Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shields' job

Is Steve Shields' job in jeopardy - again? I doubt it is right at the moment. But a 20-loss season is really ugly. It gets all sorts of the wrong sort of attention, and that is where we are headed unless we get things turned around. This team has the talent, and we need to begin showing the results of that talent - soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ouch for Pitt

Wagner beats Pitt. Ouch! If Pitt had to lose, I am glad it was to a little guy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More fun

Several of us went to a game in Fayetteville this week. The place, of course, just reeks of money and privilege. It is a nice place to visit and to watch a game, if you can get in and out. However, it is so much more fun to root for a team that doesn't get everything handed to them on a silver platter. They may not win as much, but when they do, it means so much more.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Disgusted by Vandy

What is it about Princeton offense teams that says they have to be mentally soft? Best chance Vandy has had to make a national statement in years and they are letting their guts come up on them against teams they ought to be beating easily - especially at home.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A little disappointed

I did not have any reasonable expectation that our record would be much better than it is at this point in the year, but you always have hopes. We came close a few times, so we could have had a few more W's

Friday, December 16, 2011


In the sort of year we are having, the only real question is, "Are we improving?" I cannot answer that, not getting to see them play regularly. We are not to the point of challenging the better teams in the SBC yet, but we could get there by the end of the year - but several things will have to happen, and they are not happening yet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pine Bluff uptempo?

The AD at Pine Bluff fired his old coach and hired the current one because he was looking for up-tempo basketball. After seeing their stats over a couple of years, and seeing them play last night, I don't think he got what he was after. Not that I am complaining.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not a disappointment

Considering that he is leading the team in scoring, rebounding and 3-poing percentage only nine games into his D1 career, Will Neighbour certainly has not been a disappointment. And I think we can expect that he will continue to improve.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Drexel - again

Drexel is at it again. They cannot shoot for sour apples, but they hold their opponents to an ridiculously low 24.1% from the arc. The trouble is that living by defense is not translating into wins this year as it did last year. So far they are 2-4.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Not yet

This team may be pretty good by the time conference season comes around, but we are definitely not there yet. Just too many holes to patch up - most notably the lack of 3-point offense and defense.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


We have several newcomers this season with real promise; the future looks bright. However, the only one that I would say has already "arrived" is Will Neighbour.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Small 3's

For the last three years Steve Shields has had a series of small-sized small forwards who were defensive specialists. They were tough, hard-nosed, and played good basketball. One other thing they did well was to get more than their share of offensive rebounds. I do not know why that particular type of player seems to be good at that particular thing, but they have been.


One bright spot in what has been a pretty dismal year so far has been the play of our freshmen. Ben Dillard is a definite "keeper." He should be an All-SBC player before he is through. He has a strong basketball bloodline, and it shows. Michael Javes is still somewhat of a project, but the potential is there, and he will contribute this year and more than that in years ahead.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I still say we need a billboard on one of the freeways around town that shows the Trojans and says in big letters, "LITTLE ROCK'S TEAM!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We are about where I thought we would be at this point in the season. However, after seeing the team, I have hopes that we may finish stronger than I had originally hoped.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ULL's inside game

ULL is somewhat of an oddity among teams at our level in that their front line is the strength of thier team. Their top three scorers are 6-5, 6-9, 6-7. The shoot from and defend well from inside the 3-point line, but they do not shoot nor defend from the arc very well.

Defensive stats

I rarely look at scoring defense as an indication of a team's defensive ability, because that is more a function of the pace of the offense. What I mainly look for is opponents' shooting percentages, and to a lesser extent steals and blocks as compared with opponents' steals and blocks.

Neighbour so far

The thing about Will Neighbour's play so far that has surprised me is his rebounding. I certainly did not expect him to be leading the team.

Monday, November 21, 2011


We are going to have to temper our enthusiasm over the incoming talent with the reality that we are very young and inexperienced yet. It will come, but it will take time.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I would love to get to that ideal situation where all freshmen redshirt - because you have too much talent ahead of them, and because the staff is able to teach well enough that everyone improves vastly over their years there - and because the program is good enough, incoming freshmen don't mind too much redshirting. But that is only a dream. In our situation this year, we REALLY need our freshmen to come through for us, and it appears they are going to contribute greatly. We have some "keepers."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Impressed with the team

I liked what I saw in my first glimpse of the 11-12 version of the Trojans. The incoming talent is very impressive. They are raw yet in some instances, but the potential is considerable. They will win some games I did not think they would. Michael Javes is an outstanding prospect at center. He will be the best big man in the SBC before he is through. Will Neighbour has a great shot, although he needs to gain a lot of strength and stamina. Chuck Guy has picked up the "go to" role from Solomon Bozeman, and he makes his free throws. The only thing about the team that is a cause for immediate concern is ther 3-point shooting and defense, but those probably will come on as the season goes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I get to see our new Neighbour

Finally, after 2 1/2 years of waiting, I get to see Will Neighbour play tonight. Can't wait! If he is even nearly as good as we have hoped he is, he will be a huge plus for this program.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Tonight we will get at least an idea of how good our incoming players are. Tulsa will be a pretty good test, especially on the road. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


We use the word "project" to describe a big man who will not be able to contribute immediately, but might be on down the line. "Investment" might be the better term (at least on that is more optimistic). It is a risk, but at our level, big men who are ready to contribute right off the bat are rare, and having a couple of projects in the pipeline is a good practice.

