Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

It has been a good year in Trojan land. Not too many wins, but lots of fun. Go Trojans!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Courtney: his own worst enemy

Courtney Jackson creates problems for himself by his atrocious FT shooting (41%). He is just asking to be continually mugged underneath, since he is more of a threat from the floor than he is from the line.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nay sayers

There will be some who would downplay it even if we were to win the conference this year, saying it did not mean much because of the weakness of the conference. But they will glory in the years when we dominated the TAAC, which was much weaker than the SBC is most years .


I did not think we would be at 8-6 at this point in the season. Maybe a win or two worse than that. But we picked up a couple of wins where I thought we would lose. I am not completely sold on this team yet, but neither am I completely down on them. They still have a lot to prove, and we have some definite weaknesses. Our post offense is just about non-existent, and we have to get that fixed. It doesn't have to be great, just steady, and right now it is steadily bad. If we can fix that, we should be one of the better teams in the Belt in a weak season for the conference.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Got what they deserved

UCA is currently 340th out of 345 teams in the nation according to Sagarin. Couldn't happen to nicer folks (he said sarcastically).

Poor Centenary

Currently ranked 345th (last) by Sagarin among D1 teams. But next year they will not longer be D1, so they won't have to worry about it. Colgate is next to last.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shields' job

Lots of howling going on for Shields' job. And he is not doing much right now to make anyone think otherwise. I'll reserve judgment until after the season. If we finish with hope for the future, then I think for the sake of the program you let him bring in this next recruiting class. Right now, however, it is hard to see a lot of short-term hope.

This staff seems utterly unable to get any sort of consistent post play from this team. We do not have a large roster, but we do have two 6-9 players. We certainly ought to be better than we are.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Name of the year?

Delaware State's Alibaba Odd

It has been a good year

Lots of fun being a Little Rock Trojans fan!!

I love being the underdog.

It is just so much more fun when you win.

Friday, December 17, 2010

We just have no inside game at all

None. Nada. Nyet.

frustrating team

This team will break your heart. Just when you think they may be starting to turn the corner, they run into the wall.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How sweet it is!

Tennessee (Larry Pearl) and Louisville (Rick Pitino) go down to defeat from non-Big Six schools in the same night. Fun, fun, fun!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let's go!

Time to step it up a notch, Trojans. No more inconsistency. No more excuses. This can still be an outstanding season, but we have to go NOW.

No shine on this Pearl

Larry Pearl of Tennessee represents most everything that is wrong with college basketball.

I can't tell about this team yet

Every other game is a bad game. But every other game is a good game. Consistently inconsistent.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Northwestern's quest

Northwestern goes for 6-0 tonight. Quite a weak non-conference schedule, but that is largely irrelevant. They will make it or not make it based on how they do in the Big Ten.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

need more old school

We have way too much high tech and not enough old school in our crowd motivation techniques at Little Rock games, in my opinion. What we need is some leather-lunged man with a bullhorn who can get the crowd into the game – similar to what they do at Texas A&M. We get too cutsie, and it ends up having very little affect on the crowd.

Monday, December 6, 2010

fun team

I have no idea how many games this team will win this year. I am sure they will lose some that we thought they might win, but also they will win some that we did not expect them win. They already have. It does appear, whatever their record, that this is an enjoyable team to root for because of their scrappy style of play.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I honestly think that we may turn the corner next season, but I don't know if Sheilds can survive this season if we can't play better than we did against St. Bonaventure and Missouri State. If that is our norm on the road, we are in for a losing season, probably, and that might be all it would take for Shields. I have no idea what his standing is with the powers that be who have the "hire or fire" authority. Some fans think he will be here forever. I don't. He has done a good job, but his teams normally have offensive deficiencies, and he does not seem to be able to recruit and develop big men that can compete in the SBC on a consistent basis. Stay tuned. We shall see.

better, not good enough

This team is doing a few things better than last year. Notably, perimeter defense appears to be back. We are basically even in rebounding, which we weren't last year. But we aren't doing enough things better to give much hope that we will have a good year.

bogus argument

A lot of people sneer that playing at a slower pace hurts recruiting. Maybe, for some players. But do you want those players.? If all a player wants to do is show off to the crowd, and isn't willing to play within a system for the team, do you want him?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

El stinko

We just pretty well stunk up the place - again - against Missouri State. Take away our point guards, and we were pathetic. Our post players must have missed the bus and stayed in Little Rock. the result would not have been much different if they had.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

seems like poor coaching

Some things I just don’t understand. But of course, that is why I make what I do and head coaches make what they do, I guess. As I have mentioned once before, Nicholls State has two players who between them have taken 56% of the team’s shot attempts. That compares to our two totals at 29% of the team’s attempts. It just looks like having two designated shooters would make it awfully easy to devise a defense. I know you want to let your best shooters shoot, but are they so hard up for shooters that the third-highest scorer averages less than 6 points per game?

