Sunday, May 31, 2015

Beard's stamp on the program over the next two years

Being as late in the season as it was, Coach Beard is obviously getting what he can get from what is available on the recruiting trail. But starting out  pretty quickly he will be watching for the players he would prefer to bring in. Of the 12 players currently on scholarship, five of them are listed as seniors and six as juniors. So, within two years, he will see most of the roster turn over. Plenty of opportunity to shape the roster to his style of game.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Deondre Burns

This was a logical signing. In my opinion, you always want to have three point guards on campus. With Hagins and Johnson being upperclassmen, we needed to have a freshman point brought into the pipeline. I hope the staff did not promise him huge minutes, because unless he is very good or Johnson is much worse than predicted, he is not going to play much. But if he is a teachable kid, he can put the year to good use. The official announcement says he is a good scorer, which does not concern me nearly as much in a point guard as how he distributes and takes care of the ball. Sounds like he may actually be a combo guard. Whatever the case, we have our freshman point guard, and that is a good thing.

What about our last recruit?

With the signing of our 12th player, we would appear to have all the positions adequately covered, barring injuries. So, what will Beard do with the final scholarship? Bank it? Just get the best player available? Or maybe he sees a weakness that we do not, since he knows the players better. It will be interesting to see.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Daniel Green

Someone at Wake Forest thought this kid had enough potential to be worth signing. His numbers are underwhelming, but he is tall and looks athletic. So, he is worth a scholarship. This definitely is one of those "show me" cases. Can he stay healthy? Will he produce if he does? But Green is a tantalizing recruit that might pay off big time if everything works out.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Forgotten players

Our attention goes where there is movement and energy. In all the excitement over the players Coach Beard is bringing in, some of whom had fairly gaudy stats at lower levels, we seem to have forgotten about Kemy Osse and Stetson Billings. And, who knows, maybe we still will be forgetting them at the end of the season. But they are both mature and presumably stronger after a season of weight training. Neither of them played huge minutes under Shields, and right now there is no reason to think that they will play a lot under Beard. But you just never know. Their particular abilities may fill a need in his system. His recruiting has been so heavily on offensive skills that he may need a few players who can play (will play) defense. Stetson was a pretty good rebounder for his size. Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The basketball Toyes do Kentucky one better

Another pair of twins have signed to play high-level D1 basketball this season, like the pair at Kentucky last year. Well, not quite like that, because they will be playing at different schools. They have to play at different schools because they are boy/girl twins. Joseph signed with Vanderbilt, while his twin sister Elizabeth inked with Wisconsin.

Record book entries we might see next season

In career marks, only Josh Hagins has played enough to be close to getting into the all-time lists, and he is on several of them already.

He needs to play in 100 games to make the list, and already has 92.
He needs to make 391 FGs, and already has 356.
He already has 116 made 3PT baskets, which ranks 12th.
He is at 80.7% FT%, which would be 8th if he finished there.
He has 300 assists, which is 6th all-time.
He has 126 steals, which is 4th all-time.
He has 995 points. If he scores the number of points this season that he has averaged per year in his career, he would finish with 1326, which would be 6th.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In sync

Some teams just have that feeling among them that allows them to play as a unit. Whether it is high basketball IQ, or the fact that they have been on the same team together for several years, or just some sort of undefinable chemistry among them, some teams have it and some do not. Not being a player myself, I do not even know to what extent it can be taught. But it does exist, and it is easy to see where it exists. Let's hope we have it.

It goes both ways

The head coach is the chief executive of the basketball program. He hires his assistants and so he is responsible for their conduct in their jobs. If they are incompetent - or worse - he gets the blame. It goes with the job. There is a flip side to that, however. If they do well in their jobs, the head coach also gets the credit.

Monday, May 25, 2015

We will find out what kind of recruiter Shields was

If Hagins and Isom and Woods are still cornerstones of the team after all this ballyhooed talent gets to town, then we will know that Steve Shields was not that bad at bringing in talent. If none of them is starting, then he was not very good.

