Friday, November 30, 2012

Any more players from Brooklyn

who would like to play in Little Rock? If you game is like Leroy Isler's, come on down!


It seems to me that players whose strength lies in something other than scoring tend to have more consistency than those who are primarily scorers.

Our freshman point guards

seem to be doing OK, but their numbers are very unimpressive so far. Not what you want to see from a point.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Realignment - just mark it down

The conferences and schools who are moving because of some logical reason will prosper because of it - but there are not many of those. The ones who are moving purely because of money will live to regret the decision.


It is strange watching the recruiting wars going on and not having a part in them. Since we have no scholarship seniors this year, presumably we will not sign anyone. Eerie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

James White is a steal

James White was our steal of the year last year. By the time he leaves, his play should be way above our level.

If Northwestern ever becomes a real team

and learns to do something besides shoot 3's and make layups (like play defense and rebound), they might win a few games.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The conference merry-go-round

is really, really bad for college sports. Conference are going to have to put some real teeth into contracts with incoming schools, so that it hurts them so badly when they think about leaving that there will have to be a compelling reason for them to leave. The madness needs to stop.

I think this team is ahead of the curve

Not a huge amount, but enough to make me optimistic. And the upside is tremendous.

Keeping him on the court

Our offense needs Will Neighbour on the court. He does so many things well and it puts a crimp in our style if he is out.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sense of history?

I wonder how many of the Trojans who played against Jacksonville this year realized that that team once played in the NCAA Tournament finals against John Wooden's UCLA Bruins?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This good?

I doubt anyone thought this team would be this far along at this point this year. Really pretty amazing. Talent alone could not have done that.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


What does it take to constitute a rivalry? One of the two or three opponents that a team wants to beat each year? Probably. But one thing there has to be to make it a rivalry is a losses. Until the other team has beaten you a few times they don't really want to beat you.

Arkansas and Texas were a rivalry back in the old days, but it was somewhat one-sided. Arkansas wanted to beat Texas, but Texas wanted to beat Oklahoma. It wasn't an equal rivalry.

Cardiac kids?

Typically freshman will lift you up and also break your heart. I figure this group will be the Cardiac Kids. Who knows what will happen when they hit the floor.

Friday, November 23, 2012

This team has developed quickly

Notwithstanding the train wreck at Ole Miss (or perhaps because of it), the Trojans have raced forward in their development over the last week. It is hard not to be very optimistic at this point. However, we are going to have to accept the fact that there will be some "freshman" games, where everyone will play like freshmen at the same time and we end up looking silly. There just is not much way around it, and we cannot get discouraged by that. We found out earlier than I thought we would that we have some genuine talent on this team, and they may play beyond their years faster than is reasonable to expect - but they are still freshmen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I like it when the bigs get the boards

Our big men lately have been doing a good job of getting rebounds, and that is the way it ought to be. They are big for a reason, and one of the main reasons is to get boards. If they take care of business, it releases the perimeter players to handle their business. When the bigs don't get the boards, then the guards have to concentrate on "team rebounding," and when the "team" is rebounding, it isn't concentrating on all the other things it has to do.

I still remember Randy Rainwater's call

when we beat ASU in the game at Alltel with what I think was the biggest attendance at a Sun Belt game yet. He was genuinely excited, and it showed. Great call.

Fowler, Garcia-Mendoza, now Isler

Shields has a positive genius for find juco 3's, doesn't he? (Although Isler really may play at the 2 spot, he is the same size and filling the same role as the other two.)

The Big East is history

Victim of the greed of football TV revenue. How sad.

Speaking of farces - the 138 points

Why even count that? For one person to score 138 points, BOTH teams have to be playing ZERO defense, and one players has to be taking virtually all his team's shots. Totally contrived. Not even worth nothing.

The Heisman trophy is a farce

Are you telling me that the best offensive lineman in the history of the game was not good enough to win the Heisman? It is the annual award to the quarterback with the best publicity agent - with a new exceptions.

I really like this coaching staff

The Little Rock leader in career coaching wins. A former head coach. A former NBA player. A classy father-figure. The job they did turning around the psyche of the team between Ole Miss and Milwaukee is phenomenal.

Javes - maybe the light will come on some day

Michael Javes does not need to shoot the ball. He needs to DUNK the ball. Wilt Chamberlain made a good living doing it. Wilt couldn't shoot, either, but he knew that he should do what he could do, and he dominated the game. Michael, are you listening?

We have to have Isler on the court

He just does so many things so well, plus his defense is just outstanding.