Up tempo

So many people seem just to assume that up tempo play will solve every ill that afflicts a program. Just run and press, and recruits will flock to your program and you will sweep away every opponent. But it ain't true. There are too many instances to the contrary. Well-played basketball, of whatever style, will win games.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

being good

Teams who win big have to be superlatively good at something. They do not have to do everything well, but they have to do something well. They can get by on the boards if they get a lot of turnovers, and vice versa. They don't have to be great shooters if they play great defense. But they cannot be mediocre at everything. They have to make their stake somewhere.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

get them coming while they are young

For us to build a fan base, you have to get them while they are young. We need to be doing whatever we have to do to get school age children into the Jack to watch the Trojans play. Especially if they are in the end zone bleachers, they will be close to the action, and should have a lot of fun.

We also need to have an aggressive visitation schedule of players going to schools and other youth organizations during the off season.


We are just going to have to get used to the fact that this team wins games "ugly." They won't dazzle you with offense normally, but they will frustrate the other team offensively with their defense. As long as their offense is efficient, even if not spectacular, they will win a lot of games.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I know one thing: no program ever caught fire by fans being deliberately pessimistic. I am going to be optimistic. Why not?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The constant is back

The one thing that Steve Shields teams have done superlatively well when they have won is to guard the perimeter. Teams just have not shot the 3 well against his better teams. It appears (admittedly based on a very small sample) that the perimeter defense is back. If so, there is hope, because a lot of teams live on the 3, and hopefully die on the 3 against Little Rock.


I have absolutely no idea if Will Neighbour will be the player who gets Little Rock around that frustrating corner that has blocked us for so many years. He could be. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge to make it over the top. It could just as easily be some other player who is coming in who makes that difference. But a little optimism has been badly needed in this program. I don't like it, but basketball fans are far too prone to judge success by tournaments (one of the things I dislike about college basketball). And we have not been to postseason in a long time. Myself, I had rather win the guaranteed berth in the NIT by winning the regular season, but I'll take either one. Here's hoping.

dissertation fodder

It would be an interesting topic for a doctoral dissertation in sports management to see how some non-Big Six schools have been able to sustain success over multiple coaches and decades. There have not been too many of them, so it should not be too difficult to track. You would have to establish the factors that are relevant, and then see how those programs managed each of the factors. Attaining success is one thing, and I suspect that it is relatively simple – just spend enough money to bring in a big-name coach who can get instant recruiting pop. However, sustaining that success is another matter, which becomes more a function of the administration instead of a single coach.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Living on the edge

Denver is a good example of the perils of living on the edge – that is, on the 3-point arc. Approximately 43% of their shots so far have been 3-pointers – a very high total, but not atypical for Princeton offense teams. They have shot FTs pretty well (78.3%), but they have shot only 46 FTs, while their opponents have shot 86, again, typical of the Princeton offense. They have lost the three games by a total of 39 points. Their opponents have made 32 more FT’s than they have. Spread those 32 points around right, and there might be a couple of wins.

Teams that live on the perimeter don’t shoot many free throws.

Pine Bluff's lineup

Even Pine Bluff in the SWAC starts a front line of 6-10, 6-8, 6-6. I don't know if we can't get height, or that we just don't want to. Whichever, we never do.

Monday, November 15, 2010

after two games

Warm and cold about the first two games of the season. Some really good things. Kibi has shown he is a player, and evidently Leeper can at least play defense, which is about all he will be called upon to do early on. We showed real heart against SMU and the coaches did a good job of pushing the right buttons at halftime. Our defense has been excellent, especially on the perimeter, so it appears that problem from hast year has been addressed.

However, not having Bails has really hurt. I don’t see how we can hope to defend big men with 6-6 small forwards. Also, the two new point guards have been inconsistent so far, and that is real cause for concern. It is a work in progress. We shall see. At this point, it is not as bad as I had feared, not as good as I had hoped.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Might explain a lot

"The problem is that team defense sometimes takes more time to put together than does the offense, which could make this a long, cold winter in Atlanta." (from the CBS report on Georgia State).

That might explain why a lot of coaches don't emphasize defense. It is harder work.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where's the D?

I saw parts of the Pitt/Rhode Island and Charleston/Maryland games. Both the smaller teams had chances to win big upsets against power conference opponents, but neither of them even pretend to play defense. Not at all! Nor does either have any sort of effective halfcourt offense. It is pure playground ball all the way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I pay to have fun

I pay to go to games and I follow Little Rock to have fun. It is recreation. So, I have to be a little Pollyannish. Are we great? No. Will we likely be great this year. No. But it will still be fun for me, because I am going to make it fun. Win or lose. (UNLESS there is some scandal associated with the program, which would run it, of course, and we'll hope that won't happen.)


