those things that work. Prospective employers get a track record of their personalities and work ethic.

This still holds true

Recruit centers and point guards. Lots of them. Truckloads of them. All you can get of them. The other positions are much easier to fill.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mixed emotions

Matt Centrowitz of USA won the 1500 meters at the Olympics, but I have mixed emotions about it. He is a very good runner, and deserved to win as much as anyone. It was the first victory in this event for the USA since 1908. That's good. He ran a smart race, controlling the pace and making sure he kept the lead.

However, it was also the slowest time since 1932. That's bad. I hate those races where everyone sits back and tries to win by kicking down the stretch - trying for gain without pain. I had much rather see a courageous, gutsy runner go out hard, and challenge the others to stay with him.

So, the bottom line? Nice victory. Lousy race.

The greatest game?

There may have been greater performances than Bill Walton's in the 1973 NCAA finals against Memphis State, but not many; and certainly none in more clutch situations. He scored 44 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. His total was over half his team's points. The most staggering figure of all, though, is that he made 21 of 22 shots from the field. That is almost unbelievable. And it was not like Memphis State did not have a quality front line. Larry Kenon was 6-9 and went on to be a five-time All-Star in the pros. Ronnie Robinson was 6-8 and was drafted by Phoenix. But this particular day there was just no stopping Walton.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Making post-season

You may argue that it is a good thing or not, but without question making the post-season in college basketball is not nearly as meaningful thing as it used to be. With the three additional tournaments, anyone that is a fair way past mediocre can make some sort of tournament, if they want to pay the money. Nice for advertising, nice for coaches' resumes - but not nearly as significant as it used to be before they enlarged the NCAA.

Osse's critical role

The slot for Kemy Osse on this team got more important with the departure of Josh Hagins and Mareik Isom. He becomes The Other Shooter. Marcus Johnson, of course, fills the slot of #1 Gunner, but someone has to be Option 2 behind him. As things stand right now, Osse is that man.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Olympic sports

To me it somehow does not make sense to include some sports in the Olympics.  Any sport for which the Games would be anti-climactic just does not seem to belong. For tennis, the apex will be Wimbledon or one of the Opens. For soccer it is the World Cup. For golf it is the Majors. The Olympics are just an also-ran for those, and so it makes not sense to me to include them.


These are arbitrary position designations, and we probably do not have any true centers on the team. However, I would guess that Black is the closest we do have, and he could turn into a pretty competent guy in the middle. Shoshi held his own last season, but he really is not a pounder down low. They will get the job done, although I do not expect them to be dominant inside.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Power forward

Hill, Jackson, Black, Goldman, Shoshi. We are well stocked here. We can mix and match pretty well. We really do not have the punishing, dominant rebounder that so often camps out at this spot in the lineup. Maybe Black can develop into that. We need it. Rebounding was one of the few weaknesses of this team last season, especially on the offensive end. I do not think this spot will have to provide a lot of scoring (unless it is Jackson), so whoever is here can concentrate on other things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


I watched the finals of the mixed doubles in the Olympics. Nothing back-yardish about that game at that level. You have to have lightning reflexes, as sometimes the smashes travel 300 mph, according to the commentators.

Our recruiting pattern

I grant that Verbal Commits may not list all our offers to recruits. However, let us suppose that they are as accurate as any other source.

Next year we have to replace Shoshi (4/5), presumably Corbyn Jackson's scholarship (4), Jalen Jackson (3/4), Hill (3/4), Stetson(3), Osse (2) and Johnson (1/2). According to VC, at the moment we have 11 offers out for next year's class, and one verbal commitment. By their positioning, that amounts to two point guards, five SGs, and four SFs. Zero 4s or 5s. Since four of the seven departing players should play all or part of their time at those slots, it concerns me somewhat that we have not offered anyone at all in those positions. Three of the offerees are 6-8 or 6-6, which could be PF size by Belt standards, but evidently that is not their best or natural position.

Small forward

Andre Jones, Maurius Hill, Stetson Billings, Jalen Jackson, Shandon Goldman. The 3 is the most generic of the positions, and thus usually has the most depth. Several of these could be sliding over to the 4, which was almost interchangeable with the 3 last year. My guess is that Maurius and Jalen will get the most minutes at this slot, with a lot of mix and match. We may see them on the court together a lot of times. It will be very interesting to see how the newcomers fit in. I am not convinced Goldman will be a 3 at the D1 level, but that is how he was advertised. Jackson will probably be on the floor in tandem with someone smaller, and thus theoretically at the 4, but again, designations mean little in such matters.

If I have to guess, Maurius will start at one of the positions, mainly because he is a dependable and versatile player, even if not the most talented of this group. One benchmark for this team: if Jones starts at any position, expect this team to be really good, because he will have beaten out a pretty fair ball player.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shooting guard

Like point guard, this should be a strong position, probably the strongest on the team. Marcus Johnson could be in for a POY-type season, as long as he does not try to do too much and just lets the season come to him. Kemy Osse is experienced, strong and versatile. Those two players will get the lion's share of minutes (maybe 90%) at this spot, unless Coach shakes things up somehow.

Deondre Burns has yet to show what he can do, but seems to have potential. Evan Moorman can absolutely shoot the rock! Andre Jones may get a good many minutes here or at the 3.

We are in good shape at the shooting guard position. Talented and deep.

Monday, August 15, 2016

I still don't like it

I know Usain Bolt is one of the best sprinters in history, but I still do not like a show-off.

So you think all Wilt could do was dunk it? Watch this!


That is what a lot of people say, that Wilt Chamberlain could only dunk the ball or shoot finger rolls. But watch this video, and then see if you agree. I don't see anyone playing today who could carry his duffle bag.

Point guard

This ought not to be a problem. In fact, it ought to be in very good shape. Watkins, Johnson, Pippins, Burns, Osse: all of them have played point in the past, even if it is not their best position.Everything seems to point to Watkins as the favorite for minutes, but hopefully someone will push him.

Not many coaches seem to like "point by committee," and I agree with that. I like to see the main point guard playing about 30 minutes per game. That gives the team a chance to stay in rhythm, while still giving the starter a little rest. I could be wrong, but my best guess is that that is about what Watkins will play, with Johnson sliding over whenever Osse is in the game at the 2.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

We could be better

I will start by saying  that I do not expect to win 30 games or anything very close to it. Everything broke our way last season, and you do not expect that to happen very often. But, let's look at it position by position.

1. It is not likely that anyone will surpass Josh Hagins this season. DOWN

2. Let's assume that Marcus Johnson will get the second year D1 bump. With Hagins gone, he will become the focus, and he has the tools to make the plays. Throw in Kemy Osse and this position is probably the strength of the team. UP

3. Who knows who will be playing most of the minutes here. But for the sake of argument, let's assume it is Maurius Hill, with Jalen/Stetson (maybe Goldman?) getting a lot of minutes. We lose the availability of Jermaine Ruttley, Mareik Isom and Roger Woods at this slot, but with a veteran group of returners, I think we hold our own. EVEN

4. Mareik Isom/Roger Woods is a big loss here. That will be hard to replace. However, we have Black/Jalen/Goldman/Hill available, and we ought to be able to get good performance out of that combination. DOWN SLIGHTLY

5. Lis Shoshi should be better - possible significantly better. Plus, he now has Black as a legit big-man to help him. UP

So, what is the verdict? This team ought to be as good as last year's. Maybe better. But we probably will not win as many games.

Crisis coming up in track

Talk about a recruiting job! We will have nine seniors on our track and field roster this season, and only five who should returning next year.