Thursday, December 31, 2009


At this point in the 1985-86 season, we were 4-9, and that year ended up being arguably the high water mark for the program (the Notre Dame win in the NCAA tournament). Can lightning strike again? Possibly, but in recently years we have been so snake bit that we just naturally assume the worst. We have been the 3rd or 4th best team in the SBC over the last decade and no postseason to show for it. However, hope springs eternal in the human breast. Maybe this is the year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

opponents' A/TO

One stat that may be revealing is our opponents' assist/turnover ratio. They are at 1.16 in the aggregate, which would make most any coach happy if his team could average that for a season. I guess it shows we are not disrupting our opponents' flow of offense very well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I am pretty discouraged about this team, and the program, at this point. I knew this would be a down year, but I did not expect us to be playing as poorly at this point as we are. Our won-loss is about what I expected at this point, but we absolutely stunk up the gym at Wright. I don't know what the problem is. Maybe we are having trouble adjusting to not having Mike Smith. He was one of the leaders of the team.

Shields had better find the answer. I am afraid his job is on the line.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Shields' job

Calls have begun again for Steve Shields to be replaced. I have mixed feelings about it. I like Shields and I hope he makes it. I think he has been good for the program. He has achieved at a high level and has run a clean program. The only hits against him are that he has not been to post-season and that he “does not play an exciting brand of basketball.” Since I prefer more deliberate styles, that last is in his favor, in my view. However, it may be true that the program needs some momentum. The injury to Mike Smith really set this off, which is not fair to Shields, because with Mike the outlook on this year likely would be entirely different.

I just hope we don’t end up with playground ball or someone who brings in a bunch of questionable characters just to put up wins.

In trouble?

I think this program may be in trouble short-term unless Shields can stop the bleeding and get things going this season. We need immediate help badly, and I don't see any immediate help on the way. I am in favor of recruiting freshmen, but I don't think Shields has that much time at this point.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mike Smith's injury

Mike Smith down with torn ACL. Probably his career is over. What a blow! He had worked so hard to get in shape and had been playing well. Bad for him, and bad for the team. This program is just snake-bit!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buying in

Teams seem to some together when they "buy into" the coach's philosophy, and admit that he knows more about the game than they do. It is amazing how often players don't believe that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

bad shooters shooting

Here is something I do not understand. Central Arkansas' Chris Poellnitz has the second-most 3-point attempts on the team, and since he missed four games has the most attempts/game. Yet he is shooting only 20% from the arc. Why does the coach allow him to blast away. Granted UCA does not have many outside threats, but surely they can find someone who can shoot better than 20%! I never have understood why coaches allow players who cannot shoot to take so many shots.

Monday, December 14, 2009

predictable so far

With the possible exception of Missouri State, the result of every game so far has been what I thought it would be, and that one was only because I had no idea they would be as good as they are. Sagarin has us with the 16th-toughest schedule in the country so far this year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

close, but not there

This team is close to being a fairly good team this year. It could happen before the season is out. But we aren't there yet. We need to plug some holes in some weak areas. Shields is a good coach, and I expect we will improve, but I don't know if we will improve enough to be in the hunt this season.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

blocks and steals

This team lags considerably behind opponents in blocks and steals. May be indicative of what our defensive problem is.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


One area where we are weak this year is in blocks and steals. Our opponents have significantly more in each of those than we do.


Better start keeping up with Northwestern. May be one of the outstanding stories of the season in college basketball.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I have been hugely impressed with the shooting of this team this year. There are some definite weak points, and so far I cannot say this team is any better than average, but they definitely can shoot.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fayetteville loss to Morgan State

I really don't like Morgan State because their coach is a sleeze-ball, but it is always fun to see a BCS school lose to a lower-level team. Especially Fayetteville, with their monopolistic attitude in Arkansas.

Friday, November 20, 2009

If we could just get the recruits we get

to actually show up, and the players we sign to stay their full time, no telling how good we might be.

I liked what I saw

at the St. Gregory's game. Weak opponent, but the Trojans played well. Showed a lot of good basketball, especially the 28 assists. That was just short of the 32 all-time team record for one game. I was pretty down on them, but I feel a little better. Won't be a really good team this year, but might be fair if things go well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Nikola Cicic has a sweet, smooth shot. I predict he will be a star for us before he is through.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tennessee Tech game

My son-in-law and I got to see UCA play Tennessee Tech last night. Tech won in a close game. Tech is coached by Mike Sutton who received national notice a couple of years ago for his struggle with Guillain-Barre syndrome. At one point all he could do was blink his eyes. He now is on the sideline, sits on a stool in front of the bench. He walks with a cane, albeit somewhat awkwardly. Truly inspiring story.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

disappointed, but not surprised

I had hoped we would stay a little closer to Ole Miss than we did, but I am not surprised that we got blown out by a good SEC team. We did a few things well, but you aren't going to give up 20 turnovers against a team of that quality and stand much of a chance of winning. Some good things happened. Bails showed he is still a force on the boards. Cicic hit his first two 3-point attempts. Burton was 4 for 5 from the field. We will get better.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

sine qua non

Every other year you need to sign a freshman center and a freshman point guard. Can't have too many of those.


I like our recruiting class this year. First of all, they are all freshmen (at least so far). How long has it been since that was true. Since we expect to have all five positions covered next season, that makes good sense. Second, the class includes a point guard, a scorer, and a center. Nice combination. Who knows how freshmen will pan out, but long term I feel a lot better bringing in promising freshmen than having to plug holes with jucos, even though we have had some outstanding JC players. Second, the two guards look to know how to score, and that is always a plus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Heading into the season

We have perhaps more question marks after the exhibition game than we had before. What is the deal with this team? Was the Harding game a complete abberation, or did it reveal fatal flaws in the team? Who knows? And, I don't know if we will know any more after the Miss State game, because logically they should come close to blowing us out. It may take a good while to know how good this team really is.