Big biceps look impressive, but just how many sports functions really use that particular muscle?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No subtraction

Most prognosticators seem to be able to add because of offense, but cannot subtract because of defense. Thus they almost always tend to underrate defensive-minded coaches. The exceptions are when the coach is known for teaching tough defense. We did not get that exception benefit of the doubt this year because our defense was so bad last year. Shields did one of his worst coaching jobs, and our rankings going into the year reflect that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rating (mis-rating) recruits

Recruit rating concentrates almost exclusively on offense, so recruits that are stellar defensively will hardly ever be rated as high as those whose offensive stats are gaudy. Therefore, programs which place a premium on defense will hardly ever have their recruits rated as higher as offensive programs [sic]. Therefore, Little Rock fans can take some consolation that their recruits, when playing in Shields' system, likely will prove to be considerably more effective than the raters would have predicted.

On the high side

I will go out on a limb and predict that this team will do better than the official predictions for us. I think we stunk so badly last season that folks are afraid to pick us any higher than that. But Shields' teams typically play better than their talent, and I am HOPING that the team, particularly the seniors, learned some lessons from last year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The other element in championships

In most cases, there is that "other" element in championships - other than talent, coaching, etc. A few championships are won on those, but in most cases there is what we might call "luck" involved to a great extent. One team has injuries; another stays healthy. One team has off-the-court distractions; another has a quiet season in that regard. Eligibility issues. Family distractions with key players. A lot of things can derail a championship.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sheilds among his peers

I wonder to what extent a coach's evaluation by his AD takes into consideration the opinion of his peers toward the coach. I have no idea what other coaches think about Steve Shields. Of course, they always will say nice things publicly, but what they really think of him we will never know. If they do have high regard for him, Peterson would know that, especially since basketball is the headline sport at Little Rock. He would know it, but whether or not he takes that into account, I have no idea.


I feel sorry for sports fans who can only get enjoyment from following a winning team. On the other hand, if their pleasure is from enjoying the sport, then in the final analysis, it won't be destroyed by who wins.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Get rid of the coach"

* In 2009-10, Carmody guided Northwestern to a school-record 20 wins. NU appeared in the NIT for the second straight season, marking the first back-to-back postseason appearances in school history. The Wildcats’ 15 home wins a year ago are a program best.

* Carmody is one of two coaches in program history to win at least 100 games at Northwestern (Arthur Lonborg - 236; 1928-50).

* In Carmody’s 10 seasons in Evanston, the Wildcats have recorded at least six Big Ten victories six times. The program totaled six or more conference wins just five times in the previous 31 years prior to his arrival.

And yet, some fans are yelling to replace him because he has never taken Northwestern to the NCAA. (By the way, no one else ever has, either.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010


There is a difference between a mature team and an experienced team. Especially at our level, where jucos play a big role, you can have a lot of upperclassmen who have little or no D1 experience.

Monday, October 11, 2010

just three things

1. Tough perimeter defense has to return.
2. Our point guard has to be consistent and dependable.
3. We have to have a post presence.

If two of the three happen, we will be pretty good. If all three happen, we should be quite good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

not a horse - BUT

"A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse." Shakespeare said that King Richard III said it. Maybe he did and maybe he didn't but if you change "horse" to "point guard" or "dominant big man," it sums up my feelings about this season.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

news hungry

I am really ready for some concrete news from practice. This has been a long off-season.

futile hope?

Don't you wish you REALLY knew how serious Will Neighbour was about coming to Little Rock?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Move! Move! Move!

One of my big criticisms of Shields’ offenses is that is too much like the pros – that is, players standing around watching. The point may be stationary, and the man posted up may be, but the other three need to be moving!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

love it

The football teams that I love to see lose are those who have a high-powered passing offense - and nothing else.

Monday, September 27, 2010

getting close

Not many days now. I am ready. Little Rock basketball, here we come!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

time is getting short

I am not quite as quick on the trigger as a lot of fans. I think that taking the long term view pays dividends. However, given the time that Steve Shields has been at Little Rock, I think it is time to see some results. Assuming no roster turnover, he will have five seniors this year and next year. If we cannot win either the tournament or the regular season, then he probably needs to move on down the road. I am not particular which he wins, although the regular season is a lot more impressive to me than a short tournament – but we ought to be able to get one of them.

In the meantime, I am sticking with my prediction that this will be his last season regardless. I might be wrong, but that is what I think.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

bright side

Think positively - you could be a Tennessee fan.

Monday, September 20, 2010


If Bails and Courtney really come through this year (and throw in Mouzy), it will somewhat vindicate my contention that patience and development of 4-year (or 5-year) players is the way to go.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who will it be?

Who is going to step up this season and make us competitive once again?


