Thursday, April 30, 2015

Shields' future

I will be very interested to see where Steve Shields lands. I did not know him personally and only met him in passing a couple of times, but he ran a clean program and seemed to be a class act - as least as compared with a lot of college coaches. Doubtless after over a decade in the D1 game he has a multitude of contacts, and it seemed that he was well thought of in the game. Exactly what he brings to the table I could not say. I do not know where his expertise lies. He did seem to be able to get kids to play hard. I have to figure that he will be able to land a job somewhere.

Fish's visit was a stroke of marketing genius

I do not know whose idea it was to have Derek Fisher be the headliner at the annual SpectacUALR event, but it was a great idea. There has been some media and general interest in the program generated by the coaching change. So why not bring in the program's biggest name - the only name that the fan on the street (i.e., Razorback fans) knows from the Little Rock program. Shoot, even a few Hog fans might come to the event just to see him. If you have a wave, put your surfboard on it and ride it to the beach. Great idea!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Want to bring back excitement? Fix rebounding.

If you look in the official NCAA basketball record book, you will find that they break out rebounding since 1973 as a distinct category. Several years ago I found an explanation of why that happened. It had to do with a dramatic shift in the philosophy regarding rebounding. (I searched the internet diligently but in vain to find it again.) Evidently in the old days teams would have a Designated Rebounder whose job it was to police the boards, and the other players would break lose, presumably for fast breaks. The NCAA saw that the rebounding totals began dropping  dramatically since about 1973, so in order to compare apples to apples, they brought in the special category. That is interesting, because it is the ONLY category in which they do that. They do not break out scoring or steals or blocks, etc. To show how much rebounding has dropped, note that of the top 25 all-time single season rebounds/game leaders, the most recent was Artis Gilmore in 1970. That was 45 years ago.

So, if we make the assumption that the fast break is critical to bringing back the excitement of basketball - and I think that is a very valid assumption -  what can we do to help that along? Fix rebounding. Abandon the "team rebounding" concept and go back to the DR (Designated Rebounder) system. It is problematical if any coach would be willing to do that in this age of the 3-point shot, with more boards bounding out farther on the court; but even if they would be willing to take that risk, it would mean a complete shift in coaching philosophy. You cannot start a classic fast break on a consistent basis unless your guards release as a matter of course, but will coaches do that? Do they have enough confidence in their big man to get the boards? Will they take the risk of not getting some of the longer rebounds?

30-second shot clock: What would it accomplish?

It looks like there is a good chance that the NCAA will change the rules to shorten the shot clock to 30 seconds. What would this accomplish? Probably not much. That is not enough of a decrease to make coaches change their styles. Probably all it means is that teams that cannot get off a shot would be heaving up desperation 3-pointers five seconds earlier. I am sure the rule change is designed (as always) to generate more offense, and it would probably increase scoring by a little bit simply because teams would be taking more total shots, but it is doubtful that it would change the pace of games.

There is, however, one area where it might make a subtle difference. Since seconds to shot would be more precious by 8.6%, teams would be wanting to get across the time line and into their offenses that much sooner, which means it would be that much more beneficial for opposing teams to press in order to slow them down.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The value of this blog?

Well, honestly, practically nothing. My opinions are worth no more than anyone else's, less than most. Outside of a reasonably good grasp of relative statistical data and perhaps an ability to turn a phrase well occasionally, there is little here to rivet attention. Still, in the doldrums of the off-season in a state where basketball gets little attention anyway, maybe it has some small value. I have seen a blog covering teams in the northeast that calls itself a Daly Dose of Hoops LINK, and perhaps that is what I am trying to accomplish - just a little (mainly) basketball information daily, just to keep things rolling.

Getting some height is imperative

With the possibility/likelihood/certainty that James White is leaving the program, Coach Beard MUST address - quickly - the problem of size. I know there are those who say that with the 3-point shot and up-tempo basketball you do not need big players, but if the other team has them, how do you guard them? Even if you can run an effective offense without height, how do you defend without it?

