Monday, December 31, 2012

Sympathy for Shields in one respect

The high degree of turnover among players at Little Rock is perhaps my biggest criticism of Steve Shields as a coach. That HAS to improve.

However, I must admit one aspect of the turnover where I sympathize entirely with him. He does not seem to be willing to put up with self-centered, smart-aleck type players. And I must admit that those type players disgust me, also. I don't like them; I do not like to root for them. I find it hard to root for a team that has them prominently in their make-up. I had much rather be a fair team with unselfish, hard-working players than hugely successful with a bunch of "me" players.

Watch the second reason given

"We aren't winning" is the first, but the real reason is second: "We do not play the style I like."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

This team has hit a hiccup.

We need to get things headed the right direction again. WKU at home would be a GREAT time to do it.

Put this one behind us

Inexplicable how we could have shot so much worse than ULL, which is not a good-shooting team. But we did. Put it behind us and move on.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Improvement over last year

Last year going into the final game of the year we were 4-10. I have no way of comparing the Strength of Schedule indices of both years at that point, but the schedules are very comparable. In fact, the argument might be made that this year's is somewhat harder.

We played one Big Six team last year (Mich. St.). This year we played two. We had one non-D1 game each year. We played Tulsa, Milwaukee, SMU and La. Tech both years.

This year we are 8-6 so far. That is a four-game improvement. And we did it without our First Team SBC point guard and without Chuck Guy, both of whom were material contributors at guard.

Is this a better team at this point in the season? The results would say so. Will this team be as good as that team was by the end of the season? Well, we are going to have to close very fast to do that, and we will have to do it without any senior leadership, which will be tough. But so far, so good.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another Brooklyn team - suddenly in vogue?

Not only do we now have the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA, but on their official site, Division 1 St. Francis is now St. Francis Brooklyn. Former they were St. Francis (NY) to distinguish them from another St. Francis in Pennsylvania.

By the way, they have an outstanding offensive post player. Jalen Cannon averages 16.6 ppg and 9.3 rpg, and shoots 65.1% from the field.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Here is what Javes has to do

Savannah State's Jyles Smith is a good example of a role player who knows his part and does it well. He is their tallest player at 6-8. He does not shoot much, and does not shoot very well. But he averages 5.0 rebounds in only 19 minutes/game, and leads the team in blocks by a bunch with 33.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

West wide open?

I would say the West division is wide open this year. We did not think so before the season, having pretty well written it off to the skills that North Texas possesses. But they have a losing record at this point, so they may not be the juggernaut we thought they would be, unless they get it turned around pretty quickly. We have the best record overall and in the conference in the West at this point, so unless we also implode, we ought at least to be in the hunt. And Gus is just now coming back, and our freshmen have more experience every game.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"You can lead a horse to water,"

the old proverb goes, "but you  can't make him drink." Coaches can teach their players how they ought to play, but sometimes they just cannot get them to do it, for whatever reason. Without seeing practices, it is hard for us fans to know where the breakdown is when we see the glitches - lack of sufficient emphasis in practice, or lack of attention from the players.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I expect Osse's minutes will go up

He may not be a natural point, but he has taken good care of the ball. His A/TO ratio is better than either of the point guards. Evidently he did a fairly good job against South Alabama, and neither of them did. So I think his minutes will go up.

This team just has to improve

Young teams always need to improve, and the good news is that they generally are able to do just that IF they listen and work hard. We are a fair team now, but I think we stand a chance to be a pretty good team by the end of the season. I am patient.

Traits of good basketball players

Really good basketball players may be superlatively good at one or two things, such as rebounding, or pretty good at most everything. Either way they are critically important to their teams' success and so will get lots of time on the floor.

I hope we can keep this roster together

Kids want to play in real games, and freshmen are going to be less inclined to be patient when the others who are getting minutes are also freshmen. However, I hope Steve is able to keep this group happy and together, because the teamwork gained by continuity over a four year period could be a powerful thing. By the time they are seniors, this group should be so accustomed to other that they just work together instinctively.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Really in a good position

This program is really in a good position. We are 8-6 with a team with practically no D1 experience going into the year. The future looks very bright, and even this year could be a good one, especially if the team continues to improve as we go through the conference season. There is absolutely no reason to doubt that we will be among the better Belt teams over the next four years.

This team will continue to break our hearts

They will lose when they ought not to lose, and win a few that they ought not to win (remember SMU). That is how it is when you have a bunch of freshmen.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


It is amazing how often after a player turns the ball over that he commits a foul.


This team bodes well to be the best blocking team we have had in recent history. We have three players with at least 14 blocks so far, and Gus Leeper has not played much. That is not so impressive by some standards, but it is by our standards.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Know where your bread is buttered

Richmond's starting center, Alo Nelson-Ododa, averages only 3.3 ppg and 4.4 rpg, certainly now imposing stats in either category. But he does have twice as many blocks as anyone else on the team. It is easy to see what his role is - he is in charge of interior defense. He is the last line of defense.

Michael Javes has the role for us. He is a good shot-blocker. He needs to learn to play superior post defense, defend the basket, and become the best rebounder that he can. Anything past that is gravy.

Getting paid to get beat up

SWAC teams typically have to raise money for the program in the non-conference season by playing the big boys for a nice check. The weakest Strength of Schedule rating for a SWAC team to this point in the season is 129 for Alabama A&M (out of 347 D-1 schools), and they have six in the top 20.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I hate sloppy basketball.

Say it again and again.


Aside from consistent point guard play, right now perhaps our biggest problem is lack of rebounding. Someone needs to step up and get mean and clear a space and get it done. We have three 6-10 guys playing, and they ought to be able to get it done. Step it up, guys.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hurry up, Gus!

Get back to full speed. We badly need a rugged rebounder. One area in which we really are lacking, and where you can provide immediate help.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Brooklyn has a team again!

The Brooklyn Nets NBA team. Not since the Dodgers left town have they had a major sport franchise.

Big men and the second year bounce

It is a truism in college basketball that players make their biggest improvement between their first and second years as the D1 level. That may not be true in the case of some big men, however. For some of them the light does not come on until their third or fourth years (of fifth, if they redshirt). You have to have patience with big men.

Shields is doing a marvelous job of

working these new players into the lineup from time to time. Some of them may not be getting the PT they would like, but they are getting some time regularly.

Measuring stick

We lost to Louisiana Tech, but we lost by two points this time compared to 18 points earlier this season. I think that is a pretty good measuring stick for the progress this team has made this year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quite a job of foreign recruiting

Of the 15 players on the Maine roster, nine of them are from foreign countries: Canada (2), Finland, Bahamas, Scotland, Germany (2), and Serbia (2). And that does not include Dimitry Akanda-Coronel, who is listed as being from the U. S., but certainly sounds foreign.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

VERY nice win over Tulsa

Not that Tulsa is all that good this year, but we needed the win badly coming off the slaughter against Cincy, and it was a very good win for a bunch of freshmen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Joe Kleine needs to get moving

in his role as Developer of Big Men. He has a lot of work to do with Javes, and it does not appear to be coming along at a very swift rate. But maybe one day soon the light will come on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stop the bad shooters.

So many teams that struggle do so because the coaches allow players who are not shooting well to take an inordinate amount of shots. For example, Jacksonville State's Brian Williams is shooting an anemic 28.4% overall and 22.9% from the arc, yet he has taken the most shots on the team in both categories. Where is the coach?!

Another great team for the poor PA announcer

Idaho State:

Jakub Kusmieruk
Nnamdi Ezenwa
Neveij Walters
Kejan Kostur
Avibakuro Preh

Thursday, December 13, 2012

College basketball as we know it is dead.

Indeed, college athletics as we have known it is dead. The fatal wound came this week with the announcement that the Catholic non-football schools were going to leave the Big East. That means that very soon (maybe within a couple of years) we will be down to five (and probably only four) super conferences. Those super conferences are not going to be dictated to by the NCAA, and so the NCAA as we know it will die. When it does, the NCAA tournament as we know it will also die.

Put the blame on greed, and a large part of it on ESPN for aiding and abetting that greed.

Denver is 2-5. Why?

Because they live by the 3 but this year they are not making their 3's. And, like most 3-point teams, they never have a Plan B.

Talk about a tight rotation!

Denver has only seven players who have played over 48 minutes so far this year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Neighbour is transforming

himself from more of a perimeter player to more of a post player. His 3-point shooting is way off, but his rebounds are up and his overall percentage is up.

Point is still the key

Eleven games into the season, and the point guard situation is still not very satisfactory. Gillon can score, but is not reliable as a distributor: far too many turnovers compared to assists. Hagins evidently does not have the confidence of the coaches yet to get the minutes. Not good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Risks of the PA man

I do the PA for Magazine, Ark., senior basketball. I am glad, however, that I do not do it for the Coastal Carolina team. Here are some entries on their roster:

El Hadji Ndieguene

Michel Enanga

Uros Ljeskovic

Badou Diagne

Bisi Addey

Just entertainment

I am a huge Trojan fan, but one thing I always try to remember is that Trojan basketball is not a “cause;” it is merely entertainment. I do not need to treat it as such.

I knew we were young, but

I certainly did not realize we were THE most inexperienced team in D1 basketball. According to Burn The Horse. Being 7-4 under those circumstances makes me feel pretty good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hurry back, Gus

The way Javes is not progressing, we really need to have Gus back in form by tournament time.

