It is January 1, so perhaps it is time for a State of the Program entry. Little Rock is comfortably situated as a slightly-better-than-average mid-level program. We are a clean program, with no controversy, not making the headlines for the wrong reasons, and I really appreciate that, because I would not want to root for the other sort of program. Better to be OK and clean than good and dirty.
That having been said, we need to improve. Everyone on the roster is a first or second year player, so right now we are looking at the future, assuming most of them stay around. You would expect that with experience and maturity, the accomplishments of this group the next two or three years should be excellent. So, in terms of talent, the future looks very bright. I expect us to be in the top tier of the conference for the next three years at least.
My main concern about this program is the high turnover in the roster. We have far too many players who do not stay around, and I do not like that, no matter what the reason. Even if it is epidemic among most programs these days, I still do not like it. Steve needs to address that, and the AD needs to make him address it.
I think our coaching staff is excellent. I do not think that Shields is a good tournament coach, and to this point he has not recruited many good tournament players. He is a good regular season coach, and he recruits good regular season players, and I put MUCH more stock in the regular season than on tournaments, so I do not mind that so much. Tournaments are just gravy. However, a lot of fans look only at the tournaments, and they are frustrated, and I do not blame them.
Where should this program be? It is reasonable to expect that if we are not in the top three of four teams in the Belt we consider that to be a bad down year. I would expect that we would win the tournament more often than the average Belt team. What I most want us to do, and what we have not done since I have been a fan, is to win the outright regular season championship. It is time for that. We need to move to the next level, and that is my main measure of the "next level."