Thursday, July 2, 2015

Defense and rebounding are the constants

Offense is a tricky thing. Sometimes you are "on," and occasionally you are not. If a team has several offensive threats, and is not one-dimensional, that helps to level out the hills and valleys;  but even so, teams just inexplicably go cold sometimes. Defense and rebounding, however, are effort and fundamentals, and they are much more controllable than offense because of that. They are the constants.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One of the most mature teams ever?

At the moment we have 12 scholarship players on the roster. One is a true freshman; all the others are juniors or seniors, and among those eleven are four redshirts. We certainly cannot complain about youth in this program.

Here is a new motto for you

LITTLE ROCK TROJANS
We don't oink!

A place for blue collars?

A few of the holdovers from the Shields era fall into the "dependable, but definitely not spectacular" mold that was so prevalent in those days. I wonder if there will be a place for them in the new scheme of things. We lacked firepower before, but will there be any premium on consistency and dependability? And will the new offensive and defensive systems value those qualities as much as in the past. I do not know, of course, so I am not predicting - just wondering.

We aren't the only ones with a lot of new faces this year

Norfolk State has eight incoming recruits. And even with that, College Sports Madness picks them to win the MEAC.

Sun Belt recruiting analyses?

One thing that would make the off season more enjoyable would be if there were someone who was in a position to know who would do an informed and unbiased analysis of the recruiting in the Sun Belt. Sure, Rivals and ESPN have ratings of the top tier of Belt recruits, but apart from that, they largely ignore them. Most of our recruits are "under the radar" sorts, and the average "expert" is not going to know much about them, or at least pay much attention to them.

Georgetown and big men

"So what had made Georgetown so good for so long? Big men, of course. There aren't many programs more associated with a singular position than the Hoyas are with the center spot." (from Dana O'Neil's preview on the ESPN site)

And, of course, they had a very big man for a coach in John Thompson.

Remembering Dr. Delano Meriwether

Back in the good old days, I followed track and field very closely. One of the more interesting stories from that era was that of Dr. Delano Meriwether. He was born in 1943, and only began competitive running in 1970, while working at the Baltimore Cancer Research Center. In other words, he was a rank novice who exploded on the United States track and field scene. He won the 100 yard dash at the 1971 AAU Championships in Eugene, Oregon, while wearing a hospital shirt, gold and white suspenders, and swimming trunks - since he was unattached to any educational institution. He recorded a 9.0 time, the second ever run after John Carlos, although it did not count as a record because it was wind-aided.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bo Ryan has done it his way

Ryan is simply unrivaled when it comes to player development and finding prospects who fit his unique system.
I checked the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings going back to 2003. In that 13-class span, this is how many times Wisconsin has been ranked in the top 25 (and later top 30): zero.
Yet Ryan's teams have played in the NCAA tournament every year since he arrived in Madison in 2001 (14 years running), won at least 23 games 11 times and had double-digit Big Ten wins 13 times. They are recession-proof. And they've made a lot of hotshot recruiters look bad by comparison.
[by Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde]

The first national champion?

Before there was the NCAA tournament or the AP poll, there was the Helms Athletic Foundation, and they awarded national championships WAY back. Their first national college basketball champion? Yale, in the 1900-01 season, with a record of 10-4.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Over and under

My impression is that the best and worst case scenarios for this team vary widely. I think we have enough talent to win it all, although everything would have to break just right. We have more perimeter offensive firepower than we have had in a while, and if the post game can just hold its own, we could be really good. On the other hand, we have a LOT of incoming upperclassmen, most of whom were The Man at their previous stops, and that can be a formula for a train wreck if things don't mesh just right. Of course, that is the coach's job to take care of such things, but the players have to buy in, and put way their egos, and there is no way of knowing whether or not we will have a couple of problem players in the locker room. Hope not, but it has happened before. If it does happen, it is not hard to envision a second-division finish.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A system slanted toward the rich

There are 351 D1 teams with 13 scholarships each = 4563 college basketball players. How many of those realistically have even an outside shot at the NBA? And yet the whole system is geared toward teams that are able to attract NBA talent who for all practical purposes never have to attend class. Why are those players even in the college game? They do not want to be in college, or they would stay in college. Why do we make them be in college? And the players who do stay in college, go to class, stay eligible, and who learn the game and work as a part of a team to win games - they are penalized by a system that only really focuses upon maybe 1% of the college basketball population. The system is broken!

The "Bum of the Month" Club

Old-timers will remember this name for a series of opponents of heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. From 4 Jan 1938 through 23 May 1941, he defended his title fifteen times, winning all of them, nine of them in the first five rounds, and three in a row in the first round. Calling the opponents "bums" certainly does an injustice to the prowess of the champ. Two of them were Max Schmeling, a former heavyweight champ, and light-heavyweight champ john Henry Lewis.

"Of the twelve fighters Louis faced during this period, five were rated by The Ring as top-ten heavyweights in the year they fought Louis: Galento (overall #2 heavyweight in 1939), Bob Pastor (#3, 1939), Godoy (#3, 1940), Simon (#6, 1941) and Baer (#8, 1941); four others (Musto, Dorazio, Burman and Johnny Paycheck) were ranked in the top ten in a different year" [quote from Wikipedia].

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Two pipelines to Fort Smith

The UAFS Lions are beginning to see a couple of patterns in their recruiting. The first is through Serbia. Djordje and Dusan Stojanovic were both stalwarts for the Lions in recent years. This year's class includes Dusan Ranitovic and Ognjen Vasiljevic, both also from Serbia. If the two new guys contribute as much as the first two, they will be good ones.

The Lions are also getting more than their share of D1 transfers. Returning players Kenny Martin (Ariz State) and Dominique Raney (Canisius), plus new signees Richie Spiller (Florida A&M), Edwin Olympio (UTSA), Darrius Parker (Air Force) and Hunter Ball (UCA) all have been on D1 rosters previously. Plus Dalton Glapion (New Orleans) reportedly will redshirt and be available for the 2016-2017 season.

"What might have been" with David Robinson

The Admiral is acknowledged as one of the best big men ever to play the college or professional games. However, as far as college is concerned, one wonders how he might be regarded had he played for one of the elite programs. He carried Navy to the Elite Eight. The recruiting limitations that afflict the military academies are well known, so his supporting cast was not what he might have had at a big-name school. For myself, I am glad he went to Navy. He did not win an NCAA title, but he stands high (literally and figuratively) in my estimation for doing what he did.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A nice compliment to Cincinnati

From ESPN's "Looking Ahead" series:
"The fact is this is what Cincinnati is: a team whose looks are frequently deceiving. The Bearcats play bigger than they are because they usually play harder."

What the Belt needs now is stability

It is nice to see some new faces in the conference from time to time, but we (like the rest of college athletics) have been overdoing it the last two or three years. What we need right now is a little normal, stable life so that we can get used to our new stablemates and develop some rivalries.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I do not know who I would pick right now

Although my prognostications have been notoriously off the mark, I suppose I will do my Pappy's Predictions again this year. However, I will have to give it some study before I do. Quite honestly, right at the moment I do not know who I would pick to win it all, or even to be the top tier. Looks like another season of tough picks.

Players who bond with the school

We have had players, including several jucos, who really identify with the university and become familiar figures at games and on the campus even when they are no longer playing. That is what you like to see. It just gives a nice feel to the program when the players "stick."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Another big man

I think we are OK on the roster and I do not know that I would spend another scholarship just to be doing it. But if we do, I hope it is another big man. Daniel Green's health appears to be fragile, and you just never can have too much height, especially at our level.