Monday, February 29, 2016

One thing that has made this an interesting year.

10. Because seniors matter so much right now
Perry Ellis at Kansas. The three seniors at Oklahoma. Malcolm Brogdon andAnthony Gill at Virginia. Denzel Valentine. Brice Johnson at North Carolina. Seniors, not freshmen, dominated college basketball in 2015-16. Experience tends to diminish draft stocks in the one-and-done era. But we didn't care about that this season. The seniors were the most valuable players in the country.

From ESPN's Myron Medcalf. And I agree with him 100%. Seniors ought to dominate basketball instead of the Rent-a-freshman program the NBA has going on right now.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Coach with a heart

It was nice to see Coach Beard manifesting a little emotion after the game yesterday. Not a lot, but his eyes were obviously getting misty. That says something, probably a lot, about his coaching success.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Sausage Factory's firewall

I have seen something lately that I have never seen before: a discussion by Fayetteville fans as to who would win games between them and our Trojans. There are differing opinions, even to both extremes of the possibilities. Even to be having the discussion is pretty remarkable, if you will think about it. Most years the answer would be obvious. Because of the gross disparity in resources, it takes a very bad year for the Ham and a very good year for us to make the question worth talking about.

But think how easy that question is for them to ask. They will never have to answer it. It would be very simple to find the answer: just play the Trojans. They will never do it. Thus they can say, "We would beat them three times out of ten, or ten times out of ten," and that is a totally safe opinion. Sort of like saying that Babe Ruth was a better baseball player than Mickey Mantle. Who could ever prove you wrong?

You can't lose to teams you won't play. Most years that is irrelevant, but this particular season that strategy looks suspiciously like running from a fight you are afraid you might lose.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Defense is still this team's trademark

We now have lots of 3-point shooters, but it is still defense that this team hangs its hat on. We were good on defense when our shooting was still a liability, and (theoretically) defense does not have an "off" night.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Beard as a tournament coach

Not all good coaches are good tournament coaches, for whatever reason. Steve Shields was better in the regular season than he was in tournaments, for example, probably because of his over-coaching. Some big-name high-level D1 coaches have a stigma attached to them because of their failure in the Tournament.

How good a tournament coach will Beard be? My gut feel is that he will do well, but we shall see. This year's team has had a tendency to be a slow starter, and that can be a killer in tournaments. No second chances there. His substitution pattern also might work against him to some degree, because in the tournament there is no tomorrow and you have to have your best guys on the court a maximum amount of minutes. Of course, he may change his usual system for the tournament. I do not have enough expertise even to comment on the qualities needed, but I do know enough to know that some coaches just do not do as well when they season gets short. Let's hope Chris Beard is not one of those.

Just a thought

Is a player who is pressing ever completely still? Very seldom. He will always be moving to some degree. So then, if you are bringing the ball upcourt and two players are moving to pinch you off and get you into a trap, why not just go right at one of them at the last minute? Almost always he will get called for the foul, it would seem to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Does the NCAA even want to fix it?

Something badly needs to be done to make the regular season in college basketball more important. Right now it is little more than an asterisk, reminding people to tune in again in March, when the real action begins. There are several things that could be done that might help the problem, but the question is whether or not the NCAA even wants to fix it. Making basketball more important would only be a detraction from football, which is the cash cow (or at least, so we are told.)

Getting back to worst case

We are 24-3 at this point with four regular season games left, plus the SBC tournament, and presumably plus something in post-season. Let us suppose that we lost out. That would  be six straight losses and would put us as 24-9, or a winning percentage of .727.

Even if we did lost out, this would still rank among one of the best seasons in program history. Since World War II (when we began playing something resembling a full schedule), these are the only teams that bested that winning percentage:

1974 - 18-6 (.750) Happy Mahfouz
1983 - 23-6 (.793)  Ron Kestenbaum
1988 - 24-7 (.774) Mike Newell
1989 - 23-8 (.742) Mike Newell
1996 - 23-7 (.767) Wimp Sanderson
2009 - 23-8 (.742) Steve Shields

So, even absolute worst case basis, this would still be the 7th best season in modern history. Not bad. That shows just how good a start we have had.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Do we have 24-3 talent?

