Monday, December 31, 2012

Sympathy for Shields in one respect

The high degree of turnover among players at Little Rock is perhaps my biggest criticism of Steve Shields as a coach. That HAS to improve.

However, I must admit one aspect of the turnover where I sympathize entirely with him. He does not seem to be willing to put up with self-centered, smart-aleck type players. And I must admit that those type players disgust me, also. I don't like them; I do not like to root for them. I find it hard to root for a team that has them prominently in their make-up. I had much rather be a fair team with unselfish, hard-working players than hugely successful with a bunch of "me" players.

Watch the second reason given

"We aren't winning" is the first, but the real reason is second: "We do not play the style I like."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

This team has hit a hiccup.

We need to get things headed the right direction again. WKU at home would be a GREAT time to do it.

Put this one behind us

Inexplicable how we could have shot so much worse than ULL, which is not a good-shooting team. But we did. Put it behind us and move on.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Improvement over last year

Last year going into the final game of the year we were 4-10. I have no way of comparing the Strength of Schedule indices of both years at that point, but the schedules are very comparable. In fact, the argument might be made that this year's is somewhat harder.

We played one Big Six team last year (Mich. St.). This year we played two. We had one non-D1 game each year. We played Tulsa, Milwaukee, SMU and La. Tech both years.

This year we are 8-6 so far. That is a four-game improvement. And we did it without our First Team SBC point guard and without Chuck Guy, both of whom were material contributors at guard.

Is this a better team at this point in the season? The results would say so. Will this team be as good as that team was by the end of the season? Well, we are going to have to close very fast to do that, and we will have to do it without any senior leadership, which will be tough. But so far, so good.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another Brooklyn team - suddenly in vogue?

Not only do we now have the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA, but on their official site, Division 1 St. Francis is now St. Francis Brooklyn. Former they were St. Francis (NY) to distinguish them from another St. Francis in Pennsylvania.

By the way, they have an outstanding offensive post player. Jalen Cannon averages 16.6 ppg and 9.3 rpg, and shoots 65.1% from the field.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Here is what Javes has to do

Savannah State's Jyles Smith is a good example of a role player who knows his part and does it well. He is their tallest player at 6-8. He does not shoot much, and does not shoot very well. But he averages 5.0 rebounds in only 19 minutes/game, and leads the team in blocks by a bunch with 33.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

West wide open?

I would say the West division is wide open this year. We did not think so before the season, having pretty well written it off to the skills that North Texas possesses. But they have a losing record at this point, so they may not be the juggernaut we thought they would be, unless they get it turned around pretty quickly. We have the best record overall and in the conference in the West at this point, so unless we also implode, we ought at least to be in the hunt. And Gus is just now coming back, and our freshmen have more experience every game.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"You can lead a horse to water,"

the old proverb goes, "but you  can't make him drink." Coaches can teach their players how they ought to play, but sometimes they just cannot get them to do it, for whatever reason. Without seeing practices, it is hard for us fans to know where the breakdown is when we see the glitches - lack of sufficient emphasis in practice, or lack of attention from the players.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I expect Osse's minutes will go up

He may not be a natural point, but he has taken good care of the ball. His A/TO ratio is better than either of the point guards. Evidently he did a fairly good job against South Alabama, and neither of them did. So I think his minutes will go up.

This team just has to improve

Young teams always need to improve, and the good news is that they generally are able to do just that IF they listen and work hard. We are a fair team now, but I think we stand a chance to be a pretty good team by the end of the season. I am patient.

Traits of good basketball players

Really good basketball players may be superlatively good at one or two things, such as rebounding, or pretty good at most everything. Either way they are critically important to their teams' success and so will get lots of time on the floor.

I hope we can keep this roster together

Kids want to play in real games, and freshmen are going to be less inclined to be patient when the others who are getting minutes are also freshmen. However, I hope Steve is able to keep this group happy and together, because the teamwork gained by continuity over a four year period could be a powerful thing. By the time they are seniors, this group should be so accustomed to other that they just work together instinctively.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Really in a good position

This program is really in a good position. We are 8-6 with a team with practically no D1 experience going into the year. The future looks very bright, and even this year could be a good one, especially if the team continues to improve as we go through the conference season. There is absolutely no reason to doubt that we will be among the better Belt teams over the next four years.

This team will continue to break our hearts

They will lose when they ought not to lose, and win a few that they ought not to win (remember SMU). That is how it is when you have a bunch of freshmen.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


It is amazing how often after a player turns the ball over that he commits a foul.


