Monday, September 30, 2013

If nothing else

the fact that we have two seniors this year and got the Canada games ought to give us a quicker start on the season.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I hope a continuing team wins

For this one year, at least, I hope the title is won by one of the teams which has been in the Belt and will continue to be here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Once a school gets a strong pipeline

to a particular foreign country, good things can really happen. Look what McDonnell did with Ireland in track. If you can get a couple of top players from a certain country, and they have a good experience, they sometimes will tell others over there.

No defense, no play

One of the things that makes Shields' teams and his coaching methods hard to read is that he insists upon defense. His system is built around it. If you don't play defense, you don't play.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Focused but loose

That is the formula for a good tournament team. Some coaches can't get the focus. Some can't get the loose.

Steve Shields can't get the loose.

Shields' teams will always be underrated

Even by our own fans. That is just the nature of the beast as things stand now.

Who will shape the character of this team?

It is usually the case that one player is the factor that gives a team its character. He may not be the leader on the team - he may not say much - but his presence is such in the locker room and on the practice court that it permeates the roster. Who will it be here? I think we are agreed that Isler is the enforcer on this team, but will his attitude be the attitude of the team? It could be one of the point guards. It could be one of the new guys that we just do not know not. It should be interesting to see. But I am guessing we will be able to spot it as the season goes along.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Win "Skinny" Whipple - long jumper supreme

When I ran track in high school, I always kept up with the statistics. The oldest state record was in the long jump (called broad jump in the old days). It was held by Win Whipple of Arkadelphia - 24'0" - and had been in place since 1933. It stood for fifty years - perhaps the single greatest track performance in Arkansas high school history, especially when you consider that he probably really jumped several inches farther.

Whipple graduated the same year as Jesse Owens, and jumped within two inches of Owens' mark that year. Sadly, he was not able to compete much past high school because of cancer in his leg, which cost his life in 1937.

Here is a LINK to an excellent article about Whipple. Well worth the reading about an important part of Arkansas sports history.

Surely would like to beat CUSA

With four former Belt teams having bolted for Conference USA, presumably because they would be moving up in the football food chain, I really would like to see the SBC finish better than CUSA in the ratings. It will be tough. Our only hope is that that bottom of CUSA is pretty bad.

Whence the anger?

There is some genuine anger from the fan base regarding this program, and I am not really sure where the anger is directed. The “official” reason is that we have not won enough ballgames, or at least enough championships; and our accomplishments in that regard have been average at best, probably less.

However, I am going to make a guess that there are a couple of other factors that have made the anger stronger than it otherwise would have been. First is the fact that a lot of fans only like run-and-gun basketball, and so their patience naturally will be shorter with a coach who plays a style they do not like. If Steve Shields had won big, they probably would not care that much about his style; but he has been only slightly-better-than-average, and so is fair game for the critics whose patience has run out.

Second is the perceived attitude of Chris Peterson, the Athletic Director. I say “perceived” because I have never met the man and have only seen him at ballgames. There is a very real perception, however, that he only cares about big donors and is completely apathetic toward the “little” fans. Who knows if that is true, but it is how he is seen.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Steve Shields is an above-average coach

He has a way to go to be a good coach. But it is within reach if he will just lighten up a little - in the right spots - while keeping the course in the right spots.

K-State's Bruce Weber on transfers

"The mind set today is instant gratification. If they come in and it's not perfect, they transfer. It's become a sad part of college basketball."

Look for Vandy to surprise this year

I am not saying they will be among the better teams in the SEC, but they will not be as bad as you might think. They lost five starters from the good team year before last, started from scratch last season, and closed fast. Then they lost two key players from the roster during the off-season. Still, Kevin Stallings is an excellent coach, and he has some talent returning. This year will be better than last, I am thinking.

Reverse conference championships

I would LOVE to see the conference reverse the results of the regular season and the tournament. Let the regular season champ go to the NCAA, and let the tournament champ get the guaranteed NIT bid. If they would do that, I suspect the lower conference would have more success in the NCAA.

Shields' record

Steve Shields has been very close to having a memorable record in Little Rock. He has the trip to the NCAA, and two 20-win seasons. If a couple more of those 18-win seasons had been up to 20, and if he had won the regular season championship at least once, he would be on top of the heap. But as it is, he is still short.

Ben Dillard is to passive

He is a good team player, and does a lot of things fairly well, but his big value to us is his shooting. He needs to shoot more and be mroe aggressive with it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I would like to forget about the drama

in the administrative end of the program and just concentrate on the upcoming season. But quite a few loyal fans have felt like, since they were not big contributors, that they were treated as second-class citizens. Can't say I blame them.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Good quote from The Sporting News

Here is a quote about Ohio State from The Sporting News’ preseason basketball magazine: “To survive in the tournament, teams need scorers who can produce outside of the framework of a structured offense.” This is absolutely true. We had it when we had Solomon Bozeman, and we made it to the tournament. This is one things Shields does not to do well, either in recruiting or coaching.

There is another side of that coin, though. Coaches who rely too much on players’ creativity on the court often underachieve in the regular season. Fans tend not to notice that, though.

It will be fun tracking Will this season

as he heads for 1000 points.

It is a shame

that Steve Shields' generall positive public personna is being overshadowed by the greater negative aura of the athletic department in general.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rashad Jones-Jennings

He was the best rebounder I have ever seen in person. Although no more than adequate on offense, he did work hard and got better in his second year. I remember how excited I was when we signed him, and he certainly did not disappoint.

No excuses

If this team stays healthy, there is no reason why we should not win the conference. We have the talent. Even though we are relatively young, we have enough experience now so that that is not an excuse. We just have to do it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I know I am strange

but I get a lot more pleasure out of seeing a lock-down halfcourt defense than a slam dunk.

