Thursday, December 31, 2015

They count the same

The fanciest dunk in the world counts 2 points, same as the simplest lay-up. Players ought to remember that. Fans ought to, also.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Some rivalries might go unnoticed

Tonight Rhode Island beat Brown by 3 points in overtime. Close in-state game, in a state that has only three D1 teams.

We will know we have arrived as a program when . . .

As long as we have the mentality that "only the conference season matters," we can know we are still small-time basketball, because in the by-ways of college basketball that is true. In fact, we are so low down that only the conference tournament matters. Teams from non-money conferences that have arrived in the national conversation care very much about the non-conference season, because that is where they make their statement. No one cares much if Gonzaga beats a West Coast Conference team (at least most seasons). No one will care if we beat a Sun Belt team, but if we beat someone who appears at least from time to time in the Top 25 (and there are none in the Belt), then that makes at least a small statement of where we are.

Where is the Coach?!

Pine Bluff junior guard Ghiavonni Robinson has played more minutes than anyone else on the team. He also has taken 56% more 3-point attempts than anyone else, even though he is shooting an abysmal 19% from the arc. And it is not like this is a kid who is just off his stroke a little, because he also is shooting only 55% from the FT line. To be brutally frank, he can't hit the broad side of a barn, and hasn't all year. Apparently he keys their offense, because he leads the team in assists; but he has more turnovers than assists, and twice as any turnovers as anyone else on the team. Maybe he is in there for his defense, because he does lead the team in steals, but if that is so, why is he shooting so much. I don't understand these things.

Need to get the big Belt wins early

At the moment, Arlington and Georgia State are both Top 100 RPIs. I don't know where they will end up, but the SBC will tend downward as the quality of our opposition falls off.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Non-role-player big men

At our level these types are hard to come buy. You know what I mean by a role player big man: play good post defense, grab a few rebounds, score a few points, block a few shots. Nothing statistically that is impressive. We have had a few who went beyond that. Rashad Jones-Jennings and Will Neighbour obviously come to mind. Mike Smith probably was there and definitely would have been had he stayed healthy. When you get one of those in the Sun Belt, it makes a big difference. Then, if you can put a decent team around him, you have a chance for a really nice year. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that during the careers of JJ and Will.

Monday, December 28, 2015

We don't boo failures

When a slugger swings from the back lot and hits a home run, we  cheer wildly. But if he swings from the back lot and strikes out (when he should have been shortening up on his swing and meeting the ball), does anyone boo? Of course not. We reward, but we do not punish. So when shooters throw up ill-advised shots that happen to go in, we cheer wildly and call them "gutsy shooters who are not afraid to take the big shot." But what if he misses? Do we boo? Then why not take the bad shot? No one is going to punish you for doing so, except maybe the coach. Basketball fans need to be a little more discriminating.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Three-point shooting

Mareik Isom and Josh Hagins are shooting several percentage points below their capability. The "why" I do not know. I do know that one of them needs to get going quickly. So far this year this team has been OK offensively, but no better than that. That has been good enough, because we have been brilliant defensively and handling the ball. But for post season success you need several shooters. Right now we have two, and that won't be enough.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

21 games left

At least. Counting the Belt tourney as one game at this point.

We have ten wins thus far, much better than any of use expected, I suspect. If we stay healthy and play our game, I think we will win the lion's share of those 21 games. But let us be very pessimistic and say that we win only thirteen (60%) of them. That still gives us 23 wins. Even that ought to get us into one of the tournaments, especially with some solid wins in non-conference.

The program record of 26 wins in 1986-87 is within reach.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The only score that would please me

in tomorrow's Louisville/Kentucky game is 0-0. But I suppose I will win either way, because one of them will lose.

A quick study

This next week will be critical to this team. After the holiday break, we are going to have a few days to fix the things that are wrong heading into the conference season. Assuming the AD is willing to and can afford to send us to one of the pay-to-play post-season tournaments, it seems obvious that we are likely still to be playing after the SBC tournament one way or the other; and that is very important to this program at this juncture.

