Saturday, February 28, 2015

UCA wins again

It has been a rough start for the Pennell era at UCA, but they just picked up their second win of the season tonight. Good for the Bears!

Could things end up about where we thought?

We have two games left. Right now we are alone in 6th place in the Belt. Arlington is a game ahead of us and Louisiana is two and a half games ahead. So, it is at least theoretically the case that we could end up in a tie for 4th place - not quite where we were predicted to be, but not far out of it. Now, this is unlikely to happen since our two remaining games are on the road, but at least possible.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Arlington pregame

They are 15-12 and 9-8 in conference. They are 8-5 on their home court. Since we played them last they are 3-5, with wins over Louisiana, Texas State, and App State. They have lost 3 of their last 4. They probably will start 6-9, 6-5, 6-2 across the front line. In our last game they beat us by 7 in Little Rock. However, at that time we were in the midst of a stretch in which we lost 5 of 7.

They have three players averaging double figures, led by Lonnie McClanahan at 11.4 ppg. Their defense is outstanding, holding opponents to 41% overall and 32% from the arc. Their rebounding is even. They have played a lot of players this season, so they have some depth. They have three 3-point threats.

Sagarin picks Arlington by 6. RealtimeRPI picks them by 11.

A really sweet win

Getting an underdog win is always fun, but under certain circumstances it is really sweet. Georgia State has players who transferred from Louiville and Kentucky, and Pitino and Sleezipari are two of the coaches I most dislike. So beating GSU was sort of like beating them by proxy - or at least as close as we are ever likely to get to it. A bunch of nobodies from and "At" school in Arkansas took on the Goliath with all the money-conference players and whipped them. Sweet!

A very nice number

Our two pure shooting guards (Ben Dillard and James Reid) have 1.84 and 1.82 A/TO ratios respectively. Pretty good for two players that are not known as ball handlers.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Georgia State postgame

HOW ABOUT THOSE TROJANS?!! What is happening with this team? All of a sudden we are the hottest team in the Sun Belt. All of a sudden. What is going on? I surely cannot figure it out.

Let's look at the stats. We shot 46% from the arc and held them to 25%. That will get the job done! We had 20 assists to 8 turnovers. That will get it done, too.

Lots of individual heroes. All of a sudden J. T. Thomas gets hot from the arc for 17 points. Maurius Hill 16 points and 6 rebounds. Rogers Woods only 4 points but 9 big rebounds. Mareik Isom 5 of 6 from the arc. Ben Dillard had another miserable night shooting, but he had 4 assists against only one turnover. Josh Hagins 10 points and 5 rebounds. Game ball to James Reid. 16 points on 3 of 7 from the arc, 4 rebounds, one steal, and 6 big assists against zero turnovers.

I must admit that I am completely in the dark about what is happening in Little Rock. The coaches are pushing the right buttons and these kids are just playing their hearts out. Five wins in the last six games, and that loss in overtime. I do not know how it is happening, but I like it!

Maybe Trojan Tough is back.

Keep an eye on Coastal Carolina

If you want an early dark horse to watch in post season, keep an eye on little Coastal Carolina. They already have 21 wins, and they play tenacious defense. Opponents shoot only 38.8% against them. They are plus-9 on the boards. That is a good formula for wins.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Georgia State pregame

Welcome to the showdown between two of the hottest teams in the Belt! Each team has won four of their last five, both taking a loss to Georgia Southern. This ought to be a good one (I hope).

The Panthers probably will start 6-10, 6-6, 6-6 across the front line. As always, they do a lot of things very well. Most of their scoring is done by Ryan Harrow (20.4 ppg) and R. J. Hunter (19.9 ppg). However, Markus Crider is close with 9.4 ppg. The Panthers shoot very well and defend very well. Their overall shooting percentage differential is is 10.9 percentage points. Any team will win a lot of games shooting that much better than the other folks. They shoot FTs very well, although that is mainly because Hunter and Harrow take most of the shots. In contrast to previous years, they are less than -1 in rebounding.

