Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Big man projects

A team at our level needs to have one big man project on the roster at all times. Either someone who has a nice touch, but needs to learn positioning and the tricks of the trade (Poulter), or someone who is a good physical specimen, but who is raw (Javes). Having a good big man at our level can make such a huge difference in the team that you just cannot afford not to be constantly working with one.

Nice win over Grambling. Now let's get it done.

Conference time. The time that counts. We will see pretty quickly how  good this team is, or is not. Only one player out with injuries, and we have options to replace him. Poulter is now healthy. We should be ready to go. No excuses. Just get it done!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Kemy Osse

Whatever might be true of his game, he is an impressive-looking physical specimen. I doubt anyone is going to be muscling him out of position.

Turnover, then a foul

How often does it happen? A player makes a turnover and then immediately fouls, trying to make up for it. But it only makes it worse.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pity the poor post men

Post players are not generally ball handlers. They do not bring the ball down court, set up the offense or distribute the ball. Unless they get a steal or a rebound, they are entirely at the mercy of the perimeter players as to whether they ever touch the ball. Today, with driving and 3-point shooting being rewarded and protected as it is, it is a wonder that the poor post players ever get to touch the ball. They ought to form a union and go on strike.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Undefeated Kentucky?

Remember before the season when all the so-called "experts" were speculating about whether or not Kentucky's hot-shot freshmen would go undefeated? Well, we are not even to the conference season yet, and they already have three loses. So much for the experts! When they get to be a little more objective and spend a lot less time slobbering over glamor, their opinions will mean a lot more.

Looking forward to James White

I see absolutely no reason that James White cannot be one of the dominant big men in the Belt his final two years here. I expect him to be that.

Dillard and Thomas

If we can get J. T. Thomas healthy and Ben Dillard playing like we know he can play, I feel pretty good about the conference season. Without that, it is a much bigger question mark.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How to ruin your RPI

Load up your schedule with money conference and non-D1 games. You don't win the money games and the others don't count.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Good time to have an easy game

If you are going to have an easy game, a good time is before you start a tough stretch. Since our first two conference games are on the road against new members of the Belt, getting to get tuned up against Grambling might be a good idea. (Assuming it does turn out to be an easy game.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Not where I had hoped we would be

But Texas State and Arlington on the road will tell us more about this team than all the games we have played so far.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

FT shooting

This is one of our better FT shooting teams in recent years, and that gives the coaching staff advantages. Especially down the stretch in close games. With the exception of James White, our main players shoot FTs well enough to stay in a close game.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The NCAA needs to add one position

Call him the DIG. Defender of the Integrity of the Game. He has veto power over any proposed changes that would undermine the game itself in pursuit of more popularity.

Two shot blockers

With the new rules, having scorers will not be a problem. But every team is going to need TWO shot blockers. Two - because they will have to be aggressive and you have to have a back-up for foul problems.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why would anyone coach basketball there?

At Auburn or Alabama? Sort of like being a sand salesman in the Sahara. No market.

St. Francis (NY)

As this is written, St. Francis is 6-5 on the season. This is more remarkable when one considers that they play their home games in the Generoso Pope Athletic Complex, which has a seating capacity for basketball of 1200, surely one of the smallest D-1 arenas in the nation. In their three home games so far this season they have had an average announced attendance of 365. One wonders how anyone could recruit to such a situation.

One more bench player

Our starting lineup appears to be fairly competitive at the SBC level. What we are short is one more bench player to step up and become reliable. You expect some drop-off after the starters, but ours is too steep.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ben Dillard will be a key

Ben has contributed very little so far, what with being injured for much of the season and really not hitting his stride since he has been back. But he is a veteran, knows the Shields system, and historically has been an excellent shooter. We need him back full speed.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thoughts on our recruiting: Who is at risk?

The 1 and the 2 are in very good shape. Depth and quality.

However, with Isler graduating and Hill, Isom and Billings not doing much, the 3 is a real concern. So, that is where Jerron Washington fits in: insurance at the 3.

With White at the 4 we are in good shape for a starter, but again, Hill and Isom have yet to prove themselves, so depth here would be a concern. (Gus could slide over to the 4, but he probably will be busy at the 5.) So, that is where Andre Brown comes in: insurance at the 4.

Makes sense so far, but what about Reid? We have plenty of shooting guards. I suspect that we recruited him not because of need but because he was the best player we could get, and he certainly looks to be a great shooter. Since we are a player over, logically who we will lose will come from where we have the biggest surplus, which would be the 2 and 3 – so I would say someone there is at risk. There is always a chance that Poulter could be the player on the block, but unless we recruit yet another big man, we are so thin at the 4 and 5 that I do not see that happening. Poulter might go, but he will not be the one pushed out by the three recruits we have so far.

Best point guard tandem

I would not make the claim that we have the best point guard in the Belt: that would be claiming a lot, especially this early in the season with two newcomers. However, I think you might make a good argument that (if J. T. Thomas gets healthy) we have the best point guard corps in the conference, especially considering that Josh Hagins can play a good point when needed, and even Kemy Osse has chipped in there in the past.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Create his own shot

Every year I see tons of kids who are quick and good ball handlers who get a step on the opponent and get off a shot - and miss it. I am not impressed. Shooting the ball earns zero points, unless you can get fouled in the process and make the free throws. Someone who can create a shot AND make the shot is invaluable, but athletic kids who get open and jack up shots are a dime a dozen.

