Friday, July 31, 2015

Recruiting troubled players

I have thought a lot about this. Any time you recruit a kid who has not learned how to behave, you are courting trouble. However, some kids don't know how to behave simply because they have not been taught, and made to behave. Some of us were blessed to have parents who did that; some did not have that advantage. On the other hand, some players do not behave  because they have serious character defects.

I think a coach needs to look at the hunger factor. If the kid is just hungry for basketball and notoriety, and is looking for a place to do what he enjoys doing, then pass him by. However, if the kid appears to realize that all has not been right in his life, and is hungry to do better, then he is worth taking a chance. It might not work out, but it is much more likely to work out if HE wants it to work out.

A half-step from perfection

This past season, Wisconsin beat Iowa 82-50, and committed only one turnover as a team - and that was on a technicality due to an air-ball rebound that was ruled a shot clock violation. How often does that happen? Not a single bad pass or sloppy dribble.

Conference tournaments

I am not opposed to conference tournaments. However, I doubt that they are very important to anyone outside of the fact that the winner is guaranteed a spot in the Dance. Teams do not crow that they won the conference tournament, but that they went to the NCAA tournament. They are an asterisk at best.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

UMKC is looking up

We ought to be sympathetic to the plight of our sister "at" school in Kansas City, squeezed as they are between juggernauts Kansas and Missouri. Success has been an elusive thing for the Kangaroos. However, their program is looking better these days. They tied for second in the WAC this past season and, of  course, had that memorable win over Missouri in Columbia. They might take another step forward this year if they could get star point guard Martez Harrison to shoot less or make more three-pointers. He was  by far the leading scorer on the team, but was not very efficient in doing it. He shot 168 attempts from the arc, the most on the team by quite a bit, but made only 28% of them. On the other hand, he shot 238 free throws and made 74.8% of them. Looks like he ought to concentrate on the inside and leave the outside alone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

SEC will be better, but it is shallow improvement

The SEC will be better next season. They have the money to throw at basketball, and some of the schools are doing so. It will be a shallow improvement, however, because their fan base (except for Kentucky, Vanderbilt and maybe Missouri) does not care about basketball beyond their school. The rest will cheer because they have nothing else to do until spring football starts, and promptly forget about it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bob Gibson - what might have been

I never saw film of his play, but Bob Gibson (of baseball fame) earned a full basketball scholarship to Creighton after his All-State high school career at Lincoln. Gibson graduated from Creighton having scored 1,272 points across 63 games (20.2 ppg). He played for a short while with the Harlem Globetrotters.

UIC's dress code

New UIC head coach Steve McClain was asked about this by Sports Illustrated.

"Well, just walk in and be a presentable student. I want professors to look at my players as student-athletes. I don't ever want one of my kids to walk into a class and have a professor go, "That one of the basketball players. I want them to look at my guys like, that 's a first-class organization."

I understand McClain's desire. On the one hand, he doesn't want his players looking like a bunch of thugs, and on the other hand he doesn't want them looking like jocks, either. Just students. On the other hand, when you are 6-9, as a couple of his players are, it is hard not to stand out in a classroom.

Money games next season?

Next year (2016-17) might be the year to load up on money games, because we might just have the talent to win a few of them. As things stand now, we will have seven scholarship seniors, and this year's big incoming class will have had a year to learn the system and each other. Normally you play those games understanding that you are probably going to get beat up, but wouldn't it be nice to get paid to beat them?

Monday, July 27, 2015

I wonder if there is any correlation

Of the top eight conference in the country (as ranked by RealTimeRPI), the best two were the two with only ten teams - Big 12 and Big East. I wonder if that means that less works better. (Of course, the Ivy League only has eight teams, and it was 15th.)

20 wins in a money conference: What does that mean?

How much does it mean when a money conference team wins 20 games. Of course, that all depends upon its schedule. But take Fayetteville for example. They won 27 games this last year, and that is a good season by any standard. However, they played 13 non-conference games. Of those, only three were against money conference teams. So, logically, that ought to translate to half the 20 wins right there. But say for example that a few of those non-MC games were against some of the better of those teams, which they were, i.e. SMU, Iona and Dayton. That still leaves seven “guaranteed” wins out of non-conference. Then they played 19 conference games, including the tournament. So they had to go 13-6 in conference games to get to 20 wins. Even though that does not mean they had to dominate, they still had to be decent. So, 20 wins in the money conferences is not hugely impressive, it still means something, as long as the team does not “buy” all 13 of those non-conference games.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Overlooked player

Somewhere on this vast roster is a player who will give us critical minutes this season and who will be a key to our success - unexpectedly. Most of us will have picked out the players we expect to start or to contribute in a major way. But we will miss someone. Someone will have developed in the off-season, or taken that next step up in his game, or just get playing time by sheer hard work. Who will he be? Don't ask me. If I knew, he wouldn't be unexpected.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How fast was Rapid Robert Feller?