250 wins

If my calculations are correct, I have enjoyed 250 wins as a Trojan fans. That is a lot of fun. And, to be honest, there have been some losses that I actually enjoyed because they were good, exciting basketball. And more wins to come. Go Trojans!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Trojan track and field

This definitely is a sport where there is room for improvement. The Trojans have little depth and so have a hard time working toward team titles. However, all through the season we have been putting marks on the all-time program lists, so that is a good sign. It means we have not been the strong in the past, but are moving in the right direction.


Aren't things dragging a little bit?

Although I am no expert on such things, by any means, it is almost three weeks after Coach Beard was announced, and we have not a single assistant announced (officially) yet. And the signing period ends less than a month from now. Still time, but it is slipping away. We should have some outstanding senior talent returning next season, and it would be a shame to fritter away its potential because we waited too late to get on the recruiting trail. It is easy for me to sit here and talk about these when I do not have to do them, but I am starting to get a little bit concerned. I certainly hope the lag does not mean we are having trouble signing up the people we want as assistants.

Sometimes you have to take what the coach says with a grain of salt

Like what Rick Ray said when he took the job at SEMO after losing the Mississippi State job. Oh, I am sure he is glad to have a job, but does anybody think he is really thrilled to be there in an absolute sense. Sort of like saying I am glad to be in a lifeboat after the cruise ship sank.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cameron Stilwell - new Trojan baseball recruit

Purely by accident I learned today that a young man that I know personally has committed to play baseball for the Trojans. I have known him for several years and he comes from a fine family. Evidently he was at the ORU game and met the coach and team there. His mother said they expect to redshirt him next season. I know nothing about his game, but from the internet it appears he plays the middle infield positions. His father and grandfather evidently were also good baseball players.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Another off-season, the same gripes

We will hear it all summer.  "Slow is BAD." "Up tempo is entertaining." "The rules need to be changed to make things tougher for defenses." And, they likely will change the rules, because fast is good, slow is bad. It doesn't matter how many turnovers there are, how many bad passes, how many ill-advised shots taken. Fast is good.

So, just quit pretending and change the rules all the way. Change to a 15-second clock. Give the players time to get the ball across the half-court, and then shoot it! Take "shot selection" totally out of the vocabulary.  Make it a mandatory foul if the defensive player touches the offensive player AT ALL. After all, we are not talking about making basketball better here, but about making it more exciting, and fast is exciting, so fast must be good. Go ahead. That would "fix" basketball the way these guys think, because slow is bad.

So much we do not know

We know the name of the new head coach. We have a lot of rumors and assumptions about what players will or will not be returning, and who the assistants will be. But right now it is pretty much just a big blank. Hard even to speculate.

Richard deserved COY

Monroe's Keith Richard deserved the Coach of the Year award in the Sun Belt, but maybe with an asterisk. It is not so much what he did this year (which certainly was good), but what he has done over the last few years. He took a program that was a complete train wreck and has brought it up to near the top of the Belt, with a strong recruiting class coming in. One of the better resurrection projects in recent years.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Coach K has no gripe coming: Bo Ryan was right

Duke coach complained about Bo Ryan's "Rent-a-Championship" comment after the NCAA tournament finals. Bo was understandably disappointed and probably should have left things alone, but his comment is right on the mark. When you bring in one-and-done types, they only have to go to class one semester and can take gravy classes in the first semester, so their entire tenure at the college is a complete farce. And Coach K. knows it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Coach Beard at least comes across as genuine

People have been fooled before, and one press conference is not much to go on, but I will say that he did not sound phoney. I really think he is glad to be in Little Rock.

Baseball takes a dip

After getting our hopes up by winning two of three from Texas State and then beating ranked Missouri, the Little Rock baseballers have hit a tough stretch. They were swept by Georgia Southern, and then lost to Oral Roberts. And their next seven games are on the road. Hard work ahead if we want to salvage the season.