Sure thing 3-point shooter

One thing we need among the recruits is a dead-eye guard shooter. Josh Hagins is probably going to fill that role primarily, but we need someone to replace James Reid. Mareik Isom can shoot very well, but he probably will be playing one of the forward positions. If you are not deep enough in shooters to be able to have at least one on the court at all times, it forces a change in your game plan, or at least makes it less effective. And you really need two out there all the time.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I want to be excited, but

I have to keep reminding myself that not one of these incoming recruits has played a single game at a level as high as the Sun Belt. That by no means implies that they cannot do it, only that they have not done it yet. And as one of the pugnacious boys in my father's class in school used to say when someone would threaten to whip him, "Do it and then talk about it!" We shall see. I am optimistic, and am looking forward to being convinced.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kaminsky in the pros

The experts are not overwhelmingly positive about Frank Kaminsky's prospects as a pro, but that is understandable given his style of play. He probably will not be the next Abdul-Jabbar (that is on the assumption that there ever will be another one). I would guess that he will be a serviceable big man who will get lots of minutes, but probably never be a big-time star. Joe Kleine never averaged double-figure scoring for a season over his NBA career, but he had 20 good, productive years as a pro.

Friday, May 22, 2015

How fast was Bob Hayes

Watch his anchor leg on the 400m relay in the 1960 Tokyo Olympics. He comes from behind to blow away the fastest runners in the world.


We'll find out something about Shields' recruiting this year

We have been amazed, generally speaking, at Beard's ability to sign quality players in a hurry late in the recruiting cycle. After we have had a chance to compare the holdovers to what is coming in, we will be able to make a more informed judgment as to Steve Shields' recruiting ability. Who knows how that will turn out?

Cameron Stilwell signs with baseball

I see today where Cameron Stilwell from Tulsa Union has committed to the Trojan baseball team. This has special interest for me, since I have known this young man for over ten years. He comes from a fine family, and has baseball in his blood, as his father and grandfather both played professional ball.

Where does the juco point guard leave Hagins?

Let us assume that he is the real deal, and his numbers would seem to indicate that. That probably puts Josh back into his old combo guard situation, which probably is where he operates best. He does a creditable job at the point, but (I think) his better position is at the shooting guard spot. Either way, this gives us more firepower at guard and gives us another option for mix-and-match to keep a potent combination on the floor at all times.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Calipari ought to be fired

"Calipari says UK's top goal was to get players drafted, not win title." (From CBS Sportsline)

Can you imagine any other coach saying  that and getting by with it? My, my my!

Jermaine Ruttley

Usually star players at lower levels will translate into at least decent players at the mid-level range. That ought to be the case with Ruttley. He was by far the leading scorer for FAMU last season at 17.4 ppg, and also their leading rebounder at 6.7, although I suspect that total was helped by the lack of quality big men and the fact that he played 33 minutes per game. He led the team in FT attempts, so he knows how to get to the line.

He shot only 29.5% from the 3-point arc, even though he made 112 attempts. I hope he either learns to shoot better or backs off on his gunning. I do not know how much on-court discipline (good shot selection) our new coach will demand from his players, but it looks like this guy is someone who could shoot you out of a game if you don't sit on him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Marcus Johnson - an important piece

One thing we had been missing on this roster was a true point guard, and it looks like we have one in Johnson. Even at juco, a 4.9 A/TO ratio is very impressive. With the likes of Washington State, Charlotte, Middle Tennessee and FIU after him, to name just a few, evidently a lot of other people thought the same thing. We have several players who can play point, but none is a true point guard, and that is always something you like to have. Now we have the depth we need at point.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why would freshmen expect to play immediately?

What possible logic would make an incoming freshman think that he is going to come right into a situation and be a big factor from the get-go? Any program that is having to look to true freshmen to carry the mail for them is in BAD shape; so why would a freshman be wanting to sign with that program to start with, if it is in that bad shape? Maybe the coach/salesman has told him, "We are down right now, but you can be a big part of our rebuilding." Even there, if true freshmen are the answer, it must be a pretty sad question.

Everything today is about ME. What is going to make ME look good?  What happened to TEAM?

Seth Greenberg hit it right on the money

About the 30-second clock. From ESPN:

Are they going to transition and flow right into their offense, and then stay within their offensive concepts to score in a shot clock situation? If not, it’s just going to be the same thing we’ve been watching but with five fewer seconds. It’s going to be: transition, pull it out, run a set, pull it out and a seven-second play. If that’s the result, you’re going to see a lot of bad shots in my opinion. You’ll have more possessions and more bad shots.

Another cross-eyed gunner

St. Francis Brooklyn junior guard Tyreek Jewel attempted 145 three-point shots last season, and made a paltry 29 of them. That is 20%. You wonder why the coach didn't holler, "Stop!" because he had some pretty good shooters on the team.