FAU early

The incoming talent of the other teams may allow them to catch up somewhat by conference time, but there is no doubt that in the early going, at least, FAU is going to be the class of the SBC. Maybe they can get some big non-conference wins for us.

Monday, November 7, 2011

At last!!

College basketball officially begins today. At long last!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

European style?

I have long been a fan of the physical style of post play - some call it Big 10 style. I may have to get used to another style this year, though, with Will Neighbour on the roster. Not only is the actually European, but his physical characteristics probably will not allow him to do much banging inside. What frustrates me about the European style is that those post players just are not willing to "get their hands dirty" inside. They do not seem willing to take the pounding, but want to launch away from the perimeter. But someone has to do the dirty work, and I still like the Big 10 better.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We badly need some traditions at UALR. Just something we can sink our teeth into as fans and make us feel more a part of the program.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stan Heath

Head coach Stan Heath of South Florida is listed as the "coach on the hot seat" in pre-season magazines. I hope he makes it. He seems like a class act, at least compared with a lot of the sleeze in college basketball. If he can surprise this year and survive, he might be able to move the program forward after the looming shake-up in the Big East.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Strike outs

I don't mind cheering a slugger when he hits a home run, but when he fails to cut back on his swing with two strikes and as a result strikes out, I think he ought to be booed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What makes Wisconsin consistently good?

from Rivals:

Look at all the little things. The Badgers led the nation in Free-throw shooting and assist-to-turnover radio last season, and had the fewest turnovers per game by a wide margin.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Post health

The health of our post men may be the make-or-break factor for this year. With Gus out and Courtney hurting, we have no room to spare. The talent seems to be there, but if they are on the bench in bandages, they cannot help us.


Who starts a game means absolutely nothing to me. In fact, when I track starters from a stat sheet, I always do so in terms of minutes played, not who was in the line-up at the tip-off. However, because of the hype that accompanies the introduction of the starters, I can see why it is important to the players. A moment in the spotlight.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Again, watch the SBC next season

I expect the SBC to move upward in the conference rankings this year, but next season I expect us to take a giant step forward. There is a LOT of talent coming into the league this year that will need a year to get D1 acclimated, and a more-than-usual percentage of that talent is made up of big men. When lower-ranked conferences get several talented big men coming in, usually the difference is easy to see.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recruiting class

We definitely are heading in a different direction with our last two recruiting classes. FAR less bulk. We are downsizing in weight and upsizing in height. And we will be among the national leaders in cool recruit names with Stetson Billings.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Good time of year

The basketball preseason magazines are out, the websites are coming out with their predictions. It is a good time of the year. Basketball is right around the corner.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Better Belt

The Sun Belt will struggle again this year, but I expect us to take a big step upward a year from now. There is a lot of talent coming into the league this season, and when they have a year of experience under their belts (no pun intended), I expect a lot of good things to happen. Stand by.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Decent" height

There are a lot of factors that go into the discussion of what constitutes adequate height for a basketball roster. Bulk and reach and foot speed to go along with the height are probably more important than what is shown on the roster. After all, the player does nothing with the top of his head during a game. Still, when we scan a roster, there are rules of thumb that we go by to see if this team is undersized or not. What is my yardstick? Generally, I look for two players 6-9 or taller on the roster, especially at our level. That usually will not get the job done at the Big Six level, but Sun Belt teams do well to maintain that standard year in and year out.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More running

I think it is inevitable that this team will run more next season than we have in the past. The talent will demand it. We do not have a big man whose strength is the post-up game, and the bulk of the team is down considerable. We are built to run. Eric Lawton is one of our best incoming players, and his strength is in the open court.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pittsburgh to the ACC

I predict that Pittsburgh's blue collar style will give them fits in the blue blood ACC.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Senior posts

Our senior post guys need to have strong seasons this year for us to have a chance. Marlo and Courtney need to step up. No tomorrow.


This team might have the possibility of being pretty good, but a few key injuries will kill off our hopes pretty quickly. We have some depth (maybe), but there are a few players we would be hard pressed to do without. That is the story on every team, but most teams do not have as many new players as we do this year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Defective system

Was UConn really the national champion last year? They lost 9 games, and were only 9-9 in their own conference. Not logical.