Oh well, it keeps us humble

I do not know how many positives one could bring from the shellacking we got at the hands of Cincinnati, but if we needed it, it surely kept us humble.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tiny power house

Three (maybe four) NBA players from tiny Desha Central High School in eastern Arkansas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rubit at it again

South Alabama junior Augustine Rubit is having another monster season. Averaging 17.8 pts/game, 9.1 rebounds/game, shooting 49% from the field and 87% from the line (and he will shoot a lot of FTs).

Just as soon as I discard Carmody

Northwestern comes out and plays what probably is their best game of the year. But I still want to see a pattern.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Next year is ours

Middle Tennessee is the team this year. They are very good by Belt standards. But they lose (by today’s stats) four starters (in terms of most minutes played), plus six of the top ten players. Presumably we lose only one walk-on. And seven of our players will be going into their second year in D1, supposed to be the biggest jump in improvement.

Carmody must go

I have supported Bill  Carmody continuing as Northwestern's coach for a long time because that is a hard place to coach and he has done a better job than anyone who has been there so far. But I am now officially on the "replace Bill" wagon. Here is the reason why. He just does not make his team play a complete game. They can shoot 3's. They can pass. They can cut. But they cannot rebound and they cannot play hard-nosed defense. If this was the first year it had happened, I would say it was the team, not Bill. But it is the same all the time. They are a one-dimensional team, and that will not work. They just lost to UIC "because our shots were not falling." Well, sometimes they do not. That is when you have to go to Plan B. But Carmody does not have a Plan B.

Lots of options from the arc

We have six legitimate 3-point threats at this point in the season. Lots of options.

Good news and bad news for Monroe

The good news for ULM is that everyone who has played so far should be returning next year. The bad news is that they are not playing very well this year.

Shawn Long of ULL

Looks like ULL has a real deal freshman. Shawn Long. 6-9. He shoots 50% from the field, 82% from the line, averages 16.9 ppg and 8.0 rpg. Throw in 15 blocks so far. The weak part of his game seems to be that he fancies himself to be a 3-point shooter (2nd-most attempts on the team), which he is not (27.6%).

Wouldn't you hate to have been Valpo

playing SLU after Rick Majerus died? They are playing to honor the memory of the former coach, and you are either the sacrificial loser or the spoiler of an important emotional moment for the home team.

How tough is the Belt this year?

Well, however tough Middle Tennessee is. North Texas has faded before they got started (although they could recover before the second half). I do not know if anyone is good enough this year to get an NCAA at-large.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Mountain West is up to 5th in Sagarin

Shaking up the Big Six conferences?

Starting lineup

I do not know what all factors coaches use to decide who will be in the starting lineup, but I suspect one of them is chemistry. They want the team starting out to work closely and well together so they do not start out in a hole.

Interesting FAU stat

They shoot only marginally better overall (37.3%) than they do from the arc (36.5%).

Leroy Isler at the 2

In the historical Steve Shields scheme of things, Leroy Isler would have been a classic 3 - tough, good rebounder, outstanding defense. However, with James White and Taggart Lockhart both playing very well at that position, he has been at the 2 most of the time. And he has been shooting very well from the arc (although not overall). The only thing that keeps him from being a good shooting guard is that he does not handle or distribute the ball as well as you might like to see.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Even this year

this could be a pretty good team. Several things have to come together yet, and some of them have a way to go yet, but we are headed in the right direction, and faster than I thought we would be.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ben Dillard

Some have been ready to give up on Ben Dillard as a good prospect, but I have not. He is not the quickest player, and certainly not the flashiest, but he is just a good basketball player. He will help the team even when he is not scoring. And he can shoot.

The bottom line on realignment?

There are a lot of Athletic Directors who ought to be fired. Instead they probably will be commended.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Any more players from Brooklyn

who would like to play in Little Rock? If you game is like Leroy Isler's, come on down!


It seems to me that players whose strength lies in something other than scoring tend to have more consistency than those who are primarily scorers.

Our freshman point guards

seem to be doing OK, but their numbers are very unimpressive so far. Not what you want to see from a point.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Realignment - just mark it down

The conferences and schools who are moving because of some logical reason will prosper because of it - but there are not many of those. The ones who are moving purely because of money will live to regret the decision.


It is strange watching the recruiting wars going on and not having a part in them. Since we have no scholarship seniors this year, presumably we will not sign anyone. Eerie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

James White is a steal

James White was our steal of the year last year. By the time he leaves, his play should be way above our level.

If Northwestern ever becomes a real team

and learns to do something besides shoot 3's and make layups (like play defense and rebound), they might win a few games.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The conference merry-go-round

is really, really bad for college sports. Conference are going to have to put some real teeth into contracts with incoming schools, so that it hurts them so badly when they think about leaving that there will have to be a compelling reason for them to leave. The madness needs to stop.

I think this team is ahead of the curve

Not a huge amount, but enough to make me optimistic. And the upside is tremendous.

Keeping him on the court

Our offense needs Will Neighbour on the court. He does so many things well and it puts a crimp in our style if he is out.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sense of history?

I wonder how many of the Trojans who played against Jacksonville this year realized that that team once played in the NCAA Tournament finals against John Wooden's UCLA Bruins?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This good?

I doubt anyone thought this team would be this far along at this point this year. Really pretty amazing. Talent alone could not have done that.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


What does it take to constitute a rivalry? One of the two or three opponents that a team wants to beat each year? Probably. But one thing there has to be to make it a rivalry is a losses. Until the other team has beaten you a few times they don't really want to beat you.

Arkansas and Texas were a rivalry back in the old days, but it was somewhat one-sided. Arkansas wanted to beat Texas, but Texas wanted to beat Oklahoma. It wasn't an equal rivalry.

Cardiac kids?

Typically freshman will lift you up and also break your heart. I figure this group will be the Cardiac Kids. Who knows what will happen when they hit the floor.

Friday, November 23, 2012

This team has developed quickly

Notwithstanding the train wreck at Ole Miss (or perhaps because of it), the Trojans have raced forward in their development over the last week. It is hard not to be very optimistic at this point. However, we are going to have to accept the fact that there will be some "freshman" games, where everyone will play like freshmen at the same time and we end up looking silly. There just is not much way around it, and we cannot get discouraged by that. We found out earlier than I thought we would that we have some genuine talent on this team, and they may play beyond their years faster than is reasonable to expect - but they are still freshmen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I like it when the bigs get the boards

Our big men lately have been doing a good job of getting rebounds, and that is the way it ought to be. They are big for a reason, and one of the main reasons is to get boards. If they take care of business, it releases the perimeter players to handle their business. When the bigs don't get the boards, then the guards have to concentrate on "team rebounding," and when the "team" is rebounding, it isn't concentrating on all the other things it has to do.

I still remember Randy Rainwater's call

when we beat ASU in the game at Alltel with what I think was the biggest attendance at a Sun Belt game yet. He was genuinely excited, and it showed. Great call.

Fowler, Garcia-Mendoza, now Isler

Shields has a positive genius for find juco 3's, doesn't he? (Although Isler really may play at the 2 spot, he is the same size and filling the same role as the other two.)

The Big East is history

Victim of the greed of football TV revenue. How sad.

Speaking of farces - the 138 points

Why even count that? For one person to score 138 points, BOTH teams have to be playing ZERO defense, and one players has to be taking virtually all his team's shots. Totally contrived. Not even worth nothing.

The Heisman trophy is a farce

Are you telling me that the best offensive lineman in the history of the game was not good enough to win the Heisman? It is the annual award to the quarterback with the best publicity agent - with a new exceptions.

I really like this coaching staff

The Little Rock leader in career coaching wins. A former head coach. A former NBA player. A classy father-figure. The job they did turning around the psyche of the team between Ole Miss and Milwaukee is phenomenal.

Javes - maybe the light will come on some day

Michael Javes does not need to shoot the ball. He needs to DUNK the ball. Wilt Chamberlain made a good living doing it. Wilt couldn't shoot, either, but he knew that he should do what he could do, and he dominated the game. Michael, are you listening?

We have to have Isler on the court

He just does so many things so well, plus his defense is just outstanding.

The talent level on this team is WAY up

It is still raw, but even at this point you can lick your chops about how good this team might be in future years, of even later this year. Lots of freshman mistakes, but we have had two good recruiting classes, and it really shows.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

End of the Big Six

With the Big East's troubles, will this mean the end of the Big Six football-money conferences? Maybe the Big Five from this point on?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Battle of the Ats

It was two "At" schools last night, and we won. Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Arkansas at Little Rock. The difference is that they call themselves Milwaukee. There is no Wisconsin prominently displayed on the banner on their website. I wish we would do that.

The defensive swagger

You know the look of the great on-ball defensive player. Intense. Focused. "You know what you are going to do, and I don't, and I am still going to keep you from doing it." Isler may have it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

P. A. again

Tonight I began my third season as the PA announcer at Magazine senior basketball games. It is loads of fun.

Listen and learn

That is what this team needs to be doing right now. Believe your coaches. Soak up their instruction, then DO it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The sky is falling?

I am no different from anyone else, I suppose. You lose a few games and the sky is falling. But it never does. We will have a rough start this year, but we knew we would. Everyone expected that, so I do not know why any of us should be surprised.