"Every Wisconsin practice is an infomercial for basketball's basics."

(ESPN's Myron Medcalf)

How much height is enough?

When we look at a team roster for purely size, there are a lot of things we do not see. We cannot see vertical leap, physical strength, weight, quickness, etc. In other words, there are a host of factors in big man play other than height. In fact, a player does nothing with the top of his head, so height is relevant only as it is generally related to other factors, e.g., taller players on the average will have longer arms. However, height is a general place to start. A team does need some size on the inside.

So, in nice, round numbers, how much height does a team need at the Sun Belt level? This is the most general of generalizations, but we do not have much to talk about in the off-season, so let's do it. My rule of thumb has been that we would like to have two players 6-9 or taller. Like to have. Teams in the money conferences usually have three or four, but we usually do not have that luxury. (Wasn't it unique here recently when we had three players 6-10 or taller?) That is my rule of thumb, which I note and then quickly forget. I and everyone else had much rather have a 6-8 Jones-Jennings than a seven-footer who cannot or will not rebound.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What if a coach did this?

What if he took the 3-point line completely off his practice court, and told his players, "I want you taking the right shot, regardless of where some line is on the court. Shoot from where the situation and the flow of play dictates you ought to shoot, and forget about some arbitrary spot that the NCAA has dictated you will shoot."

No one is going to do that, of course, but it would be interesting to see what happened. What if a coach taught his players to take the best shot, the high-percentage shot, always - not just a shot that was prescribed by the NCAA?

When the Rules Committee copied the old ABA by putting in the 3-point line, they in effect instituted a well-worn path where an inordinate number of shots would be taken. Thus they made offenses that much more predictable and therefore that much easier to defend. NO WONDER the game has become ponderous, with players standing in line to take their turn at the arc, where even the water boy knows they are going to be shooting.

In the good old days, basketball had an ebb and flow that was completely spontaneous and beautiful to watch. Every shot counted the same, so virtually every spot on the court was a possible place for a shot, if the shooter was open. Some people complain about Porter Moser's motto, "Pass up a good shot to take a better shot." Now we have, throughout the game from junior high to professional, "Pass up a good shot to take a three-point shot."

It is not brain surgery how to fix what supposedly ails basketball. All we have to do is kill a cow, but that cow is a sacred cow, so it will never be killed, no matter how much the game is starving.

I knew there was something I liked about Pitt

My son-in-law got me a Pitt T-shirt back when he worked in that area, and I treasure it. I have followed Panther basketball for several years. In an article today, ESPN's Dana O'Neil referred to Pitt's "old-school, blue-color style." I love it! Just exactly what I like in a basketball team.

Which do you want?

Do you want more scoring or more action? The two do not necessarily go hand in hand. When the fences are short in baseball, there is a lot of scoring because the sluggers hit a lot of home runs - but is that action in the true sense of the word? Is watching guys trotting around the bases really exciting? Doubles and stolen bases and hits in the gap may not produce the same number of runs, but they do produce more action.

What about the 3-point shot. It produces more scoring because it gives half-again as many points for the same act. But does it produce more action? It is more exciting watching a player jack one up from long distance, or watching a player slashing to the basket with the defenders converging on him? But since we have placed such a disproportionate importance on the 3-point shot, why should teams do anything else? Just stand around the perimeter and shoot. Folks will grind their teeth at me, but we have created a glorified game of HORSE, and that is not nearly as exciting.

Which do you want: scoring or action? They are not the same thing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monroe signs Ramses Sandifer

Good things got better in Monroe. They just inked 6-8 forward Ramses Sandifer, a 3-star prospect. His numbers look very good. We had been among those after him.

Maybe not always, but usually

Trying to make up with athleticism what should be happening through good, fundamental basketball will almost always result in sloppy play.

Josh without a title?

Josh Hagins likely will end his career well up the lists in several statistical categories. It will be a shame if he departs without some sort of a title.