Egg on Kentucky worshippers faces

The press just fell all over themselves anointing Kentucky's freshman class as one of the greatest teams of all time. The only question evident in their minds was whether or not they would go undefeated. Well, that has fallen apart right off the bat, and I love it!

Our top seven players are producing

The problem is that once you get past those seven, there very little production at all, and those non-producing players are getting too many minutes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Minutes have to go down

Shields is going to have to tighten up the minutes on this team at some point. There are too many people playing who are not producing. He may be waiting until conference to address it.

Just keep getting better

Game after game, win or lose. Conference season is what counts.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Great quote from the Memphis board

"If you hate the coach, whine after a win. If there's really nothing to whine about, make something up."

I drive the car I have

Since my contributions to the program could not exceed pocket change, I have zero input into who our coach ought to be. As long as the coach is not a sleezebag and runs a clean program, I do not worry about the coach. I play the hand I am dealt, and try to make the best of it. I follow the Trojans for fun, and it is not much fun being negative.

Where is the kick off the bench?

Most teams have players whose main role is to come off the bench and deliver instant offense. If the team has hit a lull, they come in and get things going again. We are really hurting for that this year. Kemy Osse does it at times, but he is so streaky offensively that he is just as likely to shoot us out of a game as to shoot it into one. Ben Dillard can shoot, but he has not found his stride yet after coming off his injury. Gus Leeper is dependable, but not an offensive force. When J. T. Thomas comes back, he is not primarily a scorer. Mareik Isom was supposed to have been that type of player, but he has not shown it yet.

We badly need a spark plug.

Turning point?

Every team that is better in the second half of the season has a game where the light comes on. Maybe last night was ours for this year. Statistically, we did not play very well, but we were playing a very good team. But mentally we were outstanding! We got after them big-time and kept coming at them until their talent and the home-crowd advantage just took over. We now know what we can do, so let's keep doing it. We need to have a week of good practices and then come out with an edge on the island trip.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gritty performance against Memphis

The game was closer than I had expected it to be. I figured they would make a run after halftime, but we held them off until late in the game. This team is coming around. I am optimistic about conference play. We need to close out non-conference strongly.

Great description of slow-paced ball


The [Northern Iowa] Panthers want their opponents to feel like they're spending two and a half hours at the dentist. I like it!

Has this team progressed?

It is hard to tell because of the frustrating schedule with its mix of body-bag games both directions. I tend to think we are better, but not by leaps and bounds. We definitely have improved in rebounding. Our three-point shooting has recovered. Where we are getting killed is in our transition and perimeter defense. So, yes, we are better, but a long way to go.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Steel and redshirts

Pitt is one of my favorite teams because they play hard-nosed, blue collar basketball. But there are a lot of interesting things about this basketball team so far this year. First, although their schedule has not been very tough, they are undefeated. Second, of the 14 players on their roster, exactly half of them have been redshirts. Third, they have an absurdly good 1.80 team assist/turnover ratio. Who knows how they will do against conference talent when they get into the ACC season, but so far they have given us reasons to think they are pretty good.

Nicholls' team development plan

Nicholls State has not has much success in recent years, but apparently Coach J. P. Piper has come up with a program to try to get things headed in the right direction. First off, there are 18 players on the roster, so at least 5 of those are walk-ons; so he may be trying to get some "free" talent. Second, of those 18, eight are redshirts, so he is letting his talent mature before he throws it on the court. Third, since Piper is from Australia, he has always had a strong Australian connection in recruiting. Six of the players on the roster hail from down under, and several have some size, which is something he has badly needed in the past.

Why wouldn't you pad the schedule?

If I am a new coach at anything but the highest level, why wouldn’t I find a patsy schedule for the first few years? Winning creates fan interest, and most fans don’t keep up with it enough to know the quality of the schedule, anyway. Winning gets the team in the habit of winning, which is critical. Winning allows you to teach your team your system instead of being a punching bag for teams that are able to impose their system on you. Later, when you have a good culture in place, then start ramping up the schedule.

Looking forward to conference play

I still think we will be all right come conference time. This team has some talent, and we have improved since the first of the year. We are not good enough to run with higher-level teams, obviously, but I think we can compete in the Sun Belt. No one in our conference is blowing anyone away at this point, so the field should be wide open. We just need to get healthy and stay healthy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's about the kids

It is not about the coaches.
It DEFINITELY is not about us fans. Who cares if we are satisfied or dissatisfied?

Go Trojans!

We seem to have trouble stopping runs

When an opposing team goes on a run, we seem to have trouble bringing them out of it. Not sure why.