How talented is this team? Do we have the sort of talent that would have caused us to expect to be 24-3 at this point in the season. I don't think so; not at all. This is a talented team, no doubt about it. But there is not even the kind of talent on this team that Georgia State had on their team last year, at least in my humble estimation. We are good, talent-wise, but we are not great. This staff has done a marvelous job getting the most out of the talent we have. Without this staff, this team would not have been nearly so good.

How good is this coaching staff? Would we have looked just at the staff and thought that we would be 24-3 headed down the stretch? I don't think so. I think Beard has done a superb job, likewise the rest of the staff. They have done a great job molding a thrown-together roster into a cohesive unit. But is this staff so good that it, by itself, would have caused us to expect 24-3? Probably not. Not many of Beard's former teams did that well. Perhaps not any of them. But this team has proven itself to be very coachable and resilient. They obviously listen and learn, and have gotten better. That shows a lot about a team, when they get better as the season progresses. If this team hadn't listened, this staff would not have accomplished nearly as much this season.

I will go even one step further. Even with a good team and a good staff, if the fan base and the student body had not responded as it has, we probably would not have been quite where we are. During the games I got to attend, there were times when the team was back on its heels and the crowd carried them through. The fans have responded, and in basketball, perhaps more than any other major sport, that make a difference.

I don't know what will happen for the remainder of the season, but 24-3 is very special, and it has been a joint effort.

Worse case basis still pretty good

I do not expect it, in fact I expect far from it. But if we were to lose out, what would our record be? We are 24-3. Four games left in the regular season, plus one in the Belt tournament, plus (presumably) one in some sort of post-season tournament. Add six losses, an we are 24-9. Still one of the best years in school history.

Again, nobody expects that scenario to play out, but it serves to illustrate just how strong our season has been so far. We could have a catastrophic finish, and the overall season would still be one of our best. (Just to put things in perspective.)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Glue guy

I would vote for Jermaine Ruttley as our Glue Guy for this season. You know, one of those guys who does well all the little things that do not get cheers and do not get into the media, but which win ballgames. That is why Jermaine is fifth on the team in minutes played even though he is averaging only 3.6 points/game.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

I agree with Coach entirely

In his post-game comments after the Georgia State game, Beard said that one of our problems in the first half was that we were "settling" for three-pointers. Bingo! Right on the money, coach. So many teams just take the easy way out and launch long-range bombs instead of getting with it and playing good basketball.

The unfairness of the fan base

The problem with having the success that we are having this season is that it raises the expectations of the fan base drastically. Taken in a vacuum, that is not a bad thing: if we did it once, might we not do it again? I have heard fans opine, "I support the program, and I deserve better than this." We buy our tickets and thus we can expect that the players and coaches will work hard and do their part. Past that, I doubt that we "deserve" anything outside of the right to gripe, which we do.

If Chris Beard stays more than a year or two, it is not reasonable to expect that he is going to have this type of success repeatedly. As has been said several times, in order to have this sort of a year, you have to be lucky as well as good. John Wooden was a great coach, but he also got to have Alcindor and Walton healthy for the most part for their entire careers. That helps.And some seasons, like this one, the ball just bounces your direction. Games when we get behind and come roaring back for a victory in other years just won't happen. Even the memorable 1986 season was not THIS kind of a season. After all (as we tend to forget), we lost 12 games that season, including 9 of our first 13. We finished fine, but we started stinky.

We tend to compare, and thus good seasons become mediocre seasons when compared with once-in-a-lifetime seasons, and so on. Good coaches are demoted to bad coaches because they were only moderately successful. Good teams are set aside in our minds because they were not as good as "that team." Hopefully, this team will be "that team" in our memories. But I hope we do not make the mistake of demeaning other fine teams and seasons and players and coaches just because they did not have the opportunity to play in one of those special situations.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Two reasons I will root against Oklahoma

First off, they are from a football-only state. Basketball does not matter at the University of Oklahoma, so it would be no big loss to them if they don't win in basketball. Second, they live by the 3-point shot, and I hate the 3-point shot.