But the biggest number on the Panthers' stat sheet is the fact that their opponents turn the ball over a lot and they do not. They have almost twice as many steals as the opposition. So if we get sloppy, it could be a LONG night.

As usual in recent years, they do not have much experienced depth. Their rotation is essentially eight men deep, dropping from 15.6 minutes/game with Curtis Washington to 8.9 with Jalen Brown, the 8th man. Obviously, they are not the same team with Harrow or Hunter out of the game, but those two have fouled out only once between them this year, and neither of them averages as much as 3 fouls per game.

Sagarin has the Panthers by 8. RealtimeRPI has them by 3.

This is a big game for both teams, but for different reasons. GSU is trying to lock in post-season, and Little Rock is trying to make sure we make the Belt tournament. Both teams want to maintain their momentum. It sounds funny to say that this could be the biggest game of the year in a season when we swept Arkansas State, but if we were to win it, it would be just that.

I wish we could get the fan base excited, but the only team in Georgia that our myopic sports fans know anything about is that one that plays Fayetteville.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Could we still make a move?

Is it still possible to move up in the standings? Well, not likely. But we have three games left. If we could win two of them we could really help our chances of winning a game or two in the tournament. No time to let up.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Puzzled about this team

Of course, the Trojans may lose out and end up back toward the bottom of the heap. But at the moment they are on a hot streak, albeit not against the top tier of teams in the league. So what was the problem? Are we just having an overdue hot streak that will cool off quickly enough, or is this team finally playing up to its potential and good things are still to come? Beats me. Stay tuned.

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Ben Dillard - a crafty guard

One of the complaints some fans have had against Ben is that "he cannot create his own shots." Perhaps not. He is not the quickest player on the team. However, why is it that he is second on the team in FTs attempted? Somehow he manages to get open enough to get fouled a lot. By contrast, Josh Hagins, who has attempted 93 more shots than Ben and is heralded as one of the players on the team who can make his own shot, has attempted one less FT than Ben. Thankfully, both of them make most of their FTs.

Ben Dillard may not be quick, but he is crafty, and that will work.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

We will earn it if we get it

Georgia State (currently tied for 1st) at home. Arlington (5th) on the road. Louisiana (4th) on the road. This will not be easy. Go Trojans!

Nothing special about this team

There is nothing about this team that you can hang your hat on that would cause it to be out of the ordinary. Nothing special. We are OK at a lot of things, fairly good at a few, not very good at a few. We are not going to strike fear in the hearts of very many opponents. But here lately we have been winning. The stat sheets do not show anything that stands out, but we have four wins in the last five games. I'll take it, even if I cannot figure it out.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Looking better with three games to go

Not very long ago we were doubtful that the Trojans would even make the Sun Belt tournament. After today's games, we are tied for 6th. That leaves Texas State and Arkansas State a game and a half behind us and Troy two full games. We have to beat two of the non-App State teams to make the tournament, so right now we are looking MUCH better.

Troy postgame

All of a sudden this is a hot basketball team. Four wins in the last five games, and the loss was in overtime. Who would have thought that two weeks ago?

When you have a couple of 6-5 guys who can put up numbers like Roger Woods and Maurius Hill have been lately, it makes you forget a little bit about the lack of height on this team. One point short of two double/doubles. Woods threw in six offensive boards. However, the game ball to Josh Hagins with 17 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists and zero turnovers. And how about Ben Dillard's 11 of 11 from the FT line? Nice team victory, and all ten players got into the act. We were plus 6 on the boards.

One stat I love to see is that we held the trey-happy Troy team to 24% from the arc. It brings back memories of the old Trojan Tough defense.

Smart to bring on the jucos

With only ten active players on the roster, it was inevitable that Jerron Washington and Andre Brown were going to see some playing time from here on. So, it was smart of Steve Shields to throw them into the fray earlier rather than later so that they can get some experience. And it was double smart to let them have a few starts just as a motivator and to see how they would do in the spotlight. Who knows? They could be very key players in the last few games. depending on how things go.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Anton Waters update

6-6 SF from Gulf Coast State College. Rivals says he has "high" interest in us and had a visit here back in October.