It will get done

This is a good set of coaches, and the talent is there. Give them time. They will get it done, but it is going to be agonizing, and maybe agonizingly slow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It just ain't so

So many people assess players' value only in terms of offense, and it just ain't so.

This coaching staff has their work cut out for them

Just a huge amount of teaching and disciplining to do. (On-court discipline.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

I realize they are just kids

but Shields needs to right the ship. This has the feel of a meltdown.


Basketball overtimes are a lot more legitimate than football overtimes.

This team has a long way to go

but Shields and his staff are good teachers. They will get there.


What a shame for Gus Leeper, injuring himself again. Now he will have to start all over again when he heals, and who knows if he will be able to contribute this season.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I wonder how much of a factor Providence is on the sports landscape of the state of Rhode Island. They are the only member of a Big Six conference in the state, true. However, they do not have football, and football rules all these days. Further, things are so jammed together on the east coast that folks may not pay much attention to state boundaries, especially the boundaries of the smallest state.

It's the coach

There can be an amazing amount of talent on a playground, but the one who makes the total greater than the sum of the parts is the coach. And the coach who can do that is the coach who is just as much about the team - not about himself - as the players should be.

Taggart and Dillard

One nice thing about the early season has been the steady play of Taggart Lockhart and Ben Dillard. They are doing just what we needed them to do as returning players. Not spectacular, just steady and reliable.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This team will have lots of growing pains

They had better have, because they have lots of growing to do.

If I were a coach

I would put together game film of the players I had coached who were the very best at each part of the game doing what they did best. Maybe they do that. Show John Fowler playing defense. Show Rashad Jones-Jennings rebounding. And so on. Teach from the very best examples.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

John Fowler

To me he is Mr. Trojan on defense. Might be the best on-ball defender I personally have seen play.

Can you believe North Texas?!

Losing to Division II Alabama-Huntsville. How could that happen? They are supposed to have so much talent that they can just overwhelm everyone in the Belt, and here they lose badly to Creighton and then lose to Huntsville. They may have the ship righted by conference time, but so far they have been the biggest disappointment of the young season in the Belt. South Alabama with their win over a ranked team is probably the biggest surprise.

Monday, November 12, 2012

But that is about all it showed

The Martin game showed we have some legit freshman talent, but that is about all it showed. Cincinnati showed that. They completely shut down Martin's offense and had their way with their defense. In short, Martin just is not very good. We are better than they are, but beating them does not prove much.

Just one game

The Martin game at least gave a glimpse of our freshman talent. We were hoping that there might be a couple of jewels in the class (since it was so large), and it appears there may be. So who knows what we might accomplish this year. Don't go away!

Dominant team?

I don't think there is a completely dominant team on the landscape this year, unless it might be Indiana. And the Big 10 is so tough that I don't think even they can emerge unscathed. Kentucky will be good, and the SEC is not very strong, but I think they may go to the well too often with freshmen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hanging tough

One of the secrets for little guys upsetting the big boys is to hang tough. Stay close. Don't let the other team break open the game. Just keep coming back. Never give up. Sooner or later they just might lose their focus, and if it is late enough in the game, you might come away with a win. What you want to do is to put just a touch of doubt in their mind.

Biggest stat against Martin

Justifiably, everyone is gushing about the scoring turned in by our two freshmen in the Martin game. However, the single biggest stat to me was Will Neighbour's 13 rebounds. That is a part of Will's game that needed improvement last year, and if he could up his average two or three points, it would be a huge help this season.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Taggart and the 3 spot

Taggart Lockhart looks like another in a long line of tough 3's that Steve Shields like so well. In many other coaches' schemes, the small forward is primarily an offensive weapon. With Shields, he is expected to play tough defense, provide some rebounding, and do all the little, unnoticed things that make basketball teams win. In other words, more than any other position, the 3 has been with Shields the one that defines his blue-collar, hard-nosed teams.

Javes blocks

Michael Javes had two blocks last night against a smaller Martin team. That is one of the main things we need him to do this year. We have depth in the post, so he can afford to be aggressive. We have offensive threats, so there is not a huge pressure for him to score. What we do need is an eraser in the low block who will allow our perimeter players to be more aggressive.

First win with a bunch of freshmen

Not a hugely impressive win, because we probably should have won by more, but we came back from a slow start and took control of the game. Several things impressed me. Two freshman (Gillon and White) had big scoring nights, which shows they may have the sort of talent we had hoped. Second, Will Neighbour came off a concussion to have a double-double with 13 rebounds. We need a man to clean the boards, and I really do not think it will be Will in the long term, but it is good to see he can get it done.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Do reckon that a true freshman point guard who knows that he is about to start his first college game might have a little trouble concentrating in class today?

Tonight we get a little answer

to the first and biggest question of the year: "How good are our freshman point guards?" If the answer is at least "adequate," this could be a fairly good year.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ahead of the game

In today's college basketball, which is so completely guard-dominated, if you can consistently break the press and defend the three-point shot. you are WAY ahead of the game.

Go Bulls!

CBS has Stan Heath's South Florida Bulls picked 6th in the Big East this year, which is saying something. Evidently they made some believers last season. They play brutal defense. I love it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Speaking of notable players I have known

E. C. O'Neal was the basketball coach at Booneville in my elementary and junior high years. I did not realize it at the time, but he was one of the greatest basketball players to have come out of Arkansas. During his four years at Arkansas Tech, the Wonder Boys had a record of 106-14, and twice went to the NAIA Final Four. As a sophomore he averaged 27.6 points/game. In high school at Branch and County Line (after consolidation), his teams had a record of 95-9.

Coach O'Neal later got his doctorate in education and taught at Mississippi State.

Seeing Pete

A good friend of mine who grew up in Louisiana mentioned last night that he once go to see Pete Maravich play a game at LSU. That must have been a real treat. He was one of the great ball-handlers and passers in the history of the game. Of course, he was the most prolific scorer in history of the college game, but I think that was the less amazing part of his game compared to the other.


Seems like there are an awful lot of injuries in college basketball this year. Just my impression, but it seems like more than usual.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go To guy

Every team has to have one or two guys who can score in the clutch - "go to" guys. Presumably Will Neighbour will be one of those for us. We need at least one more. Who will it be?

Speaking of Leeper

We really need him on the court, if for no other reason, because we have so few players with D1 experience.


Reports are that Gus Leeper will be playing this year, which is a HUGE plus for the Trojans. He is a versatile and smart post man. Very valuable guy.

First game

Basketball has begun. I am attending my first game of the year tonight to see Miss Celia Heffington play for Ozark against Lavaca.

Mutually exclusive?

Why is it that precision offense and hard-nosed, blue collar defense seem to be impossible from the same team?

Redshirt - IF

IF the players stick around for the full five years, every year of redshirting you can get on your roster only makes your team stronger. You are swapping a true freshman for a fifth-year senior - a  good trade in any book. This is one way lower-level teams could (if they would) offset the talent advantages of the money programs.

Imagine the trouble Sleezipari would have

if one year, for whatever reason, all his buy-a-title recruits decided not to turn pro. Then all those one-and-done sorts he had been promising an NBA-prep stage wouldn't have one. He would have a great team, but all of sudden his promises to the recruits wouldn't look so good. Those types are not disposed to wait.


Looking at photos from the 1960's and 70's, you can see that weight training was not an emphasis. The players were slender back then, not muscled up like they are today. I wonder if the muscles help them play any better?

Monday, November 5, 2012


Sagarin ratings for basketball are out today, and they have the Belt ranked 20th among the conference, and Little Rock 214th among the teams. I think both will finish higher than that.

Public speaking

Pity these poor freshman athletes. They are not necessarily trained in public speaking, and yet here they are, thrust into the limelight with all sorts of microphones thrust into their faces, all manner of inane and self-evident questions hurled at them - and we expect them to sound like orators. A few perhaps, but not very many will pass that test. They did not get their scholarships because of their oratorical skills.

This year starts with a bang

Usually there are some tournaments that have a dribble of games to start the season. But this year there is a full slate on the first night.

If I am a basketball coach

then I pick at least the music when they enter the court. It will be the theme from Rocky - every time.

How much returned?

We lost D'Andre from last year, but how much of the leadership and character of this team returned in the five players with any experience? Can they impress that on the newcomers, and mold the character of the team, or are we starting all over completely in that regard?


I got spoiled by looking at Rashad Jones-Jennings rebound statistics. Someone averages 7 rpg a game now, and it looks awfully small.

Once again, the winner is . . . .

In the "best name" contest in college basketball, the winner is California's forward Bak Bak. I mean, there could not even be a close second place, could there?

Danger of youth

One of the dangers of having a team with this much youth is that because there are so few veterans, the freshmen may come in expecting to play right away - even more so than usual - and there are only so many slots. So, those freshmen who do not play may become discouraged and look elsewhere, even though they may be legit D1 talent and in time would play here.


Most Valuable Big Man. That could be  Gus Leeper because he will be our most versatile big man. He is strong enough to bang inside, and smart enough to learn the game, and can shoot the 3 when needed. Javes is strictly an inside man. Will is  basically a slow guard who is tall enough to make up for his slowness; in other words, he is not really a post player. Remains to be seen where James White can help.


