Tuesday, December 30, 2008

weak in the second half

Some of my colleagues on the message board have complained about this team not being able to finish off other teams when we get a lead late in the game, and the numbers confirm their frustration. The Trojans have outscored their opponents by 31 points in the first halves of games, but have been outscored by 7 in the second halves.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Achievable goal

What is a realistic goal for this program? We all would like to be the next Gonzaga, but there will only be a bare few of those. We ought to win 20 games this season, which would make two years in a row. At that point it would not be a stretch to start thinking of getting to the point where we would consider it a down year if we do not win 20 games. I think that is the next step forward. After several years in the 17-18 win range, we need to step up a notch, and I think we can. When you are in the 20-win mind set, anything can happen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One thing well

Any successful basketball team is likely going to have at least one thing that it does particularly well. Last year it was our perimeter defense. This year it appears to be our opponents' overall shooting percentage, which is a tick below 40%.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

good trend

We have played pretty well three of the last four games. Only Wright State in the stretch was really sub-par. That is a good trend.

Still ahead of my schedule

We are ahead of where I expected us to be this year. I thought we would be 5-5 or maybe 6-4 if things broke our way. Instead we are 7-3. I’ll take it.

logjam at the post next year

We are scheduled to have a real log jam at the post positions next year. Smith, Courtney Jackson, Burton and Bails all come back, all of whom can play one or the other of those spots, and we have two 6-9 players coming in, both of whom are putting up impressive numbers in juco so far this year. Nice problem to have. It is hard to have too much talent at the post.

rebounding by committee

This team in two years went from rebounding almost completely by one dominant board man to true rebounding by committee. We out-board our opponents by 4.5 per game, which is significant, and no one on the team has more than 6.6 rebounds per game.

Monday, December 15, 2008


There are stats that create "slack for teams: outrebounding opponents, winning the net turnover battle, shooting good percentage. Slack is the room to make mistakes, which all teams will. Every team needs some slack, so every team needs to do at least one of these things well.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How did we get here?

Despite our very nice 6-1 record, one thing that bothers me about this team is that, as I look at our stat sheet, there is no one thing that we do particularly well. We are very mediocre shooters; and although our defense is decent, so far it is not superlative like it was last season. We rebound fairly well, but certainly are not dominating on the boards. We do not take very good care of the ball. We do not have a dominant individual scorer. Just looking at the stat sheet, there is nothing that would lead one to think that we were 6-1.

all the factors

One figure is look at is shooting percentage minus opponent's shooting percentage. However, there are other factors that make that number less critical. When a team outrebounds its opponent and wins the turnover battle, that takes pressure off the shooting percentage battle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No slack

We are 6-1, but we are averaging only 4 points per game more than our opponents. That is not much margin for error.


I believe it is correct that Northwestern is the only BCS school (at least the only one of long standing) that has never been to the NCAA tournament. So far this year they are 6-1. Their schedule has not been tremendously tough, but they do have wins over Florida State and DePaul.

unproductive possessions

The thing that kills most teams is unproductive possessions, i.e., those in which you do not get off a good shot. This could be due to passing up good shots, forcing bad shots, or turning over the ball without getting off a shot. In any case, if you eliminated those, most teams would at least be in most games.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

late FT's

Our four top perimeter players – Mouzy, Stevie, Fowler and Patterson – shoot a collective 81.9% from the FT, which is very good in anyone’s book. If we can get them to the line late in the game we are in good shape. However, our four top inside players – Smith, Courtney Jackson and Edwards – shoot 50% from the line. Expect us to be guard heavy late in close games, huh?

Ahead of my schedule

I had us picked to be 4-3 at this point in the season, so I have to say I am very pleased so far.

Oral Roberts game

That was a critical, critical win last night, a well as a great game. Sometimes it is hard to come back from a lousy game. Hopefully this is indication of our focus and attitude being back where it ought to be.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pitt's culture of defense and blue collar

What separates the Panthers, what makes them more than just an intriguing team as this season unfolds, is their bread-and-butter, backbone defense.

It's as reliable as an old pair of sneakers, the foundation on which coach Jamie Dixon has built his program. Unintentionally, Dixon has modeled his team on the city it calls home. Pittsburgh citizens wear just one sort of collar -- down-and-dirty blue. Their hometown team likes its basketball just the same.

And because the defense is indoctrinated like another strand of DNA upon arrival freshman year, it doesn't go away and doesn't take nights off. It's in your face, unforgiving, downright nasty, and because of it, on nights when shots don't fall, neither necessarily will Pittsburgh.

Why you look inside first

As a case in point as to why many coaches prefer to look inside first instead of automatically blasting away from the perimeter. Matt Mouzy has 169 minutes this year. The next player has 146. He has shot 60 times. The next highest is 41. And yet he has shot only six free throws all year. Five other players have double figure attempts. Free throws are just that – free attempts to get points, with a penalty assessed against the opposing team. Matt has had very little “free” this year.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Where's the defense?

If we are not the worst 5-0 team in the country, I would hate to see the team that is. Our defense has just disappeared. That which used to be our strength (perimeter defense) has become our worst liability. We are shooting halfway decently this year, which we needed, but our defense has just disappeared against 3-point shooting. I know that has to be killing the coaching staff, since that was what we hung our hat on last year. Actually, our defense overall is not too bad (41%), but teams shoot almost as well from the arc against us as they do inside. We need to get this fixed, and quickly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We had a great time at the Creighton game. There were 28 of us (counting ankle-nippers) from western Arkansas, north Mississippi, Memphis, Texas and Benton - ranging in age from 1 to 87. We absolutely could not have asked for a better game to watch – just good, exciting basketball – and the home team won. It probably was the most enjoyable basketball game I have personally attended, all things considered. I was impressed with the crowd. They are getting into the game a lot more than they used to, and the student section is beginning to fill up and become more vocal. Incidentally, my brother and his family are from Ripley, MS, the hometown of Derrick Bails.

Friday, November 21, 2008

shooting percentages

One of the key sets of stats I look for is shooting percentages minus opponents' shooting percentages. So far against two not-very-good opponents we look pretty good. FG% plus 9. 3PT% plus 8.