Football is the only major sport where a significant portion of the team (offensive line), since they do not handle the ball, get essentially no public credit, no matter how well they do their jobs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

military academies

The military academies may have trouble getting the best talent, but at least the players they do get can pretty well be depended on to be disciplined and of good character.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


This program seems to have established a baseline. If we play true Trojan defense, we will win at least 17-18 games. With a little help on offense, it will climb to 20 games or more. To get above that, we are going to have to have more than a little help on offense.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

beyond me

I just do not understand this attitude among college basketball fans that post-season is the only thing that matters. Oh well, to each his own, I suppose.

out of date?

In this era of pass-oriented, run-and-gun, shotgun football offenses, if someone were to go back to the now-outdated Wishbone offense, it would pose an immediate problem for opponents simply because they no longer see it. They would not in the habit of dealing with it, their defenses would not be set up to handle it, and they would not have recruited players to handle that type of defense. I wonder what the parallels are to the Wishbone in today’s college basketball world? Sometimes, in the fashion of the sports world, what is out of vogue is valuable simply because it is out of vogue.

Monday, August 9, 2010

optimism in spite of ourselves?

Due to having been burned so many times in recruiting, the Little Rock fan base has become pretty jaundiced. However, if we should re-sign Will Neighbour this fall, it will be hard to keep us from being as optimistic as we have been in a while, I am guessing.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Play good basketball! That is the formula for success at the mid-major level. You cannot always guarantee the level of talent you will have, but you can make them play good, smart ball – the type of ball where they don’t beat themselves. Butler and Southern Illinois are two examples of programs which, over the last decade, have enjoyed considerable success at a high level by installing a system of good basketball, and, at least some of the time, getting the talent to make it work better than most. Good basketball can to some degree make up for a lack of talent – but only to a certain extent. You can be good, maybe even consistently good, but you will never be really good without some degree of talent. However, the odds of building a winning program over an extended period of time are better by installing a class culture in the program and close attention to playing good, mistake-free ball than it is by rolling the dice on getting overwhelming talent – which rarely happens at our level.

Monday, August 2, 2010

shooters only?

I hate to disagree with my compatriots, but I cannot subscribe to the “don’t recruit them if they cannot shoot” theory. It just is not true that every player does everything equally well. Every player is stronger at some facet of the game than others. If you recruit so that every player can shoot (which the Princeton schools do), then you will face the same thing they face – they get pounded on the boards and can only play zone defense. Would we turn down Wilt or Shaq because they were terrible shooters? If you recruit based on a single overriding criterium, then you automatically say that the other criteria will of necessity fall by the wayside. You have to recruit so that you have SOME shooters – several of them, and you normally will want your perimeter players to be able to shoot from the perimeter, but do you turn down a John Fowler just because he can’t shoot (and he could) – one of the best defensive players we have ever had? That just does not make sense to me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

trend or hiccup?

I think it would be an accurate statement that the vast majority of programs at our level would consider 20 wins to be a good season. Maybe not what they wanted, but good. In fact, most schools our size would consider 17-18 wins to be a pretty good season.

One year is not a trend. Two years is a small trend. Was last year the start of a trend, or a hiccup? Who knows. I certainly have no idea. We did not have a bad year last year – we had a TERRIBLE year. Attach that to another bad year, and it is a trend. If, at this point of his career, without any post season, if Shields starts a bad trend, he could be gone, and deservedly so. If he proves that last year was a hiccup, he probably earns himself a good bit of slack, and deservedly so.

The Stirps and names

My 86-year-old father (nicknamed "The Stirps" - meaning Head of the Clan) watches a lot of ballgames on TV. This last basketball seasons he made a hobby of noting all the notable names of players that he heard. Southern Illinois will add to his list next season with Mamadou Seck and Devonte Drinkard.

non-conference motivation

The goals and expectations of non-conference seasons differ drastically. At the top level, it is about making your case for an at-large berth, or even for high seeding. At a lower level, it is about preparing your team for conference, and, if things break just right, maybe an outside shot at an at-large. At the lowest level it is about taking bruises to raise money.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Four-star recruit JerShon Cobb will play for Northwestern. He said "they fit my style of play." Northwestern runs the deliberate Princeton offense. So much for the claim that no one wants to go to schools that play at a slow pace.

Monday, July 26, 2010

not too long

Only about six weeks until the preseason magazines come out. I'm ready!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

hard sell

Pity poor Robert Morris. They had a great season: 23 wins and an overtime loss to Villanova in the NCAA tournament. But they averaged a home attendance of only 1029 per game.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Roster shows two players from Canada, one from Brazil and one from Mexico. Nice international flavor to the team. Still, the strongest connection is to Texas, with five players.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

John McGraw was right

Smallball is the way to go. Way more exciting. Much better brand of baseball. McGraw didn't like it when Ruth came along and made baseball a home run derby. If he could see it now! Move back the fences!