The machine, called the "Lumiline Chronograph," used photoelectric cells to clock the object that passed through the device's opening. Feller's second pitch was the fastest one, clocked at 98.6 mph. Here's a photo of Feller throwing into the machine. Weintraub writes:
However, since the machine measured the speed of the ball as it passed through its sensors, unlike modern radar guns that clock the ball as it leaves the pitcher's hand, it actually flew much harder. Some estimates put the fastball at 101-103 mph, others as high as 107.6 mph.
Feller then started the game (and lost).
I have serious doubts about the 107 mph estimate. For one thing, if Feller threw that hard, or something close to it, I think that would be reflected more in the numbers. He didn't even have the highest strikeout rate in the league in 1946; that belonged to Newhouser, who struck out 8.46 batters per nine innings compared to Feller's 8.44. Now, Newhouser was no slouch, a two-time MVP who also finished second in the voting in 1946 (Feller was sixth). He probably had the second-best fastball of that era. But nobody asked him to throw into the Lumiline Chronograph. Plus, it's hard to know, 70 years later, how precise the Lumiline Chronograph was. On the other hand, it's also possible that Feller didn't throw as hard in 1946 as he did in 1938 or 1939. Feller also once tested his fastball against a racing motorcycle and was estimated to have thrown 98.6 mph that time as well (or 104 mph by some modern estimates).
There seems little doubt that Feller had one of the hardest fastballs of all time. I'll buy that he could throw 100 mph, although it's impossible to know whether he did that consistently within games.

The most for your money - Thomas Brandsma

Of all the types of recruits a team might get, perhaps those with which you get the most bang for your buck are players who come with coaches, who transfer to a new school when the coach gets a job there. Thomas Brandsma falls into that category. In cases such at this, the player already knows the coach and vice versa, and they presumably like each other, since the player went with the coach. The player knows the coach's system and the coach knows how the player fits into his system and what his strengths and weaknesses are. The learning curve is almost nil, and so those players can be instrumental in helping all the other players in the new system. I am glad we had a kid who thought enough of Coach Beard to come with him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Basil Shabazz and curve balls

Shabazz is considered by many one of the most talented athletes ever to come out of the state of Arkansas. For some reason, he chose baseball to pursue. We got to see him play once at Ray Winder Field in Little Rock. His first time up, he roped a drive off the fence and if I remember correctly ended up at third  with a clean triple.

For the rest of the game, he saw nothing but curve balls. Well, whether or not he actually saw them I cannot say, but he did not hit any of them. He made it to the Texas League for a couple of seasons, and that ended his career. I do not know if curve balls played a part in the end, but his batting average was anemic at that level.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

We need to be patient on the name change

Within the basketball world, yes, we can be adamant that we be referred to as "Little Rock." But locally, we will have to use some forbearance. The school, after all, is not named Little Rock. It is  the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, or UALR. Little Rock is a city. And so when people refer to the school they are not going to give the name of a city, and it may be hard to break that habit when local folks refer to the athletic program.

But the sports media do need to get it right.

Keep an eye on Northwestern

Yes, Northwestern does have a national championship,  but that was back in 1931, before the NCAA tournament came into play. Today they could hardly be called a powerhouse, never having made the NCAA tournament - the only money conference team never to have done so. However, some pundits are saying that this could be the year for the Wildcats. Their talent has been slowly improving, and they were were at least competitive in the Big Ten last season. They had a Top 100 freshman this past season (the first in 20 years), and have another coming in this season. If things break right, we might watch a little bit of history this season.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bellweather programs

Except to the fans of those programs, it gets a little boring to see the same names in the Top 25 of college basketball year after year. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and North Carolina may be very good teams, but it does get a tiresome seeing them atop the polls year after year. A little variety is supposed to be the spice of life. So, it is nice, over the last few years, to see a few new names invading the elite programs. For example, here lately we have seen Wichita State and Iowa State in the headlines a lot, and that was not the case five years ago.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

So you don't think defense is important?

