Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When coaches don't do their jobs

You will see this kind of stat occasionally. Greg Sprink led Navy in scoring last season at 21.8 points per game. Good, right? Well, not so much. He averaged 36.1% from the field, the worst on the team for anyone with more than 104 minutes, and 4 points below the team average. He averaged 29.9% from the arc, 4.5 points below the team average. When someone who is considerably below average is doing the lion's share of your shooting, something is wrong.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Winning without true big men

It is very difficult for teams at our level to get true big men of any quality. If we do, usually we have to develop a "project." However, teams can win without true big men. Butler won 30 games this last season and had only one player 6-8, and everyone else shorter than that. And they didn't play "playground ball," but ran good, disciplined, hard-nosed basketball. It can be done.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What makes good rebounders

It is interesting to watch good rebounder and wonder what makes one. Sidney Moncrief is the all-time leader at Fayetteville, and I heard that his leaping ability and particularly his timing on his jumps was what made him good. Rashad Jones-Jennings said his ability to anticipate how the ball would come off the rim helped him, and his coach said his fundamentally-sound technique and just pure desire had a lot to do with it. He was far from being the best athlete and leaper even on his team. Wes Unseld was one of the smallest NBA centers in the modern era, and yet he was a dominant rebounder. Obviously, positioning is a key, also.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Am I off base to say there is a difference between maximum effort and maximum intensity? Sometimes young players give such a physical effort on the court that they overplay and make mental errors. In basketball so much depends upon being in the right place at the right time, and that takes great concentration – as well as great effort. Focus, concentration, intensity. Got to have them.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Defense on the road

ASU proved that you have to have defense to win on the road. They had great offensive stats, but only won one road game all year because they couldn't stop other teams.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Life in the SWAC

The SWAC is one of the two HBCU (Historically Black College & Universities). The difficulties of competing at the D-1 level are unbelievable. Here is a good ESPN article about Alcorn's problems.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Non D-1 games

I don't like non-D1 games, not at all. However, they do have their point, IF they involve in-state teams. If you are essentially buying a win, it is reportedly much cheaper to buy a non-D1 win. So, at a level where money does not grow on trees, that is a factor. However, if the opponent should get hot and beat you, it is significantly less embarrassing to get beat by a D-1 team, even if it is a bottom feeder, than one not D1.

I won't criticize Shields too much

Steve Shields led the team to its first 20-win season since 1996 with a team loaded with new faces, so I won't criticize him too much. I thought it took him too long to get his starting lineup set, and he did not play to his team's strengths at times, but it is hard to argue with the results. Looking for better things next season.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Courtney Jackson

In an article about our recruiting, Jim Harris had this to say about Courtney Jackson:

Excitement was already running high at UALR in regards to recruiting thanks to Jackson's signing in November. "I'm excited as anything about him," Shields said of the regional MVP. "He plays extremely hard every time out. He can really shoot the basketball. Like Solomon [Bozeman], he has a great feel for the game. I think he can play extended minutes as a freshman." Shields describes Jackson as a player who can interchange between the small and power forward spots, with the ability to play facing the basket or to back in as a small post player. Landing Jackson in November was paramount, Shields said. "He's a guy that had we not gotten him early, I don't think we would have had an opportunity to get him late. We recruited him throughout his junior year and the summer and fortunately were able to get him in the fall."

Evidently this is a bigger deal than I had realized. It is hard to know how good a player is just by reading reports. He is ranked as the 13th best player in Texas by one rating service. Hopefully this is the gem we have been waiting for.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What you can control

Recruiting determines the national champion to a large extent, but at our level what is critical is what you can control. You cannot control recruiting - cannot force recruits to come to your school. But you can play good basketball and work hard. How many games would you win if you had zero unforced turnovers, zero defensive mental lapses, took zero bad shots? A lot more than we do.