SBC not very good

Last night the SBC slid into 18th place in the Sagarin ratings. Not good! As a conference we just are not doing very well. To date our win over Pepperdine is the only win over a conference that was ranked higher last season.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Big Ticket

When you weigh 285 and have quick feet, you are going to be a load on the low block whether you are 6-7 or 7-7.

ASU rotation

Interesting note. Through the first three games, ten ASU players have played in every game, and all ten have averaged at least 12 minutes per game.


It looks like ASU's new coach actually has them playing defense this year. Isn't that novel? They lived on offense last year - or maybe they died on it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

3-point efficiency

So far, it appears the better discipline on 3-point shooting is in place. The ones who are shooting are the ones that ought to be. Actually, I think Edwards and Fowler could shoot them a little more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pepperdine game

It was an UGLY win, but we'll take it. How can you shoot that badly and let your opponents shoot that well and still win? Well, by outrebounding them and shooting more free throws, for a couple of items. Hats off to Big Mike Smith for his double-double. Also for John Fowler for making the most of his limited attempts. Patterson did not score, but had six assists. Good team effort. Need to shoot better to win the next couple of games, though. Competition gets harder.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First game

It was a nice victory, but there were several things not to like about it. We had way too many turnovers, and we did not shoot free throws well. Both those are areas we will have to improve if we are to be really successful this season. I suspect that the sloppy play of the Cal Poly tended to make the whole game have that quality, but we still have to keep it under control. Good win, though. We'll take it. Good start to what we hope is a special season.

Special notice to Matt Mouzy for his shooting and LaMarvon Jackson for his outstanding rebounding coming off the bench.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The use of jucos

As a rule, I prefer to see us recruit freshmen out of high school. Most of our juco recruits have not been stars, but Brandon Freeman and Rashad Jones-Jennings certainly were. I would take a team full of them. If the best players available are jucos, then by all means sign them. Also, they are critical from time to time to plug gaps in the roster.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shields' constant?

Nolan Richardson's constant in his teams was outstanding athleticism. They were quick and fast and could jump. Shields cannot get that sort of player, but it appears that defense is his constant. The problem is that in order to make really outstanding team defensive players he needs to have them in his program for a while. (John Fowlers don't come along too often.) By the time they are seniors, the players ought to know his system inside and out, and if they have been playing with others for two or three years, they should be well coordinated with one another. Getting "stayers" into the program is key.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


So often we hear of the "intangibles" that teams possess. Hustle, desire, teamwork, unselfishness, things like that. How much of the "intangibles" will this team have?

Friday, October 31, 2008

What Bozeman brings - again

I am really excited about what Soloman Bozeman will bring to this team - THIS year. He has two years under his belt in what is arguably the best basketball conference in the country, playing against the Syracuses and UConns of the world on a regular basis. Most of us have assumed the that biggest strides will come from our post players, but I'm not sure that is true, simply because of Bozeman. The guards are going to have to get better, or be made to look sub-par by a guy who isn't even playing this season. Internal pressure to improve.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big 10 - BIG

If you want to compete in the Big 10, you have to have a front line:
Illinois: 7-1, 6-10, 6-9, 6-9
Michigan: 7-0, 6-10, 6-10
Mich St: 7-0, 6-11, 6-10
Minn: 6-11, 6-10, 6-9
Northwestern: 7-0, 6-11, 6-9
Penn St: 6-10, 6-10, 6-9
Wisc: 7-1, 6-11, 6-10, 6-10


Let's make some assumptions: Stevie Moore, John Fowler, Shane Edwards and Brandon Patterson are going to start, or at least get a starter's share of the minutes. I do not see Shields going with more than a 10-man rotation, probably 9-man. That leaves three players that are going to get less than rotation minutes (double figure minutes). Who will be left out? Probably the underclassmen, or maybe LaMarvon? But LaMarvon is a senior who plays very hard and does a lot of the little things that will help in the crunch. If, as Jeffrey says, Curtis is the best shooter on the team, how do you keep him off the floor, unless you have enough shooters and he hasn't learned the system and defense sufficiently? Courtney is the most heralded recruit, and seems to be working hard. It will be interesting to see. It appears this team may be significantly better than last season.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big Ticket's minutes

Mike Smith's minutes very well could come down this year even though he has a year under his belt. First, his weight went up, which it did not need to. Second, we apparently have another option at the 5 in Burton, even though he is not truly a 5.

Bozeman's value

It is entirely possible that our best point guard will not be playing this year. Can you imagine the value to the team of having a Big East-quality point guard who is there to imitate the various offenses so that our team can practice defense against it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No weak positions

One thing I like about this team is that there are no weak positions. Every spot is manned by at least two capable players.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Senior leadership

It appears, from the comments of Mr. Slatton and Dr. J., that the seniors are taking hold on this team. Hopefully, that will have the same effect as it did for the team on which Co Willis and Richard Hardman were seniors. That was a tough, focused group. If a couple of the players significantly raise the level of their play, or if some of the new players are the real deal, this could be a special team.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Three constants

Show me a team that is strong in rebounding, defense, and taking care of the ball, and I will show you a team that is usually in every game, even on cold nights, and a team that other coaches dearly hate to play.

"Best Name" prize winner

University of Hartford's Drake Uu. I don't know if it is pronounced "oooo" or "oo-oo" or "you-you."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Was Fish a "loser"

Derek Fisher played at Little Rock 1992-1996. We never went to the NCAA's in that period. Does that make him a loser? Hardly. It is just that some folks have a very shallow view of success.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Preseason picks

If you had regard only to offense, there is no reason in the world why you would pick the Trojans to win our division, as the coaches did. After all, normally when you look at a stat sheet and do not see a player in double figures, that is NOT a good sign. Still, the coaches obviously recognize what we do well, and expect us to do it again. However, they also did not pick us to put any distance between us and the pack, which is not good. We can get back where we were last year doing what we did last year, but to move up a notch, we have to do something else well? What will it be? Who will do it? Stay tuned.