It is going to ruin college athletics. Perhaps it already has.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Junk" players

Even if you make your living from put-back shots and free throws, that can be a pretty good living if you are good enough at it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Task for the NCAA

One thing the NCAA really needs to do for basketball is to make the regular season mean more. Right now it means virtually nothing, especially the non-conference season, and especially for teams that have no realistic at-large chances.


There will be a sleeper in this incoming class. Just a question of who it will be. Fondren, Lockhart, White? Who knows. But there will be one.


We badly need for the SBC to take a step forward in quality this year. We have sunk below the level of "mid"-major.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Good seasons

Good coaches ought to be able to manage "good" seasons most of the time. There are enough factors under their control that they should be able to do that. However, "great" seasons are often the result of factors beyond the coach's control, most notably avoiding the injury bug.

Coaching choices

It is always interesting to observe coaching hires and wonder to what extent they reflect the character of the institution. Single exceptions will happen, of course, but over time, if the coaches at a school are always in the news for the wrong reasons, you wonder about the school.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Finally - Javes

Now that Michael Javes is finally officially on the team, I feel much better about our prospects. We have that legit big man that can alternate (or maybe play at the same time as) Will Neighbour. I like our chances.

Coach gets the blame

A good manager gives his subordinates the credit when things go well, and takes the blame when things go wrong - and that should be a coach's attitude as well. However, as fans we need to give credit and blame where they are due. Players sometimes mess up, sometimes do not or will not carry out the game plan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Interesting question

Why do we say "He won the game" when someone makes the winning shot; but we NEVER say "He won the game" when a player prevents what might have been the winning shot?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

military academies

There are pluses and minuses to recruiting to a military academy. They can appeal to patriotism, can provide an unparalleled education at taxpayer expense, can offer the sort of discipline that will turn a boy into a man. On the other hand, the sad fact is that a lot of athletes do not possess the sort of discipline that the academies require, and do not wish to get it. Plus, the better players usually have at least a hope of going pro, and if they attend the academies they will have to serve their military committment first. I am sure the academy coaches put the best face on their recruiting, but it does have some limitations.

Monday, August 15, 2011

from ESPN about UCLA

Howland's style has always been rugged. His teams thrive on slow tempo, defensive brilliance and physicality. Things aren't pretty on the offensive end, but they don't have to be. They just have to be effective. In this case, "effective" means "good enough to score more points than your opponent, who probably won't score that many, because you're UCLA and your defense is usually pretty awesome."
(Remind you of anyone?)

Why I follow the teams I do

I follow 53 teams closely enough to keep up with their recruiting and study their stats in the off season. Why those particular teams? Well . . . I am glad you asked.

1. Some because they are Arkansas teams that have no connection with Fayetteville.
2. Some because they are academically-strong schools who do not bow to athletics (e.g. Northwestern)
3. Some because they are "at" teams (such as University of Missouri AT Kansas City)
4. Some because I like the coaches (e.g., Bowling Green)
5. Some because they play the style of ball that I like (e.g., Drexel)
6. Some because they are historically intersting (e.g., William and Mary)
7. Some just because they intrigue me (e.g., Maine)

And perhaps a few other reasons, but those are the main ones.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Incoming class

It is hard not to feel very good about the incoming recruiting class. They may not all pan out, of course, but on paper this is the best group since I have been a fan.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Early NCAA candidate?

Take a look at Drexel. They return four starters, including their two leading scorers. They play smothering defense and are a dominant rebounding team.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not there yet

Shields has averaged 17.5 wins over the last four years. Not awful, but no where near where it needs to be. Take out that one horrible year, and it isn't so bad, but those years do get averaged in.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


If this team keeps everyone else healthy and gets everyone eligible, then I think we win more regular season games than last year.

ASU up front

ASU is going to be tough up front this year, with Adams, Peterson and Kirkland. I hope we are able to handle them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

3-point shooting

We lost a huge amount of scoring power from the arc after this last season. The best 3-point shooting team in my experience. We will be down in that area, but not necessarily too far. I think our post crew is going to have a lot more ability from the arc than any Trojan team I have seen. Marlo and Neighbour both can shoot the 3, and having a new threat from the post may sufficiently offset what we lost from the guards.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jake and Too Tall

Jake Yancey and Darius "Too Tall" Eason were two of the better centers to have played at Little Rock in my term as a fan. How good were they?

His last season (he did not play his final year), Jake averaged 6.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg and shot 55.4% from the field. In Too Tall's final year, he averaged 9.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg and shot 48.1% from the field, while blocking 48 shots.