Monday, July 12, 2010

perimeter defense

Perimeter defense is just about a "must" for mid-level teams, since because of a lack of quality big men their opponents will have to put an inordinate dependence upon the 3-point shot.

Missouri State?

What happened to Missouri State last year? They started out great guns, winning their first ten games, including wins over Tulsa and at SLU, then took Arkansas to OT at Fayetteville. Then in conference play they were sub-.500. They return their top four scorers, and should be tough again this year.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gut feel

I just have the gut feel that the downside potential of this team is a lot greater than their upside potential. Don't know why. Maybe it is because we stunk up the place so badly last season, and that smell is still in the air.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pine Bluff rewarded?

I hope the AD at Pine Bluff rewards the team for their good season by allowing them to play a few games that don't fall into the "take a thrashing for the paycheck" category.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Where are we covered, and where are we not? It would look like point is covered - how well we don't know. We will have two incoming points, plus Solo, and even Matt in a pinch. Shooting guard should be in excellent shape assuming Matt is healthy. Small forward likewise with Alex and the incoming juco. From there it gets iffy. The 4 and the 5 are covered, but quality is a question. Probably the point and the front line are the biggest question marks. And defense.

Friday, June 18, 2010


If you want to follow an up and coming team over the next few years, keep an eye on St. Louis Univ. Their entire roster this past season were freshmen and sophomores. And the thing that most young players do not do well they did superlatively - play defense. They held opponents to 39% overall and a paltry 26% from the arc.

faulty logic

It is interesting to listen to those who consider soccer to be boring. How can it be boring given the constant activity? True, scoring is rare, as though scoring the only activity that counts. Further, if a football game has a score of 21-14, there have only been five touchdowns scored, and some would consider that exciting and a 3-2 soccer match boring even though most of a football game is totally dead time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I will be very surprised if we are picked higher than 4th in the division next season. We just didn't warrant it, and are not bringing in any sort of headline recruiting class.

biggest detriment

What is the single biggest detriment to this program. The "we don't oink" factor? Lack of much history? Walk-on campus? Lack of attention of the administration? I don't know. Wish I did. But even if I did, I couldn't fix it.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Here's hoping the new superconferences and ESPN all go broke!

best and worst

In our best dream world, Money and Bails become beasts up front and we finally win it all. In our worst nightmare, they don’t, and we still don’t play defense, and we struggle to get to .500.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I hope Montrelle spends more time at the 4 this season, instead of the 5. He is a natural 4, and I think he should do some outstanding work there.

the Wisconsin way

They didn't turn the ball over (8.8 turnovers per game). They did not allow many baskets (56.9 ppg by opponents). They didn't allow opponent to crash the glass (got 73% of available rebounds on defensive boards).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

downside of jucos

One disadvantage of recruiting too many jucos. When a coach uses mainly freshmen, he can see when he might have an exceptionally good team and schedule a tough slate that year so he might make a little more impact than usual. With jucos, by the time you know if they are going to be good, they already are seniors and it is too late to toughen the schedule.

Monday, June 7, 2010

buy in?

I could be wrong, but it seemed like the 23-win team year before last bought into Shields' system pretty well and thrived on it. Every coach has his system, and that will be what the team uses. They can fight it, or buy into it. If they buy into it, they might do better earlier.

Quote from Jay Wright, Villanova coach

after their overtime win against Robert Morris:
"They are well coached. That is actually harder to play against than great athletes that are undisciplined."

Friday, May 28, 2010


There is a difference between teams that do not run - that is, they do not use that as their first option. It doesn't mean they are opposed to it, they just don't do it frequently as a part of their scheme.

Other team's won't run. Their coaches won't let them.

There is a difference.

Cautiously optimistic

Again, I definitely think we will be considerably improved next season. Now, considerably improved from a lousy season may not be great. However, I think the tools are there for a pretty good season. It appears our front line is staying intact, and that could work out to be huge. Our top three perimeter players are experienced and capable. How the point position works out could be the main key for how the season goes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

calm demeanor

Good quote about the young Butler coach's calm sideline deameanor: "Most coaches mellow with age, but if that happens to him, they may have to check for a pulse."

Monday, May 17, 2010

new faces?

We may be seeing some new faces among the top tier of the SBC next season. Both Florida schools could be making a move, and Denver looks to be strong again. Will there be others as candidates?


D'Andre Williams may be a key to whether we have even a decent season this year. If he is the real deal at point, good things could happen.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I might have to make a caveat on my prediction that Shields will not be back next year. If we have a reasonably strong season and if we sign Will Neighbour, then he definitely returns. That combination of events is quite a long shot, however.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

one person?

