Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When shooters were MEN

Remember back in the old days, when bad shots were treated like bad shots? Back then an outside shooter had to be a man. He was only going to get two points for his effort, no matter how far back he was, and he was only going to draw two shots if he got fouled, not this ridiculous three-shot rule we have today. Back then he really took a risk when he shot and the reward was not as great. Back then, if he missed, he took the risk of being chastised for taking a low-percentage shot. Now he is applauded for being a "gutsy player who is willing to take the big shot" - and after all if he makes it, he gets THREE points, so it is worth the risk, and no one blames him if he misses. Back then players took shots from all over the court; now there is a groove worn from players clustering around the three-point line waiting for the ball. Ah, for the good old days!

Josh gets assists

Josh Hagins still needs to tighten up his play. It is still a little too reckless. However, it is much improved this year over last year. One things Josh does bring is assists. Even though he is the "third string" point guard, he is within two of J. T. Thomas, the team leader, even though Josh plays shooting guard or even swing guard most of the time. He does have a knack for making things happen. Now if he can just learn to be a little more careful . . .


Defense is effort

This is not strictly a true statement, of course. Some defensive systems work better than others. However, much of the time when defense is not working it is the result of a lack of effort or focus. I hope that is not our case. It is hard for me to imagine someone playing much for Steve Shields if he is not giving full effort on defense. I think this year Steve is placing a premium on help defense and rebounding, and the necessary result is that the perimeter defense is suffering. At least I hope that is the reason.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When Coach should say, "Enough!"

My acquaintances know that one of my pet basketball peeves is players who blast away from the three-point line when they are not making shots. A prime example is Nicholls State's T. J. Carpenter. He has attempted 35 treys this year, and has made a whopping FIVE of them. That is a pitiful 14.3%. If he only shot every once in a while, it would be one thing, but the next most attempts on the team is 25. And if the team had no good shooters it might be in his defense, but they have a couple of 48% shooters from the arc. But he blasts away. Coach, make him stop!

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Maurius Hill's absence

Against Kent. It appears he had some sort of injury, but we have received no definite information. Whatever the reason, we need him healthy and playing. He is by no stretch of the imagination a "big man," but he does provide a little bulk up front on a team that is lacking in depth there. We need him.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ought to do well in the Belt

We have held our own against teams from quality mid-level conferences. The wins have not been forthcoming, but we were in all the games to the end, except for BYU. That is a good sign. The last three teams are from better conferences than the Belt, and so if we are competitive against them, we ought to be more than competitive in the SBC. At least I hope so.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Next three games critically important

We want to go into conference season with some confidence, not with our tails tucked between our legs. If we want to be big time we have to play big time, and time is running out in non-conference.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

How to schedule to be undefeated

Check Kentucky's schedule so far. They have had four significant opponents. Three of them (Providence, Texas, North Carolina) were home games. The other (Kansas) was on a neutral site (Indianapolis), but was only three hours from Lexington. That is what you call a "brave" schedule.

The attendance knife

It may well be time for Steve Shields to move on to some other endeavor; he has been here a long time. However, I totally reject the idea that the coach is primarily responsible for the attendance. The coach is responsible for the team; others in the administration have to do the things it takes to draw and maintain crowds. True, some fickle sorts only come to see a "winner," and the coach is responsible to recruit and train winning teams, but placing the bulk of the burden on him because crowds stay away is illogical and unfair. Furthermore, I completely reject the idea that style of play affects attendance. That is an excuse, not a reason. Wisconsin's play has been slow during Bo Ryan's tenure, but their attendance is good.

I do not know who makes the final scheduling decisions, but this year's non-conference schedule was terrible. Terrible! Did someone just sit down and say, "Let's see when we can play the games that will draw the least number of people"? Even the moving of conference games to 7:30 was a bad idea. Our non-conference opponents are good ones. We brought some good programs into Little Rock this year; but we played them at horrendous times. Wrong days. Wrong times of the day. Just terrible scheduling!