The talent level on this team is WAY up

It is still raw, but even at this point you can lick your chops about how good this team might be in future years, of even later this year. Lots of freshman mistakes, but we have had two good recruiting classes, and it really shows.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

End of the Big Six

With the Big East's troubles, will this mean the end of the Big Six football-money conferences? Maybe the Big Five from this point on?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Battle of the Ats

It was two "At" schools last night, and we won. Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Arkansas at Little Rock. The difference is that they call themselves Milwaukee. There is no Wisconsin prominently displayed on the banner on their website. I wish we would do that.

The defensive swagger

You know the look of the great on-ball defensive player. Intense. Focused. "You know what you are going to do, and I don't, and I am still going to keep you from doing it." Isler may have it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

P. A. again

Tonight I began my third season as the PA announcer at Magazine senior basketball games. It is loads of fun.

Listen and learn

That is what this team needs to be doing right now. Believe your coaches. Soak up their instruction, then DO it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The sky is falling?

I am no different from anyone else, I suppose. You lose a few games and the sky is falling. But it never does. We will have a rough start this year, but we knew we would. Everyone expected that, so I do not know why any of us should be surprised.

It will get done

This is a good set of coaches, and the talent is there. Give them time. They will get it done, but it is going to be agonizing, and maybe agonizingly slow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It just ain't so

So many people assess players' value only in terms of offense, and it just ain't so.

This coaching staff has their work cut out for them

Just a huge amount of teaching and disciplining to do. (On-court discipline.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

I realize they are just kids

but Shields needs to right the ship. This has the feel of a meltdown.


Basketball overtimes are a lot more legitimate than football overtimes.

This team has a long way to go

but Shields and his staff are good teachers. They will get there.


What a shame for Gus Leeper, injuring himself again. Now he will have to start all over again when he heals, and who knows if he will be able to contribute this season.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I wonder how much of a factor Providence is on the sports landscape of the state of Rhode Island. They are the only member of a Big Six conference in the state, true. However, they do not have football, and football rules all these days. Further, things are so jammed together on the east coast that folks may not pay much attention to state boundaries, especially the boundaries of the smallest state.

It's the coach

There can be an amazing amount of talent on a playground, but the one who makes the total greater than the sum of the parts is the coach. And the coach who can do that is the coach who is just as much about the team - not about himself - as the players should be.

Taggart and Dillard

One nice thing about the early season has been the steady play of Taggart Lockhart and Ben Dillard. They are doing just what we needed them to do as returning players. Not spectacular, just steady and reliable.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This team will have lots of growing pains

They had better have, because they have lots of growing to do.

If I were a coach

I would put together game film of the players I had coached who were the very best at each part of the game doing what they did best. Maybe they do that. Show John Fowler playing defense. Show Rashad Jones-Jennings rebounding. And so on. Teach from the very best examples.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

John Fowler

To me he is Mr. Trojan on defense. Might be the best on-ball defender I personally have seen play.

Can you believe North Texas?!

Losing to Division II Alabama-Huntsville. How could that happen? They are supposed to have so much talent that they can just overwhelm everyone in the Belt, and here they lose badly to Creighton and then lose to Huntsville. They may have the ship righted by conference time, but so far they have been the biggest disappointment of the young season in the Belt. South Alabama with their win over a ranked team is probably the biggest surprise.

Monday, November 12, 2012

But that is about all it showed

The Martin game showed we have some legit freshman talent, but that is about all it showed. Cincinnati showed that. They completely shut down Martin's offense and had their way with their defense. In short, Martin just is not very good. We are better than they are, but beating them does not prove much.

Just one game

The Martin game at least gave a glimpse of our freshman talent. We were hoping that there might be a couple of jewels in the class (since it was so large), and it appears there may be. So who knows what we might accomplish this year. Don't go away!

Dominant team?

I don't think there is a completely dominant team on the landscape this year, unless it might be Indiana. And the Big 10 is so tough that I don't think even they can emerge unscathed. Kentucky will be good, and the SEC is not very strong, but I think they may go to the well too often with freshmen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hanging tough

One of the secrets for little guys upsetting the big boys is to hang tough. Stay close. Don't let the other team break open the game. Just keep coming back. Never give up. Sooner or later they just might lose their focus, and if it is late enough in the game, you might come away with a win. What you want to do is to put just a touch of doubt in their mind.