The same type of frustration

Trying to enjoy the speculation that fans do in the off-season is like trying to put together a puzzle without all the pieces. Usually there is one piece missing from a puzzle, so you have a pretty good idea what it will look like, but this year maybe half of them are "missing" (indefinite or unknown).

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gleaning a little about Beard

His team last year shot the ball well (52.8%),  and also defended well (39.3%). They shot the 3PT well (39%) and defended it well (31.3%). They had a good rebounding margin (6.1). They had an excellent A/TO ratio (1.46). They and their opponents averaged 148 points per game between them. These were conference games only.

2013-2014 stats. Shot 46% and allowed 40%. Shot 33.7% 3PT and allowed 34.1%. Had 3.6 rebounding margin. Had -0.5 turnover margin and A/TO of 0.9. They and their opponents averaged 142 point/game between them.

So last year was definitely better than the year before. But the constant seems to be that they play tough defense and hit the boards. They played at a somewhat faster pace than this past year's version of the Trojans did (139.5 combined points). In fact, this past year's version of Angelo played at a faster pace than all the SBC teams. Granted that they were facing a considerably poorer defense than what SBC teams do, still that indicates that Coach Beard's teams get up and down the floor, which probably will make most folks happy.

Vain speculation

Little Rock basketball is famous for its blackouts of information, especially now without Burn the Horse as a source. After more than a decade of relative stability, we are now in a state of even less information than usual due to the coaching change. Frustrating.

What do we know about Chris Beard's coaching?

Not too much at this point outside of the fact that he favors a motion offense. He said all the right things at the press conference, but left us pretty much in the dark as to the details of his strategy, both recruiting and coaching.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One minor reason I like basketball

I attend a few area high school football games every year, but I joke that my fanship wanes in direct proportion to the winter weather. I really like baseball, but in mid-summer sitting in the evening sun can be uncomfortable. But basketball is played indoors. No rain or snow, no sun. Central heat and air. (Now if I can just get them to turn down that loud, obnoxious music.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

A grinder

“Love the hire of Chris Beard,”’s Jeff Goodman said. “He’s extremely well respected in the industry and is considered a terrific coach as well as a grinder – which is needed in a place like Little Rock to be successful.”

I am not sure what Goodman meant by a "grinder," but it probably means that he is not flashy, but plugs away over time. I like that quality.

Long trip to college basketball

Idaho State forward Andre Slavik is a native of Slovakia. An article on their official site about him said that he grew up in "a  basketball town, but in an ice hockey and soccer country." However, his father had played basketball, so that is where he ended up. Basketball is a pretty universal sport, but it is far from being the biggest sport in many countries.

Andre Slavik

How long does it take to assemble a staff?

I realize that you do not hire people overnight. There is a procedure that has to be followed and those things take time. But how much time? I would assume that when a coach makes the final cut, he is beginning to think who he wants on his staff if he gets the job, so he has that much already done. And perhaps has even made a few private inquiries. On his initial staff he probably is not going to hire someone he does not know. So how long should it take?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Protocol for official announcements

I probably will never know, but I would be curious to learn about the procedures for official announcements to the press and on the official website. Probably reports on games have to go no further than the SID. However, I am guessing that personnel announcements have to go a little further up the ladder than that, since sometimes there are legalities involved, particularly when an employee or player leaves the program. Maybe those would have to be approved by the legal department? I do not know, but I feel sure there are definite procedures that are followed.

Once a Trojan, always a Trojan

If our new AD did nothing else right during his tenure, his immediate institution of the LITTLE ROCK'S TEAM emphasis would have been a notable accomplishment. Just exactly the right thing to do, and lots of us were saying that for years. We do not hope to move into Fayetteville's bailiwick, but we would like to carve out a niche in the state's largest city - and defend it with an aggressive PR campaign. Well, done, Chasse!