In both cases, those are good, solid numbers, but certainly not All-Star stats. Their strength was in their consistency, and their consistent improvement over their careers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


If we are going to beat ASU this season, we are going to have to get someone who can handle Martavius Adams. We did not have that last year.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer of wishful thinking

With possibly the best recruiting class since I have been following coming in, it is very hard not to engage in wishful thinking this summer. The loss of Gus Leeper to an injury put a big damper on expectations, but the signing of Michael Javes put the cap on the class, and stirred up the optimism again. Of course, we have to get him cleared by the NCAA, which is always iffy with a foreign player. (We have struck out there before.) Since we have only five healthy players coming back, our success is going to depend heavily upon the newcomers. I think they are very good. Here's hoping that my thinking is correct.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not long

Only about two and a half months until the pre-season magazines come out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not much experience

Only six players on the returning roster, and one of them (Gus Leeper) evidently will not play next season. Of the five who will be playing, four of them have only one year of D1 experience. The incoming class looks to be good, and they had better be, because we do not have the experience to bolster lack of talent this year.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Players' minutes

Shields' players do not average a lot of minutes, comparatively speaking. I picked ten teams at random to compare with ours. The average minutes of the five most-used players was 27.6, with the range of 23.7 through 30.5. Only one team was below our average of 24.4. I am not sure why this is, or at least was last season.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beating the press

I am no expert, but I suspect that a point guard cannot consistently beat the press by himself. It takes a team effort. I also suspect that when a team works together as it should, they should be able to beat the press consistently.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another example

Cody Ellis of Saint Louis is 6-8. He shot 83 shots from the arc this past season, but made only 28.9% of them. Why would a coach allow a bad-shooting post player to blast away from the arc on a team that was getting beaten on the boards?


It seems like more and more lower-level schools are going to foreign countries for talent, and that may be a very good strategy. Big schools don't have to look hard. Players come to them. Getting talent from overseas takes a little more work.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why do it?

Why would any basketball coach want to go to a "football only" school? The recent turnover at Penn State is an example. Basketball is only an afterthought there, and likely always will be. Why would a competent coach want to do that? I realize he will make a lot of money, but there are other schools where he could also make good money where basketball is relevant.


Freshman recruits should be looked at for what they will contribute on down the line, not so much what they will do immediately. But it is sad how much fans forget that.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Not in their interest

I can see why the Big East and ACC would have every reason to oppose a college football playoff system. For most sports fans, they only think of basketball after football is over. A playoff system would effectively lengthen the football season (at least the part that is closely followed) for several weeks. These two conferences are the two most basketball-oriented conferences of the Big Six. Why would they want to sacrifice their strength on the altar of a playoff system?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wisconsin Way - I love it!

From a great ESPN article by Ted Miller:

Wisconsin runs a "swing" offense that is based on spreading out defenders and riddling them with screens. It's a half-court scheme that often uses much of the play clock. The Badgers also play tough, sound man-to-man defense. They are a disciplined team that plays within a system. They aren't terribly flashy. You don't see a lot of cool alley-oop dunks out of fast breaks.Boring? Or are we just so obtuse these days that good, fundamentally sound basketball makes us yawn?

Here is the link:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Development of coaches

We sometimes forget it, but coaches can learn as much as players can. Steve Shields is no different. I could be mistaken, but I think I have seen some development in him as a coach in the last couple of seasons, particularly this last one. He was more flexible, and got the most out of a team without any effective inside offensive game. Let's hope the Schooling of Steve continues.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Illogical schemes

Texas A&M's new coach, Billy Kennedy, says that his offensive scheme is designed to get off a shot "within the first seven seconds of the possession," according to Fox Sports. That is totally illogical. Normally you won't do much more than get across the half court line in that amount of time. Even on a fast break it is going to take a few seconds to get into shooting range. Is he saying his guys are just supposed to jack it up the minute anyone is even marginally open? Great way to get high-percentage shots, that is!

Equally illogical is the Princeton attitude that passes up open shots in order to go further into the shot clock. If you are open, you have a good shot. You might not get another open look that possession, so your passing it up just cost you a possession, and in the Princeton offense, possessions are precious because there are fewer of them than in faster-paced offenses.

Work for good looks and take good shots, but take them when you have them. That is good basketball. I really wonder about some of these illogical offensive schemes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


It's great to be a Little Rock Trojan fan!

Monday, May 23, 2011


The three-point shot is like the siren call of Greek mythology. It is such a crowd-pleaser, and makes more points in a hurry than any other play. However, it has a built-in treachery. It promises more than it delivers, and many schools rely FAR too much on the three to the detriment of the rest of their game. So often, when they are not “on” from the arc, they do not have a Plan B to bail them out. We learned that painfully last year. I hope we are a little more balanced this season. It appears we will be.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another example

Another example of why I do not like the emphasis in college basketball is Pittsburgh. Many fans are complaining about them not being "winners" because they have not been to the Final Four despite their good teams in recent years. They have been to the Sweet 16 six times in the last ten years. Only Duke and Kansas have been to more NCAA regionals in that time. They are one of seven programs to play in 10 consecutive NCAA tournaments. That would look to me like they are one of the truly elite programs in basketball REGARDLESS of whether or not they have advanced past the regional finals. Winner? They are big winners.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reasonable expectations

What is a reasonable expectation for the level of success for this program to achieve? Here is mine:

1. Win 20 games more often than not.

2. Get to the point when it is rare for us not to be in the hunt for the division title. (If we aren't, everyone would consider it a down year.)

