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.