Taggart Lockhart at 220 is a pretty impressive physical specimen. If his health is 100% this year, he should be the kind of physical small forward that Shields likes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


We have no scholarships available  for next year, so presumably that will take a lot of pressure off our coaches on the recruiting trail. However, hopefully they are identifying young talent that they can bring in the year after, plus you never know if a player will leave for some reason or other. I guess it is a job that never ceases for college coaches.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Six short days to go

Time to get excited!

Improvement this year

I know we will be young and inexperienced (and probably not very good) at the start of this year. And I expect us to be much better next year. But what I am looking for is huge improvement within this first year. Can we get that?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lick your chops

Logically we should be middle-of-the-pack in the Belt this year, but watch out for next year. We should return every scholarship player, while Middle Tenn loses Knight, Sulton, Cintron and Massey, and North Texas loses Walton, Franklin, Holmen, and very likely Mitchell.

We'll see how good Belt coaches are

Can they design a defense that can handle Tony Mitchell of North Texas? I doubt it.

A little caveat

Most years I get to see the Trojans play two or three times, which really is not enough to be a real expert on the team. Plus, I listen to several games as I can. However, I do study their stats closely, and over time I have learned to read a team fairly well through the stat sheet. I use what I know, what I hear, and the numbers, and come up with what I hope are logical conclusions - along with all my inane speculations.

Maybe our hopes are not too far-fetched

In CBS' prediction of the Sun Belt, they mentioned us in the "might also contend" category upon the basis of young incoming talent. If they felt like our talent was good, maybe there is something to it after all.

Here's a rebounder for you

Colorado State's Pierce Hornung is only 6-5, but he averaged 8.7 rebounds/game last year, including 17 in their NCAA game.

White's skill

James White appears to have all the physical skills (sometimes termed "athleticism") that he was advertized to have. He won the dunk contest at the Meet the Trojans event, and one of the freshman guards said before it began that the contest was for second place as long as White was in it. Could be something special, maybe even sooner rather than later.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eastern leagues

The Big East, Atlantic 10 and Missouri Valley have been some of my favorite conferences because they are true basketball conferences. Not true of the ACC, which is also a true BB conference, but which is not one of my favorites.

Pity the poor PA announcers

Boise State's Igor Hadziomerovic. By the time the time they get his name said, three more buckets have been scored.

Northwestern - again?

The prognosticators are saying that once again Northwestern has an (outside?) shot at making the NCAA tournament for the first time. Those of us who have followed the program are so tired of "close but no cigar" that we will believe it when we see it. Until Carmody starts making the team get their hands dirty instead of playing white collar basketball, I don't expect to see any difference.

Gus or Javes?

It is not at all clear to those of us who have not seen practices who has the inside track on the starting center job. For the time being, I assume it is Michael Javes, if for no other reason than Gus Leeper's health problems at the start of the season give him a head start. However, Gus' game is probably more versatile than Michael's (he has an outside shot). So in the long term, who knows?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For a change

The strength of this team has to be its post players - the first time in recent memory that that can be said.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Easier said than done, BUT

Among the things basketball players ought to be able to do are:
1. Break the press
2. Make free throws
3. Box out for rebounds
(just to name a few)

It is distressing to see how many of the fundamentals are absent in college basketball today.


IF we stay healthy, we should be fair. IF our point guards are reliable, we should be pretty good. IF a couple of our post guys take a giant step forward, we might be quite good.

Given Shields emphasis on defense

I will be very surprised if four of the starters in the first game are not returning players. It takes a little while to learn the system, and Steve places a premium on defense. If you don't play D, you don't play.


UTM is a good pick for our first game. We ought to be able to beat them, and maybe our point guard situation can get sorted out a little in that game before we move on to more potent rivals.

Bold statement

I do not really expect all of this to happen, but IF one of our point guards is the real deal, and IF Will Neighbour and Gus Leeper get and stay healthy, and IF Michael Javes' game takes the step forward it should - we could challenge North Texas for the division title. Now, getting all that done is a large bite to chew.

Another good year for the little guys?

One thing that makes college basketball such fun is the possibility of big upsets. Much more so than football, because there are so many less players involved. The last few years lower-level teams have made some noise at a high level. Can they do it again this year? The A-10 looks poised. Who else?

Freshman points

The success of this team probably will come down to two factors. First, will they stay healthy? Second, will one of the true freshman point guards get the job done? That question cannot get answered too soon.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Programs I love to see lose

Kentucky (anyone who would even let Calipari on campus)
Memphis (see above)
We will add to the list later.

Wisconsin took a hit

Starting point guard out for the year.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I swear that Cody Zeller of Indiana looks like he is about 14 years old! experts tab Indiana's Cody Zeller as the best big man in the country. (US Presswire)

The face of the Trojans

For most of the long time fans, Fish is the "face" of the Trojans, and with good reason. But since I was not following them back then, that "face" for me is Rashad Jones-Jennings or John Fowler.

I know we are young

But if Kentucky's freshmen can put it together well enough to win a national championship, our freshmen ought to be able to do it at the Sun Belt level. Or at least be competitive.

No credit

The players who won't get the credit are the "junk" players - who dive for loose balls, take charges, block out, keep their man from getting off his shot by fierce defense. They win championships, but it will be the dunkers and the three-point shooters (the "white collar" players) who will make the highlights.

How well can they teach?

With the pressure to win, modern day coaches are generally not valued for how well they can teach the game. (Recruiting is much more important.) But that will be exactly what our coaches are going to have to do this year - in a big hurry.

Whatever we do

Please do not play the kids until they are completely healthy. Better to have them late than re-injured and never.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Assuming everyone stays healthy, this team definitely will have more talent and depth at post than any Trojan team since I have followed them.

Great program to root for

Clean program. Some degree of success. Great fun, and great program to follow. Go Trojans.


Get healed up! That is going to be critical to this season.

Not just the players

Burn the Horse called practice a "baptism under fire" for the players, which is very true. But the same is true for the coaches. They have a lot to teach - in a hurry. Pulling the conference season this far forward really is tough on the younger teams. Not sure if I like that.

Hats off to Burn the Horse

This is our main source of reliable information about the program. I don't know what we would do without him. Great resource.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I am expecting Michael Javes to make a big leap forward in performance. He is in his second year of D1, typically the year of the most improvement. Plus he was raw to start with, and he will have had a year with Big Joe to help him.

Ignorance is bliss

It is wonderful to have lots of opinions on basketball, but no one to hold you accountable, since you do not know anything to start with.

Little credit?

Burn the Horse points out that in the last few years we have had only two players on the Pre-season First Team, but have had four on the post-season list. I guess our guys just get underrated. It figures with Shields' approach, and what he gets out of his players.

One thing I do not understand


If you can jump this high, why do you try to get fancy, and let the big guy block it? Go up with both hands and slam it home!

Drop step and dunk! Drop step and dunk! Wilt and Bill R. made a good living at it.


In Leroy Isler the Trojans have one of those storied NYC players who are supposed to have a playground toughness about them, a real edge to their game, a no-fear swagger. If he fits the mold, he ought to fit right into Shields' blue-collar philosophy.

Injuries and walk-ons

I hope it doesn't come to that, but with all the injuries we have been having, this may be a good year to have four walk-ons on the roster.

Odd as it sounds

All of a sudden I am not in a hurry for the season to start, because we need all the time we can get in order to get everyone healthy and so that all our freshmen can learn all they can before game time.


The number of injuries this team is having this year is starting to worry me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pitt - is it back

Watch closely this year to see if the the toughness returns to the Pitt basketball team. They have been known for hard-nosed defensive basketball. The lane was a war zone. Will they get the swagger back?

The Achilles heel of the 3

Tulsa's Scottie Haralson shot 40.7% from the arc last year (good in anybody's book), but shot only 26 free throws. That is the weak shot of teams that live by the 3: they generally don't put the opponents in any foul trouble.

Where Joe will matter most

Joe Kleine's real value  to this team this year will be with Javes, Leeper and Poulter. Those are the back-to-the-basket types. If he can help them develop a legit post game, that will be a huge plus for the team.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Neighbour - get healthy!

Will Neighbour's history in his relationship with Little Rock has been one of injuries. Now they tell us he has an ankle sprain. Hurry up and get well, Will. With all the young kids, we need you full speed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Somewhere in Little Rock a team is developing into a force. Wish I knew what was going on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Recruiting and drafting

Recruiting and drafting are the lifeblood of sports. In baseball, get pitchers, catchers and shortstops. Nothing else matters. If you have quality there, you can make the rest of it work. In basketball, recruit centers and point guards. The rest of them you can find anywhere.


In many spheres of life, speculation is a dangerous thing, because we need to deal in truth - in hard facts. But in sports, speculation costs nothing. "What will happen? Who was best?" Endless questions that flesh out the game.

Martin starting lineup

Just mark it down. Listen for the Little Rock starting lineup in the Martin game, and if a freshman starts at any position other than point guard, the talent level of this team is what we had hoped it might be.

All coming together?

A while back Steve Shields hired Joe Kleine as an assistant coach. But Joe has had little talent to work with, especially true big-man talent. Maybe, just maybe, this year we finally have the talent. Teams at our level have to get talent that is undeveloped most of the time, but that does not mean the natural instincts are not there. We have already seen what Will Neighbour can do. Michael Javes could turn out to be a dominant big man - he seems to have those sort of natural skills. Andrew Poulter has a nice touch and true center size. Gus Leeper has the size and has already shown a few indications of what he might be capable of doing. James White is said to have unusual athleticism. The raw material seems to be there now. All right, Joe, let's let it done!