3. Win the regular season title at least once a decade.

Those are all things a program at our level with our resources ought to be able to do.
Some would notice that the NCAA tournament is not included in any of those. The reason is that if we take care of those three, I figure NCAA appearances will take care of themselves.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Solid size

It is very rare that really good big men come to our level. Chris Marcus at WKU was a very rare exception. However, I think we have some size this year that will be solid and reliable. If that pans out to be true, we can be at least in the top half of the SBC.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


It is always a little disconcerting just how optimistic we ought to be about an upcoming season. Any guesses are based very largely on assumptions, especially when you have very many recruits coming in, and we have (at least) six. It isn't wrong to be optimistic, but sometimes it isn't very realistic. I think there is a little realism in the optimism this off-season, though. The incoming class warrants it. Some of the returning talent warrants it. "Hopeful" might be a better word.

Shields and Newell

Assuming nothing out-of-the-ordinary happens, Steve Shields will become the winningest coach in Little Rock history early next season. Hats off to him for a great job. He has earned it.

Many will compare him to Mike Newell, but there probably is no comparison. They played in different conferences at different levels. Newell's teams played good tournament ball, and thus they went to post season a good bit. To fans who only pay attention to post season, this would make Newell the better coach. It is hard to say. Probably that is irrelevant.

Since I did not follow the Trojans in those days, I do not have any firsthand knowledge of Newell. However, I do of Shields. He has run a clean program - done it the right way. That means a lot to me. Little Rock is a team I am not ashamed to root for. No sleeze, which is so prevalent in college basketball. So, I'll tip my hat to Shields when he get the record. It has been a good run.


A good coach, assuming he has the players, will turn the press from a disadvantage into an advantage. Presses can be broken if players remain calm, position themselves correctly, and have good court awareness. When a press is broken, it becomes an immediate offensive advantage because the defense is out of position. I hate seeing these always-pressing teams get the advantage simply because the opponents can't/won't take advantage of it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


In the past, we have usually had the discipline, but not the talent. Maybe we could be entering a run where we have the talent as well. Could be good things ahead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lots of wins

I predict a lot of wins over the next three years with Gus Leeper and Will Neighbour up front.

Getting the most

We look to have a couple of 3-star incoming recruits for the first time ever, probably. Here's a guess that we will get more out of our 3-stars than most other teams do, because Shields typically gets the most out of the talent he has.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Brett Royster led the SBC in FG% last season and was the conference's all-time leading shot blocker. FAU will be the heavy favorite in the SBC next season, but it will be interesting to see how not having that defensive enforcer in the lane and a sure shooter will affect them. Sometimes "little" things make a big difference. Still, they have a BUNCH of talent, and will be hard to beat.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Turning the corner

If, with six new players, we improve in wins this year, that might be an indication that we have taken a step forward. We need it. It has been back and forth so much lately. We just have not been able to sustain the good years into a trend. Finally, we got a break and went to the tournament in a mediocre year. Maybe that will propel us forward. Here's hoping.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Efficient recruiting

You have to recruit what you need. Sure, if you have balance on the roster, you can go for the best player available regardless of position, but that usually is not the case. If you do that, you might end up with 13 point guards. Duke may have 13 McDonalds All-Americans on the roster, but only five of them can play at a time, and at least one of them will be the fourth player at his position, and four others will be the third. Each coach has a style, and he recruits to his style. If he recruits efficiently each year and gets the pieces that he needs to play his style, he usually will succeed.


The off season is always a time for optimism. I must admit that I am having trouble not being up-beat about the long-range prospects for the program. We have had two solid recruiting classes and the NCAA appearance. We are bringing in more freshmen, and they appear to be good ones. We hope that Will Neighbour will be the player that we think he could be. Times are sunny in Little Rock.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Could it happen?

We have now seen a Final Four with two non-Big Six participants. Could it be that one day we will see a FF with NO Big Six participants? We can hope.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Next year

I think this team can be as good next year as we were this past year. It will all depend, of course, on how well the incoming players are, and how quickly they develop. This past year's team had Solomon Bozeman, who could be depended upon to score at crunch time. It remains to be seen if we will have a go-to scorer next year. And a lot of players will have to learn the "defense first" philosophy that Shields teaches. But I am hopeful. We have three players coming back who were starting at the end of the year, and one other who was in the top five in minutes played. I hope the incoming players get on campus fast and get in the weight room.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


It will be nice if history gives a better definition of "winner" after this year's NCAA tournament. UConn bent or broke the rules, had all the advantages, and they came out ahead on the score. But Butler has done things right. Here's to the real winners - the guys who play by the rules.