This team bodes well to be the best blocking team we have had in recent history. We have three players with at least 14 blocks so far, and Gus Leeper has not played much. That is not so impressive by some standards, but it is by our standards.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Know where your bread is buttered

Richmond's starting center, Alo Nelson-Ododa, averages only 3.3 ppg and 4.4 rpg, certainly now imposing stats in either category. But he does have twice as many blocks as anyone else on the team. It is easy to see what his role is - he is in charge of interior defense. He is the last line of defense.

Michael Javes has the role for us. He is a good shot-blocker. He needs to learn to play superior post defense, defend the basket, and become the best rebounder that he can. Anything past that is gravy.

Getting paid to get beat up

SWAC teams typically have to raise money for the program in the non-conference season by playing the big boys for a nice check. The weakest Strength of Schedule rating for a SWAC team to this point in the season is 129 for Alabama A&M (out of 347 D-1 schools), and they have six in the top 20.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I hate sloppy basketball.

Say it again and again.


Aside from consistent point guard play, right now perhaps our biggest problem is lack of rebounding. Someone needs to step up and get mean and clear a space and get it done. We have three 6-10 guys playing, and they ought to be able to get it done. Step it up, guys.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hurry up, Gus!

Get back to full speed. We badly need a rugged rebounder. One area in which we really are lacking, and where you can provide immediate help.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Brooklyn has a team again!

The Brooklyn Nets NBA team. Not since the Dodgers left town have they had a major sport franchise.

Big men and the second year bounce

It is a truism in college basketball that players make their biggest improvement between their first and second years as the D1 level. That may not be true in the case of some big men, however. For some of them the light does not come on until their third or fourth years (of fifth, if they redshirt). You have to have patience with big men.

Shields is doing a marvelous job of

working these new players into the lineup from time to time. Some of them may not be getting the PT they would like, but they are getting some time regularly.

Measuring stick

We lost to Louisiana Tech, but we lost by two points this time compared to 18 points earlier this season. I think that is a pretty good measuring stick for the progress this team has made this year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quite a job of foreign recruiting

Of the 15 players on the Maine roster, nine of them are from foreign countries: Canada (2), Finland, Bahamas, Scotland, Germany (2), and Serbia (2). And that does not include Dimitry Akanda-Coronel, who is listed as being from the U. S., but certainly sounds foreign.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

VERY nice win over Tulsa

Not that Tulsa is all that good this year, but we needed the win badly coming off the slaughter against Cincy, and it was a very good win for a bunch of freshmen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Joe Kleine needs to get moving

in his role as Developer of Big Men. He has a lot of work to do with Javes, and it does not appear to be coming along at a very swift rate. But maybe one day soon the light will come on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stop the bad shooters.

So many teams that struggle do so because the coaches allow players who are not shooting well to take an inordinate amount of shots. For example, Jacksonville State's Brian Williams is shooting an anemic 28.4% overall and 22.9% from the arc, yet he has taken the most shots on the team in both categories. Where is the coach?!

Another great team for the poor PA announcer

Idaho State:

Jakub Kusmieruk
Nnamdi Ezenwa
Neveij Walters
Kejan Kostur
Avibakuro Preh

Thursday, December 13, 2012

College basketball as we know it is dead.

Indeed, college athletics as we have known it is dead. The fatal wound came this week with the announcement that the Catholic non-football schools were going to leave the Big East. That means that very soon (maybe within a couple of years) we will be down to five (and probably only four) super conferences. Those super conferences are not going to be dictated to by the NCAA, and so the NCAA as we know it will die. When it does, the NCAA tournament as we know it will also die.

Put the blame on greed, and a large part of it on ESPN for aiding and abetting that greed.

Denver is 2-5. Why?

Because they live by the 3 but this year they are not making their 3's. And, like most 3-point teams, they never have a Plan B.

Talk about a tight rotation!

Denver has only seven players who have played over 48 minutes so far this year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Neighbour is transforming

himself from more of a perimeter player to more of a post player. His 3-point shooting is way off, but his rebounds are up and his overall percentage is up.