I have the feeling that the Belt will hold its own among the conferences, but I do not have any idea that it will make a big upward move.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Speaking of defense

Speaking of defense, if college basketball teams care as little about it as college football teams seem to this year, we may be seeing games of 130-120 on a regular basis.


I don't follow college football much at all, and I don't like Alabama, but I hope they win it all because they are one of the few teams around that really care about playing defense.

Best newcomer?

Who will be the best of the newcomers? My best uninformed guess would be James White or one of the point guards.


Shields teams generally have emphasized good fundamentals, although he has not always been able to get the great athleticism. Hopefully one of the reasons the staff seems to be so high on this unheralded class is that they were taught good fundamentals in high school. Throw in a couple of players who seem have have above-average athleticism, and the class could be ahead of the curve. We certainly need for them to be.


Watch Pitt come roaring back this year. Last year was an aberration. Count on it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


The arrival of a new baby is of vastly greater importance than the arrival of a new basketball season, but the feelings of anticipation do have some degree of similarity.

For fun

I follow college basketball (especially Little Rock) for fun. It is recreation for me. I am an avid fan, but my happiness does not depend upon their winning games. Win or lose, I root for them, and enjoy the games, and help satisfy my penchant for orderliness by keeping up with the stats. When sports becomes more than just fun, then it ceases to be fun, and has moved out of its sphere of usefulness (if it has any).

Friday, October 19, 2012

The shame

There is no shame in getting beat; sometimes you play teams that are better than you are. No need to hang your heads for losing. You should be ashamed, however, if you beat yourselves. If you play less than you are capable of playing, then you beat yourselves, and that is a shame.

Butler better

Rivals picked Butler to finish 5th in its first year in the A-10, but I think it will beat that. I think they underestimate the impact of Rotnei Clarke's arrival (whom they don't even pick on the all-conference first team).

ACC winner

Rivals declares the ACC the biggest winner in the realignment battles because of thea ddition of Syracues, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame (in all but football), and that is hard to argue with. And it is good to see a league in which basketball really matters be the winner in a battle caused solely by football.

What's in a name?

Due to the realignment nonsense, the Atlantic 10 now has 16 teams, but then, what's in a name, anyway?

Speaking of the A-10, it is one of my favorite leagues, because it is a baskeball conference, and one that is rapidly threatening to move into the territory of the Big Six conferences, which it probably would do if the bottom of the league were better.

Tough times for the academies

The last season in which Army had a winning record was 1984-85. Navy's current losing streak stands at 22.

Final Four

I guess I had better go out on the line and pick my Final Four before the season begins. I'll go with Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky and Baylor. Baylor would be my dark horse pick; the other three would be popular choices. (I don't like any of them, but there you are.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Surprise team

I think it is logical to assume that we stand a pretty good chance of being the surprise team in the Belt this year, if for no other reason than the large number of new players we have. Without a big-name recruiting class, no one would have any idea how good we might be.

Think about it

You reward a player for taking a low-percentage shot by protecting him with a 3-shot foul. It makes no sense at all.

Back to 3-point defense

Once again. There is just no getting around it. The biggest feature in modern basketball is the fact that the 3-point shot is valued far too highly. Given the fact that good shooters are a dime a dozen, and that a low-percentage shot is being rewarded with a 50% premium, and that the shooters are protected from being challenged by the completely unjustifiable 3-shot free throw - by far the biggest challenge facing coaches must be perimeter defense. The rules committee has got the game skewed all out of proportion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Free Throws?

We have had players who could get to the line, and some of them could make FTs when they got there (Courtney a notable exception). Last year it was D'Andre. Who will it be this year? Probably not Will; his style does not lend itself to that. Probably not Dillard, because he also is more of a perimeter shooter. Maybe one of the freshmen point guards, both of whom are reputed to be good at the line, or maybe Gus underneath.


I am especially eager to find out how much better a healthy Will Neighbour is than an injured one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Small and big?

Michigan coach Beilein: "I don't like preparing for teams that can go small or big quickly, and do them both effectively."

This might be the first year since I have followed the team that we will be able to do that - and it would be a huge plus. Javes, Gus, Will - and switch quickly over to Will, White, Taggart.


The 3-point shot is where the wide-open passing offense is in terms of defenses being able to handle it. Some day some basketball defensive genius will come up with the answer to the 3-point shot, and it will immediately become much less of a factor - but we haven't got there yet.

I still say that as long as basketball rewards the taking of bad shots (which the 3-point shot does), basketball will focus on that and not on the full range of basketball skills. It is bad for basketball.

Another great name

Illinois center Nnanna Egwu

If healthy

If this team stays healthy, we will surprise some folks this year. Mark it down.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Next year

I am eager to see how this team comes together, but in all reality, next year is probably the year when we should be really good - if the new guys are the real deal. Will will  be a senior, and the team will have at least a little experience on board by then. IF we can stay healthy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Notre Dame - again

It must be in the charter of Notre Dame that they are required to have a big, broad-shouldered, red-headed post player on their basketball team. Again this year. Jack Cooley.

Jack Cooley

Practice starts in two days!


Lowest Sagarin

I always kind of enjoy watching to see how the team does that had the worst Sagarin ranking the previous season. So . . . keep an eye on Grambling, who was #345 in 2012-13.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

WAC/Great West

Rumors of the possibility of the WAC combining with the Great West conference. Sort of makes sense. The WAC is just trying to survive at this point.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Basketball (and all the other sports) have really gotten a raw deal from all the greed brought on by swarming for football TV dollars. I hope every school that prostituted itself in this process loses its shirt because of it.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I am not a huge football fan and do not follow it closely at all - except for Lamar and Magazine high schools. Go Warriors! Go Rattlers!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Who Is the Best? interesting question

Burn The Horse has a "Who was the best" group of polls going right now. Interesting how different people view that poll. Is it asking who had the greatest career, or who was the best player at the peak of his career?


I am glad there are coaches out there who insist that players play defense, if they expect to play.

Better this year?

Last year we were 3-10 before conference play started. It was a decent, but not an overwhelming schedule. Only one "non-winnable" game in that stretch (Michigan State). I hope we can do better this year, but with the injuries and the inexperience, it will be tough

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

St. John's names

St. John's wins the prize this season for interesting given names:
God'sgift Achiusa
Sir'Dominic Pointer.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

One of the few football pleasures

Aside from Lamar and Magazine high schools, I am not a big football fan. However, one of the things that does give me pleasure is to see one of those pretty-boy, clean-uniform quarterbacks (spread offense) get hammered by a linebacker coming in from the blind side. Pow! (I might hasten to add that my son-in-law was a quarterback, but not of the clean uniform type: he was willing take a hit and give it, and played linebacker on defense.)

Football - briefly

I see where the  top-ranked Sun Belt team is higher ranked in Sagarin than Fayetteville and Kentucky. And that was before this week's pounding at the hands of A&M. Horrors! Isn't the Sun Belt that conference that ASU is from (and Little Rock in basketball)?

I still say

that if our front line is healthy come SBC season, we will make some noise.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Withdrawal is setting in

I am ready for the seaoson to begin. Or at least some substantive reports from practice. Something! Anything!

The coach's two faces

It is hard to know the real personality of a coach unless you know him personally. Many who are all smiles and smoothness in front of the public can be real jerks to their players. Others who are somewhat brusque and cool toward fans/press are real players' coaches who will go to bat for the team.


One of the most interesting names (and one of the better players) in the Southland Conference is Southeastern Louisiana's Daron Populist. Makes you wonder if someone in his family was a politician back down the line.

One criticism

I like Steve Shields as a coach. A lot. However, one criticism that I do have of him is that the turnover among players in his program has been far too high. Not sure why.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


The 3-point shot is a blot on the college basketball landscape. It rewards the taking of bad shots (especially with the 3-shot foul), and causes teams and players grossly to neglect other parts of the game. However, it is not likely to go away. That being the case, it behoves teams to master perimeter defense. When a team can get opponents to shoot less than 33% from the arc, they vastly improve their chances of winning, because most teams these days do not have a Plan B.


Keeping players healthy is the one thing that coaches largely cannot control - and which can shoot a season in the head even before it gets started.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dick Powell

The well-known actor Dick Powell was born in Arkansas and attended Little Rock University (now UALR). I wonder if he ever attended a Trojan basketball game.

Half full

We hear rumors of several injuries to key players. (We do not know any facts yet.) If this is true, we will have to take a "cup half full" attitude. It will let the younger players play earlier. We hope they are good; we think they are good. It looks like we will find out earlier rather than later if they are good.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Regardless of how the early season goes

It will be fun to see how the new kids develop.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Silence, as usual

As usual, the only thing we learn about this program is from Burn The Horse. The program asks for our support, then keeps us TOTALLY in the dark. This is a very difficult program to root for from that standpoint.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Changing conferences

Conferences charging large penalties to schools that leave, especially without due notice, sometimes seem to be cheap shots. However, there is a reason for it. Large amounts of money are involved in these enterprises. All of college athletics has a vested interest in stability in the respective sports (although none of them seem to recognize that fact at the moment). Furthermore, the conferences have a lot of time and money tied up in administrative costs and PR (building the brand). When teams bolt the conferences, it causes a lot of headaches, which translates into lots of costs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Recruiting zone

Our main recruiting area seems to be Texas, which leaves out a lot of good prospects - but that is OK. There is far more than enough talent in that state to furnish us with upgrades for a long time.