Monday, November 9, 2009


The season is here!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cautiously optimistic

Based upon the feedback we have gotten so far on this team (precious little), I have moved from being pretty pessimistic to being cautiously optimistic. I am not suggesting that I think we will be in the top tier of the SBC, but I think we might be able to move to being on the top edge of the middle of the pack. Considering what we lost, that will be an accomplishment. If we were to be one of the top 3-4 teams in the conference, that would mean Shields has done one of his best coaching jobs and that he has significantly upgraded our incoming talent. I would like to hope that is the case, but we'll wait and see.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I don't like run and gun

People sometimes seem amazed that I do not prefer wide-open, run-and-gun basketball. Here are the reasons:
1. Run-and-gun basketball will be sloppy, undisciplined basketball nine times out of ten. I do not like that which is sloppy and undisciplined.
2. Run-and-gun usually involves athletes that are very naturall gifted. The most deliberate style often tends to involve those who have less athletic prowess, but who have honed their skills by hard work.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

basketball in Texas?

I can assure you that very few Texas Longhorn fans care much about the non-conference basketball season, because very few Texas Longhorn fans care about basketball, and during November and December football is still in progress. They only care about the conference season and post season in basketball because they do not really care about basketball. Much the same at Fayetteville.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


By the nature of the beast, there cannot be very many Gonzagas. If everyone did it, it wouldn't be remarkable, and it makes no sense that non-BCS schools would dominate D1 basketball. But Gonzaga has done something remarkable. I still would like to read a detailed story of how they did it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The information blackout from the UALR basketball program is getting pretty depressing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

appreciating defense

Fans often become very proud of the thing that their team does particularly well, to the point that it becomes the trademark of the team. For example, Razorback fans during Richardson’s tenure loved his pressing and traps. It frustrates me that Trojan fans do not seem to be willing to embrace tough half-court defense as the trademark strength of this team. A few do, I am sure, but seemingly not very many. In places where the fan base has bought into defense, the fans will often stand and cheer when the shot clock gets below ten seconds. They appreciate tough-nosed defense and are proud of it. Wish that were truer in Little Rock than it seems to be.

10 questions I will get answered this season

Will Northwestern make the NCAA tournament for the first time?
Will Pine Bluff make postseason for the first time.
How far back will “rebuilding” be for Little Rock this year?
Can UCA show they belong in Division 1?
Can Majerus finally get SLU rolling?
Can Vandy get to the Sweet 16 again?
Can UMKC become competitive in the Summit?
Will Nicholls State win the Southland?
Has the Denver really turned around?
Can someone knock WKU out of the driver’s seat in the SBC?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sad fact

The sad fact is that most basketball fans appear not to care if their coach has the least modicum of ethics or moral character - as long as he wins. I realize they are not hired to be ethicists, but they are training young men, and you would hope they would instill some sort of discipline in them. But the "market," i.e, the fans, don't demand that, so it usually does not happen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You would have thought

that with seasons of 17, 18, 18, 18, 18, 20, 23 wins over the last nine years, that we would have been to post season at least once in that span. Just hasn't worked out. Our turn ought to be due.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It is close enough to the season now that I am getting excited. Time for basketball! A long summer of speculation is about to come to an end. With our schedule, we will know how good we might be pretty quickly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


In baseball, I would recruit pitchers, catchers and shortstops. Those are the hardest positions to fill with quality. You can always use them to trade for what else you need. You can't trade recruits in college basketball, but the principle still remains largely the same. You recruit what is hard to find.


Shooting, rebounding, passing, ball handling, defense. True 5-tool players are very rare. Usually if you can get a player who is exceptional at three, you have an All-American.

Monday, October 5, 2009

war inside

This team, with our bulk inside, needs to declare the lane a war zone and adopt a "take no prisoners" attitude. "This is our area, and you enter at your own risk." We will be bulky. How tough will we be? Here's hoping.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dream Team

Zack Graber, Brandon Freeman, John Fowler, Rashad Jones-Jennings, Jake Yancey. We win the SBC. Of course, we didn't have them all at the same time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

can do vs. will do

What teams should be able to accomplish is quite different from what they do accomplish. Some teams underachieve. Some overachieve. Good recruiting leads to potential, but potential often underachieves. Good coaches, good discipline, quality individuals - that leads to overachieving. Overachieving is a lot of fun.

Go with your strengths

When you have a player who is exceptionally good at one facet of the game, you want him on the floor a lot, even if he is not outstanding at other points. John Fowler’s defense, Rashad Jones-Jennings’ rebounding, Zack Graber’s running the point. Not that all of them weren’t good at other aspects, but they were really outstanding in one area. When a player is that good at something, you need him playing. As long as he plays hard in the other areas, you can put up with it if he is not a world-beater there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How good up front?

We pretty much know what we have on the perimeter, depending upon which of the new guards take hold in support roles. What we don't know is how the logjam at the 4 and 5 positions will work out. We will have far more bulk up front than any other SBC team, which could work to our advantage IF we know how to use it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Any Steve Shields team is going to rely heavily on team play. Thus any player who is an irritant in the locker room is going to be a problem, perhaps more so than on some other teams.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Early key

If we are better than 1-4 after the first four games, look for some good things from this team.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The schedule is out, and although it isn't perfect, it is a good one, I think. Two non-D1 games, which no one likes. Still, with Ole Miss, Tulsa, Creighton, Memphis and Wright State, we have plenty of opportunity to make a splash if we want can get it done. Now, can we get it done? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why I like Pittsburgh

(from ESPN)
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.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Big Joe

I really wonder just how good a coach Joe Kleine is. As a player he was great, but can he coach? Those close to the program could tell us. Wish I knew.

What I get out of being a Trojan fan

I do not follow the Little Rock Trojans to stroke my ego that I am associated with a "big winner." I do it for fun. I enjoy rooting for this team. They have had a clean program and have been an easy team to root for. They have had some success, even though they have not been to post season since I have followed them, but that will come. I follow them purely and simply because I enjoy following them. I don't live and die for the team; I root for them. In the off-season I am unreasonably optimistic - because it is fun. Why not; at that point we are undefeated.