This is a BIG deal

All-time regular seasons victories. Five tries to get it, and hopefully it will only take one try. This is a huge deal. I hope the media will make something out of it, but I doubt it.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Coaches who refuse to discipline

UIC (Illinois-Chicago) is awful. Just downright awful. They are 5-20, and two of those wins are over non-D1 teams. I  saw them play on television earlier this year and they are a bad version of street ball. Their shooting is atrocious. What amazes me - once again - is that their coach evidently refuses to bring any on-court discipline to the program. Freshman Dikembe Dixson (6-7) leads the team in scoring with 19.0 ppg, but that is one of the most bogus numbers you ever saw. He shoots a lousy 37.1% overall and a poor 32.8% from the arc. Even at the FT line he is only shooting 64.8%, which is nothing to brag about. And yet he has taken 27.8% of all the shots the team has taken. He just blasts away, whether or not he is making shots - AND THE COACH LETS HIM DO IT! They are a poor-shooting team, but they do have a few other players who are making shots at a significantly better rate than Dixson, but let's just throw away game after game by letting some kid determine what he is going to do on the court. Come on, Coach, do your job!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A record should be on the way

It will take a monumental flop to keep us from setting the program record for regular season wins. That currently is held by the 1988 team at 23, so all we have to do is win two of the last six. Assuming it happens, I think we can safely mark this down as an epic season, hmmmm?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bears on a roll

UCA has won three of their last four games, which for them in recent times constitutes a major win streak. They scored over 100 points in two of those games. What they do not do, of course, is play very much defense.

Still at it in Denver

Our old league-mates in Denver are still up to their old tricks. They shoot lights out, shoot a ton of 3-point shots, have a lot of assists, but don't rebound and don't play defense for sour apples. They could be a poster child for my theory that teams that rely primarily on the 3-point shot tend to be "soft."

The value of the ranking services

In a year like this, it is nice to be able to compare ourselves to other teams vicariously. How good are we? Who knows. We are one of the better teams in the Sun Belt, but what does that mean, considering that the Belt is the 18th ranked conference? By this time in the year, though Sagarin and RPI have enough data to compare the relative strengths of teams fairly accurately. So, we can say that we could go head to head with such teams as Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Ohio State, and it would be a good ballgame. Yes, even with Fayetteville. So, that is nice to know. Even if we were to make the NCAA tournament, we may only be there for one game, and that is not enough to know how we would fare against better competition week in and week out. But the ranking services give us an idea how we would do.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Toughness is a virtue every sports team needs, even if theirs is not a contact sport. Mental toughness. The ability to step up at crunch time. The Trojans displayed that Saturday at Lafayette in a big way, and that is nice to know. Toughness could be the difference between a good season and a really special season.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Statement for this team

It is very unlikely that we will get an at-large berth to the NCAA or crack the Top 25. Our schedule is just too weak. And, we probably will lose another game or two before the regular season and tournament are over. However, this team made a statement last night when it knocked off the Louisiana Cajuns on their own floor and ended a 9-game winning streak and giving them their first loss at home this season. That is tough to do, as anyone knows who is at all familiar with Sun Belt basketball history. Toss in the fact that they probably have the Belt MVP for this season, and it is doubly difficult. After a one-game hiccup at Monroe, the Trojans got back to their formula for this season and pulled off the win.

The point guard's stat

I remember when Zack Graber was recruited to Little Rock. He said that he had been a winner wherever he had played, and he expected to be a winner here. He was. I also remember that he was a pretty fair shooter, but he rarely shot, and the fans sometimes would complain that he did not shoot more. It did not seem to bother Zack, though. He just kept doing what he did best - win.

The nature of basketball is such that much of the time a point guard will not score as much as he might be able to score in another position. The reason is that his job is to make the sum of the parts as great as it can be. He is the engineer that keeps the machine running right. So, if a point guard is wanting to score a lot, usually he is a good enough basketball player that he could - but his team would not win as much. The point guard's main statistic is the final score.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stick with your formula

Each team is built a certain way. The combination of players has been trained in a particular style, and if they succeed, that will be how they do it - most of the time. Good teams can win when taken out of their comfort zone, but they do a lot better in it. This team is a good one, but we have enough weak spots that we need to stick to our own brand of cooking. When we do that, we are pretty salty.

Friday, February 12, 2016

NCAA berths

Just one man's opinion. When a win or loss happened, and who was hurt or healthy, should have no  bearing whatsoever on whether a team is NCAA worthy or not. What if a player is hurt half the season and his team loses half of those games. When he comes back, if they go undefeated from that point on, does that just automatically eliminate those losses from consideration? And the NCAA is supposed to be about the BEST teams, not the HOTTEST teams, so a win in the first game ought to count just as much as a win in the last.