Tied for first

I think the coaches picked us about where we should be. We will be pretty good. It remains to be seen if we are very good. (Well, we won't be "pretty" in any case. We play ugly basketball, but it works.) The fact that we were picked that high and only one 3rd team individual picked is a testimony to the team play insisted upon by Coach Shields. He gets a lot out of what he has. But I do think that the talent/experience combination on this team will take a significant step upwards this year. I keep going back to how many first-year D1 players we had, plus two more that had laid out a year.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The value of getting fouled

One factor in assessing offenses which often is overlooked is the value of getting fouled. Foul shooting rewards good shooters. If good shooters cannot get to the foul line, then their effectiveness is not maximized. Similarly, a lack of opponents’ fouls fails to put pressure on their bench because no one gets in foul trouble. That is one positive about working the shot clock to its maximum – because defenses often become lax and/or aggressive as the shot clock runs down. On the flip side, some offenses that milk the clock (notably the Princeton) are exceptionally unlikely to get fouled. Offenses that look inside first usually pick up a lot of fouls.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

new 3-point line

The opinions of the experts seems to be widely divergent as to whether or not the new 3-point line will make any difference. My guess is that it will, but not to the really good shooters. If it does nothing else than force coaches to shut down the mediocre shooters who blasted away from the arc, it will have helped the game.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On baseball

I cannot understand the fascination of baseball fans with home runs. It is BORING watching someone jog around the bases. For me, put the foul lines at 400 feet and center field at 500 feet, and you automatically guarantee lots of running, and that is a lot more exciting than jogging.


This waiting for the schedule is really getting frustrating. I'm about to the point of saying forget about Memphis, and just release the rest of it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

really good?

To get from a pretty good team to a really good team, there are some things we have to do. You have to be superlative in at least one aspect of the game, and atleast adequate in all of them. Last year we were superlative in perimeter defense, but several parts of our game were sub-par, and must improve if we are to step up. Our shooting overall was not good. From the perimeter it was barely adequate, and overall it was just bad. That has to change. Also, defensively we had periods when we just went into meltdown, such as against Creighton. That cannot happen. You are supposed to be consistent on defense and be able to stay in games because of it, not get blown out of games because of it.

fast start

This team needs to be focused and intense from the first day of practice, and the seniors need to demand that that be the tone of the team this season. This is the best opportunity we have had in a long time to make a big splash, and we don't need to blow it by coming out sloppy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We don't care

We don't care that we get no respect from the media and fans in general, who clamor for the fancy-dan, run-and-gun playground teams. We don't care that we probably won't have anyone on the preseason All-SBC teams. We don't care that we aren't trendy. We just play in-your-face, blue-collar basketball. UALR basketball.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


If I had to set a couple of benchmarks for what I hope our program can become, I would use Butler and Southern Illinois, both in terms of the type of basketball play and their consistency over time. Two really quality programs.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Butler Way

Quote about the Butler basketball program:

A huge premium has been placed on finding kids who want to play unselfishly, who are respectful of their teammates,, who just want to win. This is a gym rat's program.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Shane Edwards bulking up

Shane Edwards has put on 26 pounds since last season. I can't wait to see how he looks. Since he regularly plays the 4, but really is too small for that spot, this ought to help him.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Just around the corner

The basketball magazines start coming out in just over a week. I'm ready! It has been a long off-season.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Interesting scheduling trend

More and more "mid-major" conferences are pressing their teams not to play guarantee games they have no reasonable hope of winning. That decreases the pool of easy wins the BCS schools can get. I wonder if the day will come when the only games the BCS schools can get with non-BCS schools are in the SWAC or other conferences that really have no choice from a money standpoint. Probably won't happen, but the trend is in that direction.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm ready!

I know it is still 2 1/2 months until the season begins, but I am ready to go. Thankfully, the pre-season magazines come out in a couple of weeks, so that should help me bear up under the burden.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Southland on the move

I think that the Southland Conference is one of the up and coming basketball leagues in the nation. Keep a close eye on them. They have had some high profile wins in the last couple of years, and several of their teams have become pretty tough. That is significant, because it will put pressure on the SBC teams within the bounds of the Southland (NTU, and the Arkansas and Louisiana schools) to get better or be eclipsed by teams from a "lesser" conference.

new 3-point line

Strange as it may seem, the longer 3-point shot this next season OUGHT to make shooting percentages go up. Coaches ought to now enforce a shooting ban on marginal shooters who have been blasting away from the old, ridiculously-close arc. Now only the true shooters will be shooting 3-pointers, and that ought to make the overall percentage go up. There were a lot of atrocious shooting percentages on stat sheets in the past by shooters who shot a lot of 3's.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The year for disappointment

This is a year to be disappointed. Usually as fans, we dream tall, but keep our expectations in our back pocket so that we won't be too disappointed. We are prepared to say, "Those grapes were probably sour," if we need to. "I didn't really think they would do it."I think this is a year we need to plan to be disappointed. By that I mean, we need to expect high. I think this is a team that can do it, and we need to expect it, and be prepared to be genuinely disappointed if they aren't very good.

Don't have to do everything well

A team does not have to be good at everything to be a very good team. In fact, it is very rare that teams are even above average at every individual aspect of the game. But each team needs to be superlative at some aspect of the game, and does not need to be horrible at any aspect of the game. That is the hub around which their game rotates. This team was very good at perimeter defense last season. That was probably the strongest aspect of their game. I hope they begin there this year and stay at least that good. Can't let down there. But if they take the next step forward, some other aspects of their games needs to improve. I expect it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fuel costs and non-conference schedules

I would love to see a guru on one of the major websites address whether or not high fuel prices has affected the non-conference schedules this season. Surely it has to, perhaps not so much on the crowded east coast, but in far-flung conferences like the MWC, WAC and SBC, their conference travel costs are already horrendous, and I would think they would schedule close to home during the non-conference portion as much as possible.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Improvement with experience

Shooters are probably good shooters when they get to college. I am guessing that factor does not improve that much. However, shot selection may improve. Bo McCalebb from UNO was a case in point. He made himself into a better percentage shooter. Big men usually improve considerably with experience. And, I am guessing that point guards also learn as they go. In some places experience plays more of a role than in others.

Is this the year?

Could this be the year that Fayetteville does not go to the NCAA and one of the other D1 teams from the state goes? Hasn't happened in a long time. We have a good team this year, and Pine Bluff and ASU have new coaches, which should inject some energy into those programs.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Patterson and Edwards

I think that Patterson and Edwards will be the keys to how well we do this year. Both will be in their second year in the program, and both have obvious potential to be better than they were last year. If both turn into significant offensive threats, that could solve the big issue we had last year. I'm looking for good things from both of them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


One concern I have is that of underclassmen getting discouraged because they are not getting playing time and leaving the program. All else being equal, the older, more experienced players are going to get the bulk of the playing time. I am sure the keeping up the morale of the younger players is a big job for the coaches.