Go Trojans!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Matt a key

I think Matt Mouzy will be on of the keys to the team the next couple of years. We have not had many four-year players recently, and he should be one. He has earned his spot the hard way, and the team ought to respect that. He is a good basketball player: knows the game and plays hard. Somehow, he has to elevate his game beyond just being a good shooter. I know he can and figure he will. If he does, he could be a special player and help get us over the top.

Friday, August 21, 2009

juco recruiting

Out of a six-man incoming class this year, four players are juco and only one is a freshman. Another is a transfer who will have only two years left and has had to sit out a year. Relying too heavily on jucos usually means a coach is feeling pressure. I don’t know if that is the case with Steve Shields, but the post-season drought has been a long one.

Shields has had good success identifying JC players who can help the problem, including a nation-leading rebounder and a conference Defensive Player of the Year. It looks like he may have at least a couple in the current crop who can have an immediate impact if they buy into Shields’ system. I hope so. We need help quickly, even to be mediocre in the SBC this year.

I know that mid-major coaches commonly rely heavily on jucos, but I really would like to see us begin to move away from that practice whenever possible. Jucos have a track record to some extent, but they usually are short on defense, which is the staple of Shields’ system. John Fowler was an exception. However, I can’t argue with the overall results of Shields’ juco recruiting. It has been very good.

.500 this year?

If we are above .500 in the SBC this season, my hat will really be off to Steve Shields. We just lost so much from last year’s team, and there are so many starters returning in the SBC this season, especially in the West, that I don’t see how we could be expected to finish over .500. But we shall see. Shields is one of the better coaches in the league at getting a lot out of the talent he has.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quiet time

With school starting and the focus almost entirely on football in the sports world, it is hard to get much information about basketball. However, the pre-season magazines come out in less than a month, and then things will pick up.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mouzy this season

If, as Dr. J. says, Matt Mouzy is visually stronger and quicker this season than last, he may present other teams some problems. Last year he seemed to stand around waiting for the ball a lot, which may have been what he was told to do. We need to get him moving more. He probably will never be lightning-quick like Stevie was, but if he is stronger, he may be able to make space for himself and make his own shots a little more.

The great mystery

No one has yet said that Will Neighbours is not coming to UALR next season, but the roster is posted, and his name is there, so the staff at least assumed he was at one point. However, it is widely reported that Matt Mouzy was promised a scholarship. Also, the other 13 players on the roster are all reported to be on campus. So, either Neighbours is not coming, or Mouzy will not be on scholarship, or Neighbours is coming but will not be on scholarship (not likely). I think the first of those is the most likely.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

stupid fouls

One of the most common mistakes young players make is fouling after they have been beaten or were out of position. It is too late then, and as often as not all you do is give the opponent free shots. One aspect of the game that frequently goes unnoticed because there is no stat to measure it.

SBC strong in the West

Four teams in the Western Division of the Sun Belt return all four starters from last season, and one (Monroe) has their leading scorer from year before last returning, who redshirted last season. That is a lot of experience in the division. Usually the East is the stronger division, but this season might be different. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Big 10 basketball, again

A lot of folks don't like Big 10 basketball. I do. And, in case anyone did not notice, the Big 10 was the top conference in the nation last year.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pine Bluff

Although I am a huge UALR fan, I have also enjoyed following UAPB. About five years ago they were the worst team in D1 basketball. They have improved considerably since then. I expect they will be picked in the top third of the SWAC this next season. Life is tough in the SWAC. They have to be paid punching-bags in the non-conference season to pay for the athletic budget.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

class act

Steve Shields has seen every player graduate during his tenure as head coach who has exhausted his eligibility. That is pretty remarkable given the fact that they have won 4 division titles and are third in the SBC in wins during his tenure. That is doing it the right way. Winning with class.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pappy's NCAA Plan

If I were running the NCAA, here is what I would do. I would move all post-season tournaments to pre-season. Then, I would eliminate all conference tournaments, and make the NCAA tournament to include all qualified D-1 teams. This would eliminate the griping about who gets into the tournament, and prevent the continued watering-down of the meaningfulness of the tournament by expanding it.

If you are going to expand it further, then expand it completely. The regular season is almost meaningless now, anyway, since the NCAA gets all the publicity and so many so-called fans only follow the sport during the tournament. So, make it a little season all to itself and then perhaps, in contrast, the regular season will mean a little more.

My goal in all this modification is not to put more emphasis on the tournament, since “making the tournament” means very little to all the teams that stand a chance to win it, anyway. Then, the conferences can do what they need to in order to put the glamour back into the regular season conference championship and the conference tournaments, which are relatively meaningless except to allow teams to make the NCAA which don’t deserve to be there, will be de-emaphasized.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


This waiting to see if Will Neighbour actually is going to be on the team is very frustrating to say the least. Probably the biggest high school recruit we have had in years, and we don't know if we have him or not. He is on the posted roster, but all the information we can get is that it is not a done deal until the NCAA clears him through officially.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bring back the 18 foot jump shot

Some coaches speculate that moving back the 3-point line a little (only a little) might open up the area between the lane and the 3-pt line for more pull up jump shots. We'll see. That is an aspect of the game that is just about gone the way of the dodo. Dunks and 3-point shots are all you see any more. Even with the line going back, the 3-pointer is still way too easy. It should have gone all the way back to the pro distance.