Sometimes one player can make all the difference in the chemistry of a team, and you always hope that person is in the incoming class. Something was wrong last year, that is for sure.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

important, but not everything

Talent is important, but it isn't everything. If a team plays hard, plays focused, plays together - good things usually happen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

hot shooting

Ricky Davison didn't just set the school single-season 3PT% record this year; he demolished it.

He shot 51.4%, way past the old record of 46.6% held by Nick Zachery. That is a differential of 4.8 percentage points.

By comparison, slots 2-10 have an average differential of 0.5% points, and the next largest was 1.1% points between David Hall, now in 4th, and Barky, now in 5th.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It is just a guess, but I am thinking that our getting back into the top tier of the SBC next season will be more an issue of chemistry than talent. It takes very good talent to win it all, and we may not have that, but we did not get the best of what we had last season. We have to do that this year.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

last year

I will go on record as saying that I think this will be Shields' last year regardless of what happens. Now, stick around and see if I am right.

Monday, May 3, 2010

half full department

Maybe the reason we haven't recruited hard this spring for post players is that the staff is confident of what they have. Could it be? Oh, well.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Stan Heath has done a good job at USF. He won't get much credit for it, but that is a really tough job, both because of location and because of the conference they are in.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

funny recruiting

Of course, I do not know who is leaving, but Shields' recruiting this year makes no sense to me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

up tempo

Sometimes when an up-tempo team plays a more disciplined tempo, the game is a pretty good one - interesting because of the contrast of styles. However, when two up-tempo teams play, like when Virginia Tech and Rhode Island faced off in the NIT, it almost always will be a helter-skelter playgroundball mess.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


20 losses ought to be immediately fatal, but back-to-back 20 win seasons means absolutely nothing. Hmm.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What's wrong with college basketball

From Bill Reilly's article on John Wooden:

"Too many players trying to make SportsCenter, too few players trying to make assists, too many coaches trying to be homeys, too few coaches willing to be mentors, too many freshmen with out-of-wedlock kids, too few freshmen who will stay in school long enough to become men."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


A lot of folks complain that "Steve Shields hasn't ever won. All he does is run a clean program." 43 wins over two season would seem like the promised land to a lot of programs at our level.

Why baseball was better then

In 1952 there were more than 50 professional minor league and some 440 minor league teams with players waiting to get to one of the 16 major league teams.

Stan Musial

Carl Erskine: "I've had pretty good success with Stan by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third." (Musial hit 18 triples in 1948.)

Bob Costas: "He didn't hit a homer in his last at-bat (like Ted Williams); he hit a single. He didn't hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe (like DiMaggio). He didn't play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie Mays' name. None of those things are there to associate with Stan Musial. All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."

Vin Scully: "He was good enough to take your breath away."

He played in 3026 major league games without ever being ejected.

When he retired he had more home runs than any player who never won a single-season home run title.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Going into this season, Shields certainly was not recruiting like a coach who thought his job was in any kind of jeopardy, signing three high school players as he did. However, he also probably did not expect to have such a poor season.

Friday, April 9, 2010

changes I would make

If I were the czar of College Basketball, here are some changes I would make:

Eliminate the 3-point shot. All it does is encourage the taking of low-percentage shots (i.e., bad shots).

Make the NCAA tournament include all D1 teams and do away with conference tournaments.

Make high school seniors either go directly to the NBA or stay in college for three years. (Don’t know how I could get that to happen, but I would like to see it.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

thunderous silence

The sound you don't hear is the loud outcry of chagrin from basketball fans all across the country because Butler plays that accursed slow-paced style. Odd.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


This team needs help from the outside. However, collective improvement must come from individual improvement. Each player on this team, in the off-season, is going to have to dedicate himself to taking his own play to a higher level. It can't wait until the season begins.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I am optimistic about next season. I always am this time of year. Why not? It costs nothing, and the reality will be what it turns out to be, so why not enjoy it? Right now we are undefeated.

This time of year you always get to dream about how things might be if everything broke just right: if everyone stays healthy, if everyone works hard in the offseason, if everyone has a good attitude all season long, if the coaches push the right buttons, etc. The problem is that it will take quite a few thigs breaking right for this team even to be pretty good - but it could happen. Right now I don't know that it won't, so I am hoping it will.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My teams

In case anyone wonders, these are the teams I follow at least fairly closely.




Wednesday, March 31, 2010

strange feeling

I will be in the strange position this weekend of rooting for Duke, but I will not root for Huggy Bear.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

difficult task

I think sometimes people underestimate the difficulty of going to the NCAA tournament in our situation. If my memory is correct the total of the combined trips to the Dance among all the non-Fayetteville D1 teams in Arkansas over the last 20 years is - two. How many SBC teams have ever been to the Dance in this league? Five, I think I saw someone post here lately. That means that the remaining seven teams have never been. The average SBC team goes to the NCAA once every twelve years (assuming no at-large bids). It is a tough hill to climb.

internal issues

This team was better than our record. I am convinced of that. I have to wonder if there were not some chemistry issues.

