Tuesday, November 30, 2010

being good

Teams who win big have to be superlatively good at something. They do not have to do everything well, but they have to do something well. They can get by on the boards if they get a lot of turnovers, and vice versa. They don't have to be great shooters if they play great defense. But they cannot be mediocre at everything. They have to make their stake somewhere.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

get them coming while they are young

For us to build a fan base, you have to get them while they are young. We need to be doing whatever we have to do to get school age children into the Jack to watch the Trojans play. Especially if they are in the end zone bleachers, they will be close to the action, and should have a lot of fun.

We also need to have an aggressive visitation schedule of players going to schools and other youth organizations during the off season.


We are just going to have to get used to the fact that this team wins games "ugly." They won't dazzle you with offense normally, but they will frustrate the other team offensively with their defense. As long as their offense is efficient, even if not spectacular, they will win a lot of games.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I know one thing: no program ever caught fire by fans being deliberately pessimistic. I am going to be optimistic. Why not?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The constant is back

The one thing that Steve Shields teams have done superlatively well when they have won is to guard the perimeter. Teams just have not shot the 3 well against his better teams. It appears (admittedly based on a very small sample) that the perimeter defense is back. If so, there is hope, because a lot of teams live on the 3, and hopefully die on the 3 against Little Rock.


I have absolutely no idea if Will Neighbour will be the player who gets Little Rock around that frustrating corner that has blocked us for so many years. He could be. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge to make it over the top. It could just as easily be some other player who is coming in who makes that difference. But a little optimism has been badly needed in this program. I don't like it, but basketball fans are far too prone to judge success by tournaments (one of the things I dislike about college basketball). And we have not been to postseason in a long time. Myself, I had rather win the guaranteed berth in the NIT by winning the regular season, but I'll take either one. Here's hoping.

dissertation fodder

It would be an interesting topic for a doctoral dissertation in sports management to see how some non-Big Six schools have been able to sustain success over multiple coaches and decades. There have not been too many of them, so it should not be too difficult to track. You would have to establish the factors that are relevant, and then see how those programs managed each of the factors. Attaining success is one thing, and I suspect that it is relatively simple – just spend enough money to bring in a big-name coach who can get instant recruiting pop. However, sustaining that success is another matter, which becomes more a function of the administration instead of a single coach.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Living on the edge

Denver is a good example of the perils of living on the edge – that is, on the 3-point arc. Approximately 43% of their shots so far have been 3-pointers – a very high total, but not atypical for Princeton offense teams. They have shot FTs pretty well (78.3%), but they have shot only 46 FTs, while their opponents have shot 86, again, typical of the Princeton offense. They have lost the three games by a total of 39 points. Their opponents have made 32 more FT’s than they have. Spread those 32 points around right, and there might be a couple of wins.

Teams that live on the perimeter don’t shoot many free throws.

Pine Bluff's lineup

Even Pine Bluff in the SWAC starts a front line of 6-10, 6-8, 6-6. I don't know if we can't get height, or that we just don't want to. Whichever, we never do.

Monday, November 15, 2010

after two games

Warm and cold about the first two games of the season. Some really good things. Kibi has shown he is a player, and evidently Leeper can at least play defense, which is about all he will be called upon to do early on. We showed real heart against SMU and the coaches did a good job of pushing the right buttons at halftime. Our defense has been excellent, especially on the perimeter, so it appears that problem from hast year has been addressed.

However, not having Bails has really hurt. I don’t see how we can hope to defend big men with 6-6 small forwards. Also, the two new point guards have been inconsistent so far, and that is real cause for concern. It is a work in progress. We shall see. At this point, it is not as bad as I had feared, not as good as I had hoped.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Might explain a lot

"The problem is that team defense sometimes takes more time to put together than does the offense, which could make this a long, cold winter in Atlanta." (from the CBS report on Georgia State).

That might explain why a lot of coaches don't emphasize defense. It is harder work.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where's the D?

I saw parts of the Pitt/Rhode Island and Charleston/Maryland games. Both the smaller teams had chances to win big upsets against power conference opponents, but neither of them even pretend to play defense. Not at all! Nor does either have any sort of effective halfcourt offense. It is pure playground ball all the way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I pay to have fun

I pay to go to games and I follow Little Rock to have fun. It is recreation. So, I have to be a little Pollyannish. Are we great? No. Will we likely be great this year. No. But it will still be fun for me, because I am going to make it fun. Win or lose. (UNLESS there is some scandal associated with the program, which would run it, of course, and we'll hope that won't happen.)


Big biceps look impressive, but just how many sports functions really use that particular muscle?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No subtraction

Most prognosticators seem to be able to add because of offense, but cannot subtract because of defense. Thus they almost always tend to underrate defensive-minded coaches. The exceptions are when the coach is known for teaching tough defense. We did not get that exception benefit of the doubt this year because our defense was so bad last year. Shields did one of his worst coaching jobs, and our rankings going into the year reflect that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rating (mis-rating) recruits

Recruit rating concentrates almost exclusively on offense, so recruits that are stellar defensively will hardly ever be rated as high as those whose offensive stats are gaudy. Therefore, programs which place a premium on defense will hardly ever have their recruits rated as higher as offensive programs [sic]. Therefore, Little Rock fans can take some consolation that their recruits, when playing in Shields' system, likely will prove to be considerably more effective than the raters would have predicted.

On the high side

I will go out on a limb and predict that this team will do better than the official predictions for us. I think we stunk so badly last season that folks are afraid to pick us any higher than that. But Shields' teams typically play better than their talent, and I am HOPING that the team, particularly the seniors, learned some lessons from last year.