Once again, we are going to have to be patient with this group during the non-conference season. It appears that it will take a while to get everyone healthy, plus they are just so young. But I think the talent is there. Stay tuned, because I think we will finish strong again this year.

Coming on late

We will have eight first-year players on the roster this year. But we may forget that we had six last year (Dillard, Fondren, Javes, Lawton, Lockhart, Neighbour). We started very slowly, but came on strong to win the division. Presumably the talent this year is better than last year. We may start slowly again, but might come on even stronger down the stretch. Here's hoping.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Coaching and recruiting

Recruiting is NOT coaching. Coaching is taking the talent you have and making it the best it can be. However, part of a head coach's job is recruiting - the way things go today it is probably the biggest part of it.

Coach K

He has had 55 McDona'd's All-Americans. Who couldn't win with that kind of talent?!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Dillard did right

Ben Dillard was only a true freshman last year, but he did a lot of things right. First, he logged 447 minutes with more experienced players returning at the two guard positions. Second, he showed right off the bat that he can shoot the ball - 42.9% from the arc and 85% from the line. Very good numbers for anyone, especially a true freshman. Third, he had a 1.41 Assist/Turnover ratio, which is not bad for any guard, but is very good for a true freshman shooting guard.

Who gets beat out?

One of the measuring sticks of a team is how many presumed starters get beaten out by newcomers. If they returners are terrible, it means little. If they are at least solid, it might mean a lot. Look at the 2012-13 Trojans:

If Andrew Poulter should beat out Gus or Javes, that would be HUGE. Not likely, but if it did happen - look out!

If anyone should beat out Will Neighbour, then we should be the best team in the SBC.

The chances of someone beating out Taggart or Ben at the 3 and the 2 is more likely. We have some talented kids coming in, and those two only have one year each of experience.

Neighbour forever

Does it seem to you that Will Neighbour has been here forever? And yet he is only approaching his junior year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Speaking of defense

Focus and intensity play key roles in defense. It is amazing how often defensive breakdowns occur  because players tend to "relax" after their offensive possession.


To me, John Fowler still remains the standard of defensive excellence at Little Rock.

BTH count down

Burn The Horse is counting down the days until the season begins. Cannot get here too soon for me. Ought to be a lot of fun this season, with so many new faces.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Front line

We have a good number of question marks on the perimeter, but the prospect of seeing our front line this year has me licking my chops. Get ready, SBC!

The 3

For whatever reason, the small forward position on Steve Shields' teams has been heavily involved in defense and rebounding, as opposed to most teams, where it is more an offensive position. Taggart Lockhart is supposed to be healthy this year, and is pretty bulky for a 3, so here's hoping he is able to help with the rebounding.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


We are one reliable freshman point guard away from having a hope of being in the top tier of the SBC.

Who is the jump up?

It is a common saying that the biggest improvement players make is from their first to their second years in D1. We have five such players - Neighbour, Leeper, Javes, Lockhart and Dillard. Which one will be the one to make the big jump in performance? Maybe more than one? What about all four? Actually, that wouldn't surprise me. If that happens, watch out.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Always keep in mind

that Fayetteville did NOT recruit Derek Fisher.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Competition in practice

Imagine Trojan practices this year. Gus and Javes, both bulked up considerably, going head to head. Likewise with Will and James White. Will has the shooting and ball-handling skills, but James evidently has much greater athleticism. And the two freshmen point guards going at it. And those are just a few of the interesting possibilities.


For me, the basketball season begins when the preseason magazines come out. Any day now!

Monday, September 3, 2012

I wish the season would get here!

So many new players, and we know so little about them. Can they play? Are we going to be so young that we are completely hopeless this year? Has our talent improved even if it is young? All we get out of Little Rock is silence - except for Burn The Horse blog.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Get ready for Drexel!

Four starters returning from a 29-win team. They play smothering defense, hit the boards hard, and take good care of the ball. Bruiser Flint has it going at Drexel.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just a little bit of blue?

Northwestern's futile attempt to finally make the NCAA tournament has been hindered largely by their lack of ability to rebound and play defense. Their offense is good, if somewhat one-dimensional. Their main problem is that they (maybe meaning Coach Carmody) just refuse to play blue-collar basketball. Their style of basketball absolutely matches their academic standard. However, they have several transfers coming in who may bring some grit with them. Plus, some of their recruits are reputed to be hard-nosed players. We'll see. Can this team bear to get their hands dirty?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

OK Coach, you think you have problems!

Vanderbilt's leading returning scorer averaged 3.1 points/game last year.

Upgrading talent

Upgrading a team's talent is a painful cycle. You would like to treat well the kids that you recruit, but every year you hope you are recruiting players better than they are. So, the kids that have been there suddenly would find themselves with less playing time, and they aren't happy. The price of progress, I guess.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fish back to Little Rock?

I wonder if Derrick Fisher will attend UALR games after he retires from the NBA.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Entertainment + education = corruption

The fallacy of big money college sports is the attachment of entertainment to education. That inevitably will lead to corruption of the process.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Front line

Will we have the best front line in the Sun Belt. Who knows. But I can tell you that if we are not in the very top tier, I will be considerably disappointed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Time for excitement

A couple of weeks until the preseason magazines come out. It is time to get revved up about college basketball. Ought to be a very interesting season in Little Rock.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Young, but

If this group of young men show a good attitude, listen to their coaches, and work hard, there is no reason they can't be one of the best teams we have had, especially since most of the team will play together for four years.

NCAA moves

Anything the NCAA does to allow schools to pay more to athletes just makes that much more of a gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Taggart Lockhart at a healthy 220 pounds, as hard as he plays, is going to be a handful in the SBC.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Down the stretch

We are within a month of the time when the preseason magazines come out, and that is about the time I start getting really fired up. Go Trojans!

Post man coaches

We need more college coaches who were post men, to help counter the tendency that is making the game overwhelmingly guard-oriented.

Monday, August 13, 2012


If you want a great coaching story, read up on Horace Broadnax at Savannah State. He took over in 2005 the year after they went 0-28. They won two games his first season. This past year they were 21-12 and went to the NIT as regular season champs of the MEAC. His budget is 1/26th of Duke's. They play tough half-court defense. He recruits the kids that are willing to work hard, even if they don't have the greatest talent. Just a great story.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Great to be a Trojan fan!

I have had a tremendous amount of enjoyment over the years following the Little Rock Trojans. We won't get the press that that other school gets, but our fans are loyal. Go Trojans!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I really like the slate of assistant coaches we have now. Probably the best in my tenure as a fan. They seem to have all the bases covered in terms of what assistants ought to bring to the table for the team.

Monday, August 6, 2012


This really is going to be a young team. No scholarship seniors, and only one junior. Twelve underclassmen.


How often do you see a 2-point shot on ESPN highlights that is not a dunk or a spectacular fast-break finish? Not very often. Just another reason for me not to like ESPN.

Can't subtract

Most basketball fans cannot subtract. They can add (see offense), but they don't even bother to subtract (notice defense).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SWAC problems

You can look at SWAC basketball and wonder what the problem is. Why are they so bad? You have to assume it is not overall athletic ability, because they probably get their share of those. However, if you look at the stats, it is clear. They do not have shooters, and they do not take care of the ball. Poor shooting percentages and lots of turnovers. The shooting might take work, but the turnovers is a fixable problem; the coaches just have to coach.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just a modest goal

We will never draw large crowds as a second-tier school in a state that does not care about basketball. It just is not going to happen. That does not bother me. I do not expect it nor demand it.

However, I really do wish that we drew the lion’s share of basketball fans in central Arkansas – and we do not even do that.  We ought to be able to pull in true UALR fans plus those people in the most populous region of the state who love basketball but who cannot regularly travel to Fayetteville. That is an attainable goal. I wish someone at UALR would step up and make it happen.

Partisan booster

What we need at Little Rock is a big, highly-partisan booster with lots of money who is a Little Rock fan and ONLY a Little Rock fan.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stetson rebounding

Last year the Stetson Hatters had six players with at least 4.1 and no more than 5.5 rebounds per game. Pretty good team rebounding.

Robert Morris

Keep an eye on Robert Morris to make some noise in post season this year. They return all five starters from a 26-win team last year.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Play-in games

It does not matter what they do: they will never make the  NCAA play-in games feel like real games. And that is a shame for the teams participating in them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

USA sleeper

South Alabama could be the sleeper in the SBC this year. They are undersized in the post, but routinely out-rebound their opponents. And they return all five starters.

Pitt in the ACC

The ACC had better get ready for when Pitt hits the door in that conference, because when they play as they like to play, Pitt plays blue collar basketball with a capital B.

May be faulty logic, but . . .

We have coming in the #76, 114, 140, and 195 ranked players at their positions. We were the #189 ranked team according to Sagarin. With four players who ranked higher than our team, one would think we have improved our talent pool.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


At our level, recruits are always investments. They do not have the talent of Big Six recruits so they are one-and-done types, but they might develop into good players in time. They should be counted on for future returns. Our problem is that under Shields turnover in the roster has been so high that we never have been able to hold them for future returns, but have to spend them currently. We are always having to throw freshmen into the fray from the get-go because we can't keep players long enough to get the return on investment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One-and-done curiosity

There has been a steady stream of one-and-done players into the NBA for several years now. Something puzzles me about that. At some point, don't the one-and-done players who are now have several years of NBA experience and the non-one-and-done players who showed they were really good begin to choke out the room for raw freshmen coming in? Are we to assume that each freshman class is better than the one the year before?