Biggest stat against Martin

Justifiably, everyone is gushing about the scoring turned in by our two freshmen in the Martin game. However, the single biggest stat to me was Will Neighbour's 13 rebounds. That is a part of Will's game that needed improvement last year, and if he could up his average two or three points, it would be a huge help this season.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Taggart and the 3 spot

Taggart Lockhart looks like another in a long line of tough 3's that Steve Shields like so well. In many other coaches' schemes, the small forward is primarily an offensive weapon. With Shields, he is expected to play tough defense, provide some rebounding, and do all the little, unnoticed things that make basketball teams win. In other words, more than any other position, the 3 has been with Shields the one that defines his blue-collar, hard-nosed teams.

Javes blocks

Michael Javes had two blocks last night against a smaller Martin team. That is one of the main things we need him to do this year. We have depth in the post, so he can afford to be aggressive. We have offensive threats, so there is not a huge pressure for him to score. What we do need is an eraser in the low block who will allow our perimeter players to be more aggressive.

First win with a bunch of freshmen

Not a hugely impressive win, because we probably should have won by more, but we came back from a slow start and took control of the game. Several things impressed me. Two freshman (Gillon and White) had big scoring nights, which shows they may have the sort of talent we had hoped. Second, Will Neighbour came off a concussion to have a double-double with 13 rebounds. We need a man to clean the boards, and I really do not think it will be Will in the long term, but it is good to see he can get it done.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Do reckon that a true freshman point guard who knows that he is about to start his first college game might have a little trouble concentrating in class today?

Tonight we get a little answer

to the first and biggest question of the year: "How good are our freshman point guards?" If the answer is at least "adequate," this could be a fairly good year.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ahead of the game

In today's college basketball, which is so completely guard-dominated, if you can consistently break the press and defend the three-point shot. you are WAY ahead of the game.

Go Bulls!

CBS has Stan Heath's South Florida Bulls picked 6th in the Big East this year, which is saying something. Evidently they made some believers last season. They play brutal defense. I love it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Speaking of notable players I have known

E. C. O'Neal was the basketball coach at Booneville in my elementary and junior high years. I did not realize it at the time, but he was one of the greatest basketball players to have come out of Arkansas. During his four years at Arkansas Tech, the Wonder Boys had a record of 106-14, and twice went to the NAIA Final Four. As a sophomore he averaged 27.6 points/game. In high school at Branch and County Line (after consolidation), his teams had a record of 95-9.

Coach O'Neal later got his doctorate in education and taught at Mississippi State.

Seeing Pete

A good friend of mine who grew up in Louisiana mentioned last night that he once go to see Pete Maravich play a game at LSU. That must have been a real treat. He was one of the great ball-handlers and passers in the history of the game. Of course, he was the most prolific scorer in history of the college game, but I think that was the less amazing part of his game compared to the other.


Seems like there are an awful lot of injuries in college basketball this year. Just my impression, but it seems like more than usual.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go To guy

Every team has to have one or two guys who can score in the clutch - "go to" guys. Presumably Will Neighbour will be one of those for us. We need at least one more. Who will it be?

Speaking of Leeper

We really need him on the court, if for no other reason, because we have so few players with D1 experience.


Reports are that Gus Leeper will be playing this year, which is a HUGE plus for the Trojans. He is a versatile and smart post man. Very valuable guy.

First game

Basketball has begun. I am attending my first game of the year tonight to see Miss Celia Heffington play for Ozark against Lavaca.

Mutually exclusive?

Why is it that precision offense and hard-nosed, blue collar defense seem to be impossible from the same team?

Redshirt - IF

IF the players stick around for the full five years, every year of redshirting you can get on your roster only makes your team stronger. You are swapping a true freshman for a fifth-year senior - a  good trade in any book. This is one way lower-level teams could (if they would) offset the talent advantages of the money programs.

Imagine the trouble Sleezipari would have

if one year, for whatever reason, all his buy-a-title recruits decided not to turn pro. Then all those one-and-done sorts he had been promising an NBA-prep stage wouldn't have one. He would have a great team, but all of sudden his promises to the recruits wouldn't look so good. Those types are not disposed to wait.


Looking at photos from the 1960's and 70's, you can see that weight training was not an emphasis. The players were slender back then, not muscled up like they are today. I wonder if the muscles help them play any better?

Monday, November 5, 2012


Sagarin ratings for basketball are out today, and they have the Belt ranked 20th among the conference, and Little Rock 214th among the teams. I think both will finish higher than that.