In 1999-00, our leading scorers were Stan Blackmon, Laverne Smith, and Alan Barksdale.  Opponents shot 49.3% overall and 37.7% from the arc. We won four games.

In 2000-01, our leading scorers were Stan Blackmon, Laverne Smith, and Alan Barksdale.  Opponents shot 40.4% overall and 29.3% from the arc. We won 18 games. Just because we got a coach who made the same kids play defense.

What will be the strength of this team?

I don't know at this point. Might be several things. But I hope it is toughness. If it is toughness, we win the SBC.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dog days

We are into the hot days of summer. Dog days, they call them. Dog days for basketball fans, also. Nothing going on, other than occasional news of staff changes and rumors of recruiting.

Friday, July 17, 2015

You can take this principle too far

From the Atlantic-10 review by CBS' Jon Rothstein:
"[LaSalle Coach John] Giannini has always believed in putting his best guys on the floor regardless of position."

Well, I understand the principle, but you might carry that too far. What if your five best players were all big inside guys? Who would bring the ball down the floor?

Observations about recruiting from Maine coach Bob Walsh

"You know why recruiting is hard?  Because we are talking about a 12 day window in July where we are trying to see as many kids as possible.  You can watch the kids play, but you aren’t allowed to have contact with them, so it’s not as easy to get to know them.  And recruiting is happening earlier and earlier.  With 351 schools having 13 scholarships each at the Division I level, say you are talking about 3-4 scholarships per school per year.  You are really only talking about 1,000-1,300 D1 basketball scholarships for college seniors across the country.  It’s highly competitive.  So it makes sense that kids are grabbing them up quickly.  For that reason, it happens earlier and earlier, so you have to evaluate early and quickly."


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Don't forget Woods

He is a badly undersized whatever he is, but he got the job done last year. 11.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, shot 44.8% from the arc. I do not know where he will fit into Beard's scheme, but I would not overlook him.

Could be a pretty solid lineup

Who knows who will start? but this is one possibility.
1. Juco All-American
2. Senior who will be all through the Little Rock record books
3. Senior who led the team in rebounds last year - by a bunch
4. Averaged 45% from the arc
5. SEC recruit

And there are lots of other permutations that look equally as good. Come on, November!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sun Belt still "mid"-major - but not by much

Divisions among the D1 teams are arbitrary, but for the sake of argument, let's look at the RPI/Sagarin finishes among the conferences. There are 32 conferences (not counting independents, of which there now are none). So, if we divided the teams into thirds, there would be approximately eleven (actually 10 2/3) teams per third.

So . . . the middle third last season ran from #12 Missouri Valley through #22 Metro Atlantic. The Belt was #20 - still in the middle,  but perilously close to the edge of sliding down into low-majors. Incidentally, we slid one spot from 19th to 20th. But we had been 21st in 2012-13 and 24th in 2010-11. The best we have been since I started tracking the rankings was the first year I tracked them, 1998-99, when we were 13th (back in the good old days.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sure you want football in Little Rock?

I am looking at ESPN's "Way Too Early Top 25." The only two teams listed who are not from money conferences are Gonzaga and Wichita State. Do they have anything in common? Well, neither one of them has football. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

Do we have the next John Thompson?

Eddie Sutton was pretty good at developing big men: Joe Kleine can probably attest to that fact. But maybe the best of all time at that craft was John Thompson of Georgetown. His teams always seemed to feature dominating post players.

Chris Beard very quickly has shown himself to have a knack for recruiting big men. Let us hope someone on the staff if the next John Thompson at developing the recruits we bring in.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Double-double Kings

Tim Duncan of Wake Forest is the all-time leader in double-doubles with 87. Billy Cunningham of NC heads the consecutive double-double list with 40.

However, a big asterisk in this category has to be given to Oscar Robertson. He was third on the consecutive DD list with 33, and sixth on the total list with 79. However, he only played three years, and everyone above him played four years. Plus, assists have only been counted since 1984, blocks and steals since 1986; and Big O, as one of the most complete players every to step on a court, undoubtedly would have had a lot of every stat.