This is a veteran team. Our only scholarship players who are not upper-classmen are Deondre Burns and Oliver Black, and Black is redshirting. So these guys have been "around the Horn" already. All the upperclassmen have played for at least one other head coach previously. Plus, unless some of them are just unusually hard-headed (which I have not seen), by this point they ought to be convinced that Coach Beard knows what he is talking about. Whatever points he emphasizes this next week, I think they will acknowledge and learn, and so we ought to go into conference play with a few of the holes in the dike plugged. Our roster is what it is, but we ought to be able to compensate successfully for the few deficiencies we have if we follow the Doctor's prescription.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Beard started where it matters

Defense is the bedrock of basketball because it is perhaps the most predictable factor. Shooting sometimes goes cold, but defense is much more likely to be "on." We are not yet hitting on all cylinders offensively, but our defense has been outstanding, and we are 10-1. Coach started where he needed to, and it paid off. The rest will come.

Life in the minor leagues in Arkansas

Do you think anyone in the state of Alabama expects Auburn fans to feel like they ought to be obligated to root for the University of Alabama in sports? Do you think Alabama fans feel like it is their birthright that everyone in the entire state ought to be Tide fans? But that attitude is regularly exhibited by Razorback fans. "We are THE University - of the entire state. Anyone in the state of Arkansas who does not root for us is just flat unpatriotic. It's their duty as a citizen." I run into that mind-set regularly. Indeed, it permeates the power structure of sports in the state. AAAAAAARRGGGGHHHH!!! And then they can't understand why some of us have such a deep-seated distaste for Fayetteville.


Among the things that really irritate me

Players who make the upward motion with their arms asking the crowd to become more vocal. You players stick to playing and we fans will take care of the cheering. If your playing were without fault there might not be any need to be try to get the fans ramped up.

Could this be the year of a non-football finals?

Right now Little Rock and Arlington are first and second in Sagarin ratings in the Sun Belt. We are the only two schools not to have football. The odds are against it because everything has to fall out just right (including the brackets), but one of these years, we could have a non-football final in the SBC basketball tournament. Could this be the year?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chasse's real test

If Chasse Conque hope to list his name among the really fine Athletic Directors in Division 1, his test will come next season, or a few years down the road. Chris Beard appears to be an exceptional coach. If that is true, he likely will be moving on fairly quickly. When he does, if the program is to maintain the level to which we (hopefully) will have become accustomed, he will be under tremendous pressure to hit a second home run, and that is the tough one. Almost any AD can luck onto a really good coach from time to time (even a blind hog finds an acorn occasionally), but only a really good one can put a string of them together.

The Big East's success story

When realignment siphoned off several of the old Big East's football schools, the non-football group, with a couple of new additions, got permission to use the Big East name, leaving the remainder of the old Beast (plus a few) to form the AAC. They wanted to go with their strength - basketball - and they have succeeded. Last year the Big East was the 2nd-ranked league, behind only the Big 12. All that football TV money couldn't get the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 or the SEC ahead of them. So far this year the Big East is in 3rd place, behind the Big 12 and the Pac-12. They have proven that basketball without football can still be big-time.

A simple matter of math

Wagner is our case study. When your two most frequent 3-point shooters are both shooting 40% or better, but your team is shooting 31.1% overall, it doesn't take a doctoral candidate to see that those other guys need to lay off and let the players shoot who can make the shots.


Living on the edge

The Trojans have been living an unrealistic life. Due to some brilliant play when we needed it, we succeeded in walking along the edge of the cliff (or walking the tightrope) for ten consecutive wins. That habit finally caught up with us. Statistics are brutally frank. You cannot shoot a low percentage AND get  beat on the boards AND have a lot of turnovers and expect to win very often. Most of the time we only did the first two and got by with it because we did some other things very well. We dodged the bullet successfully, but a team is only so light on its feet, and sooner or later it will stub its toe, and we did.