Bulging at the seams

with shooting guards and small forwards so far. This roster needs a little diversity.

Good rebounding covers a multitude of sins

You could call rebounding "getting a second chance," or perhaps, "denying the opponent a second chance." If you make a mistake on defense, rebounding may make up for it. If you make one on offense, hitting the boards can erase the error. And the good thing is that rebounding is something that can be learned - and earned - through hard work. You do not have to be an outstanding athlete to do it.

I still remember what former Fayetteville coach Lanny Van Eman said. His teams were noted for their all-out offensive style - but not for winning. Shortly before he got fired, for not winning, Van Eman said that he had done a study, and of the ten top offensive teams in the country the preceding year, not all of them had winning records. Same with the top defensive teams. However, ALL the top ten rebounding teams had winning records.

Monday, May 18, 2015

When players lose their investment

Lots of things in life are not fair. Players come into a program and for two or three years eat, sleep and dream the particular system of play that is being taught by the coach, until all their reactions on the court are tailored to that scheme. Then the coach leaves. And their investment of several years of hard work, to a great extent, go up in smoke, because the players coming in know as much about the new coaches system as they do. Tough, but it happens all the time.

Hardest to find point guards and centers

Not just players who can play point, but true point guards. You always need at least three who can play point, and one who is a point. And any centers you can get. This year, it appears, is no different than any other in that regard.

Reported new walk-on for next season

Evan Moorman, 6-1 point guard from White Station in Memphis and Hill College. According to


Expectations, or excitement?

                 It is natural to be excited about this team. Excitement is about possibilities: what might be. And this team might be pretty good, no doubt about it.
               However, we need to temper our expectations just a little bit. At the moment we have four (4) players who played ball at the Sun Belt level last season. That is all, just four. So, let’s slow down just a minute for a reality check.
               We have two players who did not play at all last season, both of whom have Sun Belt experience, but neither of whom were overwhelming talents. We have a high school recruit who has never played a minute of college ball, and a juco who has never played a minute of D1 ball. We have juco transfer who has a previous year at the Southland level. We (reportedly) have a transfer who played in the MEAC last year, which is WAY below the Sun Belt, no matter how good a player he was there.
              So, let’s enjoy our enthusiasm and excitement, because it is exciting; but let’s not let our expectations get out of kilter just yet. We still have a LONG way to go.

One reason new coaches have success getting recruits quickly

The players figure that with a new coach the playing field is level, and they have as much opportunity as anyone else in a new system. If you are coming in with an existing, returning players have a definite advantage knowing his system.

Champion bricklayer

Savannah State junior forward Brian Pearson was 25 of 63 from the FT line this past season. If you are calculating, that comes out to a rollicking 39.7%. He almost could close his eyes and do better than that.

UCA rivalry

Like most people, I suspect, I was very happy to see the series with UCA cemented this past season. It has the makings of a very nice non-conference rivalry. However, they are going to have to ramp up their program a good bit for it to become that. No offense to the Conway folks, but right now they are pretty bad, even compared to us. I definitely do not think they will stay there, but rising to anywhere close to SBC level is a ways off at this point. Here is hoping they get there before the series expires, because we need it to be extended, for the sake of both programs.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

We need to be careful on the last three scholarships

Unless someone falls into our laps in the "cannot pass up category," we do not need to be signing just the best players we can get, but filling some specific needs. We have brought in some firepower: now we need to get the network around them. We need a true point guard and a rebounder, looks like to me.

Lots of excitement yet to come

The official roster currently shows nine players. Assuming Ruttley happens, that makes ten. Still three spots left to fill, and that is as many as we would have in the entire signing season most years.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The proposed rule changes

The 30-second clock would be largely cosmetic. Few will even notice the difference. Cutting down on the number of timeouts, however, would be huge. With all the media timeouts that already are built into the college game, they just make the things drag terribly.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Arkansas State holds a record of sorts

I doubt there is a baseball team in the country with a player with a higher consonant-to-vowel ratio in his last name than Joe Schrimpf.

Talk about a young team!

On our current women's soccer roster, 17 of the 28 players are freshmen.

Now we know the price the NCAA is willing to pay

From an ESPN article by Eamonn Brennan LINK.