Anton Waters

Looking at the last few games

We have won 4 of the last 7, including a road win, and 5 of the last 9 - not a dominating streak, but at least enough to think this team might just be gaining a little bit of steam. At least it is better than what we have had on the whole over the season. And that is without James White and Devonte Smith. So good things are happening. Three of our last four games are on the road, and three are against top-half teams in the conference. So it will not be easy, but we are moving in the right direction. We just need to keep doing things right.

Article about the Jones brothers from Desha Central

They are a part of Arkansas basketball history.

LINK

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Troy pregame

They are 10-15 and 5-11 in conference. However, they had a huge win over Georgia Southern on the road last time out, so they will be coming in on a high, thinking they can do it.

They likely will start 6-8, 6-7, 6-5 across the front line. They have three players in double figures, led by Musa Abdul-Aleem at 15.4 ppg. Kevin Thomas is their big guy inside, averaging 10.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg, and shooting an excellent 62.4% from the field. They have good perimeter defense, holding opponents to 31% from the arc.

Defending Troy might not be easy, but it is fairly simple, because 37% of their attempts are from the arc. (Shades of the old Maestri days.) Beyond that, fully 1/4 of all their shots are 3-pointers taken by two players: Abdul-Aleem and Wesley Person. So if we are not on those two guys like a blanket, we have no one to blame but ourselves. They should NEVER be open.

Sagarin picks us by 6. RealtimeRPI picks Troy by 3.

Arkansas State postgame

Very satisfying win. Any year is a good year when you sweep ASU.

We had this one under control all the way. Never were able to break it open, but we met every move that they made and kept it at least a two-possession game.

Lots of heroes. Game ball to Mareik Isom. 15 points, 7 rebounds, a block and a steal in 22 minutes. Maurius Hill dominated the game early, and ended with 17 points. Roger Moore 11 points and 6 rebounds. James Reid 11 points 3 assists. Josh Hagins 9 points 4 assists.

Look at these stats: Roger Woods 5 assists 0 turnovers, J. T. Thomas 2 assists 0 turnovers, James Reid 3 assists 0 turnovers, Ben Dillard 2 assists 0 turnovers. Those numbers will win ballgames for you.

Another interesting stat: the two teams were a combined 18 of 21 from the line for the game. Only 3 FTs missed all night.
We are now 6-10 in conference, a full game up on Texas State and Troy, and a game ahead of Arkansas State.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Just when I thought I had things figured out

lowly Troy beats Georgia Southern at GSU. Strange year in the old Sun Belt.

Maurius Hill - an emerging star?

If you look at Maurius' season stats, last year or this, there is nothing to make you think that he might be anything more than another ordinary undersized Little Rock post player. However, if you look at his individual game stats, there were instances where he had some really nice performances. 20 points and 9 rebounds against Monroe. 10 points and 5 rebounds against Northridge. 11 points and 4 rebounds against UCA in only 12 minutes. In other words, at times he can be pretty good. Plus, he does several things fairly well, so he has some versatility to offer. I look for good things from him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Arkansas State pregame

Since we played them last they are 0-3, with two road losses to Ga Southern and Ga State, plus a home loss to Troy. They are now 9-14 for the season and 3-7 in conference.

They likely will start a front line of 6-10, 6-8, 6-5. They do not shoot well (40.6% and 32.9%) and they are -2 on the boards. However, their defense is pretty good at 42% overall and 32.2% from the arc.

This is a game that few will care about other than the two programs involved. Both teams have been awful, and probably the jobs of both coaches are on the line. There still should be a good crowd, however, just because of who is playing. There are a lot of ASU alums who live in central Arkansas, and their fans travel well from Jonesboro, so the Little Rock homecourt advantage will mean virtually nothing.