Monday, July 13, 2009

short jumpers

One of the most underrated skills in basketball today is the ability to be money in the bank on short, turn-around jumpers and put backs. From 3 feet in. That ought to be automatic, but in today's game it sadly isn't. We only look at the 3-point shooter who hits 40% plus of his shots, and forget about the big guy who shoots 60% on the short stuff. And, quite often, gets fouled. Not a glamor part of the game today, but I am sure coaches would give the shirts off their backs for someone like that.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

big class coming up

On the just released roster, assuming it holds, we have seven juniors. Huge recruiting class coming up a year from now.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Big 10 basketball

I love Big 10 basketball. Tough defense, bona fide big men, under-control offenses. I follow Northwestern and Wisconsin, but I admire some of the other programs, like Michigan State. You can have the Fancy Dan playground stuff. I like basketball that has dirt under its fingernails.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


To me, Zack Graber remains the standard for point guards, at least of the ones that I have seen play in person since I have been following Little Rock. He was little, and was not blazingly quick, and did not shoot much at all. He just got the job done. When he was on the floor, you had the feeling things were under control. I am hoping that the two we will have this year will be in his mold.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pittsburgh basketball

This is the ESPN definition of Pittsburgh basketball:
It rests on getting the most out of players and allowing them to play with a healthy mean streak.

I love it! Blue collar!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mike Smith

I really, really hope Mike Smith will come in this fall trim, in shape, and totally focused on the task at hand. This is his senior year. If he is going to do it, it is now or never; and he could make a HUGE difference to this team if he takes that attitude.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rashad Jones-Jennings

I wonder if JJ would ever have been noticed for his athletic ability in the years running up to his college career. Evidently not. He couldn't even walk on at a low-level college like Tennessee State. Sometimes it isn't what is visible, but what is inside, that makes a player.
Mike Jarvis, the coach at Florida Atlantic, has this philosophy on recruiting:
"Recruit players with character, not characters. Recruit players from winning programs, and players that do something special."

Sounds good. Now, can he do it?

Friday, June 12, 2009


It surely is nice having an ex-Trojan dominating the sports news rather than an ex-Porker.

Derrick Fisher, that is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

juco pipelines

To a program in our situation, I am sure it is very important to get reliable juco pipelines – schools that you know turn out well-coached players, that are familiar with what you specifically are looking for, and whose coaches will give reliable information. When you have that sort of relationship, you can know what to expect. Schools at our level are going to have to have good jucos, and really need them to be able to contribute immediately; so we need to develop sources that we know will give us that sort of player.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

recruting class

I know it is only on paper, but I really like this recruiting class. Combined with Mouzy, we just might have one of our best perimeter shooting teams in a long time if Cicic pans out like he appears. Thornton and Spuriel are both rugged rebounders who shoot a really high percentage inside. If either of them bumps Smith or Burton it will be a big plus, but I expect they are back-ups this year, and competing with Bails for starting spots next year. But in any case they have shown they can rebound, that is always valuable. Lots of depth up front. Will Neighbour could be something really special. Having a 6-10 kid with guard-quality ball handling skills is not something that happens every day. Throw in a couple of 3-size guards, and it is a good class. Maybe a really good class. Possibly the best since I’ve been following the team, especially when you lump the veteran point guard Bozeman in with them.

We will have to have some help right away. Bozeman definitely should provide that, as should several of the jucos coming in. If Cicic and Neighbour get double-figure minutes next year, watch out! They won’t all pan out, of course, but some of them will. And what is exciting about this large class is that some of them appear to have the potential to be exceptional. I think this class is worth getting excited about.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wayward players

No program or coach can guarantee that their players will not get into trouble occasionally. You cannot absolutely control their behavior, but you can control how you respond to it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

satisfying for coaches

I am sure most coaches would wish to climb to the pinnacle of his profession, which means coaching at an upper-level BCS school where they expect to be in post-season every year. However, from a purely professional standpoint, in terms of satisfaction in having done a good job, I wonder if coaches at a little lower level don't feel more of a sense of accomplishment. They did more with less. They did it in spite of the resources they did not have.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Savannah State

Savannah State may have had the ultimate in balanced scoring this past season. They did not have a single player to average double figures. (Little Rock can identify with that.) However, their five starters all averaged between 9.9 and 8.0 points per game. Now, that is consistency!

In case you think they were absolutely awful, not so. Obviously, they were not a powerhouse, but they did eke out a winning record at 15-14 for the season, so there were a good many teams worse than they were. They are an independent team, which means they have no actual conference (although independents sometimes schedule as if they did when other schools begin conference play).

I started following Savannah State a little after 2004-2005, when they suffered through a winless season. Coming from winless to a winning record in four years is a pretty fair accomplishment. Hats off to them. I like following the little guys, and when I see a turnaround like that, it is satisfying.

Jersey Tech (NJIT), another independent, also had a winless season year before last. They did win a game last year to break the streak, but you have to suppose that they are wondering if going D1 was a wise decision.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"At" schools

Being a fan of an "at" school (Arkansas at Little Rock), I have a soft spot in my heart for other "at" schools. As Jim Valvano said, they tend to have a cause, because they generally are "that other" school in states dominated by bigger programs.

So, how many are there? If I counted correctly, there are 29 non-BCS "at" schools in currently in D1. That is a lot of little guys to root for. Although, honestly, quite often they are not so little, just not so famous and wealthy.

My tenure

I have been a Little Rock fan since the 99-00 season. During that stretch, we have been 163-131 (.554). Take out the non-D1 opponents, and we probably were just barely above .500. So, just average. However, take out the disastrous 99-00 season, and we are 159-107 (.598), which looks a lot better.

Great quote

from a poster on the Northwestern board. I agree entirely.

"Just finished reading the LA Times story about how Tim Floyd allegedly paid OJ Mayo's handler in order to steer the one-and-done star to USC. Just reinforces why I'm glad I'm a Northwestern fan -- we may never recruit a one-and-done, five-star athlete like OJ Mayo, and that's just fine with me. You can't sell integrity."

offense, offense

Why is it that so few fans care about anything but offense? "You have to score more than the opponents," is all they can repeat, over and over. Well, you could just as accurately say that you have to hold the opponents to less than you score. Every bit as true, but few care about that.