Note this paragraph:
After the first brief uptick in scoring averages during 2013-14, the 2014-15 season was the lowest scoring in the sport's history -- mirroring a decades-long trend toward slow play during which teams gradually scored more points per possession but averaged fewer and fewer possessions per game.

Somehow these coaches that have slowed down the game are being cast as some sort of villains that have ruined the game. But people forget that, regardless of the pace of the game, teams will have the same number of possessions (plus or minus one). So, the team that is more efficient per possession will win the game. If, as the game has slowed down, teams were becoming more efficient on offense, then the coaches were doing just exactly what they were supposed to do. It is not about faster or slower, but about better.

Now we know: offensive efficiency ("more points per possession") is not that important to the NCAA. What is important is more points per game, no matter how much efficiency has to be sacrificed to get them. They do not want BETTER PLAY: what they want is more scoring.Well, going to a 30-second clock should increase the number of ill-advised desperation shots taken as the shot clock runs down, if that is a good thing.

'Fess up, NCAA: what is at stake here is not an attempt to make basketball better, but an attempt to make it richer.

Andre Brown and Jerron Washington

Evidently because of an oversight or some other reason, Brown and Washington were left on the updated roster, despite the rumors that they had left. Well, evidently they did indeed leave, because now they are not on the roster. So, that is either good news or bad news. The bad news is that we lose two players with some D1 experience, however thin it was, from a roster that is very late coming together. On the other hand, the good news is that if Coach Beard does have some more players he wants and thinks he can get, it clears a couple of more spots.

Kemy and Stetson

Sitting out a year is not the worst thing that can happen to a player. For one thing, he becomes older and stronger, and hopefully more mature. But another aspect is just the learning curve. There are times when you can learn much more from a bird's eye view than from the trenches. If these guys spent the season watching closely, analyzing what they saw, and learning from it, they could be much better players. "He just made a bad move on the court, and here is why." They needed to have switched into sort of a coaching mode for the season, looking at the tendencies, strengths and weaknesses of each player, and thinking how their games could be made better - and then translating what they learned to themselves. My point is that though it may not have been how they would have preferred to spend their time, it could have been time well spent IF they used it properly.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


We could be at somewhat of a rebounding deficit next season; that remains to be seen. But the new coach's scheme and what I see from the roster so far do not reveal much of a role for a Designated Rebounder. However, if we keep our turnovers down and shoot a good percentage, we can survive a (small) disadvantage on the boards and still do well.

Annual Slippery Rock update?

They had a very good season. 21-11 overall and 14-8 in conference. They went to the D-2 Atlantic Regional Tournament and won a game.

Rocky named best mascot in PSAC

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

If we are now the Little Rock Trojans

when why does our official website still say "UALR Trojans"? Hmmm?

Jalen Jackson - new recruit

This undoubtedly is the highest-profile signing since Will Neighbour. Jackson was a 3-star recruit out of high school according to Rivals. Rivals had him as the second-ranked recruit out of the state of Arkansas, and he was ranked third by ESPN. He was the leading scorer on the junior college national champions. His stats look really impressive. So, on paper, this is a huge event for Coach Beard.

One wonders why a player of this caliber ended up at UCA out of high school. According to ESPN, Fayetteville, Baylor, Memphis, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas State were looking at him. It is a long drop from that level of interested parties all the way down to the bottom tier of the Southland Conference. Then he immediately disappeared into the junior college ranks. There had to be a reason for all that. Let's hope it was grades, because that would be the easier of the possibilities to fix.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thoughts on the updating of the roster

Under the Shields regime, the roster generally was not updated until it was finalized. Thus, it is a little strange to see new recruits listed this early, when we know we are not through with recruiting.

There were rumors that the Memphis jucos were leaving, but they are still on the roster. That would seem to indicate that they are staying, since the other players rumored to be leaving are not listed. Maybe that means nothing, and the process simply is not yet finalized, but why list them on a partially-completed roster if you are not sure they are staying?

Mareik Isom is finally listed at 6-9.

We have a notable gap in our roster. There are no players 6-7 or 6-8, which we almost always have had, and only one at 6-6. Strange. Maybe the remaining recruits will fill that void. On the other hand, the shortest player listed it 6-1, and we almost always have players shorter than that.

The new coaching staff

Outside of a brief encounter with Ted Crass in which I found him to be very congenial and polite, I have never met any of the staff, so naturally I know nothing about their characters or their approaches to the game. However, on paper, it appears that Chris Beard has done a good job of assembling a well-rounded group that brings to the table what he needs.