The Era of Free Throws - another statistical oddity

Of the players in the top ten career Free Throws Attempted category, three of them were from the same class (1955 their final year). What makes this odd, is that none of them would be household names to anyone but diehard fans of that program: Wake Forest's Dickie Hemric, Indiana's Don Schlundt, and Penn State's Jesse Arnelle. It would make sense if the names on the list were Pete Maravich, Oscar Robertson and Ralph Sampson, or some trio of all-time greats; but what caused these three particular players to be the object of so much fouling in those particular years?

This should be Josh's team

Josh Hagins has been a vocal player during his tenure here - four years. He came here because he wanted to be here and he stuck with us. And if he stays healthy the record books should show him as one of the all-time greats in Little Rock. We have several seniors, but none who has had such an impact upon the program. I do not know who will be the actual floor and locker room leader on this team, but it ought to be Josh, at least logically.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New faces

It is always fun, as I watch my first Trojan game of the year, to try to pick out the players. The veterans are easy, and usually there are no more than three or four newcomers to identify. Not so this year. It make take a while to be able to pick them out by sight.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

How will the big men be used?

Except at the one-and-done level, college basketball is pretty much a perimeter game these days. However, we look to have some above-average talent among the bigs, at least by Sun Belt standards. I am curious to see how Coach Beard uses them. Will they play a substantial role in the offense, or just be in the game for defense and rebounding and put-backs?

If Daniel Green's game is not ready already, since he will only be here one year, there will not be much time to develop it. However, looking at the press release when we signed Shoshi, he looks like a kid who even in two years could develop into a pretty good player for us. In the first place, he only weighs 210#, so you figure the staff will put some more weight on him. And there is the comment from his juco coach: "He is just the nicest, hardest working kid you could ever wish to meet." That seems to indicate that he is teachable and has a good work ethic. Also, he shot 51.5%, which means he at least knows how to get the ball in the goal from in close (and a distressing number of big men can't do that). I am looking for good things from him over the next two years.

The player who is really exciting, though, is Oliver Black. He is an SEC-level talent who, because of his redshirt transfer year, will have nothing to do this coming season but hone his game without worrying about playing time. And even though players live for gametime and hate not playing, sometimes they can take giant strides in that year off. It is entirely possible that he could burst on the scene next season and dominate inside for three years in the Belt.

Friday, July 10, 2015

No wonder Pete Maravich scored so much!

In the 1970 season (Maravich's final year), he shot 1168 shots and the team shot 2403, so he took 48.6% of the teams shots that season. He made 44.7% of them. It is interesting to note that the other four starters all made at least 50% of their shots, and two of them made over 56% of them. Never hurts to be the coach's son, does it?

Granted, there is another side of the story. Maravich received the lion's share of the opposition's attention, probably being double-teamed a lot, and his teammates benefitted from the focus the defense put on Pete. My point is that Maravich was a greater passer and ball-handler than he was a shooter. (His passing was unbelievable.) If he had been more of a distributor and less of a scorer, he might have averaged a paltry 30 points/game, and his team might have won more. But, he was the draw; the fans came to see Pete, and Daddy Press knew that. Pete sold lots of tickets, but did not win many championships.

Furman had the scoring for a while

In 1954, Frank Selvy set the NCAA career record for points per game average with 32.5, and it lasted until the great Oscar Robertson broke it in 1960. However, another Furman player, Darrell Floyd, took a run at the record in 1956, but fell just short with 32.1.


Need to play big? Put up a front line of Shoshi (6-11), Green (6-10) and Isom (6-9). Think anyone in the Belt can match that?

Need muscle? Throw into the fray Green (240), Woods (230), and Hill (220), with Osse at guard.

Want to go small and skilled? Use Isom, Jalen Jackson and Maurius Hill or Woods.

And, we probably have even further combinations if we need them. Need shooters? With Isom and Jackson we can put a pretty salty lineup and not sacrifice too much size. Need defense? Go with Stetson and Shoshi, plus Jackson got a lot of steals last year. Coach has a lot to work with.

Free throws - the one constant?

The game of basketball changes with each era and each rule change and each enforcement emphasis. And, even the number of free throws that are shot changes. However, the actual shooting of them is still the same as it always has been. Same goal; same line. Just make it. Here, at least, we can compare eras without any fear of generational bias.

You didn't want to send Frank Selvy to the line

Furman great Frank Selvy was not someone you wanted to send to the FT line, but lots of folks did. He holds the all-time record for free throws attempted in a season with 444, and the problem was that he hit 80% of them, so he also holds the record for free throws made.