A farce

It really is a farce that two teams with as many losses as they had were playing for the NCAA championship this year. Why not just eliminate the season and only have the tournament and award the hottest team, not the best team? The structure of the college game makes the regular season be only a fund-raising project.

Plus for freshmen

Having had two true freshmen to play in the NCAA tournament has to be a big plus for our program. They have three more years to talk about the experience to incoming players, and to want to get back to the Dance.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ready to move!

This program is poised to take a step forward. 23, 20 and 19-win seasons over a four-year period, with a promising recruiting class coming in. The AD needs to be really on top of things to make this happen.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Not complaining

As we are only a weekend away from the end of the college basketball season, there are a few things about which I could complain as a Trojan fan - but I won't. It was a very enjoyable season, and there are some good things to anticipate next season. Life is good in Trojanland.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Richmond redshirt

Richmond won 29 games this year. They had five redshirts listed on their roster. I don't know if that was policy or happenstance, or if it had anything to do with their success. But it is interesting.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Trickle down? Probably not

It would be nice to think that there will be some sort of trickle down effect resulting from the success of VCU and Butler the past couple of years. Recruits might be made to realize that there is quality basketball at places other than the Big Six programs. However, that probably is somewhat far-fetched.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Fayetteville attitude

The typical Fayetteville fan, if someone in Arkansas does not root for the Hogs, will look aghast and say something like, "It's unpatriotic for an Arkansan not to root for the Hogs." Oh? But they don't return the favor, do they? They don't want any other program in the state to do well, because it takes away from their monopoly.

Not much impact

To the sports fan universe in Arkansas (which means "Fayetteville"), the fact that we went to the NCAA was hardly even of casual interest. Not even a blip.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


For the first time in a while it feels like this program has a little forward momentum. Last year was really tough, and it made us forget about the 23 win season. Even then, we didn't get to the finals of the SBC tournament. But this year we went to the NCAA and were an over away from our third 20-win season in four years. I like it!


If the player makes the shot and extends the season, then it was the player's skill that did it and the coach gets no credit. If the player misses the shot, then it is the coach's fault that he can't get his team to post season.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Adios, El Fuerte

Alex Garcia-Mendoza has to be one my half-dozen most favorite Trojans since I have been following the team. He was a player!

Above average

If Shields' teams win the SBC tournement every eight years, that will be three notches above average.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Coastal Carolina was 28-6, but had to go to the NIT because they did not win their tournament. I wonder - if they had been 31-1 and had won every game except the finals, if they would have received an at-large berth. I doubt it.

I don't understand these coaches

Bowling Green's Scott Thomas is a 6-7 junior. He shot 32 more 3-pointers than anyone else on the team this year, even though he made only 29.4% of them. (That is below average even on an awful-shooting team - 29.7%). It wasn't like he didn't have anything else to do, because the was the team's leading rebounder. Why do coaches allow post men who can't shoot to continue to blast way from the perimeter?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Next year's predictions

I doubt we will be rated very highly in any pre-season predictions next season. We lost too much offensive firepower. What they probably will not take into consideration is that two players who played only limited minutes were starters at the end of the year. Also the recruiting class.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Good season

It has been a good season. Not a great season. The post-season success rescued it from being a mediocre season, but just winning four games at the right time does not make mediocre into great. Still, we have broken the post-season jinx, and came very close to winning a game in the NCAA. Something good to build on. Now, coaches - recruit, recruit, recruit!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bad year for my teams

Not very many of the teams I follow made it to the NCAA this year. In fact, on the left side of the bracket, only San Antonio and Clemson made it, and they are only on my "follow casually" list. Still, since Little Rock made it, that sort of makes up for the rest.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How will we use it?

The question to me is: how will we make good use of this win for the good of the program. We have a brief, very limited exposure that we have not had for years. Will we be able to make it count in a substantial way to move the program forward to where we will be a factor every year. Will we be able to get to the point that .500 is a down year?

We did it!!!!!!

Little Rock going to the NCAA - and in a year when Fayetteville will be staying home! WHOOPPEEEEE!!!!

Take that, Fayetteville!
Take that, Wally Hall!
Take that, Shields bashers!
We might lose in a play-in game, but WE ARE GOING!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


OK, so we are going to the NCAA and have the monkey off our backs.

Now I want to win the more meaningful regular season title and qualify for the NIT. Then, I want to get to where we win 20 games most years and are in the post season hunt on a regular basis.

Classic example

Last night's game was a classic example of how sometimes you can be bad in one area and still win because you do well in another.

We got KILLED on the boards (40 to 26) and allowed North Texas to shoot 45.5% from the arc. Both are horrible numbers. However, we committed only 5 turnovers and made 15 of 16 free throws. And we won by one.