Sagarin has us  by 5 points. RealtimeRPI has us by 12.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Surprise and disappointment

The biggest surprise of the year so far in the Belt? Undoubtedly it is Georgia Southern, who are in the hunt to win it all. The biggest disappointment? Probably Louisiana, closely followed by us at Little Rock. I pick UL only because they had more upside than we did it appeared.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Direct battle the next two games

Our next two games are against the two teams below us in the standings: Arkansas State and Troy. After that is gets a lot tougher, so we need to put a little daylight between us and the field now.

Our best rebounder?

If Maurius Hill averaged as many minutes as Roger Woods, he would project to average more rebounds per game than Woods, or even James White, for that matter.

Still in the hunt

I hate to see a team give up. Sometimes teams that are having a bad season do that. Since we are very much in the hunt for a place in the Sun Belt tournament, I do not expect that from us. I do not like the tournament and wish the NCAA berth was determined by the regular season, but since we have it, we need to use it for what it is worth.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Frank Kaminsky's moves

Wisconsin's Frank the Tank is really tough to stop when he gets the ball on the post. Tall white guys who look like they just came off the farm are not supposed to have moves like that. But he keeps his pivot foot down and keeps working, and if you give up on him, he will make you look stupid.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Georgia Southern postgame - what a tough way to lose!

We come from nine down at half to take the 2nd place team in the league (by a half game) into overtime, only to lose by two points. What a tough way to go! I feel for the team and the staff.

Once again our lack of perimeter defense jumped up and bit us. When you let the other guys shoot 40% from the arc, you have dug a hole for yourself that is hard to get out of. Add to that the fact that they shot 50% overall, and you have to play awfully well to overcome it. But we tried. We won the turnover battle. We won the rebounding battle. We won the free throws battle. We just couldn't win the Battle of the Bottom Line.

Obviously the game ball goes to James Reid. 23 point on 4 of 8 shooting from the arc. Give honorable mentions to Maurius Hill with 8 rebounds, four of them offensive. J. T. Thomas had 4 assists against only one turnover and was 2 of 5 from the arc. Ben Dillard was 2 of 5 from the arc. So, there was a lot of good effort to pass around.

The main thing is that we did not give up. We came back. Tough, tough loss.

If only he were here

Isn't it interesting how our minds occasionally run back to good players in our history? We need a rebounder, and we think, "If only JJ were here." We need a floor leader and we long for Fish. It is sort of fun to think what things might be like if one of those players were thrust into the equation at this moment.

What if we started playing like we thought we could?

Before the year began, we thought we would be one of the top three or four teams in the conference, and that opinion generally was shared by the experts. Now, of course, we are minus pre-season All-SBC pick James White, and that by itself has to kick us down a few notches. However, the rest of the team is what it was. If they were supposed to be good before the season began, they should be good now. What if everyone started playing like he ought to? like we thought he would? What if each player started living up to his potential? Nice thought. I hope they are thinking it.

Friday, February 13, 2015

James White has a record of sorts.

Because of his injury, he will finish the year 1 of 1 from the 3-point line. 100%.

Free throw shooting late in games

If we have to, this is a lineup we could insert in close games (assuming they were all available) in order to have good free throw shooting when things come to that point:

Josh Hagins - 82.9%
Ben Dillard - 82.1%
James Reid - 75.7%
Mareik Isom - 84.2%
Gus Leeper - 70.0%

Especially nice to have two big guys who can make free throws.

Georgia Southern pregame

Since they played us last on 31 Jan, they have won two and lost one - all at home. The loss was in overtime. They have pushed their way to the top of the Belt standings, but in all candor, they have had five straight home games. (How did that happen?) They will finish with 3 of 4 on the road.

They started a small line-up last time out: 6-8, 6-5, 6-4. Jelani Hewitt is their gunner, shooting 37% from the arc and averaging 18.8 ppg. Trent Weideman is their 6-8 big guy, who averages 12.1 ppg and 6.0 rpg.

Their defense is really outstanding: opponents average 38.7% overall and 29.8% from the arc. Even with their small lineup they are +3 on the boards.