Our season stats mask our rebounding problems. We are only down 0.6 boards per game overall. However, taking out the two non-D1 games, we are down five rebounds per game. That is not uncommon with teams that shoot a lot of 3-point shots, like the Princeton Offense teams, but they usually shoot a high percentage from the field to make up for it. Yesterday we shot very poorly, and paid the price: we finally got shoved over the edge.

Because Coach Beard insists on good fundamentals, we  can walk the tightrope most of the time - but (as we know know) not every time. If (when) Mareik Isom and Josh Hagins find their three-point strokes, we will make more slack for ourselves.

Ruttley's value

Jermaine Ruttley was a big-time scorer at Florida A&M. Here in Little Rock he is starting, but averaging only 4.8 points per game. However, he is tied for the team lead in rebounds (at only 6-3) and is third in assists.

Ten-game win streaks

This year's season-starting win streak is unique in school history. However, it is not the only ten-game streak Little Rock has had. In 1942-43 under Herman Bogan, the Trojans started with a win, then a loss, and then reeled off ten wins in a row. In 1987-88 under Mike Newell, the team also had a 10-game streak. They then lost two in a row and went on another eight-game streak.

Our best non-conference win?

We finally whiffed, but we had had a 10-game hitting streak, so that isn't bad. I'll take it any day. In my humble and frequently-faulty opinion, our best win in terms of prestige was DePaul. They are a program with a lot of tradition, plus they are from the conference that was ranked second last season and are current third in RPI. However, from an RPI standpoint, our best win would have been Tulsa (using the rankings of the moment), who stand at 57 as I type. In terms of personal satisfaction, it probably was San Diego State, who was picked to be pretty good going into the season. At the time of the win, it was huge.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So close

The Trojans made game of it against Texas Tech. They just ran out of gas. They had an uncharacteristic 14 turnovers, and that might have been the nail in the coffin, since they went with a low shooting percentage and a horrendous pounding on the boards. Really, looking at the box score, I do not see how we stayed as close as we did.

A little reality check sometimes helps in the long run. We are "only" a pretty good Sun Belt team, and we do not belong on the national stage yet. We may not be that far away from it, but I think we probably have been over-achieving somewhat. We have played pretty good fundamental basketball, but that cannot always make up for poor shooting and lack of rebounding. All the negative factors finally just caught up with us today. It was at a bad time. A real opportunity slipped away to do something on the national stage, and those chances to not come along too often to teams in our situation.

Total rebuilding job at Tulsa next year

Of the 12 players who have appeared in games so far, nine are seniors. One, Pat Birt, is a starter. One if a freshman who averages eight minutes per game. One is a freshman who has a total of 18 minutes. They had better get it done this year, because next season may be tough.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our most significant game in a while

It has been a while since we had a game with as much riding on it as the Texas Tech game. With our win streak, if we win it, we will move onto the national scene. If we lose it, we will be in that category of "one of those nice mid-major programs that are close, but not quite there."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Do well what you do well

Play to your strengths. Shore up your weaknesses. Obviously, this team does a few things superlatively well. We shoot FTs, we defend, we take care of the ball. We do those things well enough to win most games. So why have we won ALL our games so far? Because we do those things well enough to make up for the other things we do not do as well, and we are making progress in our weaker spots. Rebounding is improving. Our shooting is (slowly) beginning to come around. Our weaknesses are not fatal, and our strengths are considerable.

Ten is a nice round number

We may not beat Texas Tech (although the odds are about even that we will). But even if we "only" beat NAU, ten straight wins to start the season is a nice number for history. Easy to remember. I expect we will all remember this stretch.

Now . . . how about a few more numbers that might make the number in the streak a little harder to remember, but would be even more fun? Hmmmm?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Don't take "win now" too far

We have put together a winning roster with transfers and jucos. That is fine for short-term success. However, I hope Coach Beard at some point starts moving back toward freshmen. There just is more of a sense of ownership for fans when they have "invested" in a player for four years.

A word of caution

We have had a remarkable start to this season. However, a little bird in the back of my mind keeps cautioning me that starts are not seasons. I remember when Will Neighbour threw out his shoulder, and when Mike Smith tore his ACL. We have a good coach, and good coaches keep their teams in the midst of the fray; but in order to have one of those really special seasons you have to be lucky as well as good. So far we have been both.