Now, let me suggest a tag-on campaign to that one. UALR is and has been one of the largest schools in the state for some time, but has been woefully lacking in alumni support because of the historic position of the university as a commuter school. School loyalty when you are not a part of campus life is understandably lacking. But we have a state full of UALR grads who ought to be and could be proud of their school. So as a tag line to the new campaign, add on a reminder that these folks are a part of the school and ought to support it.

Once a Trojan, always a Trojan!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Strong showing by Little Rock's women's golf

Finished 3rd in the SBC championship. Stina Resen won individual medalist honors. Four of the Trojans' top five finishers should return next season.


Did Otis Campell cost me the race?

               I was a competitive runner in our class on a local level in the 1971 track season. Due to senioritis and injuries, our team at Booneville High School was not very good, but I was the high point man at the District Meet. In fact, coach had told me very pointedly before the meet that he wanted eight points out of me, and he didn’t care how I got them. Back then the scoring was on a 6-4-3-2-1 basis, so he meant I had to have a win and a fourth place, or two second places.
              All season long I had battled with Charleston’s Greg Luther in both the mile and the 880. He was a strong, competitive runner, and I never was able to beat him. In fact, he went on to win the 880 at the state meet the next weekend, so the was the real deal. There were several good competitors in our district, including my younger brother, Robert, but Greg and I were the two best middle-distance runners in our class in the immediate area, and he was by himself in first place.

               With Coach’s ultimatum ringing in my ears, I knew I had to run a good race in the mile, which was the first of the two races, and the one in which I had the better chance against Luther. As we came past the end of the first lap, two runners from Paris boxed me in – obviously a deliberate tactic to hinder my progress. One ran just in front of me and the other on my shoulder, so that I could not get out without fouling one of them and possibly forfeiting the race, or falling back until I could get outside the pack, which would cost time and energy. They stayed there for the entire second lap, but as we came past the finish line I noticed that the man on my shoulder had dropped off the pace a little and left enough of a gap that I could get through without fouling him, so I darted through and took off. Luther took off after me, and we quickly broke away from the pack.
               I kept the lead all the third lap. He was just sitting there behind me, waiting to launch his potent kick when the time was right. I knew that if I could fight him off down the final back straight, I had a chance; and I probably did some of the best running of my modest career down that long straightaway. If I could hold him off to the curve, I knew he likely would not try to pass on the outside lane; and that is the way it worked out. I had a half-step lead on him, holding the advantage of the inside lane as we came out of the final curve into the stretch.

               If you will think  back, you will remember a character from the Andy Griffith television program named Otis Campbell, the town drunk. There was a kid from Dardanelle whose last name was Campbell, who was nicknamed after the TV character. He had  been required by his coach to run the mile, probably as off-season training for football, and undoubtedly unwillingly. He was a full lap behind the leaders and knew nothing about the etiquette of running, which requires runners being lapped to move to the outside lanes so that the leaders are not hindered. All he knew was that he was exhausted and still had another lap to go, so he was doggedly plugging along, head down, and nothing in the world was going to make him run farther than he had to by moving to an outside lane.
              Because “Otis” was in lane one, I was blocked, so I had to break stride to get around him, by which time Luther had rushed past and there was no chance I was going to catch him with only a few yards left and my momentum broken. I have no idea if I could have beaten Luther, because he was a fine, tough runner; but I have always wished that I had had a chance to see how it might have ended.

               The postscript to the story is that I set the school record in that race, but I held it only six days. Luther dropped out of the mile in the state meet to concentrate on the 880, so my brother was moved into his slot. I was nervous and did not run well at all, but Robert did; and he broke my school record. Ah, how fleeting is fame!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trojan baseball keeps coming on!

Nice close win over #24 Missouri. (The official site listed them as #14.) How 'bout those Trojans! As I write the Trojan women are tied for 2nd in the Belt championship golf tournament. Looking up!


One-and-done: I do not like the option, but . . .