Public speaking

Pity these poor freshman athletes. They are not necessarily trained in public speaking, and yet here they are, thrust into the limelight with all sorts of microphones thrust into their faces, all manner of inane and self-evident questions hurled at them - and we expect them to sound like orators. A few perhaps, but not very many will pass that test. They did not get their scholarships because of their oratorical skills.

This year starts with a bang

Usually there are some tournaments that have a dribble of games to start the season. But this year there is a full slate on the first night.

If I am a basketball coach

then I pick at least the music when they enter the court. It will be the theme from Rocky - every time.

How much returned?

We lost D'Andre from last year, but how much of the leadership and character of this team returned in the five players with any experience? Can they impress that on the newcomers, and mold the character of the team, or are we starting all over completely in that regard?


I got spoiled by looking at Rashad Jones-Jennings rebound statistics. Someone averages 7 rpg a game now, and it looks awfully small.

Once again, the winner is . . . .

In the "best name" contest in college basketball, the winner is California's forward Bak Bak. I mean, there could not even be a close second place, could there?

Danger of youth

One of the dangers of having a team with this much youth is that because there are so few veterans, the freshmen may come in expecting to play right away - even more so than usual - and there are only so many slots. So, those freshmen who do not play may become discouraged and look elsewhere, even though they may be legit D1 talent and in time would play here.


Most Valuable Big Man. That could be  Gus Leeper because he will be our most versatile big man. He is strong enough to bang inside, and smart enough to learn the game, and can shoot the 3 when needed. Javes is strictly an inside man. Will is  basically a slow guard who is tall enough to make up for his slowness; in other words, he is not really a post player. Remains to be seen where James White can help.


Taggart Lockhart at 220 is a pretty impressive physical specimen. If his health is 100% this year, he should be the kind of physical small forward that Shields likes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


We have no scholarships available  for next year, so presumably that will take a lot of pressure off our coaches on the recruiting trail. However, hopefully they are identifying young talent that they can bring in the year after, plus you never know if a player will leave for some reason or other. I guess it is a job that never ceases for college coaches.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Six short days to go

Time to get excited!

Improvement this year

I know we will be young and inexperienced (and probably not very good) at the start of this year. And I expect us to be much better next year. But what I am looking for is huge improvement within this first year. Can we get that?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lick your chops

Logically we should be middle-of-the-pack in the Belt this year, but watch out for next year. We should return every scholarship player, while Middle Tenn loses Knight, Sulton, Cintron and Massey, and North Texas loses Walton, Franklin, Holmen, and very likely Mitchell.

We'll see how good Belt coaches are

Can they design a defense that can handle Tony Mitchell of North Texas? I doubt it.

A little caveat

Most years I get to see the Trojans play two or three times, which really is not enough to be a real expert on the team. Plus, I listen to several games as I can. However, I do study their stats closely, and over time I have learned to read a team fairly well through the stat sheet. I use what I know, what I hear, and the numbers, and come up with what I hope are logical conclusions - along with all my inane speculations.

Maybe our hopes are not too far-fetched

In CBS' prediction of the Sun Belt, they mentioned us in the "might also contend" category upon the basis of young incoming talent. If they felt like our talent was good, maybe there is something to it after all.

Here's a rebounder for you

Colorado State's Pierce Hornung is only 6-5, but he averaged 8.7 rebounds/game last year, including 17 in their NCAA game.

White's skill

James White appears to have all the physical skills (sometimes termed "athleticism") that he was advertized to have. He won the dunk contest at the Meet the Trojans event, and one of the freshman guards said before it began that the contest was for second place as long as White was in it. Could be something special, maybe even sooner rather than later.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eastern leagues

The Big East, Atlantic 10 and Missouri Valley have been some of my favorite conferences because they are true basketball conferences. Not true of the ACC, which is also a true BB conference, but which is not one of my favorites.

Pity the poor PA announcers

Boise State's Igor Hadziomerovic. By the time the time they get his name said, three more buckets have been scored.

Northwestern - again?

The prognosticators are saying that once again Northwestern has an (outside?) shot at making the NCAA tournament for the first time. Those of us who have followed the program are so tired of "close but no cigar" that we will believe it when we see it. Until Carmody starts making the team get their hands dirty instead of playing white collar basketball, I don't expect to see any difference.

Gus or Javes?

It is not at all clear to those of us who have not seen practices who has the inside track on the starting center job. For the time being, I assume it is Michael Javes, if for no other reason than Gus Leeper's health problems at the start of the season give him a head start. However, Gus' game is probably more versatile than Michael's (he has an outside shot). So in the long term, who knows?