We MUST play defense

This team is not constituted so that we can get by without playing defense. We did some things right against Monroe last night. We were only minus-2 on the boards. We shot a good 46% overall. We only had 8 turnovers. Most of the time, when we see the Trojans with those numbers, it will indicate a win - but most of the time we play good defense. Monroe shot 50.9% against us overall and 53.3% from the arc. I did not see the game, so I do not know if it was lack of effort or lack of execution, or both, but whatever it was, it did not get the job done. Monroe had a field day shooting against us, and we lost. This team has to play defense if it expects to win.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

He makes what he takes

Coastal Carolina senior Tristian Curtis is not a big scorer. He starts, but averages only 6.4 points per game. In fact, he takes less than four shots per game, on average. But, he is shooting 73.8% (!) from the field. Amazing! The kid has played 536 minutes so far this year and has missed only 21 shots.

International roster

The South Alabama women's tennis roster has players from Slovakia (3), Germany, Colombia and Russia. Their coach is from South Africa, which might have something to do with the international flavor.

Mutual Benefit Society

Last season Jermaine Ruttley had 17 points/game and 6 rebounds/game for a team that won 2 games. This year he is scoring 3.3 ppg and grabbing 3.3 rpg for a team that so far has lost 2 games. Quite a turnaround. He is not a star, but he is winning. He is the glue guy this year, who does the blue-collar work that rarely gets into the headlines, but which is greatly appreciated by coaches and people who really know the game. He is providing a real service to the coaching staff, and in return they have invited him to be a part of something special on the winning side. Two backs have been scratched, and both parties are benefitting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Three point threats

I really, really HATE the three-point shot. I think it is the single biggest problem with college basketball today. Notwithstanding my opinion, it is with us and is not likely to go away. So . . . every team has to adjust to that fact. Three-point shooters are a time a dozen these days, because that is about all kids practice any more. EVERY team has to have enough of them so that they can have (at least) two legitimate threats from the arc on the floor at any given time, so that teams cannot sit on your only shooter. If they only have to guard one guy, that is easy, and you are in trouble.

Arlington's rebound

The Mavericks suffered a body blow when leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Hervey was injured, and they went into an immediate tailspin. However, after back-to-back road wins, it would appear that they have the ship righted and should once again be considered very dangerous.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Three things we can accomplish (hopefully)

Hopefully, even apart from post-season success, this season will accomplish three things. 1. It will make some casual attenders of games into full-fledged Trojan fans. 2. It will keep folks' attention fully on basketball through the conference season, even before March Madness. 3. It will cause folks to start paying attention next year when the season begins, instead of waiting until after the Super Bowl.

Let's just ignore the failures, shall we?

This morning Buddy Hield was being hailed for his clutch 3-pointer to win the game over Texas. In looking at the box score, he was 7 for 18 for the night. That means he MISSED eleven shots. Missed them. Did NOT make them. He was 3 of 10 from the arc. He MISSED seven shots. If he had made those shots there would have been no need for the hero shot. But people fail to remember those things.

Fort Smith Patriots

My grandchildren attend a home school co-op in Fort Smith. The total enrollment is about 150. The only competitive sport they have is basketball, where they compete with similar home school groups around the area. And there is actually a national home school tournament each year, which is now drawing college scouts regularly.

It is usually difficult to measure a player or team without some sort of benchmark. The senior boys team plays well, but I had wondered how they would do against real, live public school competition. The Arkansas Activities Association this year approved public schools playing home school groups, but it happened late enough that there was little chance to schedule games. However, the Patriots were able to get a game with Arkoma, a small school immediately across the Oklahoma line  from Fort Smith. I assume they would  be the equivalent of an 1A or 2A school in Arkansas. (They play 8-man football.) I noticed on the plaque on the wall that Arkoma had won their district championship four of the last seven years, so they obviously are a successful program at their level, and it found out later that they do have a winning record so far this year.

The Patriots senior girls won over a very tall Arkoma team by about ten points. The real shocker, however, was in the senior boys game. The Patriots have a 6-4, 250# center who shoots well and has excellent footwork in the paint. Their power forward is about 6-3 and athletic. Arkoma did not have anyone much over six feet that I saw, so I assumed they would fast break a lot. The Patriots hit 3s the first three trips down the court - bing! 9-0 about a minute into the game. Arkoma calls time out, and then the Patriots started getting the ball into the big guys, and there was little Arkoma could do. The Patriots were up by 21 points after the first quarter. I left at the end of the third quarter when they were up by 30. They put in the reserves for the fourth quarter who pushed the final margin up to 50.