El Fuerte

Alex Garcia-Mendoza may just be the most complete player I have seen since I have followed Little Rock. He does it all. Shooting. Rebounding. Defense. The little things that win ballgames. Just a great ballplayer. What he lacks in size he makes up in heart.

Happy for Shields

I am really happy for Coach Shields to finally have the non-NCAA monkey off his back. He has run a clean program and he deserves his moment in the spotlight.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Monopoly mentality

It is amazing how many Fayetteville fans you will run into who are well aware of the "monopoly policy," and who endorse and encourage it. They do not want any competition in the state.

hot teams

It is the time of year for teams that are hot. Not necessarily good - just hot. One of the things I do not like about college basketball.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I don't like Kansas or Kentucky, but

I do like teams like Kansas and Kentucky, where basketball comes first.

And for the record, I dislike Kentucky a lot more than I dislike Kansas.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blocks - by comparison

Georgia State has a player with 45 blocks this season and another with 32. Our leading blocker has 15. Of course, that may reflect to some extent the defensive philosophy of the coach, but it is an amazing difference.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grinderball epitomized

Drexel is 18-9, so they are a pretty good team. However, their shooting is AWFUL - 41.7% overall and 30.9 from the arc.

The good news? Their defense is stifling - allowing just 39.8% overall and 27.7% from the 3-point arc. And, their rebounding is dominant. They have a +9.5 margin as a team.

We might have a rarity

It is not the norm that SBC big men are a force in themselves (especially offensively). There have been some exceptions, but not a great number of them. Usually they are competent role players who make the team better by playing their parts well. However, we may have found one (Neighbour) who will be an offensive force in himself. If he is, he will attract big time attention from opponents who are not accustomed to having that problem, in league play, at least.

I hate the Bubble

What does it matter? It is a discussion (for the most part) of mediocre Big Six teams who certainly do not deserve to be rewarded with post season.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interior defense

The last time we had a player who blocked as many as 35 shots was Ryan Moss in 98-99. It was 04-05 since we even had someone with 30.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

NCAA tourney

I have said it before, and I will say it again. I really wish they would make the NCAA tournament include all D1 teams. The significance of "making the tournament" has been blown all out of proportion in importance. Fix it where all the teams make the tournament, and then making the tournament becomes meaningless, which would make the regular season become an entity on its own, and thus make it more important. Some will answer that some teams don't deserve to be in the tournament. I would answer that most of the teams there now have no realistic chance whatsoever of winning the tournament, so do they deserve to be there? Further, I would argue that several teams each year are there because they won 3 or 4 games in the league tournament, and winning four games qualifies them to be in the national championship tournament?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the other hand

Yes, this is an amazing 3-point shooting team. On the other hand, since we are only 14-12, there must be several other things that we do very badly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Don't get used to it

I would not get used to seeing a team shoot like this one has this year. I really do not expect to see it again - in my life. Pretty amazing. If the season were over, we would have four players in the top 13 all-time single season 3PT% list. Our game strategy will be drastically altered next season, no doubt, and that probably is a good thing. I am happy to ride this horse while we have it, but it can be a bucking bronco at times.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Of course the Big East is "the deepest conference in the country." When you have 16 (going on 17) teams in a non-southern part of the country where basketball is more important, you ought to be deep. The point is that they are not only deep, but good. The top half of the Beast is really high quality.

But look for the Big 12 (or whatever they will call it next year) to be much improved. They are losing Colorado and Nebraska, who are perpetual bottom feeders in basketball, and that has to help their average quality a bunch.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Need more dimensions

It is hard for a one-dimensional team to win big, even if they are superlatively good in one thing. We have proven that this year. It would be hard to find many teams that shoot the 3 better than we do this year, but we still are barely over .500. I hope next year we find some more bullets for our gun.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Up with Monroe

I would love to see the Monroe program get going. The SBC needs it, to start with. Also, they could develop into a very good rivalry for Little Rock, given their proximity.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why I am optimistic about Gus Leeper

1. Joe Kleine said he will be good, and Joe ought to know if anyone should.

2. He moves well on the court, and he has already muscled up some.

3. All reports are that he has a very positive attitude and work ethic.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

the value of fouls

Fouls can totally change a game, of course. The difference between not shooting FTs and shooting the double bonus is huge. And when a coach has to take out a key player because of foul trouble it can change the course of the game. Every game strategy has its points, but the Princeton offense (or similar perimeter-oriented strageties) does not draw fouls nearly as frequently as some others. There is a good reason why post players and slashers shoot the most free throws.