Offense is easier to see. Offense gets the hype. But there is so much more that goes into the game to make a winning team. I do not understand the finer points of the game, but I know that it takes more than a scorer to make a team. I have a soft spot in my heart for the unheralded, underappreciated blue-collar players who just do the things it takes to win.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why I am glad to be a Trojan fan

Why do I like being a Little Rock Trojan fan? Lots of reasons. Here are a just a few:

The Trojans are underdogs. Anyone in Arkansas who is not Fayetteville is an underdog. I have always loved underdogs.
As a fan, I do not get lost in the crowd. There will be 4000 people at games on a good night, but not nearly that many that really follow the team closely, so I am part of something special.
I can go to a Trojan game and not be embarrassed by a large section of the audience behaving in a totally berserk and vulgar manner so that I would be ashamed to bring my grandchildren to games.
The fans with whom I have had a closer association have been very kind and accommodating.
The program has a good history, enough to be proud of, but not so successful that success means nothing. What is another national championship to UCLA? We have tasted the wine a few times, but not enough so that we aren’t hungry. In fact, we are very hungry, and frustrated by being so close but not getting to post-season in a long time.
The Jack is a fantastic smaller-market venue for basketball. Very fan friendly. Not really a bad seat in the house.
The Sports Information office has a wonderful tool for fans in the media guide. I refer to mine constantly.
We frequently have some young man on the roster who absolutely makes it fun to root for him. Rashad Jones-Jennings, John Fowler, Columbus Willis and Zack Graber are just a few, and I could name a good many more. Quality people who play hard and really make you proud to be a fan.
There have been some really enjoyable moments for me in being a Trojan fan. Like the night Jones-Jennings set the conference rebounding record. Or the wins over Southern Illinois and Creighton. And just listening on the radio to some of the wins over ASU.
Since I only get to attend one or two games a year, getting to go to one is special. I plan toward it for weeks.


Steve Shields is now using Twitter (whatever that is).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Duquesne was one of the feel-good stories last season. It has been decades since they have had any basketball success. They had brought in a new coach, Ron Everhart, who seemed to have things going the right direction. Then, a couple of years ago, they had the tragic shooting incident on their campus in which several of their players were wounded, including some high-touted newcomers. They won 21 games this season, which was a huge accomplishment. Just like Drake season before last, this was one of the major turnaround stories in college basketball. They should return four starters next season, so keep an eye on them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

fast break offense

Although I am a strong proponent of slower offenses, that does not mean I oppose a running game. I like slower offenses mainly because I value discipline and execution, and USUALLY "up tempo" is synonymous with "sloppy." But, that is not always true, of course. Some of the classic fast break systems were based upon beautiful execution and discipline, and not just "slap-slap" defense that has to have lax officiatiing to survive, which is what we see most of the time today.

It seems, however, that most folks forget that the classic fast break offenses generally always keyed off dominant post rebounding. Willis Reed feeding Clyde. Bill Russell feeding Cousy. Etc. In order to have a classic fast break, you have to have dominant front line rebounding. If you have to live by the "team" rebounding concept, then your guards cannot automatically release to be out front for the outlet pass. Great fast breaks key off great post rebounding.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Back to this subject. I am really, really hoping that having a true point guard (maybe two of them) makes the difference next year. I really liked Brandon Patterson, and he was a real player for us, but I don't think he was a true point guard. We should be in a rebuilding year, but a really good point guard can help make things come together quickly. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I think there is a pretty good chance that WKU will not be the SBC's NCAA representative this season, but I certainly am not going to pick anyone else with them having four starters returning.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The 4 spot, again

It is interesting how different people have different concepts of the 4 position. Usually the point, SG, small forward and center positions are pretty uniform. Not so, at least among the Trojan family, about the 4. First off, we don’t even call it by the usual terminology. We call the 4 “small forward,” in contrast to the almost universal “power forward” designation. I suppose it follows that a “small forward” is supposed to be small and play small, and we don’t have a “power” position. Historically, at least as far as I have been able to determine, the power forward was the rebounding specialist and did his work on the low block. With our view of it, anyone over 6-5 is in the 4 spot.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

don't miss the fun

So many people miss the object of sports, I think, and miss out on what it provides. For the people involved, it is work: to the coaches it is employment and to the students it is an education. But to the rest of us it is just entertainment. Entertainment is supposed to be fun. If you cannot get fun out of entertainment, then why do it?

If your team has to win the national championship for you to get enjoyment from them, or even have a winning season, then just go pick out the team most likely to do that and root for them. No problem. Jump on the bandwagon. A lot of folks do that, and that is their privilege if that is what it takes for them to get enjoyment from sports.

I pick out teams that I like and root for them through hard times and good. For some of them, there is little but hard times, but I root for them anyway, and I get a lot of enjoyment thinking about “maybe one of these days.”

Offseason is one of the most enjoyable times, because in the offseason you are undefeated. You can think about what might happen IF everything came together in an optimum way. What is the best case scenario. BCS’s do not happen very often, but occasionally they do. That is why they call them Dream Seasons – season you dream about. And the point is that you CAN dream about them in the offseason, and enjoy them even if they don’t come to pass. A lot of fans seem to refuse to hope, because they have had those hopes dashed so often. So what? Go ahead and hope, and dream. It might come true, and even if it doesn’t, it is fun to dream. After all, this is entertainment.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Washington State 1917

Because I have a friend in the administration at Washington State, I follow their basketball team pretty closely. Linked above is an interesting article about the 1917 WSU national championship basketball team and their entry into World War I.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I absolutely do not expect Will Neighbour to redshirt next season because he may be one of our best recruits ever and Shields is under pressure to win - now. However, if they are planning on using him at the post, it would be best for the team if they would redshirt him. He obviously needs to mature physically and grow into his frame. He probably played at less than the optimum competitive level, so he would have an extra year to get used to D1 competition. Classic case where, from the team's standpoint, it would be best to redshirt him - but I doubt they will.