Joe and the post men

I can't wait to see the results of Big Joe having two years to work with Bails, Big Ticket and Burton as a group.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"starters returning"

The phrase "returning starters" is pretty flexible. The players that started the most games? Or that were starting at the end of the season? Or that played the most minutes?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Acknowledging the small things

One of John Wooden's rules was that when you scored you always acknowledged your teammates. I hope the team members appreciate and acknowlege the "unseen" parts of a good team - defense, being in the right place, taking charges, etc, etc. And, I hope we as fans watch for them and applaud them, also. Too many "fans" only see offense.

"Home run" effect

When Mark McGwire was setting the single-season home run record, people cheered wildly when he hit a home run. The thing that always galled me was that they did not boo him just as energetically when he struck out with men on base. He was rewarded for gambling by swinging for the fence, but not punished for striking out.

The same holds true with 3-point shooting. We cheer when a player takes a low-percentage shot and makes it, but we don't boo when he misses it. There is a reason that players ought to take good-percentage shots. The 3-point shot rewards bad shot decisions. I wish it weren't there, but at least I am glad they are moving the line back.

Monday, July 28, 2008

starting lineup

I assume (hope) that after the extended shaking-out period last year, the starting lineup will be fairly well set this year. We don't need that degree of confusion again. That having been said, I also hope all of the starters are pushed hard by those behind them.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Will MTSU be the pick?

Who will be the concensus preseason choice to win the SBC? I'm guessing it will be MTSU. They have virtually everyone coming back from a good team last season. All the pieces are there, and they are due. However, we may get some consideration for the same reasons, and maybe also ULL.

big men

Ought to be some quality big men in the SBC this season. Russell Hicks. Carlos Monroe. Theryn Hudson. Might throw in a couple of our own guys.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ready to go!

I am about ready to roll for basketball season. Sounds strange, I know, with football not even started yet, but the pre-season basketball magazines come out in about six weeks, and that is when the "season" begins for me, since I can get stoked up on information. The roster is posted. The schedules are beginning to come out (two from the SBC so far). Let the speculation begin!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How good on defense?

How good could this team be next season on defense? Eight of our returning players were playing their first games under Shields this past season. All of them will go into the season knowing his defensive scheme, and having had a year of playing together in it. We were very good on defense last year. MAYBE we will be scary good next season?

points per shot

Efficient shooters (most points per FG attempt) usually go to the free throw line a lot, because those points are added into the points per field goal. An example of the opposite is Chris Gradnigo of ULL, who shot fully 44% from the 3-point line, but only shot 29 FT's all year.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

basketball and statistical equality

One of the things that I like about basketball is its statistical purity. By that I mean that everyone on the floor can get every statistic. Not so in football, where most of the stats are for backs and receivers only. Not so in baseball, where only pitchers get strikeouts. Not so in hockey and soccer, where only goalies get saves. In that sense, at least, basketball is the most equal of the major sports.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Maybe one of these days

In the 1967 recruiting class for Western Kentucky, Jim McDaniels recalls that six of the Kentucky All-Star team agreed among themselves to go to Western, because they all wanted to go to the same school. That is pretty remarkable considering the domination of the University of Kentucky in college basketball in those days, and since. McDaniels said that he never really considered going anywhere else except WKU. They had a great team back then, of course, culminating in their double-overtime loss to Villanova in the 1971 Final Four.
All of us Little Rock fans live in hope that someday – soon – we will have a top-level Arkansas high school player who will go to UALR because that is where he has always wanted to go – his favorite team. He grew up a Trojan fan and always wanted to play there. By “top-level” I mean one that Fayetteville and comparable programs were pulling out all the stops to sign.
The SBC is a long ways from being Univ. of Kentucky, and so for WKU to get that kind of a recruiting class was a real coup. They have been among the class of the SBC for a long time, but for a brief time they moved up into the national elite.
We were a double-overtime win from moving into the Sweet 16 one time, but as anyone can tell you, even from being in the Top 16 is a long step from the Top 4. WKU got there with a huge recruiting class. It can be done. Maybe I will live to see it at Little Rock.
Getting a program to the next level is usually a series of incremental steps. WKU took a huge step forward with one great class. We may not get there like that, but we are coming off the first 20-win season in a long time. We can’t let that fall to the ground, but must take it and run with it.

I like our roster

This looks like a strong team going into next season. Four starters return (based on minutes played). We lose only Mr. Akins from last season's top five. Plus, Shane Edwards, Matt Mouzy, Derrick Bails and LaMarvon Jackson all return from the bench, all having a least 139 minutes from last year. We addressed two significant concerns in our recruiting, that being depth at point and rebounding. We ought to be even better defensively, since the main players will not have to get into sync with each other as was the case last season. So, the early problems with getting the line-up set shouldn't have to happen this year. How good we are will depend to a large extent upon whether or not someone steps up offensively. I will predict that if one of our major players takes a giant step forward in his play this season and the others improve as might be expected, this team will be in the hunt for post-season.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Defense gets overlooked

Good defensive teams almost always get under-rated because defense is much harder to quantify than offense. Maybe the coaches know, and vote accordingly in pre-season polls, but the fans hardly ever do. Stats such as "charges taken" or "shots not allowed" don't show up in fans' consciousness.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why I like defense

Although I am not a coach nor a guru of the details of the game, in the two sports I follow to any degree, it is not the things that get on Sports Center that interest me. Take baseball: if I want to see home runs, I'll go to batting practice. Really exciting, isn't it, to watch a man jog around the basepaths? Not! Defense and the other subtleties of the sports are the things most fans don't catch very well - and thus do not clamor for - but the things which make the sports really interesting. A well-turned double play. The extra effort to stretch a double into a triple. Being in the right position on the field before the pitch it made, and on and on. Same way in basketball. That is why, to me, home runs and dunks are BORING. You can watch those on any playground.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The good old days - they really were

I have told my sons for years that they are not likely to see college basketball like I saw it unless something fundamental changes to keep players in college for four years. What is the likelihood of seeing Maravich and Calvin Murphy both averaging over 40 ppg in the same season? Can you imagine seeing Elvin Hayes and Alcindor go head-to-head twice in one season? Not likely.