Since the NBA evidently is not going to change its rules, there is one thing that the college game could do to help fix the problem. Just go back to making freshmen ineligible. Then, those big money one-year sorts would be sitting out their freshmen years, so all of them would probably go to the NBA out of high school. Not a very good option, but it might send a message to the NBA.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I wonder if we tried for Rick Ray

SEMO got him. Even the Belt is better than the OVC.

And you don't think college basketball has gone backward?

Look at the list of players on the All-American team from 1968. Watch this film clip.

How Alcindor compared with today's crop of big men

Very nice spot on ESPN. I agree. Alcindor would have had them for breakfast.


A lot of meaningless information

Rivals recruiting database currently lists 13 players who have an interest in Little Rock who have not yet committed. Presumably, none of those are on the table at this point with the new coach, so Rivals did a lot of work for nothing, I suppose.

Anthony Grant ends up assistant at Florida

I had thought (dreamed) that we might have a shot at him, but obviously being an assistant at Florida is a lot better job than a head coach in Little Rock.

The irony for Steve Shields

In his final season as Little Rock coach, after enduring snipes throughout his tenure for playing boring offense, his team was 4th in the Belt in points per game.

Where we ended in SBC stats

Team stats where we were top three or bottom three:
Scoring defense - 9th
FG% defense - 10th
3PT % - 2nd
3PT% defense - 11th
Rebounding margin - 11th
Turnover margin - 2nd
Assist/turnover ratio - 2nd
Offensive rebounds - 9th
3PT FG made - 2nd

Scoring Josh Hagins - 14th
Rebounding - Roger Woods 10th
FG% - Roger Woods - 10th
Assists - Josh Hagins 8th
FT% - Josh Hagins 3rd, Ben Dillard 4th
Steals - Josh Hagins 7th
3PT% - Mareik Isom 1st, James Reid 15th
3PT FG made - James Reid 11th
A/TO ratio - Josh Hagins 5th

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The new coach will have to hurry

We will soon be into the late recruiting period. Most of the prime targets are taken. Of course, he probably was already plugged into the pipeline, even from the D2 level, so it is not like he is working blind. He might even bring one of his better players with him if he had anyone that good. Thankfully, if everyone comes back, he probably does not need a lot of recruiting help this year except for a rebounder, so he has time. Really, he got a break by what Shields had waiting for him, so that gives him some slack. But he badly needs a proven rebounding/defensive post player, and every day his recruiting team is not put together is a day that he player(s) he wants could go elsewhere.

Opportunity for Trojan baseball

At the moment (with a game currently under way) we are in second place by a full game. The golf teams have been looking good. Things may be looking up in Little Rock overall.

The tension and pressure of golf

It is probably different from that of any other sport. Total focus on one distinct act, with no one altering or defending your shot, just you and how well you do it. If you do not play well, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Shades of Gary Player

As I write during the 2nd round of the 2015 Masters, three of the top 18 spots are held by golfers from South Africa. It takes my mind back to all-time great Gary Player, who won nine majors from 1959 to 1978.

All Black.jpg

Tribute to Ben Dillard

Like his fellow-senior Gus Leeper, Ben Dillard was a joy to watch and a credit to the college. Like Leeper, he was never spectacular, but always steady, doing the little things that made the team better. He evidenced little emotion on the court, but led by his example. Even late in his senior year, when he inexplicably lost his shooting touch, he was still playing good defense and making the team better. On a playground, Ben would not have been someone you notice, but in a team setting, he was a valuable player. A lot of fans did not give him the credit he was due simply because he was not flashy.
His stats:
122 games
FG - 221 of 580 (38.1%)
3PT - 101 of 286 (35.3%)
FT – 253 of 307 (82.4%)
192 rebounds (1.6 per game)
118 assists (1.0 per game)
60 steals
796 points (6.5 per game)

His 122 career games are the most ever by a Trojan, surpassing Courtney Jackson’s 120.
His 101 career 3PT baskets made is 14th all-time.
His 82.4% career FT% is 5th all-time.
One of my real regrets about Ben’s career is the shooting slump he went into in his senior season. At the end of his junior season, his career 3PT% was first all-time, but he had such a poor final year that he fell off the all-time list in the media guide. Even so, his career percentage is more than respectable.