Will Neighbour did not disappoint

I think back to how excited we were when Will committed to us, and then how disappointed we were when he was not eligible, and then how impressed we were when he stood by his commitment. He was a class act, and it was a real joy to watch him play. His name is scattered through the all-time lists, and certainly he will go down as one of the better players I saw during my tenure as a Trojan fan.

Will's arrival was anticipated more keenly than any recruit in recent memory, and he did not disappoint us.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pitt's A/TO

Pitt is 8-1 so far this season. That is not very impressive in itself, because the only team of major consequence that they have played (Purdue) beat them handily. What is impressive is their assist/turnover ratio. They are 1.83 as a team. (A lot of individual point guards would love to get to that number.) This number is helped materially by the absolutely ridiculous number of 8.80 put up by their superb senior point guard, James Robinson. In nine games so far this season he has only FIVE turnovers.

There is logic to Beard's substitution pattern

Our top four scorers (by points/game) are Marcus Johnson, Josh Hagins, Jalen Jackson, and Lis Shoshi. Hagins and Shoshi start. Johnson and Jackson do not. So, why not? Why would you not start your 1st and 4th leading scorers? A couple of reasons. First, because there are many other aspects to the game than scoring, and the players starting may do better in those aspects. More likely, however, is the fact that with this combination, Beard can have two of his top four leading scorers on the court at all times. So, however he mixes and matches the rest of the rotation, he does not sacrifice offense to any noticeable degree as long as two of those four are on the court. That is a nice option to have.

Notoriety equals distractions

We are getting some press these days because of our undefeated start to the season. However, one things that always comes with fame are distractions. Where there is the press, there will be things that do not relate directly to success. Here is hoping Coach Beard is as able to keep the team focused as he has been able to do everything else so far.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Roster explosion

I do not know for sure, but it is my understanding that members of the military academy athletic teams are not on scholarships as such, since all students at those schools get a full ride, anyway. Therefore, they can have an unlimited number of "walk-ons," so to speak. On the current Naval Academy roster there are 25 names. Sixteen players have played so far this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A new twist on foreign players

Montana State has two foreign players on their roster: one from Turkey and one from the Netherlands. Both are big men by way of juco. There are a lot of foreign players on college rosters these days, but I do not think I have seen that particular combination before.


Monday, December 14, 2015

We play bigger than we are

Some players play bigger than they are, i.e., they make up for their lack of height by an effective use of other factors. A couple of notable examples that come to mind are Charles Barkley and Wes Unseld. Both gave up 3-4 inches to their typical opposition, but both went down as all-time greats, especially in rebounding, where Barkley is 18th all-time. He, of course, was known as the Round Mound of Rebound, and knew how to use his 252 pounds to good purpose underneath the basket.

Unseld played center at 6-7, and finished 12th all-time in rebounds. He was bull-strong and regularly guarded and out-rebounded much taller players. I remember distinctly an NBA pre-season publication saying that, though Unseld was good, he would never play center in the NBA because he was just not tall enough. All he did was to become the second player (after Wilt) to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season.

We, also, have several players who play bigger than they are. Naming three particularly: Maurius Hill, Roger Woods and Jermaine Ruttley. All of them do things players their size are not usually able to do. Sometimes heart and skill can make a big player out of a short player.

Senior leadership: Hagins doing what needs to be done

Josh Hagins is not shooting well this year from the floor. I am sure that is frustrating to him, and probably also to the staff, because he has been a decent shooter throughout his career. But right now Josh is doing the thing this team critically needs to be done: taking care of the ball and distributing it to his teammates. This team is not going to be a dominant rebounding team, and so far, at least, we have been only an OK shooting team. So we are not going to win games that way. How we are going to win games is by keeping turnovers to a minimum and making our offense as efficient as it can be and by playing suffocating defense, and that is exactly what Josh is doing. Josh is our only four-year senior, and he is our starting point guard, so this is his team in a sense.