In 2007 ESPN ranked the ten greatest college teams of all time. Two were from the 1990’s, none more recent than 1996 – 12 years ago. All the rest were 1982 or before. Seven of the Top 10 teams were 1976 or before. Doing the math, that is 32 years ago – an entire generation – and thus my contention that we probably will never see college basketball like that again.

In 1956, Bill Russell had FIFTY rebounds in the semi-finals and finals of the NCAA tournament. Imagine that today! The 1972 UCLA Bruins averaged winning by a margin of 32 points per game. All of the 1960 Ohio State starters played at least two years in the pros – including Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek and Larry Siegfried. Sometimes the good old days really were the good old days.

Starting games

I know that getting to be announced as a starter is a big deal to the players, but to me as a fan it is irrelevant, almost completely. I look at minutes played. Who was playing at the start of the game doesn't matter; it is who played the most.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The silence is deafening

Why do we have a complete information vacuum with this program the first half of the off-season every year? I realize the staff needs a vacation as much as anyone, but a human interest story every once in a while, or something, would be nice for us long-suffering fans.

Recruiting hype

I guessing that in a big majority of press releases about new recruits there is a line something like this: "He is a fine person and comes from a great family." Well, we hope so. That definitely would be best. But you wonder, if that is true, why seemingly so many of them (although a small number as a percentage) get into trouble with the law or the coaches. Wouldn't it be funny to see a press release: "He is one step away from being a thug and his family is totally disfunctional, but he is a great basketball player, so we recruited him."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Point guard

We have had some lively discussions as to who will play the most point guard next season. Hard to know. I think Stevie will see a lot more time at the 2 next year because of his shooting, but Patterson is not overwhelming at the point. He is steady and reliable, but just is not that key that really makes things happen. Matt Mouzy or James Scott might see a few minutes as the third option, which we do need, because an injury reducing the team to only one point guard is a major problem. I just don't get the feeling of the floor direction being in a lock-down under-control mode as it was back in the Graber days. We don't have a pure point guard yet.

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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I am and have been a big proponent of redshirting incoming freshmen. Maturity is a big factor in a young man's life at those ages, and I can remember that college freshmen are notoriously immature (at least I was, and most of the ones with which I went to school). The difference between boys and men, actually, comparing 18 and 22. And, that is one thing schools at our level can do to help themselves upgrade their talent against the money schools, who can get the four and five star recruits. Not only are they more mature, but usually they are considerably physically stronger across that time span.

Monday, April 28, 2008

That big recruit

Back in the 1970's Western Kentucky signed Jim McDaniels, who had grown up locally and had been a WKU fan all his life. Some other All-Stars came with him, and three years later WKU was in the Final Four. Sooner or later we will get that really special recruit.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Perimeter defense

Not only did the Trojans lead the SBC in 3-point % defense, but the quality of their play in that regard can be seen in the fact that fully a third of their opponents shot at least ten percentage points below their season 3PT average against us.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recruiting thoughts

While we certainly did not hit any home runs, I have to think that we helped ourselves in the incoming recruiting class. The post positions looked to be one of our strengths in the next few years with Mike Smith and Derrick Bails, and the addition of Wayne Burton for two more years can only make the competition that much more intense. Solomon Bozeman is an experienced point guard who has played two seasons at the BCS level, which should mean we will not take a step back at point when Patterson graduates. Solid class, but not a great class. The next class needs to be a great class.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bogus end-of-the-year polls

The final college basketball polls of the year are virtually meaningless because they kowtow too much to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA is NOT a test of the best team in the country. It is only a test of the hottest team over a six-game stretch. If that is all the polls are supposed to indicate – who could beat whom at a given point in time – then maybe they are fairly accurate, but to me the polls ought to be saying who has had the best season to date, and that is very frequently not the teams that did best in the tournament. To me, the college basketball season needs to be looked at as two distinct seasons – regular and tournament. Too many people, in my opinion (so-called basketball “fans”) only really follow college basketball during the NCAA tournament, and therefore that is all they care about. To me, what a team does over a 30-game season means a whole lot more than what they do in a six-game tournament, even though the tournament is a lot of fun and certainly should be continued.

Friday, April 11, 2008

JJ - still a great story


We need to get that "cause" feeling back

North Carolina State Coach Jim Valvano before they played us in the second round of the 1986 NCAA tournament: "You don't like playing a team with a hyphen in their name. They tend to have a cause. . . . They're playing for all the little people in the world."

Well, how about it? Do we have that feeling? Do we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulders? Time to get the swagger back!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trojans in the SBC record book

Steve Shields is now 18th in career SBC wins with 43.

We were 12 for 12 from the FT line vs. Southern Ark. in 2003 to tie for best % in one game.

Rashad Jones-Jennings holds the single game rebound record at 30. (I was there for that one.)

JJ has the most rebounds in a season at 392.

Muntrelle Dobbins has the most rebounds in a careeer at 1010. JJ is 23rd at 721.

Dobbins is tied for 17th in career blocks with 158.

Derek Fisher is tied for 18th in career steals at 184.

We have three players in the career 3PT FG Made list, Alan Barksdale at 5th with 255, Nick Zachery in 8th with 236, Malik Dixon in 19th with 199.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Deandre Eggins is leaving the Little Rock program. I will miss him. He was a solid contributor for three years. He had some physical issues, and was distracted by some tragedies in his family one season, but he definitely one of our better players over that period.