First, it was smart to go ahead and appoint Wes Flanigan as Associate Head Coach right from the start. He has had experience in the very top echelon of college basketball and has served at three different D1 programs. Plus, he has emotional connections to the program both through his father, who coaches high school locally, and his own time spent here as an assistant. Thus, his attachment to Little Rock ought to be real, and not just professional. Flanigan brings two important recruiting connections. One is in-state, which, however much we might belittle it, is still very important. We need to get the best of the local players. Perhaps more important, however, are his connections in Mississippi.

Brian Burg evidently is a good coach, having been ranked as the top assistant in his conference by one source. NCCU was one of the top programs in the MEAC, and presumably he had a significant role in helping to bring about that success. Plus, he would bring recruiting connections further east in a hotbed of basketball talent.

Mark Adams strengthens the recruiting connection we already have in Texas. Plus he has served as a head coach for 23 years, with national tournament experience at three different levels. So, he definitely knows how to win.

Finally, retaining Ted Crass was, I think, critically important for continuity with the remaining players on the roster. I suspect that he will serve an important function as the Personnel Department, so to speak, in addition to his other duties.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Remaining Arkansas prospects?

According to Rivals, there are still 13 players who are D1 prospects from Arkansas who have not committed to any school. With Wes Flanigan now on board with all his in-state connections, I wonder if we can (or even want to) land any of them?

Two deep

Different coaches approach game management in different ways. Some use a short rotation, others longer, depending on their philosophy and what talent they have at hand. However, unless you intend to play some guys 40 minutes, you have to be two deep at every position, even if those positions are interchangeable and seven players mix-and-match can cover them two deep. Someone has to be there to spell the starters at some point.

Looking back at UCA's year

We suffered through a disappointing season, but nothing like that endured by UCA's fans. They were 2-27 on the year, and their first win did not come until 7 February. They were able to shoot the ball, as their 3-point efforts were pretty good, but past that it just was awful. They did not defend, did not rebound, did not take care of the ball - all the things you like to see in good teams. Maybe the second year under Coach Pennell will be better, but he surely got off to a rough start.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Help for Stetson's case

Who knows what the new coach's response will be to the reported promise that was made to Stetson Billings when he was taken off the roster, supposedly to make room for Roger Woods. If Stetson is well-liked by the remaining players, that will help, especially since that is one player Beard will not have to recruit, and he is going to have to hustle to fill out a full 13-man roster. Also, if Ted Crass is retained in the Operations spot, as has been rumored, he could have some direct input as to Stetson's abilities and work ethic.

A classic juco fix situation

Coaches at our level who find themselves with short rosters and little time in which to work typically turn to the juco pastures to find their horses. It is not always the best thing to do, but sometimes you just do not have the usual options. Expect a majority of the remaining spots on the roster to be jucos.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Another point guard is a MUST

You need to have at least 2 1/2 point guards on your roster. At the moment we have three combo guards, with the loss of J. T. Thomas. Josh Hagins can do a very capable job at point, but he really plays some better, I think, at the SG position.  Just one man's opinion. Kemy Osse has played a little point and might do in a pinch, and the new recruit is advertised as a combo guard, also. So neither of them is what you really would like to have running the team. Hagins is going to play a lot of minutes, and most of them can be at point if needed, but I just think the team is better when he has the flexibility to slide over.

Roster getting pretty thin

It is hard to know what to believe from the rumor mill, but if you believe what you hear, at the moment we are down to Maurius Hill, Mareik Isom, Stetson Billings, Josh Hagins, Kemy Osse, Roger Woods and Lis Soshi. And, since Billings was not on scholarship last season, who knows what his standing is under the new coach, so let's pare his name from the list for the moment. That leaves six players we can be reasonably sure of at this point. That is less than half the roster. So things are really up in the air in Trojanland at this point. A starting lineup of Hagins, Osse, Woods, Isom and Soshi might be fairly good, but Soshi has never played D1 ball, and Osse has not played in a year. Right now my Concern Meter is running pretty high.