Arkansas sports

For all our self-contratulatory noise, Arkansas is a poor sports state. We are a good Razorback football state, and maybe a good high school and college football state, but that is about all. Folks here do not follow sports in general closely enough to be really knowledgeable about it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

good fit

IF going to the NCAA is the only thing that matters in college basketball (and to many fans, it seems like that must be true), then get your school in the lowest-ranked conference you can find. Then you can go to the NCAA every year. IF being in a prestige conference is all that matters, then do that, but you might never go to postseason if you are perpetually outclassed. Neither of those things is true for me.

I think the SBC is a very good fit for us. Should UNO drop athletics and Denver leaves the conference, I don't know how that will affect us, not having football, but we shall see. For now, I like where we are.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


It is a long six months from the end of the tournaments to the time when the preseason magazines come out. I try to keep up with recruiting and general NCAA info. And I study a lot of stat sheets of different teams. You can learn a lot about the game just by doing that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

points and coaches

Coaches and point guards are the two factors that often make a team better than it is, i.e., they can make the sum of the parts be greater than the whole. We have seen Shields do that in the past. Here is hoping Bozeman is that sort of a point guard.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Perfect practice

My old music teacher used to tell me, “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. If you repeat the same mistake, you are only reinforcing your errors.”

Good practice habits make good teams. Good coaches enforce good practice habits.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big money, low-life

Of all the things in sports that I despise, I suppose taunting by bandwagon-jumpers is at the top of the list. Fans of big-money programs that jeer at players from smaller schools, who are playing their hearts out and doing the best they can. Only truly low-life individuals would do that. There are a lot of them out there.


So we signed Will Neighbour. How good is he? How good can he be? Can he be that player that helps us move up a step? Time will tell. Certainly his signing gives us the tallest lineup I can recall.

Monday, April 13, 2009

slower pace

One of the Pac-10 players gave this logical reason for why so many coaches have their teams play a more deliberate place, despite the fact that many fans (who are into entertainment, not good basketball) prefer run-and-gun. The slower the pace, the lower the fatigue factor. Presumably you start your best five players, and the slower the pace the bigger the percentage of the minutes your best players can be on the floor.

Friday, April 10, 2009

We need a break

This will be a down year for Little Rock. The question is, "How down is 'down'?" Past down years were losing seasons. We just had one of our highest win totals ever. Good job. Now the task it to make sure the down side isn't too far down. We do not need to have a losing season next year. That will be a tough task with all we are losing. Maybe, maybe, or incoming players are as good as we hope they are. We need a break.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

focus and concentration

Sustained focus and concentration are such a big part of basketball (and hockey and soccer). In baseball and football the action is strictly segmented. You act, and then you get a break to clear your mind and get focused once again. The batter steps out of the box and sets his mind. In basketball there is much less chance to do that, and a lot of bad things happen because players take mental “break” while the action is going on.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Preseason picks next year

I would not expect us to be picked any higher than 5th, maybe even lower than that.

Basketball traditions? Sure!

In this era when basketball “fans” only follow the sport during the NCAA tournament and get all their information from ESPN, here are a few facts that might have escaped them. Basketball traditions? Sure – but you might not have thought of them in that regard.

Dartmouth has been to the finals of the NCAA twice – 1942 and 1944.
San Fransisco has two NCAA titles and went to the Final Four three consecutive years in the 1950’s.
Before the NCAA tournament, these teams has multiple national championships (as determined by the Helms Foundation): Columbia, Yale, Chicago, Penn.
Wyoming won the Helms title in 1934 and the tournament in 1943.
Navy was undefeated in 1913.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Who cares, one way or the other!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Some readers have asked me to post about the Cardinals on this blog. We'll see. I frankly have not followed them much the last couple of years. I am so disgusted with the mega-money and the steroids that I have about given up on major league baseball.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Post shooting

One encouraging stat is that Wayne Burton and Courtney Jackson both shot .500 in their first year at the D-1 level. Good news, because your post men have to be able to make shots to make Grinder Ball work.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Savannah State

Savannah, if you recall, about three years ago go the nation's attention in the wrong way by having zero wins for a season. They have turned things around big-time since then, going 15-14 this season. Not bad for an independent school that does not even have any realistic opportunity to go to post-season play.

Varying expectations

As is always the case, when you have a high turnover of players and a talented class coming in, expectations can range greatly. If, IF, everything pans out, this might be a very good squad. If they don’t, it could be mediocre. Dare we hope? I’m going to. Why not?

Boring NCAA

Always is when all the favorites win.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Regular season vs. tournaments

For me there is a lot more satisfaction in doing well in the regular season vs. tournaments. It is steak vs. sizzle, substance vs. showtime.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The 4 spot

Bails, Smith, Burton, and two new 6-9, 240# guys. I cannot believe that all of these are going to be candidates at the 5 and none of them at the 4. I know that Shields said that Courtney Jackson has the 4 spot for next year. He is not a true 3, but he is really too small for a 4. It just does not make sense to have 5 beefy guys competing at the 5, and none of them at the 4. I have to believe some of them will be in the mix there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Statistical curiosity

I wonder how many teams this season had their point guard lead the team in blocked shots. Brandon Freeman had that distinction for Little Rock. Of course, he is 6-6, and not many point guards are.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Northwestern in the NIT

The Wildcats went to their first post-season since the mid-90's. They still have never been to the NCAA, but they have only one senior on the squad this season, so they expect big things next year.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's all over

Well, it is all over. The long season finally came to an end. I really did not expect to get a bid to the NIT, but I figured we would go to one of the other tournaments. Evidently it was an administrative decision not to go, since a lot of teams with far less impressive resumes did get invited.

Wait until next year, I guess

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gladiator mentality

One thing I find particularly repugnant is the "gladiator" mentality, that is, that the only person who counts is the one who came out on the top end of the score, and that "valiant striving" is worthy of no mention or regard. This is just the opposite of the old adage, "It isn't whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Where is Stan?