I have no way of knowing, but I am guessing that Ben Dillard was a joy to coach, and that he could be a coach very soon if he wants to.

Ben Dillard 770265

Friday, April 10, 2015

Best coaching job in America right now

At this particular moment, it is the job Gregg Marshall has at Wichita State. When you are King of the Hill at a basketball school in a basketball state, and that school is not the school that for years has ruled that basketball state, that is a good job. Add to that the fact that he is making an obscene amount of money, especially for a non-money-conference school. Add to that the fact that there is every indication that he should be able to sustain a high level of success over the foreseeable future. Not bad at all.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Does it REALLY matter if the new coach wins big?

Or does it only matter that he plays uptempo? I wonder if, after five years, his teams average 90 points per game, but have never been to the NCAA Tournament, some folks will be saying, "We need to be patient and give him time." The odds are we will never know, because he might make the tournament (more about being lucky than being good), and he might move on for some reason or other before that time anyway.

Tribute to Gus Leeper

He played four years (plus a redshirt season), was never involved in any sort of off-the-court scandal. That counts in my book. From every outward indication he was a class act.

His numbers:
112 games
140 of 313 from the field (44.8%)
80 of 109 from the line (73.4%)
363 points (3.2 per game)
264 rebounds (2.4 per game)
58 blocks

Those are not the sort of numbers that blow anyone away, but they are the tale of a career in which Gus was always a steady, reliable post presence. His late-season surge in the NCAA Tournament year was a big part of our success. And for those of us who have followed Trojan  basketball for a while, he will be remembered as one of the better free throw shooters among the big men to play here.

It was fun to root for players like Gus Leeper. You could do it with a clear conscience.

Gus Leeper 717011

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Double your fun

Not only does a coaching change bring with it the anticipation and speculation of who the new man will be, but also who the assistants will be, what players will leave, what recruiting commitments will be honored, and whether or not the new coach can piece together a recruiting class in time to patch up any holes. The one big domino toppled sets off the fall of lots of smaller ones. Lots to talk and speculate about.

Assessing the new coach

Not a home run, but that is more than you can expect on our budget, so we will call it a solid extra-base hit. Not great, but certainly not bad.

What I do like about Beard is that he has experience both as head coach at different levels and as an assistant at a couple different D1 programs. I suspect coaches may learn more about some aspects of coaching at the lower levels where it is harder work, and he has done it at three different strata of the basketball world. Add to that the fact that he has been an assistant at a level comparable to ours (North Texas) and also at Texas Tech for a decade, seven of them under Bobby Knight. While I have no use for Knight as a person, even his detractors would admit that he has a great basketball mind, so Beard is bound to have learned a few things about the game.

In short, this is a guy who has paid his dues, not one of the fancy-dans who rides the coat-tails of a high-profile coach into an immediate D1 stint. I like that. He ought to be hungry.

Final 2015 records watch

Here are the entries from this year that made the media guide Year and Career leaders.

Ben Dillard finished at 82.4% for 4th all-time

Josh Hagins has 300 for 6th.

Josh Hagins has 126 for 4th.

James White has 80 for 8th.

Josh Hagins has 116 for 12th.

Mariek Isom had 45.0% for 6th.

Josh Hagins had 52 to tie for 12th.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What I wish ESPN would do

During  basketball season, have a feature each week of something like "Great Hidden Plays." Then have some knowledgeable coach look at the films and pick out some plays that would not be noticed by the average fan, but that win games. Things like blocking out, taking charges, denying the ball to the player you are guarding, making smart but not spectacular passes, etc. ESPN has done more than anyone to glorify the sensational and trivialize the everyday, and it the everyday things that makes good basketball.