So close

Steve has not led the team to post-season, but he has come so close. Very frustrating. Looking at the records of the teams in post-season this year, it is very perplexing that we were not there last season.

Monday, March 29, 2010


We were a bad team this year. I feel sure that even with the same roster we will be a fair team next year (.500). With a competent addition at post, we might be a pretty good team (20 wins), although that might be a stretch. Past that I am unwilling to predict. The talent on this team was better than 8 wins, and that is what bothers me.

Shields' weakest performance

I have been a big Steve Shields fan, and remain so. I hope he gets to stay another year so he can have a shot at the all-time UALR coaching wins record.

I thought Steve did an outstanding job the two previous seasons, but no so this last year, which probably was his poorest coaching performance so far. True, he was hindered by the injury to Mike Smith. Still, Steve proved unwilling to adapt to the changed circumstances that were forced upon him.

I am not a fan at all of gunning away from the 3-point range. I like an inside post-up style, but what strength there was on this team was our variety of 3-point shooters. We had almost no post-up game. Steve should have taken more advantage of that strength. Instead, he continued to play to his weakness, and it absolutely killed us. He badly needs to review his mistakes from this season and learn from them. He cannot afford to repeat them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Off season work

The off- season, which is hard upon us, is the time I study stat sheets and recruiting write-ups - and articles on basketball history. It isn't as much fun as the season, but if you do your homework, it can be enjoyable.


Butler is the only team that I follow closely that is still in the NCAA tournament. Their win over Syracuse was a real pleasure for those of us who root for the little guys. One more win and they are in the Final Four.

Friday, March 19, 2010

casual fans

This time of year really brings out the casual fans of college basketball - those that do not really follow it, but just enjoy the hype of the NCAA tournament. Sadly, seemingly the entire sport is geared for those casual fans. The dollar rules.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Oh by the season"

I know I am an oddball about this, but we are now into the "oh by the way" season. The real season - the part that really counts - is over. Now we go into the circus, the cotton candy, the hype, the time when one team can get hot and end up with something it really has not earned over the course of whole season.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

bad joke at UCA

UCA's firing of Rand Chappell and hiring of ex-Hog Big Nasty was a farce. Chappell was forced to try to win during the probationary period when they could not go to post-season, and then, after he had done the dirty work, they fire him and bring in someone with zero D1 coaching experience. Cheap Shot! I just became an ex-UCA fan.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A dispassionate observation

I am not too concerned about whether Shields stays or goes. He has had a good run, and it might be time for a change.

But the make-up of the camps is interesting to me. Those calling for Shields' dismissal generally like up-tempo and put all or most of their eggs in the post-season basket. Those who wouldn't mind his staying seem to put more emphasis on the regular season and don't particularly like up-tempo.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trivia questions

Trivia questions:

How many Trojan head coaches have had 20 win seasons?
Herman Bogan
Ron Kestenbaum
Mike Newell
Wimp Sanderson
Steve Shields

How many Trojan coaches have had back-to-back 20 win seasons?
Mike Newell
Steve Shields

How many Trojan coaches have had back-to-back 20 win seasons in the SBC?
Steve Shields

rooting for a "winner"

It is not a problem to root for a winning team. Just pick out whoever is ahead and root for them. As long as they keep their noses clean, I am sticking with the Trojans.

I root for quite a few teams, and so I get to enjoy some success every season, but the Trojans are #1 (by a bunch).

Occasionally it works

From Rivals:

Long known as a run-and-gun team that took quick, ill-advised shots, the Irish now employ “The Burn,” which basically means Notre Dame “burns” as much time as possible before screening for a look with single digits left on the shot clock.
The result has been consecutive victories over Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Connecticut, Marquette and Seton Hall. All of a sudden a team that once seemed like a lock for the NIT is all but assured a spot in the NCAAs.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The real reason?

I really wonder how much of the dislike for Steve Shields among some of the Trojan faithful has less to do with the won-loss record as it does with the style of play. They just want run and run – period. Same as with the Razorbacks with Stan Heath. Winning 20-plus games wasn’t enough, because he didn’t play up tempo.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Go Big Ten!

I hope the Big Ten does really well in the NCAA this year, just to tweak the noses of all those who don't like Big Ten style basketball.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Clock ticking for the Wildcats

With Northwestern's loss to Penn State, their slim chances for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament got even slimmer. They still might get one if they win out and go deep into the Big Ten tournament, but it would be iffy even then.