One thing this team has sorely lacked over the last few years is a really mobile, active post player. Someone like Stan Blackmon. When he got the ball on the block, you had to pay attention to him because he was going to get loose, some way or other, to get a shot, or get fouled. He was SO mobile in the block. We haven't had that sort of player much in the Shields era. Maybe Courtney will turn out that way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When the team goes south

It is an interesting phenomenon that an entire team's shooting occasionally goes bad at the same time. Hard to figure, but it happens. You would think one person at least would be hot.

They just don't know the feeling

If basketball were really important, I would be really depressed; but it isn’t, so I’m not. I can understand how the team and staff might be, though. It is discouraging. This was probably our best chance of postseason in a long, long time, and we just absolutely went dead in the water. It happens sometimes.

Fans of big time programs like Fayetteville do not know how that feels. They will be in post season most years. They cannot imagine the discouragement that pervades an entire program when you blow your only shot at the gold ring, probably for years.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fear Denver

Denver should be very good next season. They return their entire roster, and with the precision needed for the Princeton offense, having the whole team back is a huge plus. I am looking forward to seeing how they put it together.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


ULL is a puzzling team. They will have fully eight players returning next season in the 6-6 to 6-8 range. This year they didn't shoot, didn't play defense and didn't take care of the ball, but they blocked shots all over the place, so I am guessing they are athletic as all get-out. Why don't they play better?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stevie Moore

I’ll give my two cents worth on the Stevie Moore episode. We will never know all the facts, of course, so this is only upon the basis of what we can see. Stevie was already on probation, so to speak, because of his suspension in the first two games of the year, so he had to know he had no room for error in that regard. Maybe Shields was out of line in the severity of his public chewing out, but no more than what many coaches do. It is not like Stevie is the first player ever to get a bad dressing down on the sideline. So, when he walked, he had to know that he was in effect resigning. I hate to lose his talent. The problem now is the effect his leaving will have on team morale. It seems they played well against North Texas. Hopefully it will be a positive, but time will tell.

New territory for me

Every win from here on out this season is virgin territory for me as a UALR basketball fan. The 20 wins last season was the most I have seen the team get. So, I am going to really enjoy the rest of the season. These are the good old days.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am just sick, sick, sick. What more can you say? The crowd showed up, and was vocal and into the game. We just didn't get it done.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

making others better

It is a truism, but being surrounded by other good players makes good players look a lot better. If JJ had been on a good team and could have played the 4 spot, his true position, and concentrate exclusively on rebounding, there is no telling what sort of numbers he would have had. Point guards look better if shooters get open. Shooters look better if point guards get them the ball. Etc, etc.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just a little big torqued

Fayetteville, which is going no where and is in a significant tailspin, notwithstanding gets two front page sports section articles. UALR, who clinched a tie for the division title and moved into overall possession of first place and have a game coming up with Western Kentucky, get stuck on Page Nine of the Arkansas Democrat. Tell me again that the powers that be in the state don't deliberately try to make sure no one but Fayetteville gets any significant support. Tell me, but I won't believe it.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I keep coming back to this. What makes this team good? (We are not a great team, but I think we can say that so far we have been a good team.) That puzzles me more and more. We do have four players in double figures, but the scoring drops off pretty sharply after that, so we cannot claim that this is an outstanding offensive team. Our team shooting percentages are no better than average. We out-rebound our opponents, but not by a lot. Our A/TO ratio is actually a cause for concern. We block almost the same amount as our opponents, and we have exactly the same number of steals as the opposition. We out-score the opposition by only 2.5 points/game. We do not have outstanding size; in fact, we start a very under-sized team. We limit opposition to 40.8 FG%, which is pretty good, but our perimeter defense is 33.6%, which is decent but not notable. On top of it all, we have had some very key players out for several games with health/discipline issues.

What is it? I have said it before: I study a lot of stat sheets over the course of a year, and there is nothing about ours that makes me think this team would be anywhere near 16-6 for the season. It is almost like we just play well enough to win. I guess the only place you can see heart on the stat sheet is in the W-L column.

Friday, January 30, 2009

solid seniors

This must be the most solid senior class we have had since the Willis/ Hardman/Too Tall group. We are going to miss them big-time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Point next year

I am as optimistic about our situation at point guard for next season as I have been since the Graber days. Lionel has received some quality minutes this season and, while not spectacular, he has done OK for a freshman according to the reports I have received from the fans who get to go to games (sob). He has not shot a lot, but has hit half the 12 shots he has taken. And, in only 179 minutes, he is fifth on the team in steals. He has more steals per minute played than Matt Mouzy, who leads the team.
Solomon Bozeman has two years of Big East play under his belt, plus (and this is a big plus) he is a coach’s son – a coach who evidently is a hard-nosed disciplinarian. He has had a year to watch this team, see how it comes together, its strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully has done that with the coach’s eye he has learned from his dad. He will know the personnel and be ready to step right in. He is an excellent FT shooter, and along with Stevie and Mouzy should make us stronger in that area than we have been in a while.
After the mix-and-match system we have had the past two years, if we do indeed have two true point guards next year, that alone could make a huge difference. Stevie has the mentality of a shooting guard, and Patterson is playing out of position, also. Zack Graber gave an air of confidence to the team when he was the point guard. He had that swagger that a basketball team has to have. So often the point guard sets the attitude for the whole team. Solomon has “been there” and played at the highest level. Hopefully he has gained the confidence of the team in practice this year and can hit the ground running next season. I am looking for big things from him.

Big men back

With Mike Smith and Wayne Burton supposedly back and healthy, I feel some better about our prospects. We will not shoot as poorly most nights as we did against Troy. What this team does, it has done well enough to win most of the time, but we have little slack. They create their slack by doing lots of little things that won't make Sports Center, but that counts, and those things make them a good team - but not a great team. The toughest part of our schedule is over (although the way things have been going in the Belt this season, that seems to mean very little). The ball will have to bounce our way a few times, but I think we have as good a shot as anyone. WKU has some tough games left. MTSU's schedule is more favorable than WKU's.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I am very pessimistic about the balance of the season because of our lack of any kind of inside presence. Troy showed how weak we are in that area. They can say all the want to that college basketball is a guard's game, but if you don't have competent inside players, a smart coach will exploit it every time if he has one.