What we do NOT need Josh to do is to think that he has to be The Man offensively, even though he is scoring at a good clip. This team has lots of weapons, and it is Josh's job to make sure we have lots of firepower; and he has done that superlatively well so far. Nice job, Mr. Hagins!

Good years, and good programs

Like all of us, I am very excited about the year we are having. It is a happy time for Trojan fans. However, I get a little amused as the enthusiasm begins to bring forth comparisons that are totally unwarranted - at this point. We are not Gonzaga or Butler, we are not even Western Kentucky or Davidson - at this point. In order for that to happen, a program has to have sustained success over some considerable period of time, at least to the point that people come to expect them to be good each year. There is a difference between a good season and a good program.

It looks like we hit a home run with Coach Chris Beard, but since he is just beginning his D-1 career, unless he just happens to really love Little Rock and wants to stay here, he is not likely to be here long. It is possible that this could be his only year here if we do really well. So then we have to go through the whole roll of the dice on a new coach all over again, hoping that the next one will turn out as well as the last one. Not many programs at our level are able to get a coach of the quality of Davidson's Bob McKillop to stay for a generation, or to replace a Dan Monson with a Mark Few like Gonzaga did. That does not happen very often, and that is why it is so hard for a team at our level to maintain success. Big money programs can become final destinations for coaches, and if they get there they may stay there. Very few really good coaches will hunker down in a situation like Little Rock.

We are having a good year, but there is a big difference between an outstanding year and an outstanding program.

Weak points

Every team has its weak points, and we have ours, although they are harder to notice with some of the outstanding stats this team is putting up. We are shooting only 42.9% overall, which is not great, and without Marcus Johnson would be a couple of points lower. We still are getting beat on the boards, just only by one per game at this point. But none of that is much to complain about.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

One lesson from the DePaul game

Schedule bottom feeders from the highly-ranked conferences.

Ugly is beautiful

This team is becoming very adept at winning "ugly." In fact, it doesn't seem to matter to them at all if their shots are off or that they are getting pounded on the boards. What they do they do very well, and well enough to compensate for their deficiencies.

What they do well is taking care of the ball, making free throws, and playing very good defense. Not flashy. In fact, the same plain old blue collar basketball that has been identified with the Trojan name over the last few years. Oh, there are some different twists, to be sure. The offense is different, but we still are not scoring baskets in bunches. We just score more than the opponents. When you win, "ugly" is downright beautiful.

One thing that matches up is that "ugly" basketball usually does not have an off night, and so teams who can win that way are more likely to win on the road, where shooting percentages often are lower.

Rarefied air

Right now Sagarin has us ranked 94th in the nation. Not overwhelming, but we are ahead of such teams as Okla State, Alabama, Tennessee, UMass and LSU. In fact, we are ranked ahead of five of the SEC teams.

Beard took two chances

Coach Beard took a couple of risks in his recruiting this year. One was behavioral and the other was physical. Jalen Jackson's track record was not one to inspire confidence, but Beard took a chance on him, anyway. He had a hiccup early in the season, but appears to have gotten the message. We shall hope he keeps it, because he has a lot of talent. Daniel Green had a history of physical ailments. He supposedly was healthy, but we got five games and 44 minutes out of him before he went down again. Hopefully he will be back by season's end, because he could help us down the stretch.

Two risks. Mixed results so far.

We are doing what we can

We did not have any really heavy hitters on our schedule this season. San Diego State was close, but has been fading. Texas Tech might end up getting there, but is not there yet. So we have not had the opportunity to make a big splash. But we have beaten everyone we played, and that is all we can do. Consistency will win the day.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Achilles heel

Even very good teams have an Achilles heel: that aspect of the game in which they are less than stellar, and which, if exploited by the opponent, puts them in danger of losing. One of the main functions of coaches of good teams is to make that heel area smaller so that opponents' opportunity is that much more difficult. We are not a good rebounding team, and probably will not be this season; but what we have to do is to cut down the rebounding deficit as much as possible, shoot a good percentage so they have less rebounding opportunities, and make sure that our turnovers are kept to a minimum so that the net effect is in our favor.