So, it looks like the Patriots are good enough to compete in that particular conference, whatever level it is. A representative from the website Arklahoma Preps was at the game. He said the Patriot boys would be very competitive at the 5A level in Arkansas. I don't know about that, but I have seen teams this year up to the 3A level in Arkansas, and they would be right in the mix with them.

Rebounding could be a strength next season

We are not overwhelming many folks on the boards this season. But Shoshi continues to get better at rebounding, and next season we add Oliver Black to the equation. Plus we will have several of the players at the 3 and 4 positions who are pretty good rebounders for their size. So it looks encouraging. Who we will really miss on the boards is Josh Hagins, who has been a very good rebounding guard.

Monday, February 8, 2016

It just does not make sense

I understand it when a 5-11 player shoots better from the arc than he does overall. When he gets in amongst the trees he is out of his element, and can get shots blocked regularly. But Drexel's Tavon Allen is not a shorty. He is 6-7. Yet he shoots 37.6% from the arc, but only 33.3% inside the arc. Doesn't make sense to me.

Most significant stat?

I study out stat sheet a lot, during the season and between seasons. If I had to pick out one statistic for this year that I think explains what has happened it would be Josh Hagins' A/TO ratio, which at the moment is 3.03. Josh is an immensely talented player, but not one who always has played with the discipline and focus he ought to have. This year he is doing that, and it is showing up hugely both in the stats and in the wins column.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The next four games

21-2. Well on the way to a dream season. But it could get de-railed big time in the next two weeks. We are undefeated at home and I feel pretty good about any games there, but the road is something else. We already have stumped our toe at a fair Arkansas State team. What will it be like at Lafayette and Monroe? Not to mention Atlanta and Statesboro? Even a couple of losses would downgrade the dream considerably. Not that it couldn't still be a very good run, but right now it falls into the unbelievable category. One game at a time, Trojans.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Not a single-shot team

Marcus Johnson is our leading scorer, but he is not always on his game. In fact, though he has lit up the rim with 30 points, and 20-plus points on three occasions. he also has had totals of five points and six points in the last ten games. If we were depending on him to do all our scoring, we would be hurting sometimes. But we have several players who can go off for double-figure scoring in a given game without too much trouble. It just depends on the match-ups and how the coaches feed the players into the game. And who is hot that particular night. And who can get open. Lots of factors. We are not a single-shot team.

Friday, February 5, 2016

So what is this team's weakness

Oh, we had several holes in the dike earlier in the season. Depth at the bigs was a big problem, but Green's return has helped solve that. Three-point shooting was not great, but we now have several options there and have improved drastically as a team. Our 3PT defense was not sterling, but our opponents are now down to 31.6%. We were getting pounded on the boards, but we just moved ahead of the opposition for the season in last night's game. Slowly we are fixing the problems. So, does this team have any significant weaknesses?

Here is one thing that impresses me

Josh Hagins has an A/TO ratio of 2.94, which is very nice; but then he is supposed to have that, because he plays point guard.

But here are some other A/TO ratios on this team from players who do not play point:
Jermaine Ruttley 2.11
Kemy Osse 1.67
Stetson Billings 1.67

Those are the kinds of numbers that win ballgames.

The disappointment? BIG disappointment? Marcus Johnson has an A/TO of 0.89.

MIS award

Most Impressive Statistic. This team does several things well, but I suppose the one thing that has impressed me the most is the fact that we hold opponents to 37.4% overall shooting percentage. It is tough to gain much traction when you are shooting at that rate.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Best rebounders

At the moment, here are our leaders in rebounds per minute played:
Shoshi .248
Hill .232
Woods .190
Ruttley .175
Isom .161

The only number that really surprised me was Ruttley. All the others are big guys or players who spend more time on the inside.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Encouragement from Beard's mistakes

Coach Beard has been a head coach, and he has been an assistant to one of the sport's legends. So he has done it, and he has seen it. BUT he has never done it before at the D1 level. And it is a little different watching someone do it than it is doing it yourself; and it is a little more complicated at the D1 level than at lower levels. Maybe not a lot, but a little.

Obviously, Beard has done a lot of things right. Most things. He has pushed the right buttons so far. But the logic above tells me that he also has to have made some mistakes. I have no idea what they might but, but I am sure he could tell you several. My point is that notwithstanding the great year we are having, our coach still has considerable upside potential. Imagine what he will be able to accomplish with a few years of D1 experience under his belt! It is possible we ain't seen nothin' yet (if we can get him to stay here).