In Shields' system the 2 has to score

With Steve Shields' small forwards usually being rugged, defensive-minded players, it is critical that the shooting guards get some points. We absolutely cannot survive offensively if our 2's just disappear.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You still need post players

The powers that be have done all they can to legislate post players completely out of relevance in college basketball. First there was the three-point shot, which rewards taking of lower-percentage shots, protected by the three-shot foul. Then there was the no-charge zone, which takes away the defense's option, even if they wish to sacrifice their bodies. Then there was the No Hand Check rule, which encourages perimeter players to drive with abandon. The game is being custom tailored for perimeter players. "Post players need not apply."

Well, I think you still need post players, even if they do not contribute to the so-called "exciting  basketball." The goal is still ten feet tall.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Maine International

Maine has 15 players on their roster. Of those,  seven are from foreign countries: Canada, Serbia, Nigeria, Lithuania, Germany. Interesting recruiting strategy. Might take a year two to bear fruit, though because they have no seniors and two juniors on the roster. Everyone else is an underclassman.

The NCAA does not want defense

Here is the logical proof. They changed the rules to get scoring up. They admit that. But they claim, "Oh, we want you to play defense; we just want you to do it non-physically, play 'good defense,' like they used to." Well, let us suppose that teams do that. Let us suppose that they adjust to play defense just as effectively as last year, and that scoring does not go up one bit. (Not likely to happen, but just suppose.) Would the NCAA be satisfied? No, because they want scoring up. If the change to "good defense like they used to play it" results in keeping the scores as low as they were last year, do you think they will sit pat? No, they would tweak the rules again in order to get scoring up, because THAT is what they want. They don't care a whit about "good defense like we used to play." What they want is more scoring. They want less defense.

When you have a good FT shooting team

obviously you need to get to the line as often as you can. We do, so we should. But so far we are shooting fewer FTs than our opponents. The new "no defense" rules reward players who drive, so we need to be driving, so we can get fouled, so we can take advantage of our good FT shooters.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Well-coached teams

Well-coached teams get better over the course of the year. They may have difficulties early on, but as they go they get those things worked out, and they improve.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Don't fall behind on Wisconsin

Because it is hard to catch up. They keep the pace slow, which means there are less possessions for you to work with. Plus they don't turn the ball over much. And even if they are not making their shots, because of their defense you probably are not going to be making them, either.

Body bag games do not help much

(Obviously, we are talking about non-conference games particularly here.) This is true whether we are in the bag or putting the body in the bag. There needs to be at least a little competitiveness in the game, because otherwise the team does not progress any. Even if the team you are playing is at a lower level but it very good at one particular aspect of the game (3-point shooting, e.g.), they will challenge your team to defend the three, and that is progress. If you are ahead by 30 after ten minutes, the teams totally lose focus and nothing is gained of much value.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I really like what I am seeing in James White

Mainly that he is getting rebounds. He is not the physical-looking player that you usually think of as a rebounder, but he seems to have the knack. A lot of years 6.7 rpg would have lead the team. He is shooting a pretty good percentage, and playing his position (not trying to be a 3-point shooter).

Where does he need to improve? Defensively he needs to avoid foul trouble, especially early in games. He has averaged 21.4 minutes, and we need him in there more than that, especially in critical situations in the second half of games. Also, his FT shooting could stand improvement. He is not awful, like Michael Javes was, but he can help himself and us by sharpening up his skills there.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Glue guys - they make a difference

Because of our inability as fans to notice the things that do not end up on the stat sheet, normally we do not fully appreciate what are sometimes called "glue guys." These are those players who do all the little things that produce wins but that do not make the box score - taking charges, denying the ball, being in position, etc. Furthermore, they are leaders who are hard-nosed ballplayers who by example force their teammates to greater effort. Sometimes we will look at a new season's team and say, "They did not lose much," but then they underachieve according to our estimation. Sometimes the problem is that our estimation did not include the glue guys and the qualities they bring to a team.

How are we at ice-ball?

Might get the chance this weekend at Tulsa. That reminds me that when my father played for Magazine in the early 1940's they did not even have an indoor court.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Devonte is a big plus

The injury to J. T. Thomas has forced more playing time into the lap of Devonte Smith, and it may  be a good thing in the long run, because he seems to be coming into his own. That is a big plus for us, needless to say, because every indicating coming in was that he was a top player. And we need him to be that.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ACC/Big Ten: What could the Belt do?

Could the Sun Belt Conference set up something similar to this event? A series of games between two conferences on an annual basis, all in the same week. Ought to be fun. I don't know who the foe should be, but there are lots of candidates.

Denver is down this year

They are young - only one senior has played so far - and it shows. They can still shoot the 3, but their defense is terrible.

It's about the kids, not the coach

We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about coaches, when they do not play a single minute. It is about the kids. They are the ones being educated. Forget about the coach, for better or for worse. Leave him in the background, where he ought to be.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I just love it

when one of the schools that cares about basketball beats the dog out of one of the schools that only cares about football.

Will is 1st Team SBC

If Will Neighbour keeps playing like he has been and doesn't make First Team All-SBC, something is wrong in Dodge City.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

This team will be better come conference time.

If everyone can get healthy,we will be all right come conference time. The Belt is showing that it is not very good this year, despite our hopes. We should be competitive.