Having a Little Rock morning

Sitting here in my Trojan T-shirt, having my Trojan coffee cup, checking to see if there is any new Trojan news. A Little Rock morning.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Piecing together a team

As rumors multiply regarding players not returning, our identifiable roster grows shorter and shorter. Coach Beard is going to have to hustle, and it will be interesting to see how he pieces together enough talent this late in the game to be competitive this season. Presumably the core of the better talent will be returning, but we have lost a few key players and will miss them. It's jigsaw time! We shall just have to hope there is not one piece missing in this box.

Denver always could shoot

Denver always could shoot, and that did not change this past season. They shot 48% as a team overall, and 38% from the arc. What they do not do is rebound and play defense. They were -5 on the boards, and opponents shot 47% overall and 37% from the arc against them.

Do not expect anything to change next year, because their two best returning shooters hit 42% and 44% from the arc – and they lost their only significant rebounder.

New recruit Lis Shoshi

Chris Beard has signed a big man, and we needed a big man. Since at this point we do not know for sure who all is returning, we cannot tell how much this goes toward helping our problem, but at least Lis Soshi is some length for the inside who got a lot of rebounds and blocks in junior college. And that is something. Junior college statistics are notoriously unreliable as predictors, but they at least give some indication of the player's game at that level. Soshi is a rebounder and shot blocker, and that is particularly what we need. He is skinny and probably will get pushed around some in the Belt, but you cannot teach 6-11, and if he has some agility and aggressiveness, he might do well. At least we know that he is not one of those big guys who tries to be a perimeter player. He attempted only 26 three-pointers, and actually made a few of them.

This was a good sign. It is a step toward fixing one of the problems we knew we had. The problem now is that we keep hearing rumors of other problems to come, and we may not have time to plug all the holes.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Comparing Hagins with Fish after three seasons

If Josh Hagins stays healthy next season, undoubtedly he will end his career as one of the all-time greats in Trojan history with his name spread all through the record books. So how does he compare with Derek Fisher after his first three seasons? Hagins' numbers are first  below.

Games played: 92 (Hagins) to 82 (Fisher)
Points: 995 (10.8/game) to 956 (11.7)
FG%: 42.1% to 41.5%
3PT%: 34.4% to 37.7%
FT%: 80.7% to 74.8%
Rebounds: 333 (3.3/game) to 333 (4.1)
Assists: 300 (3.3/game) to 318 (3.9)
Steals: 126 (1.4/game) to 128 (1.6)

A very favorable comparison to one of the all-time Trojan greats.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dignity and competitiveness

In American society we create a problem for some of our military personnel. We take young men, train them to be killers, send them into a pressure-cooker situation where everyone around them are enemies or at least potential enemies; and then we bring them home and require of them that they go back into society as well-adjusted individuals. Most of them can, but a few cannot, and they have serious mental and emotional problems and sometimes are never able to live as a normally functioning member of the community.

We have a similar problem in sports, although admittedly not nearly to that degree. Some men or boys play sports simply because they love the game and it is fun to them. Some, however, do so because they have a consuming need to best the other person. They must be better. So, we take those young men, put them in a contact sport, continually hound them in practice to go further into an intense competitive attitude - and then when that conduct spills over into poor sportsmanship we fault them.

The truth is that it is their fault: regardless of the circumstances, everyone should discipline his conduct so that it is appropriate and sportsmanlike. However, we cannot be blind to human nature and the "monster" that we create with our continual push toward a combative nature. No one ever accused John Wooden of not having a desire to win, and yet it is reported that the strongest language he ever used on the court was, "Good gracious sakes alive!" I also have read that one word of profanity from a player (or presumably an assistant coach) meant the showers for him that day. So, it can be done. But every coach is not John Wooden.

There is a fine line out there, and it is a continual battle to walk it.

Lots to learn in the off season

More things to keep us busy than usual between now and the start of the season. A full slate of coaches, several new players, a new system. Lots to get used to.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

SEC teams' cosmetic approach to basketball

The SEC has been embarrassing the last couple of years, so we are now seeing teams spend big bucks to bring in high-powered coaching talent. Will that fix the problem? On the surface, maybe. They will win more ballgames over time. And if they are winning the fans will show up, but ONLY because they are winning, NOT because they have made basketball fans out of them.

Most Improved?

Who would have won the MIP over the course of last year, and by that I mean during the season itself? We can eliminate several. Not Ben Dillard, who tanked toward the end. Not James White, who was not even around at the end.

Possibly Maurius Hill, whose game really began to come together? Maybe Mareik Isom, who found his shot big time over the course of the season? Maybe James Reid, who became a very nice all-round player? Probably one of those three.

