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!