The Golden Half-Decade of Individual Offense

You can find a lot of interesting facts perusing statistical sheets. For instance, did you know that of the top 25 individual per-game scoring averages in D1 basketball history, fully twelve of them were in a five-season stretch from 1968 through 1972. You answer, "But that was because of Pete Maravich." True, the Pistol had the top three, but there were nine other individual seasons in the Top 25 during that stretch. Johnny Newmann of Ole Miss. Calvin Murphy of Niagara. Austin Carr of Notre Dame (twice). Elvin Hayes of Houston. Bo Lamar of Louisiana. Rich Fuqua of Oral Roberts. Rick Mount of Purdue, and Dan Issel of Kentucky. All over the country individual players were putting up huge numbers.

Why, during those particular five season was there such an outbreak of individual efforts? Beats me. You might say that offenses were just more potent in that day. Well, perhaps so, but of the top 25 team scoring averages, only six of them were in those five years, and four of those were by one team (Loyola Marymount), so that logic does not hold up.

Team mascot nicknames

We are familiar with "Hogs" being substituted for "Razorbacks" (or "Swine" by their detractors), but there are a lot of other shortened or substituted nicknames for team mascots. Vanderbilt is the "Dores." Coastal Carolina is the "Chants" (short for Chanticleers). Obviously, the Navy Midshipmen are the Middies. UMKC is the Roos (Kangaroos). Lots of others could be named - all part of the color of college athletics.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mr. Assists

Southern University's Avery Johnson (recently named coach at Alabama) is tied for the single-game assists record at 22. However, to realize just how good he was, you would also need to know that he has six of the top 23 single-game efforts since the NCAA began tracking assists.

100% game

On February 26, 1976, Arkansas State's Dan Henderson was 14 of 14 from the field against Georgia Southern. Only one other player ever shot better (Clifford Rozier of Louisville, 15 of 15).

"Find the shooters!"

Coaches are constantly screaming that at players who are not covering the 3-point shooters on the other team, but it can be just as true from a strategic standpoint on the offensive side. Every year I see stat sheets of teams that allow bad shooters to blast away - and blast them right out of a lot of games. If players cannot make shots, they should not be shooting shots.

Of the returning players, Josh Hagins and Mareik Isom are known quantities. Maurius Hill and Roger Woods showed they can make an occasional three, although that is not the strength of their game. Jalen Jackson has been inconsistent. At UCA he shot 48.4% from the arc, but last year in juco only 32.4%. Marcus Johnson hit 40.6% in juco.

So, we have some long-range weapons. It will take some time to see who is best, but we need to have the best shooters taking most of the shots.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

One LONG season

Who holds the record for losses in a D1 season? Towson in 2012. 31 losses. However, they did manage one win, so the year did have a bright spot. (That's "spot" - singular)

I wonder if it still smarts?

On January 8, 1945, Kentucky beat Arkansas State 75 to 6. (Yes, really.) That is in  basketball. Ouch!

In all fairness to ASU, able-bodied basketball players were more likely to be at the Battle of the Bulge at that point than on the court.

117th Infantry North Carolina NG at St. Vith 1945.jpg

Plus and minus concerning transfers

On the high side, you are getting a player who presumably has D1 talent and perhaps some D1 experience. Someone other than your program evaluated him and thought he could play. His learning curve ought to be shorter than jucos and especially high school players.

On the other hand (depending on the reason for the transfer), you may be getting an element of malcontentment coming into the program, and if he was like that at the other place, he might be like that here.

Competition or cohesion?

One of the few advantages that teams at our level occasionally have is that we have players who play together for several years, and thus the cohesiveness of the team overcomes to some degree the superior talent of higher level teams. I am looking forward to the competition for playing time with this team. It ought to be intense, and that ought to make the team better. However, another part of me hopes that the parts shake out fairly quickly so that the main players will have plenty of time to get into sync as a unit. Not knowing each other and not having played much together is going to be one of the weaknesses of this team. Hopefully, upgraded talent will overcome that, but we need to get into a groove as a team with each player knowing his role as quickly as possible. Of course, by conference play that ought to be an old issue, but it would be nice to make a splash early with a few nice non-conference wins, also.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Talk about starting with a bang!

In his first career college varsity game, Wilt Chamberlain pulled down 31 rebounds vs. Northwestern, December 5, 1956.