Point is still the key

Eleven games into the season, and the point guard situation is still not very satisfactory. Gillon can score, but is not reliable as a distributor: far too many turnovers compared to assists. Hagins evidently does not have the confidence of the coaches yet to get the minutes. Not good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Risks of the PA man

I do the PA for Magazine, Ark., senior basketball. I am glad, however, that I do not do it for the Coastal Carolina team. Here are some entries on their roster:

El Hadji Ndieguene

Michel Enanga

Uros Ljeskovic

Badou Diagne

Bisi Addey

Just entertainment

I am a huge Trojan fan, but one thing I always try to remember is that Trojan basketball is not a “cause;” it is merely entertainment. I do not need to treat it as such.

I knew we were young, but

I certainly did not realize we were THE most inexperienced team in D1 basketball. According to Burn The Horse. Being 7-4 under those circumstances makes me feel pretty good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hurry back, Gus

The way Javes is not progressing, we really need to have Gus back in form by tournament time.

Oh well, it keeps us humble

I do not know how many positives one could bring from the shellacking we got at the hands of Cincinnati, but if we needed it, it surely kept us humble.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tiny power house

Three (maybe four) NBA players from tiny Desha Central High School in eastern Arkansas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rubit at it again

South Alabama junior Augustine Rubit is having another monster season. Averaging 17.8 pts/game, 9.1 rebounds/game, shooting 49% from the field and 87% from the line (and he will shoot a lot of FTs).

Just as soon as I discard Carmody

Northwestern comes out and plays what probably is their best game of the year. But I still want to see a pattern.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Next year is ours

Middle Tennessee is the team this year. They are very good by Belt standards. But they lose (by today’s stats) four starters (in terms of most minutes played), plus six of the top ten players. Presumably we lose only one walk-on. And seven of our players will be going into their second year in D1, supposed to be the biggest jump in improvement.

Carmody must go

I have supported Bill  Carmody continuing as Northwestern's coach for a long time because that is a hard place to coach and he has done a better job than anyone who has been there so far. But I am now officially on the "replace Bill" wagon. Here is the reason why. He just does not make his team play a complete game. They can shoot 3's. They can pass. They can cut. But they cannot rebound and they cannot play hard-nosed defense. If this was the first year it had happened, I would say it was the team, not Bill. But it is the same all the time. They are a one-dimensional team, and that will not work. They just lost to UIC "because our shots were not falling." Well, sometimes they do not. That is when you have to go to Plan B. But Carmody does not have a Plan B.

Lots of options from the arc

We have six legitimate 3-point threats at this point in the season. Lots of options.

Good news and bad news for Monroe

The good news for ULM is that everyone who has played so far should be returning next year. The bad news is that they are not playing very well this year.

Shawn Long of ULL

Looks like ULL has a real deal freshman. Shawn Long. 6-9. He shoots 50% from the field, 82% from the line, averages 16.9 ppg and 8.0 rpg. Throw in 15 blocks so far. The weak part of his game seems to be that he fancies himself to be a 3-point shooter (2nd-most attempts on the team), which he is not (27.6%).

Wouldn't you hate to have been Valpo

playing SLU after Rick Majerus died? They are playing to honor the memory of the former coach, and you are either the sacrificial loser or the spoiler of an important emotional moment for the home team.

How tough is the Belt this year?

Well, however tough Middle Tennessee is. North Texas has faded before they got started (although they could recover before the second half). I do not know if anyone is good enough this year to get an NCAA at-large.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Mountain West is up to 5th in Sagarin

Shaking up the Big Six conferences?

Starting lineup

I do not know what all factors coaches use to decide who will be in the starting lineup, but I suspect one of them is chemistry. They want the team starting out to work closely and well together so they do not start out in a hole.

Interesting FAU stat

They shoot only marginally better overall (37.3%) than they do from the arc (36.5%).

Leroy Isler at the 2

In the historical Steve Shields scheme of things, Leroy Isler would have been a classic 3 - tough, good rebounder, outstanding defense. However, with James White and Taggart Lockhart both playing very well at that position, he has been at the 2 most of the time. And he has been shooting very well from the arc (although not overall). The only thing that keeps him from being a good shooting guard is that he does not handle or distribute the ball as well as you might like to see.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Even this year

this could be a pretty good team. Several things have to come together yet, and some of them have a way to go yet, but we are headed in the right direction, and faster than I thought we would be.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ben Dillard

Some have been ready to give up on Ben Dillard as a good prospect, but I have not. He is not the quickest player, and certainly not the flashiest, but he is just a good basketball player. He will help the team even when he is not scoring. And he can shoot.

The bottom line on realignment?

There are a lot of Athletic Directors who ought to be fired. Instead they probably will be commended.