When men's basketball is the lead sport at a school, then the AD has to try to keep good attendance at men's basketball. If Shields is stabbed with the attendance knife it would be ironic, for this year, at least, it was largely of someone else's making.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Free throws help our cause

We have made thirty more free throws this year than our opponents, or about 4.28 per game. Since our points per game is at a virtual tie with our opponents, you have to assume that free throws have made a big difference for us this year. And, as you might guess, Roger Woods has attempted eleven more FTs than anyone else on the team.

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We need a confidence win - soon

We are running out of chances for a nice, confidence-building non-conference win. Any of the next three could be it, but we have to get over the hump. It will be tough to go into the conference season on a losing streak.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How good a shooting team are we this year?

At this point in the season we are averaging 38.9% from the arc. If we finished the year like that, we would be the third-best 3PT team in Little Rock history, behind only the 2000-01 Trojans (40.7%) and the 2010-11 team (39.3%). The 00-01 team had Alan Barksdale, Nick Zachery, Mark Green and Bryan Crislip leading the way. 2010-11 had Solomon Bozeman, Alex Garcia-Mendoza putting up the best numbers.

The bad news? This would be the WORST 3PT% defensive team in school history - by a wide margin.

Not the only one with perimeter problems

We are not the only team with problems defending the perimeter. Illinois-Chicago  gives up 38.5%. Duquesne 38.7%. Colgate 36.2%. To name just a few. It seems like we are seeing more high shooting percentages from the arc this year and in the past few.

One huge problem

We have noted before that superlative performance in one or two areas can sometimes serve to overcome sub-par performance in other areas. We have a few things on this team that we do very well - point guard play, for example. At the moment all three players who might possibly work the point have at least 3:1 A/TO ratios, which is remarkable. Another is 3-point shooting. This is one of the best shooting teams Little Rock has ever had. However, we cannot let our sinkhold (defense) continue to be as bad as it is, because at some point we will have an off day in those other areas, and then our poor defense will rise up and bite us. We have one huge problem. We need to get it fixed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kentucky ought to be ashamed

They beat Columbia by ten points! Columbia! from the Ivy League. Kentucky, with all the All-Americans, all the talent, all the press - they beat Columbia by TEN POINTS! With the talent Calipari gets in there, any year in which he does not go undefeated ought to be considered a failure.

Rhode Island removed from a unique group of states

Have you ever thought how small is the group of states that have a school from a power (money) conference which has no other money conference schools in the state nor any professional teams from major sports. Arkansas is one, of course. Nebraska is another. There may be a few more. Rhode Island used to be one when Providence was in the old Big East, but now that that conference has broken up it no longer has football in the conference and so no longer has the huge train of money from ESPN moving in. So it is not a power conference and Rhode Island moves out of that peculiarly elite group.

A day late and a dollar short

Missouri State and Tulsa have been two programs that were out of our reach before - at a somewhat higher level, seemingly. This year, we came close to beating them, but not close enough. Frustrating. I guess it means we are a little better than we have been. (Maybe they are not as good.) It is hard to know whether to be encouraged that we are possibly improved, or depressed because we still cannot get there.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Drake: a fellow non-defender

Drake is 1-7 so far this season. Not very good. And there is a very good reason why. They do not play defense. Opponents shoot 48.9% against them overall and 35.3% from the arc. Plus opponents have a very good 1.40 assist/turnover ratio against, which means they are not disrupting the other folks' offensive patterns much. Drake shoots very well, but they do not defend much. And they are not winning.

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Point guards

Our three point guards have A/TO ratios of  3.28, 3.25 and 3.00. Show me any other team that can say that.

Is Hagins playing better?

Josh Hagins is shooting 35.5% this year compared to 40.7% last year. However, he is shooting 38.5% from the arc compared to 35.4% last year. And he is shooting 85% from the FT line compared with 80.6% last year. So, some improvement in some areas there. One improvement I am really happy to see is in his turnovers. He had a 1.65 assist/turnover ratio last year when he was playing a lot of point guard. He is playing more at the shooting guard this year and his A/TO is an excellent 3.28. He is averaging one turnover per game this year compared with 2.3 last year. So, overall I would say Josh us playing cleaner and more under control this year. Good for him!