Friday, July 6, 2012

How good Will?

One of the most intriguing speculations about this roster is just how good Will Neighbour might get to be. He will be on campus this summer, and he was not last year, but will be recovering from surgery. We may have to wait until his senior year to see just how could he can be. Nice to think about. I would imagine opposing coaches are thinking about it.


Fayetteville fans just think it is their birthright that everyone in the state is naturally obligated to root for their team. I guess that is one of the most irritating things about that program.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Not boring

If you look at the list of scores on our schedule last year, you would see that we beat FAU 40-38. “How boring!” you might be tempted to respond. Appearances are often deceiving, however. I saw that game, and I can assure it was far from boring. The score was low, but it was not because of boring play. The intensity of the half-court defense on both ends of the court was the best I have ever seen. Both teams absolutely got after the other. It was physical, bruising defense, with non-stop effort. If the only thing that interests you is offense, then obviously you would not have enjoyed it, but I can assure you it was a great basketball game.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Best college team

The best college team of all time has to be among this group:
1. One of the Bill Russell teams at San Fransisco in the 1950's.
2. One of the Alcindor teams at UCLA.
3. The 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

I would not argue among these, but I am sure it is from that list.

The ones I do not like

The basketball programs that I intensely dislike are not from the SBC, not even ASU, our arch-rival. They are certain of the big-money schools that clothe themselves in arrogance and sleeze.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bulking up

Our two low post men, Javes and Leeper, reportedly have added 65 pounds between them from where they reported last year. That has to help.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

British Open

Look at the history of the various venues where the British Open is played, and you will understand why it is my favorite golf tournament. It just oozes history.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Under the radar

The pundits this year will grossly underestimate the importance of Gus Leeper returning healthy.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I hope you will not get tired of my repeating this, but I look at that roster and see FOUR players at 6-10. How nice that looks after years of playing with undersized squads!

Friday, June 22, 2012


We will be very short on experience as a team, admittedly. But our starting line-up might not be short on maturity, at least. Michael Javes is 22 years old, despite being only a sophomore. Gus, Will and James White all had redshirt years, so they are year older than their academic classes. Ben Dillard appears to be mature beyond his years, at least from a distance.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How fast

I have no idea how hard the old timers really threw the baseball, but remember that however fast it was, the batters were standing up there with NO HELMETS.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Total dominance

We forget sometimes just how dominant UCLA was in the Wooden area. Seven national championships in a row. Imagine! Get two in a row these days and the coach is hailed as the greatest of all time.

Not coincidence

One of the most amazing things about UCLA's run of seven consecutive national titles was the fact that in that period they did not have any bad apples that spoiled the system. Today, when you are recruiting kids of that degree of talent (and ego), there will be some who just will not do right, and it kills the team. How Wooden avoided that is remarkable.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bandwagon jumpers

I just have no desire to be one of these sports fans who find which team is in first place and jump on the bandwagon, so they can be a "winner." It never has been any fun to me. Pick out a team and stick with them, through thick and thin, even if they a bottom-feeder.

Good coaches

Good coaches keep their teams in the thick of things year in and year out. But they have to wait for that exceptional talent, or exceptional chemistry, to win a championship.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Coaches' motivation

I do not know what motivates each individual coach. Probably like most people, it is a variety of things. For some it is money and prestige. Some want to accomplish at the highest level they can in their profession. Perhaps a few honorable men among them are mainly concerned with making a living for their families. Some just love teaching the game of basketball.

It is a shame, however, that in college basketball the success of a coaches' career is determined by a very few games played in the NCAA tournament. That is a broken measuring stick.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Andrew Poulter is EXACTLY the kind of recruit we need to be signing on a regular basis to be developed by Joe Kleine - and redshirted if at all possible.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tougher job

Recruiting to lower-level schools has to be a much tougher job than recruiting to glamor schools. You actually have to dig and access the skills of the players. Everybody knows about the Top 100 players in the country. To ferret out the next tier and identify the ones that would fit your program is a lot harder.

No credit

When you play blue collar basketball, you tend to get overlooked. Just goes with the territory. People tend to listen to the sizzle and ignore the steak.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lots of very good teams have underachieved because of the lack of a good point guard. I hope that is not our lot this year.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I am guessing that we will be undervalued in the pre-season predictions again this year, even though we have three starters returning from a division championship team.
Last year the loss of one key post player (Brett Royster) made a huge difference in FAU's team. They were not the same after he left. I wonder if the same will be true with MTSU after the loss of LaRon Dendy.

Friday, May 11, 2012

White at the 3?

James White might end up being the answer at the small forward spot next year. He has had time to learn our system, he reportedly has put on some muscle and hopefully matured a year. Will Neighbour could be a defensively liability at the 3. Fondren is too small. Lockhart faded badly late last year. White could be the man. We need to get that position set.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

David Thompson - the most exciting player ever

David Thompson was absolutely the most exciting basketball player I ever saw play (on TV). He was just so explosive in his jumping. He would soar above the rest of the players for alley-oops, etc. He was not all that tall, but he played really tall. Forget Michael Jordan! This is the man.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Go to" men

I love good defense, but come tournament time, you have to have at least one "go to" offensive player to be successful. Defense will get you close, keep you close, but at crunch time you have to have that ice-water shooter.

Friday, April 27, 2012


In one respect, at least, Will Neighbour reminds me of John Shurna of Northwestern. Neither of them will ever look as old as he is. They look like they are about 16 years old.

Winning with half a game

Northwestern's problem winning big under Carmody is that they play half a game. They are superb shooters and ball handlers, but they just ignore the down-and-dirty parts of the game - rebounding and physical defense. They are like Wall Street bankers trying to play against tough kids from the neighborhood. When you only use half the game in trying to win, you leave yourself very little room for error.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


It surely is nice to root for a program that is not constantly immersed in controversy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Tramar Sutherland was the ideal role player last season. He did what we needed to be done. He was the kind of player who unfortunately does not get noticed much, and therefore does not get enough credit, but does what is needed and does it well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ASU next year

Our arch-rivals should have four starters returning next year, including their leading scorer and do-everything guard Trey Finn. They should be tough.

Monday, April 16, 2012

No comparison

PLEASE do not say that Kentucky's current one-and-done big man deserves to be mentioned with Lew Alcindor. Not even on the same page!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wisconsin's defense

Wisconsin' defense was just ridiculously good this year. Opponents shot just 38.9% overall and 29.4% from the arc. Add to that the fact that they had only 9 turnovers per game and play at a slow pace, and the other teams really had to make the best of the few opportunities they got against them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shields' improvement

It appears to me that Steve Shields is continuing to grow as a coach. The last couple of seasons he has displayed much more flexibility with his teams, while preserving the core principles of his basic game. Will Neighbour is going to provide some very interesting opportunities for him as a coach, given his unusual package of skills. With Michael Javes as a bona fide defensive enforcer in the middle for the first time in years, the same will be true on the defensive end.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Savannah State

Remember Savannah State, who back in 04-05 did not win a single game - the whole season? Well, keep an eye on them next season. They were 21-12 this past season and won the MEAC regular season title. They should return their entire roster next year, including five starters that will be seniors.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Mental toughness is a quality that really cannot be captured in the stat sheet. Good teams always seem to have a player or two who embody it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bench in perspective

In basketball the bench is important, and since so many games are decided by a few points, it can be crucial. However, we need to keep it in perspective. I picked five teams at random, and their starters averaged playing 71% of the minutes per game. So while the bench might make the difference, it is the starters who are going to win it or lose it for you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mid-major fan

When the little guys are all out of the NCAA, I just lose interest.

Good news, bad news

The bad news: Kentucky and Louisville both made the Final Four. The good news: We will get to see one of them lose.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Juniors and freshmen

If you are wanting to see which teams might make a leap forward next season, count the numbers of juniors and freshmen on the teams. Juniors will be providing the senior leadership in their final years, and so they have the mental pressure to step up to the mark. Juniors (juco) and freshmen have been in their first D1 years, and very often it is the second D1 year when a player makes the biggest improvement.

Home court advantage

A real home court advantge is not related to the size of the arena. It is how well the crowd fills the arena, no matter what its size, and how involved they get in the game. Often the smaller arenas are more of an advantage than the large ones.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bill Russell

In the 1956 NCAA tournament championship game, Bill Russell of San Fransisco had 26 points and 27 rebounds. He had 50 rebounds in the two Final Four games. He is one of only five players to have averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds over his college career.

I do not care what era he played in, those are hugely impressive numbers.

Drexel attendance

Seating 2300 people, Drexel's current basketball facility is quite small by D1 standards. However, they averaged home attendance of 2185, so they got a lot of mileage out of what they had.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Marginal teams may get into the NCAA tournament and even occasionally win some games, but it is extremely rare for them to get to the Final Four, or especially to win it all.