Oscar Robertson's stats were ridiculously good

In a three-year college career, he averaged 33.8 points, 15.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. He shot 53.5% from the field and 78% from the FT line. Remember that he was a 6-5 small forward. A guy his size should not have been able to average 15 rebounds per game. If he averaged that many rebounds, he should not have had that many assists. If he had that many assists, he should not have scored that much. Oscar just did everything superlatively well.

My favorite Trojan picture of all time

Mr. John Fowler locked in on the offensive player.

The Belt needs to step up the pace

Most of the teams in the league do not have even one win against a higher-ranked conference member. To move up the list, that has to change, and time is running short.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

And now Green is gone

They are saying he will be back in five weeks, but I am not going to hold my breath that he comes back at all, at least not with any effectiveness, especially given his history. Mentally I am assuming he is done.

What does this mean to the team? First of all, it means we will struggle on the boards. In rebounds per minute played, Green was better than Ruttley, Shoshi or Woods - considerably better. He did not play many minutes, but while he was in there he did something well that this team does not do well at all. Second, we will be forced to play really smallball a lot. There will be times when the tallest person we have on the court is 6-6, and even 6-5. It is OK to play smallball, because in certain situations it works well, but it is not good to be forced to play that way. It takes away one of the coach's options. Third, depending upon what course Coach chooses to take, it may mean that Isom will be forced to play out of his natural position. Fourth, it may mean that Shoshi will have to play more minutes than he can play at full effectiveness.

Can we win without Green? Of course. We have not lost yet, and he only played in five of seven games. We will win most of our games without him.  But what it does is to cut down on our margin for error, and that is never good, especially come tournament time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The case for the Big O as the greatest


Oscar Robertson was one of the more overlooked great players in both NBA and college history.


Denver is still up to their old tricks

Nothing has changed. They shoot lights out, take care of the ball, and get pounded on the boards. Likely that will be the status quo as long as Joe Scott is there. They are 5-3, but have not played any money conference foes. They have a win over South Alabama.

One of the baseball DiMaggios you may have missed

One of the regular characters on the Jack Benny radio show was Mr. Kitzel, who had a wonderful, heavy Yiddish accent.

Kitzel: I have a cousin on Fisherman's wharf.

Benny: What's his name?

Kitzel: DiMaggio

Benny: Which one of the DiMaggios is your cousin: Joe, Vincent, or Dominic?

Kitzel: Morris. You know, he plays baseball with the San Fransisco Schlemiels.


Surprise of the year?

With all due respect to our own Trojans, I think the surprise of the year in the Belt has been Arlington. They lost their top four scorers, and certainly did not look to be the powerhouse they have been so far. Hats off to UTA!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


There is just something about seniors, or at least most of them. They may not be any better than the younger players, but they have an air about them. They have arrived. They made it. The other guys are still just potential; they actually have done it. “This is our team.” Historically teams with a good senior class over-achieve more frequently than younger teams. Sleezipari’s and Coach K’s rent-a-championships notwithstanding, mature and experienced players will accomplish more than younger players, all else being equal. This is one reason that it behooves coaches to strive to keep their classes somewhat balanced, so that they will have that senior leadership year in and year out.

Daddy and Bob Pettit

My father got his Master's Degree from LSU in the early 1950's. This also happened to be the time period when Bob Pettit began his career there. Pettit went on to average 27.8 points per game during his three-year varsity career. His senior year he averaged 31.4 points and 17.3 rebounds. Daddy probably could not remember it now that his memory has started to slip, but I recall him mentioning being at LSU while Pettit was there, and what a big deal that was.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Here is a great quote from ESPN

From Myron Medcalf:

     If Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Arizona fail to meet expectations this season, they won't receive much sympathy because they don't recruit. They just pluck the best from the prep basketball crop each season.
     The schools that can't afford a house on Lake Sign Whomever You Want? Well, it's more difficult to reload and rebuild.