Coach K needs to send a commission check to Bo Ryan

because if Duke plays Kentucky  in the finals, UK wins 7 times out of 10. Wisconsin did the dirty work.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Whether or not Wisconsin wins

they have been a lot of fun to watch. Just a bunch of fun-loving kids having a good time, enjoying the moment.

Harrison validated our opinion of Calipari

We assumed it of Calipari: he recruited kids of questionable character who had dazzling talent. In other words, Rent-a-Championship. That was what he apparently did at Memphis, and it carried over to Kentucky. And Andrew Harrison's low-class comments just confirmed our opinion.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Who woulda thunk it?

Kentucky believed their own hype. Wisconsin believed their coach. Wisconsin won. It does not always work out that nicely, but this time it did, and it is very, very sweet.


Size does not always win the day

Kentucky had all those 7-footers on the roster, and Wisconsin HAMMERED them on the boards 34-22. That just shows that sometimes grit wins over talent.

Reverse racial discrimination

If Frank Kaminsky had done what Andrew Harrison did, do you think the reaction would have been the same? Do you think anyone would actually believe that it was "said in jest?" Of course not! The national media would be calling for Kaminsky to be drawn and quartered.

Trying to water down Wooden

I hear commentators saying that John Wooden's accomplishments in the NCAA tournament need to have an asterisk because the tournament was not at 64 teams at that point. Come on, guys! Do you really think the 37th-best team in the country was going to beat one of those UCLA teams?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Not overwhelmed by the candidates, but we shall see


I am not hugely excited by the Final Five candidates, but  then I do not know precisely what Conque is looking for. Joe knows the program and the players. Who knows if he could be a head coach. Darrell Walker does not excite me at all - AT ALL. My picks would be Downey and Pearson probably, but I will not lose sleep over it, since I am not getting paid to make the choice.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Here is why I REALLY appreciated Steve Shields

From their official site:

Bowling Green State University has terminated the employment of Men's Head Basketball Coach Chris Jans. Jans was terminated following an investigation into his recent public conduct. The University concluded that Jans' public conduct failed to meet his obligations as a head coach and the expectations that BGSU Athletics has for its coaches.
The University will have no further comment on this personnel matter.

Shields was here for over a decade and you never heard any of this sort of thing.

Good for Gregg Marshall

He turned down the Alabama job, and is returning to Wichita State (at least as of this moment). Unless he just needs a lot of money a lot, why would he possibly want to go to Alabama, where basketball ranks below football spring training and recruiting as a sport?  Basketball is king in Kansas, and at the moment his team is the reigning program. I am sure WSU will not let his family starve in the meantime.

What I do in the off-season

I follow college baseball a little bit, and I keep up with a couple of high school football teams in the local area, but outside of that I pretty much follow only college basketball. So what do I do in the LONG off-season? I peruse statistics from the past season, I try to keep up with recruiting for the approximately 30 teams I follow to a fairly close degree, and try to stay abreast of the general topics relevant to the sport. Helps the time pass more quickly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#1 or #2

#1. Wisconsin wins the title.
#2. Kentucky does NOT win the title.

Either of those would make this a very good year.

New Era

When Porter Moser left Little Rock after two years, one could hardly call it the end of an era because the time frame was not long enough to warrant that title. But Steve Shields was there twelve years. There are children who will be teenagers before the next coach starts who never knew anyone at the helm of the Trojans except Shields. There was not a huge change between Moser and Shields because both of them had a fairly similar philosophy. Who knows what scheme the new coach will espouse, but the odds are that there will be some significant changes on one end of the court or the other. Thus, a New Era.

Tweaking without revising

All coaches have a system. They run a particular style of offense and defense, and if they are smart they recruit to those systems. However, you do not always get the players you target, and sometimes injuries upset the formula. So, coaches have to tweak their system to suit the group of players they have. They have to do it without a wholesale revision to that system to the extent that they have to "start from scratch" and start developing and teaching all over again. I suspect it is a fine line sometimes.