Greatest player in basketball history

The greatest player in college basketball history and the greatest player in NBA history happened to be the same person - but different names. In college he was Lew Alcindor; in the NBA he was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And please do not mention Michael Jordan.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bad for the game

Have I mentioned how much I dislike the 3-point shot?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Northwestern national championship

Much has been made of the fact that Northwestern is the only Big Six team never to have gone to the NCAA tournament. That is pretty amazing, given the fact that one would think the law of averages alone would dictate that.

However, few people outside the Northwestern program may realize that they do have a national championship to their credit. For many years from 1901, the Helms Foundation picked a national champion, and Northwestern was the national college basketball champion in 1931.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Non-fan time

It is time for all the pseudo-fans to come out of the woodwork. They pay attention to college basketball only during the NCAA tournament, when the bright lights are on. They are not fans. Few of them pay much attention to the games until the tournament.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Limiting yourself

When your game is as completely one-dimensional as Northwestern's is, you limit yourself to being hot from the arc. That is the situation you put yourself in when you refuse to do the dirty work in the middle. I do not feel sorry for them.

Funny faces

There really are some interesting facial expressions in the still shots taken in the heat of baskeball games, aren't there?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where's the coach?!

Nicholls State lost 20 games this year. Want to know why? Here is one reason. They took 38.7% of their shots from behind the arc, despite shooting only 31.7% as a team. Their tallest players were two 6-7 guys, so obviously they were hurting in the post. And yet the player who shot the most 3-pointers on the team was one of those 6-7 players. Now, that would not be too bad if he shot 40%, but he did not. He shot a paltry 30.3% from 3-point range, and yet the coach allowed him to blast away from the perimeter instead of being down underneath doing the dirty work that post guys ought to be doing. They deserved what they got.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Our first-year class this year was strong. Better than most we have had. Most of our classes have not included an All-SBC player. If the next class is as good, or even close, we have taken a significant step forward. Recruiting in years past has been spotty.

Not an awful season

Not a great season, or even a good one. But we did win the division title, which I certainly did not expect. And we probably were a couple of games ahead of where I expected we would be in the regular season. So, I suppose you could say that we are ahead of schedule. Now, if we can just get everyone healthy for next year . . . .

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Don't deserve it

As pathetically as Northwestern rebounds, they do not deserve to go to the NCAA. I hope they do, but they don't deserve it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


There are a lot of things I do not like about this team (mainly their lack of shooting), but I definitely like their toughness, and that can make up for a lot of deficiencies.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Slap fouls

One thing that really bugs me is when referees will not call slap fouls. So often this just allows the game to degenerate into playground-ball, with little discipline or structure.

Comparing eras

Four of the best teams of the last decade (2004 UConn, 2009 NC, 2007 Florida, 2005 NC) lost a combined 19 games.

From 1964 to 1976, the 13 national champions lost a combined 12 games. With one and done, you just do not see the great teams any more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Northwestern out again?

With the overtime loss last night, it looks like Northwestern will not make it to the NCAA once again, barring heroics in the Big Ten tournament. I think it is time for Carmody to go. His teams are just soft, and can't/won't rebound and play hard-nosed ball.

Monday, February 20, 2012

MTSU next year

Middle Tennessee should return four starters next season with some awfully impressive stats, but I will go on record now as saying that they will not be nearly as scary without LaRon Dendy at the top of the stat sheet. He just is a huge difference maker at the Sun Belt level, and they will not be the same team without him.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Watch out!

Keep your eyes open for upcoming gimmicks by the NCAA to try to distance the Big Six conferences from the rest of D1 college basketball.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Some people argue in favor of the 3-point shot because it helps the little guys, who generally are unable to get top-level post talent, but can sometimes get shooters. That argument does not hold water with me. Sure, it helps the little guy, but if you have to invent a gimmick to level the playing field, what does it matter? If you can't do it legitimately, it does not count.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


This team really has over-achieved this year. Their surprising record in conference play may have lifted our expectations some, but I still have my doubts. We are absolutely terrible shooters, and with Neighbour hurting, we are woefully short-handed in the post. I love defense, but it can only carry you so far. For the season as a whole we are mediocre at rebounding, fair at FT shooting, and only OK at taking care of the ball. That is not much of a resume to make up for not being able to throw the ball in the ocean.

Make the season relevant

One thing the NCAA badly needs to do is something to make relevant the regular season in college basketball. The tournament is their big draw, but they seemingly have put all their chips in that one basket. Drawing fans to regular season games is getting harder and harder - and no wonder, since those games mean very little. Hey, NCAA - give this some attention. It is not brain surgery. But probably they are so focused on football that nothing else matters.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shooting - in the foot?

This team's shooting is TERRIBLE. Perhaps the worst-shooting Trojan team on record. They have to do a bunch of other things well in order to succeed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3-point defense

3-point shooting totally dominates college basketball because it rewards bad shots. However, it is a fact of life. So, I would submit that the single most important statistic a coach can look at is 3-point percentage defense, or in other words, a team's opponents shooting percentage from the arc.


Just exactly what are the polls supposed to be measuring? Which team has had the better overall season? Which team would beat another at a given moment in time? Which team has been hot lately?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Our crowds are terrible!

Our crowds at the Jack are depressing! Not talking about the number, but the fact that they don't cheer! They just sit there! Even when the team is in a close game and needs them. They just are not basketball fans!


We really stunk against Monroe. We will have to pick it up a bunch to finish strong. Not much to brag about at all!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Take care of business

As far as winning the division, our situation is in our own hands. We are in the lead, we just have to keep the lead. Win the ones we ought to win, and we will be OK.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bad scheduling?

Richmond is one of the better FT shooting teams around. They hit 75.5% as a team. But their opponents shoot 76.9%. What did they do, only schedule teams that could hit their charity shots?

Win what we ought to

If we will just win out the games that we should win, this will have been a fairly successful season given the number of new faces. And lots of optimism going forward. But we have to win them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Try again next year

I had high hopes for Northwestern this year, but they blew it. Just plain blew it! They have the skills; what they do not have is the toughness.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


D'Andre Williams has been amazingly durable this year to be as frail-looking as he is. Tough player.

"System" offenses

Offenses such as the Princeton, which rely overly on the system itself and thus the team as a unit, rather than on individuals, work well usually. However, sometimes at "crunch time," when some individual has to rise above the situation and take things in hand, they fail to deliver.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One silent pressure factor

Steve Shields (and others in similar situations) has one pressure on him that other basketball coaches do not have. Because Little Rock does not have football, basketball is the sole revenue sport. If anyone is going to make money, basketball has to do it.

Burn The Horse

I highly recommend Jeff Slatton's excellent website Burn The Horse. He does a great job of getting all sorts of inside information about the Trojans program.

Unclear prospects

Until we know if Will Neighbour is going to be completely healthy before the end of the season, our prospects for the balance of the schedule are not clear. We are a different team without Will in the lineup.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Who will it be?

If this is to be anything more than a very sub-par rebuilding year for this program, someone is going to have to step up big time. Who will it be? Will it be anyone?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The end of big men

I heard a commentator on the radio the other day (I assume he was a coach) say that big men were largely irrelevant in today's game. He said that all you needed was one big guy in the middle to do a little rebound and play defense, and four guards. I really hate to say it, but he is probably right. Any big guys who can walk and chew gum at the same time are in the NBA early entry, and the 3-point shot and ESPN have made everything but the 3-pointer and dunks obsolete. Everything is showtime now. Good basketball is a thing of the past, and that is the way fair-weather (off-season football) "fans" and television want it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blown opportunities

Every possession that ends in a turnover before a shot is a blown opportunity. Blow too many of them and you blow yourself right out of an opportunity to win the game.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another reason I like Taggart Lockhart

He stayed with his own small-school alma mater instead of jumping to a high profile school that would have given him more visibility.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

All the same

A spectacular, rim-rattling dunk counts the same as a quiet layup.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Little Rock - home of the ugly wins

I do not see how this team wins a lot of the time. Their numbers do not indicate they ought to be winning, but they are finding a way to get it done. Typical of Shields teams.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Northwestern gets an upset

Just when I had written off Northwestern as "soft" and being unable to get the big wins, they upset the #6 ranked Michigan State team - always physical and tough. Who knows? I still think they have to be .500 in the Big Ten to stand a chance of an at-large berth.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pet Peeve

One of the things that irritates me the most in basketball is post men that won't post up. They want to sit out on the 3-point line and shoot the long ball. Having a big man who can shoot the 3 is a plus, but if the big buys aren't going to bang down low, who is? Sort of the moral equivalent of clean-uniform shotgun formation quarterbacks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I saw it, but . . .

If you showed me the box score from the FAU game, I would have said we got blown out. Our stats were HORRIBLE! How a team could have those numbers and still win is just amazing. Somehow, we did. So, we picked up an ugly win at home, and are one game closer to Will Neighbour returning. We'll take it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where's the coach?!

Fayetteville's Ricky Scott has attempted 29 three point shots and has made THREE of them. At some point, doesn't the coach say, "Don't shoot any more!"?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Losing Neighbour

It is tough to lose your best player just when hope springs up that you might have a decent team in conference. Oh well, these things happen. If we still had Gus Leeper, it would not be nearly as big a deal, but with your two best big men out at the same time, it will be tough to bounce back. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Relatively speaking

It is hard to understand why fans might be proud of a 22-point loss. But we went to Kentucky without our star post man, and already short another starting post man from late last season. We led them at the half, but they wore us down after that. Just too much talent. Our guys played hard and played well. Nothing to be ashamed of.