One thing Beard will need to fix

Sagarin currently has us with the 225th-toughest schedule in the country. Only three Belt teams have an easier slate. We should have a lot of talent coming back next season, and more coming in, so we need to toughen up our non-conference schedule, since there is nothing we can do about the conference.

Calipari ought to be fired

With the talent he has, to be losing like they are, he is NOT doing his job.

Cheering defense

Not many basketball crowds appreciate half-court defense enough to cheer it. That is one good thing about the shot clock: it gives you an exact count as to how long you have held off the other team. And even if, like us, they habitually run deep into the shot clock, if the crowd rises to the occasion in the last few seconds, it can only put a little pressure on the opposition. Just a part of making a real home court advantage.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

You had better guard the arc

This from a Sports Illustrated article about Wichita State's resurgence this season:

For as good as its defense is, Wichita State could also use improvement when guarding the perimeter. Opponents are shooting 35.6% from three, making the Shockers the only top-10 team in’s adjusted defensive efficiency to rank outside the top 100 for three-point percentage defense (they rank No. 234).

Wisconsin sticks with the plan

In 22 games so far this year, Wisconsin has had 110 individual starts. In one game sophomore guard Jordan Hill started, but other than that it has been the same five in every game.

Road trip disasters

The Sausage Factory has won one game away from Bud Walton all year, and that was to lowly Missouri, who would be in danger of losing to the Sunnyvale Nursing Home. Of course, they have played only six true road games all season, anyway. They can afford to buy plenty of wins - well, at least enough to be one game above .500.

Three-point shooting next season?

We currently are shooting 36.9% from the arc as a team, which is very acceptable, especially given our slow start. But if you look a little further into the team stats and subtract the seniors from the numbers, the players that presumably will be returning next season are shooting 39.9%.

Not much learning curve with Black

Oliver Black has spent this season learning the Beard system, so he will be jump-started for next season, and that is going to be a huge plus for us. Having a big man that does not have to have "on the job training" is a luxury at our level.

Big men next season

What with Lis' upside seemingly unlimited, and Oliver Black's return to play looming in the future, the play of our big men could a major strength for our team next season. I have no idea how Coach Beard will use them, or even if he will use them fully, but I like what I am seeing. If Black is as good as I think he may be, to the point that he can't be left on the bench, then we might see a lot of 6-11, 6-9 combinations up front. Wouldn't that be nice! Plus we will have Jalen Jackson and Maurius Hill to throw into the fray. Nice to have the options.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Don't count out Wisconsin just yet

During Bo Ryan's tenure the Badgers never finished worse than fourth in the Big Ten, which was a remarkable record. It looks unlikely that they will do that this year, though. They are currently 8th, with nine games remaining, so that will be a tough pull. However, they have won their last four games to pull to 5-4 in conference play and their four losses were by a total of 15 points, so they have not been out of any of the games. They do not have a senior starter, and outstanding freshman center Ethan Happ is just starting to come into his own - another in a long line of late-blooming big men for Wisconsin. Who knows?

It helps to be far-sighted with this team

One of my friends at work will use the phrase "passing the eye test" frequently when describing a team in some sport, either positively or negatively. "They don't pass the eye test" means that when you look at the team, they do not look like the would be particularly good.

The Trojans do not pass the eye test - and I love it! We do not have much height. We do not play flashy basketball. We play at a slow pace. All the gurus that are trying to change college  basketball to make it "more entertaining" must really hate us, because we play ugly basketball, at least they way they view things.

But look what happened with Georgia State, just for an example. They are shooting 44.1% on the year. Against us they shot 39.1%. They are shooting 33% for the year from the arc. Against us they shot 23%.

Many fans don't look at the negatives - that is, what you prevent your opponent from doing. They look at the positives, at the flash and the glitter and the big offensive numbers. To them we are ugly, because they are nearsighted. They do not look beyond the surface. To appreciate this team, you have to be far-sighted.

History in the making

Josh has been a stat sheet stuffer during his distinguished career in Little Rock. He will be in the record books as one of the all-time best in games played, FG made, 3PT shots made, FT%, assists, steals, and points scored, which shows his versatility and his consistency. Just as when Will Neighbour was in his senior year, but even more so, we are watching history in the making.