Rooting for perennial underdogs

Pity the plight of the Chicago Cubs fans. How long has it been? Year after year of being sometimes close and sometimes just plain bad.

I do not particularly follow the Cubs, but in college basketball I have some parallel teams that I do keep up with. Take, for instance, Dartmouth and Duquesne. It has been a LONG time since either one of them has had any degree of success. But Dartmouth did go to post-season for the first time in 59 years this past year. Granted it was only the CIT, but it was their moment in the spotlight, and they have had very few of those. So, when it does happen, it is all the more enjoyable. You have to wait longer, but the fruits are sweeter.

Anyone can see who is out in front and jump on the bandwagon.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Grand plan for the NCAA tournament

Do away with conference tournaments. Extend the NCAA by another week. Include all the D1 teams that are eligible. Copy the format of the old Indiana high school tournament before they broke it into classes. Make it regional. Get a computer to divide the country into four geographic regions as closely as possible. Then have district, sectional and regional tournaments to get to the Final Four. That way no one has to worry about "who gets into the tournament." All teams are in the tournament, and the champ is a true champ in every sense of the word. Ironically, I think this would make the regular season mean more, not less, because the regular season would not be merely playing to get into the tournament, since everyone does.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Minutes at shooting guard

Who will get them? You have to assume that Hagins will get his share, since he has had a lot of success at a higher level than any of the others. However, there are some other pretty good candidates, including Jermaine Ruttley. And maybe even Jalen Jackson, although I would expect more of his minutes will be at the 3. Ought to be fun.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Starting line-up?

Now that one will be hard to pick, won't it, with all the new players who are very good, but were very good at a lower level? Put the names in a hat and draw out five? Well, actually, I think Josh Hagins would be a fairly safe guess as a starter, but beyond that who knows?

Friday, July 3, 2015

The rotation

With a roster full of upper-classmen, it is going to be interesting to see who gets into the rotation. Ought to be some intense competition. Someone is going to be left out.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Defense and rebounding are the constants

Offense is a tricky thing. Sometimes you are "on," and occasionally you are not. If a team has several offensive threats, and is not one-dimensional, that helps to level out the hills and valleys;  but even so, teams just inexplicably go cold sometimes. Defense and rebounding, however, are effort and fundamentals, and they are much more controllable than offense because of that. They are the constants.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One of the most mature teams ever?

At the moment we have 12 scholarship players on the roster. One is a true freshman; all the others are juniors or seniors, and among those eleven are four redshirts. We certainly cannot complain about youth in this program.

Here is a new motto for you

We don't oink!

A place for blue collars?

A few of the holdovers from the Shields era fall into the "dependable, but definitely not spectacular" mold that was so prevalent in those days. I wonder if there will be a place for them in the new scheme of things. We lacked firepower before, but will there be any premium on consistency and dependability? And will the new offensive and defensive systems value those qualities as much as in the past. I do not know, of course, so I am not predicting - just wondering.

We aren't the only ones with a lot of new faces this year

Norfolk State has eight incoming recruits. And even with that, College Sports Madness picks them to win the MEAC.

Sun Belt recruiting analyses?

One thing that would make the off season more enjoyable would be if there were someone who was in a position to know who would do an informed and unbiased analysis of the recruiting in the Sun Belt. Sure, Rivals and ESPN have ratings of the top tier of Belt recruits, but apart from that, they largely ignore them. Most of our recruits are "under the radar" sorts, and the average "expert" is not going to know much about them, or at least pay much attention to them.

Georgetown and big men

"So what had made Georgetown so good for so long? Big men, of course. There aren't many programs more associated with a singular position than the Hoyas are with the center spot." (from Dana O'Neil's preview on the ESPN site)

And, of course, they had a very big man for a coach in John Thompson.

Remembering Dr. Delano Meriwether

Back in the good old days, I followed track and field very closely. One of the more interesting stories from that era was that of Dr. Delano Meriwether. He was born in 1943, and only began competitive running in 1970, while working at the Baltimore Cancer Research Center. In other words, he was a rank novice who exploded on the United States track and field scene. He won the 100 yard dash at the 1971 AAU Championships in Eugene, Oregon, while wearing a hospital shirt, gold and white suspenders, and swimming trunks - since he was unattached to any educational institution. He recorded a 9.0 time, the second ever run after John Carlos, although it did not count as a record because it was wind-aided.