Shields next year

Some have said that this season has been one of Steve Shields' best coaching jobs since he has been at Little Rock, and I agree. He has taken a difficult situation and has built a team that is at least competitive in the Sun Belt. It looks like help is on the way size-wise next season, but Steve will have another challenge at adaptable coaching next year, because next year's roster may again be different than anything he has had. For a change, he may have a team with enough height. However, some of the height is not going to be typical of the type big men he has had. We'll see how he molds his strategy.

Great win vs. Denver

My bunch had a great time at the Denver game at the Jack. It was just a lot of fun all the way around. Exciting overtime win. Small crowd, but a good one - very vocal and into the game. Well played game by both teams. Denver is a pleasure to watch. They just play good, fundamental basketball.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Slow-down basketball

It may not be as exciting (for some folks) to watch, but it has this advantage: it cuts down on the scoring opportunities of the opponents. The better slow-down teams usually play disciplined, high-percentage offenses, and by limiting their opponents possessions, they say to the opponents, "If you are going to play sloppy, then we are going to cut down on your chances; so if you want to beat us, you are going to have to play a more efficient style of ball." Since they by design play efficient ball, they are one leg up on the opponents from the start. It doesn't always work, but there is logic behind it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Safe ball handling

If you want to see a player who values the ball, check out Tim Jarmusz, a 6-6 Senior for Wiscomsin. He has the fifth most minutes on their team (22 per game), but he has committed only THREE turnovers in the entire season. Pretty remarkable.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Board

It is amazing how essential the message board has become to the core group of Trojan fans. It has been down for a couple of days, and already it feels like withdrawal.


I wonder if it is a coincidence that our current four-game win streak coincides with the improvement in play of our post men? Over those games, the numbers of Courtney, Derrick and Montrelle has been at least solid, and in a couple of cases outstanding. Granted that in the one game our 3-point shooting probably would have won the game regardless, but still I think those numbers are revealing. Our guards are good enough this year that our post play does not have to be outstanding, but it needs to be solid and consistent. It has been that over the last four games, and we have won all four.

Florida SBC coaches

The two Florida SBC coaches appear to have improved their respective programs. And the conference certainly needed that in a year when everyone else seems to be down. I think of the two that Mike Jarvis probably is a better coach, but Isiah has brought publicity and some significant talent to FIU. I wonder how long they will stay.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pity the poor post men

They are at the mercy of the guards. Their opportunities to score are limited by how willing the guards are to throw them the ball. Or, they can get rebounds. So you would think rebounding would be very important to them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

tournament time

I am a little more optimistic about this team's chances in the SBC tournament than I have been some of the others, simply because we have more offensive weapons. However, we do lack that lock-down defensive culture that Little Rock teams have had in the past, plus we have zero inside game. So, we are still a long shot at best.

Friday, January 14, 2011


If we went undefeated, there are still some people who would refuse to give Steve Shields any credit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No room for error

Because of the almost complete lack of any interior offense, this program has placed itself in a position of having no room for error. We can still win games because we shoot the 3 so well, but if we have any hiccups at all - look out!

A clean program

It really is a pleasure to be able to root for a clean program - one you do not have to be ashamed to be associated with. If the only thing you care about is winning ballgames, then you don't care, but I do care. I recognize that programs may have NCAA violations from time to time. Who can keep up totally with all that red tape? But some programs are just awash in sleeze, and I am happy that Little Rock is not one of them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


My three all-time favorite Trojans:

Zack Graber
Rashad Jones-Jennings
John Fowler

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My kingdom for a post man

We are utterly one-dimensional right now. We just have no inside offense at all. We have turned out to be a very good 3-point shooting team, but when we run into a team that has guards better than we are, we are in trouble, because we have no Plan B inside game. But we played well against Troy, and squeaked out a win a home. Maybe we can do enough of that to get a bye in the tournament.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I am really, really frustrated with this team right now.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The unappreciated factor

The whole nature of basketball is geared toward offense. The public address announcer cannot break in after a steal or a block or a shut-down sequence to notice the play publicly. The only plays that get named are scoring. People who follow basketball don’t notice non-stats: shots prevented, for instance. But preventing a score is just as important to the final margin as scoring. Some folks won’t admit that, but it nevertheless is true. Defense is the unseen, unappreciated factor.

What difference does it make?

If the only game that counts is the one that sends you to the NCAA, what does it matter if you play badly during the season? Who cares?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Great quote about Pitt


"This is a team. Not one that’ll overwhelm you with speed, athleticism or even talent, but one that will continue to rack up victories."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Disgusted by Northwestern

I want the Wildcats to win. I am really rooting for them. But you can't always play "clean uniform" basketball shooting non-violent 3's and not rebounding. At some point you have to get down and dirty and mix it up. Good grief!

not too bad shape

I’m not entirely happy about where we are at this point. There were a couple of games we could have and should have won, such as the Denver game just past. But all things considered, we are in a good position to make a good run in the SBC regular season. We won’t be the favorite by any means, but probably in the top third, perhaps.