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.