GaSouthern has been surprisingly good this season. Hats off to them.

Sagarin has Georgia Southern by 5 points. RealtimeRPI has them by one.

Memphis jucos

Few of us had very high hopes for Jerron Washington and Andre Brown, the two jucos from Memphis. And the first half of the season pretty well confirmed our doubts. They played very little and contributed nothing of consequence. However, whether by calculation or as a measure of desperation, Shields has  been willing to throw them into the fray in the last couple of games, and the results have been very gratifying. It is always good to see kids get playing time, and you have to figure that it has made Jerron and Andre want to work that much harder. Clever use of his bench by Shields.

Steve Shields' season

This season (at least so far) has been one of the worst coaching jobs of Steve Shields’ long career at Little Rock. This team was picked to be one of the better ones in the Belt and instead have been one of the worst. Injuries have hurt, but this team has been far worse than what they would have caused us to be. We just have not played well at all.


However, to Shields’ credit, in the last couple of games he has shown some (for him) unusual creativity, and the team has played well as a result. Someone on the staff has taught Gus Leeper how to stay on the court longer, and that has been a huge plus. Shields is now using Andre Brown, who is now one of our taller players, and while he has not been a star, he has contributed some important minutes.

Looking at the App State game stats

Two things strike the eye right off: Andre Brown had 14 minutes and Gus Leeper had 26. Andre is getting into games and Gus is staying in them. That is huge on a team that has little size. Also, Mareik Isom had 5 rebounds in 18 minutes, which means that he is using his length to help us where we need help.

We took only 11 three-point shots, but we made 4 of them for 36%, which we would take any day. On the other hand, we shot 58% overall, which is huge on a team not known for its inside game since James White went down.

James Reid is turning into a steady player for us. His juco coach told us he was not just a shooter, and he is proving it. Three assists and zero turnovers.

I get the impression this team is starting to play within themselves and let the game come to them. Play their game. I am not making any wild predictions, but there is just a glimmer of hope now that we might make the tournament. The rest of our schedule is not in our favor, but if we are playing better, it might happen.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

App State postgame

This was a very big win, and quite frankly, I did not really expect it. Road wins are hard to come buy, and App State had been playing much better lately. But this team is starting to spit on their hands and do whatever it takes. All of a sudden this team, which had been truly awful for a while, has won two in a row and three of the last five.

Give the game ball to Josh Hagins. With Devonte Smith gone, he has been thrust back into the point guard role much of the time, and did a great job tonight; 14 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and zero turnovers. Great all-round performance. After Josh, there is plenty of credit to spread around. I won't go over the stats; you can read them, but suffice it to say this was a team win.

Once again Steve Shields started the Unlikely Five, and once again they held their own until the All-Stars came in. I do not know how long that tactic will work, but it has twice, so give Shields credit for a successful wrinkle.

This was a gutsy performance by a team that has taken its lumps this season. I hope they enjoy the feeling.

S-T-R-E-A-K

We won more than one game in a row only once this season: three in a row early in the year. We badly need to get a couple in a row to get some momentum headed down the stretch. No time like tonight. We shall see.

Just do your job

In our situation, we cannot hope to get where we need to be unless every player is in his place, doing his job. Paraphrasing what Nelson said at Trafalgar, "Little Rock expects that every man will do his duty." We MUST get in sync. We do not have the most talent in the conference, although we have more than our record would lead one to expect. What we CAN have is a team that works together, runs like a smooth machine, players who are not taking unnecessary chances in order to be heroes, etc. Just do your job. Not spectacular, just dependable. Not flashy, just reliable.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

App State pregame

They are 5-3 since they last played us, including a win over Georgia State. So, it looks like they are starting to get things in place. On the year they are still a terrible-shooting team (39% and 32%),  but they are +1 on the boards. They likely will start 6-8, 6-7, 6-5 across the front line. Frank Eaves is their big gunner at 17.5 ppg, followed by Tommy Spagnolo at 10.7 ppg and 7.4 rpg. After them the scoring falls off pretty quickly.