Pretty discouraging

Hard on Trojan fans right not. Not much to be excited about.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

faithful fan base

I would not have thought it, but it appears that the Trojans have a fairly faithful fan base. With the season we are having, it is surprising how well our attendance has held up. Certainly not great, but far better than I would have thought.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

death of a dream

Northwestern's loss at home to Big Ten bottom-feeder Penn State probably killed any chances they had at an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. They never have been to the Big Dance - the only BCS conference team that has to say that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

tough go

It has to be hard to keep a team's focus and morale up at this point in a bad season. I don't envy the coaches their task.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


My official position on Shields is that I hope he makes it and continues as coach. He runs a clean program, and that is more important to me than winning, if forced to make a choice. I like his style of basketball, and I like his low-key personality. However, I don't think he has done a very good job of coaching this season, after doing an outstanding job the past two seasons. I don't worry much about it, because it is the AD's call, and it is hard for me to feel sorry for someone who is making as much money as Shields is.

Friday, February 12, 2010


When you lose to Monroe at home, you know you are pretty bad.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Well, he had hoped this rebuilding year would not be quite as far down as some of the past ones. Vain hope!

Monday, February 8, 2010

In the best of all worlds

I would have two players at each of the perimeter positions, spaced two years apart. The remaining seven players would be at the 4 and the 5, and ALL of them would be redshirted.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ark State game

Can you beat it? How about that for a finish! El Fuerte comes through, and a legend is born. In a rough season, it really is nice to have a few moments like that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wedel - a transfer that worked

Remember Ryan Wedel at Arkansas State a couple of years ago? He ended up at Drake. He is their second leading scorer.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

single digit scoring

Dartmouth is well on the way to not having a single player average double digits in scoring. Little Rock got some notice year before last for doing that. The difference is we won 20 games, and Dartmouth has won only four so far. I wonder how many times a team has won 20 games with no player averaging double figures?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

unique name of the year

Yaw Gyawu.
Sophomore forward for Colgate.

Coastal Carolina - dark horse?

If you are looking for a dark horse for a post-season upset, keep an eye on Coastal Carolina. They are 19-4, and were 10-2 in non-conference. They shoot well, play really tough defense, take care of the ball, and have a plus-7 rebounding margin.

Fitting the schemes

A person may not be an expert at a particular discipline, but may be exceptionally at one facet of it. For example, a man may not be a great mechanic, but he may be a whiz at transmissions. Mid-level schools, who cannot get the great players, may develop a very good team by recruiting players who stay for four or five years and become expert at doing the things that are needed within a particular coach’s offensive and defensive schemes – expert role players, in other words. That is how smaller schools have to thrive. The problem is getting players that fit those schemes and getting them to buy into them – and getting them to stay four years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


As undersized as we are at all three of the front line positions, it is a wonder that we have done as well at rebounding as we have.


I really do think that we have one of the better sets of offensive perimeter players in the league, and definitely will next season. Defensively - that is another matter.

Monday, February 1, 2010

glimmer of hope

We have won two of the last four. This team might possibly mange to keep the season from being an absolutely disaster by closing strong. They need that for next year. I still don't think this team is as bad as their record indicates, and they need a little something positive to head into the off-season. Here's hoping.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Princeton teams

One reason I love to root for teams that run the Princeton offense is that they often feature good basketball players instead of great athletes. They win by precision, good shooting, good passing - all the things that basketball used to be and ought to be.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't you love those "Drive Time Sports" basketball "fans"? They only pay attention to basketball during the NCAA tournament, which they call "the greatest sports event in the world. The rest of the time all they talk about is Razorback football.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

hard times

These are hard times in the Rock. I am sure it is killing Shields, to fall from 23 wins to probably 20 or more losses. I am not sure how it all fell apart, but right now we are not a mediocre team. We are BAD.

Friday, January 15, 2010

morale - again

I am really concerned about the moral of the team after the UNO overtime loss. We ought to be able to win a few games this year, and that was one of the ones we might have won. Really tough loss. I hope Shields has some psychological tricks up his sleeve. He will need them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Pomeroy now projects us to finish the regular season 9-20, and I suspect that is optimistic.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I know I am in the minority

but I do not consider Big 10-style basketball boring. I find run-and-gun to be boring. To each his own, I guess.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

State of basketball in Arkansas

According to Sagarin, the five D1 teams in Arkansas rank 192, 221, 224, 252 and 299. All of them, even our BCS school, are in the bottom 45% of the teams. Has college basketball in Arkansas ever been in such a low state, top to bottom?

Friday, January 1, 2010


One thing that gives me some hope about this team is that they appear to be just short of getting over a significant hump. Maybe that is one player that they don't have, and so they won't get over it this season. On the other hand, maybe it is just a matter of one more player finding his game, or the team coming together as a team. Whatever, maybe it will happen before the end of the year, in time for the conference tournament. We haven't won it in a long time, even with some pretty good teams. Maybe it is our turn.