Brandon Patterson has become one of our two most consistent and best all-round players over the last five games, the sort of player we thought he could be all along. Hats off to him.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I appreciate greatly the reporting that Jeff Slatton does for the Democrat covering the Trojans, and I know I speak for lots of our fans. We sometimes may complain about the coverage the paper gives here in the Land of Oink, but we cannot complain about Mr. Slatton's reporting. It is first class all the way. A good example was the feature on John Fowler in today's issue. When he focuses in on individual players, JS is at his best.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Measuring players

There are a lot of qualities that a good defensive player has. Some of them are statistically measurable, some are not. Blocks and steals tell part of the story. Opponents’ shooting percentages less so, since a given player is only a fraction of that effort. Otherwise, however, there are such things as being in the right place to cut off penetration, staying on your opponent so he cannot get off a shot, taking charges, and many other non-statistical factors that go to make up a good defensive player. Only a portion of defense is individually measurably, much less so than on the offensive end. Even there, however, you have such things as screens set, extra effort to get open, etc. Lots of things don’t show up on stats, and the average fan like me doesn’t appreciate everything that goes to make up a good basketball player. That is why players like John Fowler tend to be underappreciated, and players like Nick Zachary overappreciated. (I didn't say either was those things, just a generalization about players like them.)

Living on the edge

When you are 13-5, but average only 1.6 points per game more than your opponents, that sort of defines "living on the edge" in basketball terms.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sideline coaching

Why do some coaches spend so much time shouting at their teams from the sideline? In the first place, if the crowd is very loud they probably have trouble understanding him, anyway. In the second place, he is distracting them from the task at hand. In the third place, if he is having to teach them what to do at this late date, he probably hasn’t been doing his job in practice.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Next year in Arkansas

There are a lot of juniors this year on the D1 teams in Arkansas. Ought to be a good year in the state next year.

How long on the edge?

How long can this team continue to live on the edge without getting knocked off?
Pepperdine by 1
Creighton by 2
ORU by 3
MTSU by 5 .

It is going to get us if we don't be careful. We need to start putting a few teams away.

3-point shooters

62.6% of our 3-point attempts have been by two players - Matt and Stevie. We complained loudly last season about non-shooters taking 3-point attempts. That has been remedied this year.


I am very satisfied with where the team is right now. Actually, I did not expect them to have 13 wins at this point. How the finish is in question, but I am optimistic. We just need to take care of business. I often think of this team as being without offensive firepower, but I look at the stats this morning and we have four players averaging double figures. Many very good offensive teams cannot boast that.

Monday, January 12, 2009

next year

We should have only two starters returning, but we should have seven players returning with 150-plus minutes, and every position covered, so depth should not be a problem.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What can be done?

What can a program mired in the middle like ours do to make the move upward, within the constraints what are upon us?

Hire a top-notch public relations person who will sell the team with gusto.

Redshirt at every opportunity.

Always emphasize defense. It is the great equalizer. If you don’t play D, you don’t play.

Recruit shooters. They can be had, even by teams at our level.

Recruit good basketball players, not necessarily the best athletes. They will exploit other teams’ weaknesses.

Build into the psyche of the team the pride of the program. Great players of the past, the 1986 win, etc.

Hire people who are not willing to be subservient to the Fayetteville monopoly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Fayetteville has a unique monopoly among SEC teams. Only LSU has no other BCS schools in their state, and even they have major league pro team competition, which Fayetteville does not.


Right now we just need to have as a goal becoming relevant on the Arkansas sports scene, because currently we are NOT.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Three-point line

I watched the Trojans' 1986 NCAA win this past week, and the college game was so much better before they installed the 3-point line.

need some excellence

This year's team is not really good at anything. We do a few things OK, a few things not very well - but nothing even well above average. Not much to hang our hats on - and it shows.

Monday, January 5, 2009

WKU game

One game doth not a season make, but our loss at WKU was pretty depressing. We just are not in the big time yet, or evidently even close to it. We keep hoping that “this is the year” that we make some major strides forward, and then something like this happens and the wheels just flat fall off. Maybe we can recover and salvage a good season from it, but at this point I am beginning to have my doubts. Good teams have bad nights, but that bad? I don’t know.

It is not the fact that we lost that bothers me, but how we lost. WKU is better than we are, I suspect, but I don’t think they are that much better. And to go in there and just stink up the whole place – that is not acceptable to anyone, I hope. Diddle is probably the most imposing home arena in the SBC, but the crowd was lighter than usual because of the holidays, and that should not have been as much of a factor as usual.

This coaching staff and team need to do some real soul-searching at this point. The core fan base is in a pretty lousy mood, and should be.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Leaving it to Fayetteville

It is amazing the extent to which the non-Fayetteville D1 schools in Arkansas have left the field entirely to them in the last few years. Pine Bluff went to the finals of the SWAC tournament about three years ago, but outside of that, none of the rest of us have even sniffed at going to the NCAA. We thought we were close to going to the NIT in one of our 18-wins years, but we may not have been as close as we wanted to think. Not much going on in basketball in Arkansas outside of Fayetteville. Talk about roll over and play dead and leave it to them!

Value of playing together a long time

One weapon a mid-level team has is that, if they do not go too heavily into the juco ranks, their players can end up playing together a long time. Team members being syncronized to a high degree can overcome a lot of other deficits.

creating "slack"

What are the statistical categories that create "slack" for your team?
1. Shooting percentage minus opponent's shooting percentage.
2. Points by FT's minus opponent's points by FT's.
3. Rebounding margin.
4. Turnover margin.

Any of these allows your team to have an off night in another area and still come out ahead.