Josh Hagins is a clutch shooter, not a great shooter

(I am speaking about shots from the field, not FT shooting, because he is one of our all-time greats in that category.) Josh was a career 33.9% 3PT shooter at the beginning of this season, which is certainly respectable, but not good enough for me to call him a great shooter. By way of reference, Laverne Smith and Will Neighbour are tied for 14th on the all-time career percentage list at 37.1%. Josh has made some great shots for us over the years, but he has not made shots consistently enough to be a great shooter. He came to Little Rock as a point guard, and he has been a good one. Probably his point play has been hindered because he was forced into duty at the shooting guard spot a good bit of the time. Perhaps his shooting has been hindered because he had to play so much point.

In any case, Josh will go down as one of the great point guards in Little Rock history. He currently has 336 assists, good for 6th on the all-time list. At his current rate of 4.7 per game, with (at least) 25 games remaining, he could add 117 more to that total, which would put him third in Little Rock history, behind only Fish and Vaughn Williams, which is some pretty select company.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Holding my breath regarding injuries

We are deep in most spots, but very thin right now in one. With Green out,if Lis Shoshi should get hurt, we would have some problems. We have been pretty good at smallball so far, but at some point height becomes more than you can make up.

Texas Tech will be the non-conference plum

Tech is not a powerhouse, but the Big 12 was the highest-ranked conference last season, and Tubby Smith does have a national title to his name. That is the game where we might get a little more press.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Another game, another record

I doubt even our most optimistic fans would have bet the farm that we would be 7-0 at this point. It has been close, because we have had a lot of tight games. But we are showing the ability to win ugly, to win close games, and to win on the road. Those are all very good signs.

Friday, December 4, 2015

What would a sixth foul do?

Some are advocating going from five to six fouls per player. This would have the benefit of allowing your star players to stay on the court longer, which might encourage attendance, since people come to see the stars, and this is all about money, after all. However, a negative affect it might have is to aggravate the already high transfer rate. If players six through nine are getting to play less because players one through five are staying in the game longer because they have an extra foul, players six through nine are more likely (maybe) to look someplace else for more playing time. Just a thought.

Hill and Johnson

Maurius Hill is the prototype of your reliable but unspectacular player. Marcus Johnson is excitement personified. So why does Hill start and Johnson does not (at least so far)? I am no coach, but I can speculate about it. Every coach wants to start the game well. No one wants to dig a hole for himself by careless play before things even get going. So, to have a player on the floor at the beginning who is predictable and reliable and who seldom makes mistakes is a  big asset. Then, when Johnson is thrown into the fray, to say that he jump starts the offense is an understatement: he is more like an explosion on the court. Each player fills his role almost perfectly.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A good schedule to predict conference

As I write, the range of Sagarin ratings for Sun  Belt teams is 77.19 down to 63.28. Of the nine D1 non-conference games, four of them are against opponents within that range. Two more, (Tulsa and Texas Tech) are just barely above the top end of the Belt range. So, this was a pretty good schedule to show how we might do in conference play.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Free throw shooting - maybe historical?

At the moment we are shooting 80.7% as a team from the FT line. If we are able to maintain that for the whole season, it would be our best performance - by far - since at least 1978-79. (The media guide does not go back further than that.) The best in recent history is 73.7% in 2013-14.

Dodging bullets

Each game this year we have had something that we did very well and something that we did not do well. Cold shooting, poor rebounding, an off defensive night - all of these have popped up at one time or another. However, we have done other things well enough to offset those weaknesses. One of these days one of those is going to jump up and bite us when we cannot overcome the weakness in another area. It is inevitable. However, the team is doing what it takes to win, and it is encouraging that it is not the same thing every night.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Roger Woods still gets to the line

Some have wondered how Woods may fit into Coach Beard's offensive scheme. Well, one thing may be when we need points without moving the clock. As we know from last year, he gets to the line a lot. He is tied for the fourth-highest FT attempts this year, but has the eighth-highest total minutes.

Going for a record

It is downright encouraging to be going for a program record this early in the season. Who knows what the balance will bring. An injury to a key player could be very disruptive. So, it is nice to cut a few notches on our guns early on.

Great article about Little Rock basketball