Basketball courts - an art form?

A lot of creativity here lately.


Fun in the Big East

The coaches in the Big East have to feel good about their situation. They are the big dogs at schools that do not have football. Even in the ACC, a large amount of the decisions that are made are controlled by football TV money. Not in the Big East. Their fan base is already talking about basketball.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Leroy locked in

Post minutes

Neighbour, Leeper, White, Hill, Poulter- those probably are the players who will see minutes at the 4 and 5 spots this year. We need Will on the court all the minutes he can stand. I hope it is 30 plus this year. With 80 minutes to use up, that leaves 50. Leeper needs to give us 20 minutes per game - I hope he can give more, but I would be satisfied with that. That leaves 30. James White needs to be on the court a lot - at least 20 minutes, maybe more. He might play a little at the 3, so let's leave it at 20. That leaves 10 minutes for Hill and Poulter. Poulter won't play much, probably, and Hill will play some at the 3, so that gives us a little wiggle room. If someone gets hurt, though, we have issues. We really need a little more depth here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lack of depth hurts on defense

You can dictate the pace on offense, but if your defensive scheme demands high levels of intensity for the entire game, it is hard to maintain that without depth. Plus, if you get players in foul trouble without depth, you have to back off for that reason. Maybe we have that depth this year. It appears as though we might on the perimeter. Less so inside.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Interesting SMU trivia from The Sporting News

The last time SMU went to the NCAA tournament was 1993 - before some of the current players were born. However, they have been to a Final Four, where they were beaten by Bill Russell & Co.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fans like me are not a motivation to the program

one way or the other. I make two or three games a year, so they are not making much money off me. On the other hand, if I quit going, it does not hurt much. I root hard, but I do not get to spend much. It appears that this administration is more concerned with the spenders than the rooters.

Who will step up?

You know someone on this team is going to take a big step forward this year. It happens almost every year on every team. That is what makes speculation intriguing. Who will it be. You figure Will and Leroy will be solid seniors, doing well the things that they do. But we have to have someone to go along with them, and there are several other players that have the potential to have a breakout year.

Big men usually come into their own in their junior years. If so, Gus Leeper is due, and that would not surprise me. James White has the physical tools to go through the roof in performance. He could very easily be an All-SBC type - soon. Ben Dillard is a pure shooter who just needs to shoot more. Kemy Osse is a physical player who could suddenly become assertive on the perimeter. Josh Hagins has the ability to be one of the best point guards this team has ever had. It absolutely would not surprise me for any of those to become a star for this team next season. And even some of the others who have not yet shown that much to their games, or the newcomers. But someone has to do it. Maybe several someones.

It would be a farce

The football conferences have a small problem. If they break away and form their own governing body, it presumably would not include the Big East, since they do not have football. But then if they have their own basketball tournament, any "championship" that did not include the Big East schools would be a complete farce.

Counting on a big year from Isler

We have had several jucos in our program over the Shields years who had really good second seasons: JJ, D'Andre Williams, Garcia-Mendoza, Shane Edwards - and the list could go on. Isler looks like another good one, and I am expecting a huge year from him.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

As long as this team stays healthy

I think they have to be one of the top two or three favorites in the league. Our fan base right now is pretty discouraged, and there is some reason for it. But I think reality tells us that this is a pretty good team. They just have to get it done.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Augustine Rubit

Here is why I am so impressed with Augustine Rubit. Anyone who averages a double/double is impressive, but  his was doubly impressive  because it was almost a 20/10 double/double. And his scoring numbers are legitimate – not high just because he is shooting a lot. He averaged 48% from the field on the year. Furthermore, he is an excellent FT shooter – just a tick below 80% last year. When they played us, our guys did a good job of keeping him pushed out in the lane, keeping him off the low block. So, he just killed us with mid-range jumpers and free throws. The guy is just lethal!

Shields is capable of lightening up

He likely will always coach too much from the sidelines. That is his style and he is not alone in that - lots of coaches do it. However, I do think he sometimes gives his players more leeway. Solo and Matt both pretty much had the green light to shoot their senior years. D'Andre did not lack for confidence on the floor his senior year.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Coaches win?

Curious when we say that a certain coach "won 500 games" in his career. He did not shoot a basket or pull down a rebound, and yet he "won" the game.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

James can help Will

James White’s potential is off the charts. If he improves enough to become a distraction for opponents in the lane, that is going to make a huge difference for Will Neighbour, because they will have to do more helping on James.

The face of the program

I know that to a lot of people, Mr. Fish is the face of UALR basketball, and certainly for good reason. But I came along as a fan after he played here, and to me these are the faces of the Trojans.

Rashad Jones-Jennings NBA

Something to work with

Yes, I do like Steve Shields as a coach – very much. But yes, I am getting impatient with Steve Shields. His inflexibility is costing the program at this point. But we shall see about that. Maybe we will win big this year and we will be happy and he will be a hero.

But even if we do not quite get over the top again and Steve moves on, voluntarily or otherwise, I think we will look back and be forced to admit that while the program has not excelled under him, it did not tank, either. We were usually in the top tier of the conference. In other words, Steve will have left a good base for the next coach to proceed from. It is easier to build from 4th place in the conference than last place.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I hate egos

I hate huge, out-of-control egos. Humility is a virtue, and I like to see it in all fields and at all levels. The UALR athletic program has the atmosphere of a huge ego involved. This is nothing I know from first-hand knowledge: it just has that feel to it. The basketball program gives off the feel that "we do not need the fans (except for the ones with deep pockets)." This is not the players nor the coaches, who have always been uniformly polite in my contact with them. It is at another level, and it needs to stop - now.