Season over

Well, the college basketball season is over. I mostly lost interest after the teams I follow bowed out. Pretty unique that all four #1 seeds made the final four, but in another sense, there wasn't much drama. Lots of basketball talent, but no Cinderellas. I had expected North Carolina to win it, or maybe Memphis. I really had not expected UCLA to win, because they had not played well down the stretch. Kansas would have been my third pick, so they surprised me a little.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Recruiting defense

You hardly ever hear of a player being recruited because he is a great defensive player, and I think there is a logical reason for that. In the first place, players in high school who are good enough to go to D-1 schools are usually vastly better than their peers, and so they don’t have to work hard at defense, and really have little motivation to do so. In the second place, the defensive schemes in college are much more complex, and so there is little to which high school defensive abilities can be compared. So, college coaches recruit either for offensive skills or innate basketball instincts or athletic ability, and teach their defensive schemes and philosophy to the player in college. There are exceptions, of course, but that would be by far the rule, I’m thinking. Also, great defensive TEAMS are not just, or even necessarily, great individual defensive players, but they know how to make their team defense work and each person buys into the philosophy and does his part. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole, so to speak. That is one reason that really great defensive teams often come (these days) from lower-level schools where players are not leaving for the NBA, and where you see a lot of fifth-year seniors.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Final Four

From my perspective, this is a pretty boring Final Four. I know the supposed best teams are all there, but when things go according to the book, there just isn't much suspense. I like to root for the underdogs. No underdogs this year.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Long summer

For die-hard college basketball fans, it is a long spring and summer. But stay tuned. Check in from time to time, because I will be posting here on a regular basis. Lots about the Little Rock Trojans, but also lots about college basketball in general.

Incidentally, I heard a sports talk show host say no one had ever heard of Mr. Curry of Davidson before this year. I was amazed. Anyone who follows college basketball closely had heard of him.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Spring signing date is not far off. I suppose our coaches are out on the recruiting trail hard. We need a true point guard badly - a freshman preferably, but I'd take what I could get. We will be losing a bunch of guys at the 3 and 4 positions after next year, and we can never have too many pure shooters or big men.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Great quote

"People get away from the fact that defense wins championships," Wisconsin forward Marcus Landry said. "No one wants to say that anymore. Everybody talks about guys being athletic and getting dunks and all that. The way we play defense might not be pretty to watch, but we're going to win games and do what it takes to win them."

Non-BCS doing well

Of the 36 teams still alive in the three post-season tournaments, 15 of them are non-BCS schools. Little guys are doing pretty well for themselves.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Next year is the year

With a veteran team, next year is the best we will have had in a while to make a splash. Hope our guys are focused in the off-season and work hard to improve where they need to in order to make it work.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My favorite Trojan?

Keep in mind that I know none of the team personally, and saw only three games in person this year. That having been said, I suppose my favorite Trojan this past season was John Fowler. He is my kind of player: gritty, hard-nosed, good defense, not spectacular, just get the job done. He reminds me of Co Willis and Josh Jacobs from a few years back.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Goodbye, Bo

It is a shame that Bo McCalebb of New Orleans, the all-time leading scorer in the SBC, did not get to go to post-season in his senior year. They finisehd 19-13, but it wasn't good enough. He stuck by his alma mater through the Katrina disaster, which speaks very highly of him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Conspiracy? Surely not!

Is it a conspiracy? Probably not, but it surely does look fishy. In four different instances, non-BCS schools that might possibly win a game or more in the NCAA are pitted against other non-BCS schools of like quality. The one thing the big-money BCS schools hate are the little guys embarrassing them in the NCAA. Well, at least four of them got protected this time, didn’t they. Couldn’t have been deliberate. Couldn’t have been deliberate. Could it?

Monday, March 17, 2008

mild disappointment

I was very mildly disappointed that we did not get invited to either the NIT or the CBI tournaments, but not much. Our non-conference schedule was too weak for us to merit much consideration. However, even the fact that I was mildly disappointed speaks volumes, I think, because going into the season I certainly had no expectations of being disappointed - at all - about not making post-season. Rebuilding faster than we thought.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Next step?

What is the formula for moving Little Rock to the next level? To know that, we have to be honest about what our level is now. In the last eight seasons we have been first or second in our division four times. I think we are to the point where we expect to be in the hunt for a division title every season and are disappointed if we are not. Next step probably is to get to where we realistically expect to be in post-season contention every season. We are not there yet. How do we get there?

First, I think longevity in quality coaching is a must. Porter Moser was a good coach. Steve Shields has been a good coach. The next couple of years will tell whether or not he can be a great one. Every program needs positive stability in order to excel – Gonzaga as a case in point. Steve needs to show he is a very good coach.

Second, we need to sell the program MUCH better than we have been. This is a no-brainer, and I absolutely cannot understand how an institution the size of UALR can do such a poor job of promoting its flagship team. Just a little big of common sense and attention would go a long way. (Surely P. T. Barnum has a great-grandson out there who can be our public relations man.)

Third, we need to upgrade our talent level. We need to redshirt incoming freshmen on a regular basis unless we have to have them in the current year. That is one easy way to upgrade your talent automatically, because a 5th year senior can reasonably be expected to be significantly better than he would have been as a true freshman. Before this year, our best season was when we had several fifth year seniors on the squad.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

bright future

I think we have every reason to be optimistic about the future. Assuming everyone comes back, we have four starters returning (in terms of total minutes played), plus the first two players off the bench. Two of those were in their first year of D1 play and might be expected to improve significantly.
Looking further down the road, of the four returning starters, the two leading scorers are only sophomores, and both of them really only started coming into their own offensively toward the end of the season. Our best pure shooter and the best big man prospect we have had in a long time are both freshmen. IF we can keep the incoming talent moving in the right direction with a couple of good recruits for next year, we could move the program forward a step from where it has been. We have been, normally, in the top half of the conference over the last eight years, but we have not yet moved into the elite at the top (usually WKU, USA and ULL). We will have to improve the talent, because those schools always seem to have outstanding players, and hustle alone cannot always overcome the talent discrepancy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Keep checking in

Keep checking my blog in the off-season. I will keep putting thoughts and facts here to keep things going in the off-season.

a good season

Well, unless the unlikely scenario occurs and we get a bid to the NIT or the new CBI tournament, our season is over. Given the fact that we couldn’t shoot the ball worth two cents, we did pretty well. Going into the season, seeing that we were one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation, I was thinking that 17 wins would be good, and 18 would be very good. We got 20 wins, for the first time in twelve years, so needless to say I am thrilled! It has been an outstanding year, particularly since most of our players return to form a solid base for next season. I can’t wait!