RealtimeRPI has App State by 7. Sagarin has them by 2. Obviously, this is a winnable game, and it would be nice to get a road win. If we play like we did against Texas State, we could do it, but the road is always tough.

About the new AD's first big act

That being the review of coaches after this season. I figure he has to demonstrate that he is his own man in this first go-round. So it will be HIS decision, not that of any booster. Just a guess.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

UCA finally wins

Having suffered, along with my son-in-law football coach, through a winless season a few years back, I know how it feels. So it was great to see that the UCA Bears finally won one.  Their victim was our old friend New Orleans. The Bears shot the ball very well for a change. Nice to see a W in the lefthand column in Conway!

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What cards do we have?

We are scrambling to climb three spots up the ladder in order to make the Belt tournament. Any team that is not just horrible has a few stronger points. They do a few things better than others. What cards do we have to play that might help us down the stretch? Well, it surely is not size, except maybe when Gus and Mareik are in the game at the same time. Lately, it has not been 3-point shooting. However, if our shooters could return to the form they had at the first of the year, that definitely would be a strength. We have taken good care of the ball and have a positive A/TO ratio as a team. We do that better than most teams. Roger Moore is a definite asset that other teams do not have: that combination of strength and quickness, plus some shooting ability. We can put a very good free throw shooting team on the floor when we need to. So, we do have a few entries on the plus side that a given opponent might not have. The staff needs to find ways to exploit those strengths to the maximum extent.

Monday, February 9, 2015

We just offered recruit Devon Thomas

LINK

LINK

The next two games will tell a lot

I thought we looked very good against Texas State. The next two games will tell a lot about whether or not we stand a chance to make the Belt tournament. We play App State on the road and Georgia Southern at home. In other words, a mid-pack team on the road and the 2nd place team at home. Can we sustain the intensity?

They all count the same

A quiet layup counts as 2 points. So does a thundering dunk. We sometimes get so caught up in the plays that make ESPN that we forget that spectacular plays count on the scoreboard no more than the everyday shots.

Defensive intensity alone

I will make a prediction: if we maintain just the defensive intensity that we displayed against Texas State, we will win enough games to make the tournament. Obviously, we cannot complete tank in all other aspects, but if we just do that, enough of the effort will carry over into other factors that we will get there.

Rally? It could be fun regardless

If this team rallies down the stretch and wins some games, it could make for a fun ending to the season, regardless of what happens in the coaching drama. It is always enjoyable to see a team that is down come roaring back.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

One reason Ben Dillard is still playing a lot

Ben Dillard's shooting has been terrible of late, but he is still playing. He provides important senior leadership, of course, and consistent defense. But one other aspect of his game that might be overlooked is his 1.77 assist/turnover ratio, which is outstanding for a shooting guard.

Patience with Mariek Isom paid off

First there was his injury, and then his very slow start as a shooter. But the staff was patient with Isom, and has it paid dividends! He is our best shooter this year, and has been a life-saver as Ben Dillard and J. T. Thomas have cooled off. His game is somewhat one-dimensional at this point, but we can put up with that to have his shooting.

If we should make the tournament

With all our woes this year, we are now in a 3-way tie for last with Troy and Ark State, with two other teams one full game ahead of us - Texas State and USA. Of our remaining 7 games, only two of them are against those teams. So, if we make it, we will have to make it for the most part against the better teams in the conference. That weighs against our making it. However, one the plus side of the ledger, if we should make it, that would say that we might be able to make some noise in the tourney since we would have been hot enough to win the necessary games against the better teams.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Texas State postgame

Very strong game. Why cannot we play that way every game? The defensive intensity was there (for most of the game, anyway), we dominated the boards, we were aggressive on offense. We held them to 26% from the arc, while we shot 38% - just a reverse of the previous game. We used our depth well, and this time it paid off.

Game ball to Mareik Isom. Excellent offensive game.