Monday, May 4, 2015

I know the new coach is snowed under these days

but he needs to learn the principle that communication keeps fans happy, even if it is only a little tidbit now and then.

How my teams did this past year

It was not a sterling year for the teams I follow, with a couple of notable exceptions. None of my Top Ten made it to the NCAA tournament. However, a few of those lower down on the list had exceptional years, most notably Wisconsin, which came within a whisker of the national championship. Also, probably as great an accomplishment relatively speaking, St Francis Brooklyn won 23 games and finished at the top of the Northeast Conference. Given their history in the recent past, this was a monumental achievement. And, I have mentioned elsewhere that Dartmouth made it to postseason (although not the NCAA) for the first time in a couple of generations.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Baseball needs to get it in gear - fast

Right now we stand 7th, so we would make the tournament, but we have squandered a little bit of momentum we had going earlier, and now we are just hanging on. And we do not have much margin for error. Arlington just mopped the floor with us. Let's get it going, Trojans!

The AD needs to stay on top of things

Sometimes things start well, but fizzle out. We certainly have had a good beginning with the new coach. Enthusiasm among the fans base appears to be revived. But we can't let things ride along. The AD has to stay with it and keep pushing things along. Momentum begun needs to become momentum preserved.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hope getting a little dimmer

I thought we underachieved the last couple of years, and that was why I was willing for Steve Shields to depart as coach. And, with the talent we had coming back, I thought the new coach, with new enthusiasm from the fans, might have a chance to make some significant noise in his first year. That was before James White and James Reid departed and we get perilously close to the end of the late signing period without our first assistant coach in place. So, what hope I had is getting pretty dim.

Granted, we might still surprise some people. Josh Hagins is a nice piece around which to build a team under any circumstances. Roger Woods is definitely a player. J. T. Thomas is a reliable point guard. Mareik Isom's upside is considerable. They likely account for four solid starters, so there is still some talent there, but all of a sudden our roster seems awfully thin - and awfully short, even more so than before. At the moment, Isom is the only player on the roster over 6-5, and he is essentially a perimeter player and not very husky.  Even in the Belt that would be Extreme Smallball. Of course, your starters are going to play 60-65% of your minutes, but when injuries or foul trouble jump up and bite you, that is when you notice the bench.

I know that big men are considered passe in this era of the 3-point shot, but if the other guy has them, you at least have to have someone to guard them. Thankfully, five-points-per-game big men who can play defense are not that hard to find, and that may be all we need this year. But even they are being signed, day by day, every day - and we do not even have our first assistant coach yet. Every day that goes by means the quality of those left is diminishing.

Friday, May 1, 2015

These transfers really hurt

Almost every day these days you see on the major websites news of big time players transferring or deciding not to come back to school, and speculate on how big a hit the program will take because of it. Losing James White and James Reid for next season has not caused a blip on the national radar, but given the fact that Reid had, in only one year, proved himself to be a reliable shooter and that James White was our most talented big man in several years, and with Josh Hagins coming to the senior year of one of the most productive careers in program history, and coming at a critical juncture with a new coach probably not being able to get the talent in that he needs to go with Josh - all that adds up to a hammer blow at our little program. What it probably means is that any likelihood that the new coach could have taken a core of very nice returning talent, plugged a few holes, and maybe made some noise in his first year has probably disappeared. I say "probably" because who knows what could happen with the energy a new coach bring. But, as I say, the likelihood of that happening in his first year has diminished considerably. Sad.

Dartmouth's first post-season in 56 years.

Dartmouth went to the CIT this year. Not such a big deal? Well, don't tell them that! The Big Green went to the NCAA tournament in 1959. That is a long dry spell.

The official Dartmouth site asked this question:

How Long Ago Was 1959?Yes, 56 years is a long time between postseason appearances. But just how long ago was it? It was long enough that:
•    Dwight Eisenhower was president.
•    Syracuse was the national champion in football.
•    Alaska and Hawaii became states (Hawaii even signed into statehood on March 18).
•    Gas was 31 cents a gallon (everyone always wants to know that).
•    Ben-Hur won the Oscar for Best Picture.
•    Plan 9 From Outer Space premiered as well.
•    Gunsmoke was the top TV program.
•    Frankie Avalon had two #1 hits (Venus and Why).
•    Yet the music died.