Monday, March 10, 2008

20 WINS!

Well, I can say that I am happy with this season of Trojan basketball, no matter what happens from here on. We have won 20 games for the first time since I have followed the team. How many times has a team won 20 games without a player averaging double figures? Hard to do. I don’t see how we beat FAU, and we certainly would not have done it without outstanding defense and good team rebounding. Other than that, we stunk, to be honest about it. Our FT shooting was just flat HORRIBLE. We had 19 turnovers. Our two starting forwards fouled out. Ugly! But, we’ll take it. But we won’t be able to beat WKU playing like that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Here the reason I don't root for Fayettevile

Here is a typical (though by no means universal) comment from a Fayetteville fan regarding the ASU coaching search:

"I hope Nolan coaches ASU! It would be nice to have two instate teams worth keeping up with." As if the only way any other school in the state could accomplish anything was by getting a cast-off from Fayetteville.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I have little respect with those who call themselves college "fans" who only really get interested at tournament time and who only know what they see on ESPN; and who, like so many of the "experts," only know anything about the BCS conferences.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Division Co-Champions!

Our Trojans beat Monroe Saturday night to claim a share of the Western Division crown in the Sun Belt Conference. They also notched their 19th win, which is the highest total since I have been following them (they have had 18 four times), so I am thrilled, needless to say. A lot of the old-timer fans are not as pumped up about this, because they have seen greater things, but I am enjoying it while I have it. We ought to win at least one game in the tournament, which would be the first 20 win season in a LONG time. To get into the NCAA, they have to win three more games, which will be tough, because two of them will be Western Kentucky and South Alabama, without doubt the two best teams in the SBC; but we shall see. Stranger things have happened, and this team is playing well right now.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Can we break out?

Five times in the last seven seasons, we have had 17 or 18 wins. We are sitting at 18 for the season? Can we break out? We have two chances left - Saturday night at Monroe and in the conference tournament. That is a modest achievement, but it will be the most wins this program has had since 1996.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Free throw shooting

This team needs to improve its free throw shooting - badly. That is going to jump up and bite them. Already has. Glad the ASU game was not close, because we shot only 47% from the line.

Derrick Bails - shot blocking machine

Derrick Bails, freshman center for UALR, leads the team with 21 blocks in only 278 minutes of playing time, with at least four games left in the season. Assuming he quadrupled that, he would end his career 6th on the all-time UALR blocks list, and there is every reason to think he will have more minutes and more blocks in future seasons.

Down goes ASU!

GREAT win last night at the Jack over ASU. Except for shooting 3-pointers, that is about as well as this team can play, probably. Excellent team effort. Outstanding performances by Shane Edwards, Mike Smith, Stevie Moore, John Fowler, Brandon Patterson Rashad Moss, Matt Mouzy. Interestingly, every starter played at least 25 minutes, which is a big departure from the past. We held Wedel and Banks, ASU’s outside gunners, to a combined 3 of 12 from the 3-point line. We out-rebounded them 39 to 29, and totally dominated inside. We had 54 points in the paint to their 10. Everyone on the roster go to play. The crowd was the second-largest ever at the Jack Stephens Arena. Great night all the way around.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Jack Stephens Center

If any of you have not visited the Jack Stephens Center, the arena where the Trojans play (affectionately known by fans as "the Jack"), you have missed a treat. It is easy to find, easy to get in and out of, no bad seats in the arena, broad walk ways. In short, it is a very fan-friendly facility, and great for basketball.

Why this is fun

One of the things that I like about being a UALR fan is that they are the underdog. Not in every game, of course, but anyone in Arkansas not named “Hog” is a big underdog. Anyone can jump on the bandwagon. You have to have a lot of perseverance to root for someone who doesn’t have the money and the media in their hip pocKets.

Great win at home against NTU

The big question about this team going into Saturday night’s game was their state of mind. We had had two HORRIBLE games in a row on the road. Was there something fundamentally wrong, like a clubhouse issue? Well, that seems to have been answered resoundingly. Saturday night was one of the best team efforts I have seen in a while. The intensity from the Trojans was outstanding. If they can maintain that sort of effort, they will win several more games this year, and likely finish in first in the West.
There were several surprises in the game. First was the fact that LaMarvon Jackson started. He had logged only about 130 minutes all season. He absolutely will not be an offensive force, but he is a high-energy type guy who plays tough defense and works hard at rebounding. Neither of our big guys in the middle (Bails and Smith) started. Second surprise was that walk-on freshman Matt Mouzy got 21 minutes of playing time, and he responded in a big way. He was 6 of 9 from the field and 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and made some nice plays on fast breaks. The third surprise was that Terrance Akins and Key-Key Malone got only 10 and 2 minutes, respectively, and Rashad Moss did not play at all. Those are our only two seniors and a red-shirt junior. Akins has been ice cold lately, which you cannot afford from a shooting guard. Actually in this game he was the back-up point guard, since Brandon Patterson was hurt, and he did a very solid job, with two assists and no turnovers.
The perimeter defense is BACK with a vengeance. We held NTU to 19% from the arc, which is 20 points below their season average.
One more question remains to be answered. The last two road games we have totally imploded in the second half. What will happen Wednesday at FIU? Stay tuned.

Friday, February 8, 2008

What is going on?!

I am really worried about this team. Something is badly wrong. We just aren’t playing like a team that has any confidence, or maybe like a team that cares. Second half collapses (meltdowns) are becoming common. What is going on? I don’t know. It has the feel of a locker room issue, but that might not be it. In any case, the coaches need to get it fixed, and quickly. We aren’t even playing defense any more.

Our leading scorer is down to 8.8 points per game. Our starting shooting guard literally can’t hit the broad side of a barn lately. Things are not good in Mudville!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hard to understand

It is hard to imagine how this team has won as many games as it has. The leading scorer is averaging 9.0 ppg, and the leading rebounder is at 5.4 rpg. There are so many things that this team does not do well at all. I guess the answer is that the things this team does well, it does very well. 1. Perimeter defense. Opponents shoot only 28.5% from the 3-point line. Any coach would take that any day. 2. Team rebounding. Even with the Big Ticket (Mike Smith) our leading rebounder at only 5.4 rpg, we still out-rebound our opponents 37.9 to 31.2, which is a sizeable margin. 3. Balanced scoring. This has to be a hard team to prepare for in that regard at least. You never know who will be the scorer on a given night. Very few team’s eighth and ninth leading scorers average as much as ours.

Now, those may be very small claims to fame, but I don’t know how else to explain a 14-7 record with our kind of stat sheet.