Slow starts are a killer

I see right now where #4 Duke leads #10 Notre Dame by 20 points with 3:52 left in the first half. It is tough when a team digs an immediate hole for itself, so much so that the game plan laid our by the coaches becomes almost irrelevant and the team has to go into life support mode.

100 Greatest Baseball Players (through 1999)

The Sporting News has been as close to an expert source on baseball as could be found. Here is a link to their list of the greatest baseball players of all-time.

LINK

The greatest World Series performance ever?

It happened early on. In 1905, Christy Mathewson shut out the Philadelphia A's three times in six days. Over those three games he walked only ONE batter and allowed fourteen hits. There have been many memorable performances in the history of the Series, but surely this one would be hard to top.

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I wonder what Stetson's lot will be

If, as we generally assume, this is Shields' last year here, what will happen to Stetson Billings? He is not currently on scholarship, and unless there was something in writing that is binding upon the University (which didn't happen), he probably will be a casualty of the turnover. Sad. Stetson was one of my favorite players because he seemed to work hard and learn his role.

Basketball games are still fun

At least if they are reasonably close. (Blowouts are not much fun.) It is painful to have a very bad year, but if we love the game and enjoy watching it, a well-played basketball game is very enjoyable, even if we come out on the losing end.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Things are confused all over

On the front page of the ESPN College Basketball site today there are articles about Ohio State suspending a player, Duke dismissing a player, and Kansas State suspending two. Some days it seems like there are nearly as many players going out as there are coming in.

Texas State pregame

The Bobcats are 11-10 overall and 5-7 in conference. Since we played them last they are 2-6, so they are in somewhat of a slide. However last time out they beat South Alabama in Mobile.

This is a team that hangs its hat on defense, and they do it very well. Opponents shoot 40.5% against them over all and 29.5% from the arc. Last time out we went up against a good perimeter-defensive team and did not fare well at all. We will see if things go any  better  this time around.

They have only one double-figure scorer - Emani Gant at 13.8, and he is also their leading rebounder at 6.8. Their stats do not really catch the eye, except for the 3PT defensive percentage.

Sagarin projects the game as a virtual tie. RealtimeRPI picks us by 3.

In three of the last four games our shooting has been really pathetic, the only exception being (thankfully) Arkansas State.

Ben Dillard's inexplicable slide

Headed down the stretch of his solid career at Little Rock, all of a sudden Ben Dillard's shooting has totally disappeared. Over his last four games he is 2 out of 17. I have no idea why this is happening, but I would guess it has to do with pressing to try to resurrect a dismal season. Sad.

BenĀ DillardĀ 770265

Monroe postgame

Monroe is one of the better teams in the conference, and it is not surprising that we lost to them at home, but the margin is a little surprising. But this team is going to win or lose at the 3-point line, and we shot only 19% from there, which pretty much finished the story, because they shot very well inside the arc, and dominated the boards. They had twice the points in the paint (44 to 22) that we had. We live or die from the arc. Last night we died.

Give the game ball - easily - to Maurius Hill. Probably the best game of his career. He was one rebound away from a 20/10 double/double.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Another reason the 3-point shot is bad for the game

Good shooters used to shoot from where the flow of the game sent them. When they got open and had a good shot, they took a good shot. Today the only "good shot" is with your toes just behind an arbitrary arc drawn on the court. This may not be where logic or the ebb and flow of play sends them, but because it is "the place" to shoot, that is where they shoot. Bad basketball.

What about monster blocks?

Lots of video clips on the internet about monster dunks. What about monster blocks, or slick steals, or dead-eye passes? No wonder this game is messed up.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Interesting visit with a basketball official

At a fast food place in Fort Smith, I ran into a gentleman who had officiated at a couple of games at Magazine high school, where I do the PA. This would have included junior high games, Magazine is a AA school, the next-to-lowest classification in Arkansas. This official also calls college games, which is not all that unusual, but they include games at Division 1 schools. That is a pretty broad spectrum of games, running as it does pretty much across the full span of levels of play. Changing gears from night to night could be a challenge.

