Saturday, December 3, 2016

Most balanced Trojan team I have ever seen.

Four of five starters are averaging double figures, and Hill is just a tick below it at 9.1.

Is the NBA so bad

that every year several players can go from their freshman year in college right into the league, and stick? I realize that the proliferation of teams in the league has watered down the available talent, but it still does not make sense. I understand that a Lew Alcindor or Moses Malone might have gone early to the pros, but we are getting NBA talent down into the dime-a-dozen category.

I agree, Wes

On his Facebook preview of the Tulsa game, Flanigan said, "I think the main focus right now is defensively. We've got to figure out a way to try to get some more stops more consistently." He hit that nail on the head. We are a pretty good offensive team, but our defense has been sub-par, especially for Little Rock.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Role reversal

When UAFS was junior college, it used to be a major feeder of D1 programs, including Fayetteville. Now they are a four-year school at D2, and the situation is just the reverse. Now they are getting players from the D1 schools. On their roster they have players from Georgia, SLU, Air Force, New Orleans, SEMO, and UTSA.

A peek at next season

True freshman Andre Jones is 18 of 27 from the field so far. Redshirt sophomore Ben Marcus is 10 of 15 from the field. Sure, both of those are very small samples, but they are encouraging that the pipeline won't be completely empty after this year's large senior class leaves.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

It's early, but we are making progress

At the moment, Sagarin has six Sun Belt teams in the Top 150: Georgia State, Arlington, Arkansas State, USA, Louisiana and Little Rock.

Patience rewarded

Maurius Hill labored for three seasons largely in the background in Little Rock. He was a role player, one of the glue guys who would get a few minutes, but never was a headliner. But he was patient, and his senior year is being rewarded. He is second on the team in minutes played. He leads the team in assists and is second in rebounds. His time finally came, and he is making the most of it. Good for him, and good for Little Rock.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We'll take it

Very few teams that win a lot of games in a season won't have a few squeakers. They win when they are supposed to win, but not by very much. We were expected to handle UCA. We did beat them, but by the narrowest of margins. We'll take the win, hopefully we'll learn from it, and be thankful for one that almost got away, but didn't.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Exceptional years help make exceptional years

It is a self-evident statement,  but it certainly helps for a team to have an exceptional year if its main scoring threat has an exceptional year. It is not absolutely essential, but it certainly makes things easier. Josh Hagins picked a good time to have a career season, for example. Marcus Johnson is scoring well - 15 points/game is nothing to sneeze at - but he is not shooting well. An anemic 23% from the arc is not going to get it done for one of your main 3-point threats. What has saved Marcus' bacon (and ours) is that he is getting to the line a lot and making his FTs. But if he can get his stroke going from outside it will make a huge difference (I predict) to this team's offense.

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's even true in prison

Up The River (1938) is a great old movie starring Preston Foster and the incomparable Arthur Treacher and a sterling cast of character actors. Early in the film, as Treacher and Foster return back to prison after being pinched once again for pulling bunko tricks, Slim Summerville, the coach of the prison football team, comments, "You read about them high-powered coaches, but I've coached at Atlanta, Levenworth and Sing-Sing, and a coach is no better than his material."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Assessment

We are 2-2 in D1 games. One of those losses was by one point when we played  absolutely terribly. Basically, when we have played well, we have won. When we played badly, we have lost. Conclusion, we are pretty good, but not good enough to win when we play badly.

Friday, November 25, 2016

When we get both barrells going

We have shown good shooting discipline so far this season in that our two "designated" 3-point shooters are taking most of the shots. Almost 60% of our attempts from the arc have been taken by Osse or Johnson. Our shooters are doing the shooting. The problem is that one of our shooters is only shooting 23%. Presumably that will change over time, and then things should begin to really click.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Once again the differentials are good

FG%: LR 57%, Opponents 41%
3PT%: LR 36%, Opp 34%
Rebounds: LR 38, Opp 32
Turnovers: LR 12.3, Opp 14.7

Proud of this team

This team is not as good as last year's team, at least at this point. We lost some key players, and have two players who presumably will be in the rotation who are not available. However, it can be pretty good, even with those who currently are available. I was very proud of the way the team bounced back from the tough loss to Pepperdine. They played good ball last night. They took good shots and it showed in their shooting percentage. MUCH improved from the night before. I don't know how the season will progress, but this team has the potential to be good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

We have GOT to get back to what brung us

1. Play under control
2. Good shot selection. If it ain't good, don't take it.
3. Punishing half-court defense

We did not have any of those last night against Pepperdine.

Scorers

The good news? We have several players who can score this year. Three in double figures and two more with 9-plus.

A story of two games

Game One. The Trojans bounce back from a disappointing loss with a clutch win over a team from a higher-ranked conference. They shoot 50% from the arc, make almost as many FTs as the other team shoots, and hold the opposition to a paltry 19% from 3-point range. Lis Shoshi hits 12 of 14 FTs. Forward Maurius Hill has three assists and zero turnovers.

Game Two. We shoot 36% overall and 25% from the arc. Our opponents shoot 51% overall and 53% from the arc. Only one player with double-figure minutes shoots over 33% from the field. Our main back-up at center scores one point on a FT, has four fouls and a turnover in 11 minutes played.

What a difference a day makes - in the wrong direction.

Which team will show up from here on?

Unlucky from the get-go

We have noted that you have to be lucky as well as good to win big. Last year we were both. Chris Beard dodged the bullet. This year the bullet hit us before we even took a step. Imagine playing a stretch of several games last season without Josh Hagins. Think it would have made a difference? You can count on it! And even worse, when a team gets out of rhythm because of a missing player, sometimes it is difficult to get back in rhythm. But we had no injuries, and we won 30 games.

I think one of the biggest factors in our difficulties thus far this season is that Marcus Johnson is playing point guard. Sure, he played point in juco and had gaudy stats, but it is a different game down there. The point guard's single biggest stat is the bottom line. He may score some, even quite a bit, but he stat he looks for is the one that shows how well the collective group for which he is the floor manager is doing. Does he make the other players better? Marcus does not appear to be as good at doing that as Hagins was as a senior. (It is worth mentioning that Hagins was not as good at doing it before his senior year.)

Johnson appears to think like a 2 guard - score first. That is understandable, since that is what he was expected to do last year, and did it very well, and he is our main scoring threat this year. What we need is someone with a point guard's mentality who can take that away from Marcus and allow him to do what he did so well last season. But that player is hurt.

This year, we have not been as lucky.

Rejoicing with our brethren

I love it when "at" schools beat the big schools that don't have to wear the "at." Fort Wayne (IPFW) knocked off #3 Indiana last night. I like it! Give Tom Crean a lot of credit for scheduling the game, although he probably wishes now that he had not. He has tons more courage than the Sausage Factory to the north of us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Who will Watkins replace?

I assumed (and it appeared many others did, also) that Dayshawn Watkins would be the starting point guard from Day One this season. But then he got hurt. Presumably he will return before long, but then where do you put him? Johnson is averaging 16 points per game, and Osse is shooting 48% from the arc and has only one turnover for the year.