Awful loss at WKU

Well, we got absolutely humiliated at Western Kentucky last night. Actually, we played very well in the first half and were up by two at the break, but the wheels fell off in the second half. Diddle is a hard place to visit, and they have large and enthusiastic crowds there, so it was no surprise that we lost – we were picked to lose by 10 to 13 points. However, we just absolutely fell apart in the second half. Couldn’t do anything right, and WKU did very little wrong. We did out-rebound them, barely, and shot free throws well; outside of that, it was a LONG night. Oh well, we won’t play that badly most nights, and WKU has made a lot of folks look bad, so it’s not the end of the world. I don’t mind losing to a better team, even losing badly, but I hate to see the team play badly. I listened to the game on the radio, and we had a fill-in announcer (not Ray Tucker, our regular); and at one point he commented that the Trojans just seemed “disinterested” in the game. That won’t get it! If you lose, lose with pride. We’ve got to do better than that!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Excitement is building toward the game Thursday at Western Kentucky. On paper, we are pretty well outclassed, but that is why they play the games. You never know. To win we will have to play our game right on, and they will need to have an off night, but our defense has given a lot of people off nights, so we shall see. If we could squeeze out a win, it would be huge for us, of course.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Leaders in the West!

We are in first place in the Western Division; and while I don't think we are in the class of WKU and USA, still, it feels good to be back in the hunt again. If you look at the numbers for this team, you say there is NO WAY they should be 14-6 and leading the division. Leading scorer 9.0 ppg. leading rebounder 5.4 rpg. Very poor shooting team. But this is a team, not a bunch of individual stars. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Who will step up on a given night is a question. but 14 times so far, someone has.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Nice road win at Troy

It took some last minute heroics from Steve Moore, but the Little Rock Trojans pulled out a close win over the Troy Trojans last night in Alabama. UALR seemed comfortably in control most of the game, but let Troy get back into it in the last two minutes. Moore took the in-bound pass, ran the length of the court in the final four seconds and make the game winning bucket. Very exciting. John Fowler had an outstanding game, probably his best of the year. We were not predicted to win this one, so it was a nice addition to the W column. That gives us 13 wins for the year, already matching last year's total, so I think we safely can say the program has taken a solid step forward this year. Now, if we can just find a consistent offensive threat or two . . . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I'm guess that we, along with Denver, win the Teams We Least Like To Play award. We do it because of defense. How good is our defense? Well, compared with the SBC, pretty good. We are second in scoring defense behind Denver, part of which is attributable to their offensive scheme. And we are 5.6 ppg ahead of 3rd place. In FG% defense, we are first, 2.4 % points ahead of 2nd place. in 3-point FG% defense, we are first, fully 6.3 % points ahead of 2nd place. We are also first in rebounding margin. I wish we had more offense, but if anyone in the league can afford to be without it, we are the one.

Needed: just a little offensive help

I like this team. We suffer severely from want of a take-charge scorer, but we do a lot of things right, also. That particularly hurts us in close games down the stretch. I think Stevie Moore can be that person, maybe soon. And, it needs to be soon. This season is by no means over, and I expect we will end up with 17-18 wins unless we collapse. But, if we somehow could take a step forward offensively, we might be in for some good things at the end of the year. The team is very solid defensively. It is just the offensive that needs a little tweaking for us to be pretty good. We don't need a huge offensive infusion in order to make a big difference, just someone to step up at critical times.

Friday, January 18, 2008

ULM game

We beat Monroe by 2 points. How, I don't know. This team wins UGLY. About the only constant is that we consistently hold teams to lower percentages from the 3-point line than their season average. We had better have good defense, because right now that is about the only part of our game clicking.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Progress report

I guess this team is about where we might have expected it to be at this point. It was one of the least experienced teams in the county going into the season, and so an easier schedule was called for. We lost to Arlington at home, but they have had a couple of impressive wins, so that was not a horrible loss, especially that early in the season with them having a veteran team. The loss to NIU was disappointing, but they are from a higher-ranked conference and it was on the road. The Tulsa win was a good one, because they have been pretty good this year. The win at UNO was big. Not too bad. Given that we are only two wins below the total for all last season, I'll take it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Nice win over Louisiana-Lafayette

Big win at home last night. Patterson, the starting point guard, was out on a family matter, but Steve Moore filled in with a huge game in front of his hometown crowd. We are a half game out of first place in the West now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

jury still out

We started out 9-1, but since then have gone 1-3 on the road. So, we still do not know how good this team is. Tonight may tell us a lot, at home against Louisiana-Lafayette, one of the hottest teams in the league.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Career records in perspective

We have had 17 players who scored 1000 or more points at UALR, and they are given two full pages in the media guide, with photos of many of them. But, assuming 29 games per season, it would be possible to score 1000 points in a four-year career and average only 8.6 points per game.

More exclusive (and therefore more impressive) clubs that do not get nearly the press:
1000 career rebounds - 3 members
500 field goals - 6 members
200 3-pt baskets - 2 members
300 FT - 8 members
400 assists - 5 members
100 steals - 11 members
100 blocks - 4 members

Monday, January 7, 2008

Disaster at ASU

VERY disappointing loss at Arkansas State. We were playing well at about the 10 minute mark, focused and leading by double figures, and then the wheels completely fell off. From that point on we couldn’t do anything right. It was frustrating. Oh, well. We will get another shot at them at the Jack. Hats off to Key-Key Malone and Deandre Eggins, two veterans who played solid games. Terrance Akins, our shooting guard was 1 for 10, and we would have trouble winning with him shooting like that. He game off a great game at UNO and then came apart this week. Time to regroup.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Terrance Akins, the Trojans' senior shooting guard, game through big time last night at UNO, probably our biggest game of the year to date. He had 15 points, 3 assists, and NINE rebounds. Not bad for a guy who is 6-1, 180#. That's senior leadership!

Trojans turn it around against UNO

They came from way back to pull it out on the road. How many heroes of the game? First off, the coaching staff. They obviously had this team ready, and the team stuck with the plan and made it work. Only 12 turnovers. Outstanding shooting from the arc. Stevie starts and comes through. Patterson comes off the bench and has an outstanding game. Valuing the ball: more assists than turnovers. Back to outrebounding the opponents. Clutch free throw shooting. John Fowler 9 from 10 from the line. Shane Edward six offensive rebounds. And how about our senior leader, MISTER Akins, 15 points and NINE rebounds and three assists. Good basketball!