How my alma maters are doing this year

I attended two years at Westark Community College (now UAFS) and three at Arkansas Tech. So far this season UAFS is 12-8 (8-4 in conference. Tech is 9-12 (5-8 in conferenc.

Here is a team that can shoot

William and Mary is averaging 50% overall and 41.6% from the arc, not to mention 72.8% from the line. All five of their starters average 46.5% or better from the field.

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Monroe pregame

Monroe is now 14-8 and 8-3 in conference, tied for second a half-game out of first. Since they played us last time they have gone 3-2 with a win at Lafayette and at Troy, and losses to Arlington and Georgia Southern at home. They continue to have almost unbelievably good defense. They hold opponents to 37.7% overall and 28.6% from the arc. (Your offense does not have to be very good when the other guys have those sorts of numbers.) They only have one double-figure scorer, but four in the 9.6 to 8.5 range. They are plus 2 on the  boards and have a 1.15 ATO ratio as a team. So this team does not beat themselves too much.

In my book, Keith Richard is a shoo-in for Coach of the Year. He took a program that was under APR limitations and at the bottom of the heap, and has built them into one of the better teams in the conference.

I guess you could say that we ought to win any home game, but this team is at the point that wins are going to depend on whether or not we are hot from the 3-point line.

RealtimeRPI has us winning by 6. Sagarin has Monroe by a fraction.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mike the Tiger

Mike the Tiger is, of course, the mascot of LSU Tigers. The first Mike was purchased, oddly enough, from the Little Rock zoo.

My uncle (Daddy's brother-in-law), Dr. L. D. Newsom was head of the Entomology Department at LSU for probably 20 years, and we visited them on a few occasions. On one of those trips, they took us on a tour of the LSU campus, and one of the required stops for any such sight-seeing is Mike. I am guessing that Mike III (1958-1976) was probably the one we saw, and he was an impressive animal. I am not an LSU fan, but ever since then I have been a fan of Mike.

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Sports history from a European perspective

I am reading the book Psmith in the City, by P. G. Wodehouse, the great English comedy writer. It was first published in 1910. Early in the book, Psmith worms his way into the confidence of one of the managers at the bank where he works by pretending to be a fan of Manchester United. I am not particularly a soccer fan, but M. U. is one of the few team names that I know. And they were a household name, evidently, in 1910, much the same as the Cincinnati Reds would have been here in the States. Maybe Manchester United is the New York Yankees of Europe, and they have old franchises that are the flagships of the sport just as much as we do.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Latest entry in the Just Blast Away Hall of Shame

St. Francis Brooklyn junior guard Tyreek Jewell has taken more 3-point shots than anyone else on the team, despite the fact that he is shooting a miserable 18.9% from the arc. They have three players shooting 38% or better, so they have other perimeter options. Where is the coach?!

Basketball's hour in the light

The Super Bowl is over - mercifully - and now sports fans are forced to pay a little attention to basketball or to spend aimless hours mulling over football recruiting. A little less than two months. Football gets mid-August through the first of February. Disproportionate, I would say.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thoughts on the Arkansas State win

This is a little late for a true post-game, but I will toss out these thoughts. Any road win in conference is a big thing. Any win at Jonesboro is HUGE. Enjoy it. those wins may not be very plentiful this year. This team is playing with one arm, figuratively, and necessity has dictated that we do not have very many Plan B options; but when things do click, it is very nice.

Three-point help from an unexpected source

As the averages of our usual three-point shooters plummet (Ben Dillard to 31.8%, J. T. Thomas to 29.5%), who should step up but our main big man, Roger Woods. We were told he could hit the 3, but nothing in the first part of the season indicated that he would be a dead-eye. But there he is at 40%. Help in time of need.

History repeating itself

Once again circumstances have dictated that Gus Leeper has to play a significant and key role in the team's fortunes down the stretch of the season. He is not a big scorer nor a big rebounder, but he is the guy for us in the middle as the season winds down. Gus is dependable, and you know he will be in there giving his best.