Thursday, June 30, 2016

Even nature gets in on the game

In one of the more intriguing College World Series finals in recent years, even Nature helped to heighten the suspense by delaying the game because of rain.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The burning questions for this season

1. Will the team buy into Flanigan's coaching?
2. Will Watkins (or someone) fill the bill at point?
3. Will an emotional leader emerge to replace Hagins?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Struck Gold

It is trite, but I'll go ahead and coin the obvious phrase. If our staff did hit a home run when they recruited Biggie, we can say that they Struck Gold(man).

Monday, June 27, 2016


I don't follow soccer much, but tonight I watched the second half of the Iceland-England match. (Iceland won.) Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and English Premier League soccer is the apex of the sport, so the English team was overwhelmingly favored. The commentators said there are more registered players (whatever that means) in the state of Rhode Island than there are in Iceland. Roughly the equivalent of a minor league baseball team from Rwanda beating the NY Yankees.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Now the consistency

After the wonderful job Chris Beard did with the the team last year, one would assume he also would have done well over the long haul. Be that as it may, it has fallen to Wes Flanigan to build on that season for a sustained period. And the two situations are somewhat different. We likely will not win 30 games again, but I would like to start a nice run of 20-win seasons in which 18 wins would be considered a down year.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Let's go Coastal!

It is great to see future member of the Belt, Coastal Carolina, tearing up the pea patch in baseball even before they are in the Sun Belt. Really on a roll this year.

This has been a quiet recriting season

We got it done early, and except for having to replace Mo, things have stayed in place. At least so far.

Friday, June 17, 2016

How did Porter do?

So what kind of season did our old friend Porter Moser have this past year? Not too good. Loyola was 15-17 overall and 7-11 in conference. So, things could have been better. The Missouri Valley is a tough conference.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Records we might see broken this season

After one season Marcus Johnson is at 46.6% from the arc, which would tie him for second place all time. He made 75 three-pointers last season, and needs 95 to make the list. Stetson Billings has played in 92 games, and would need 112 to make the list Kemy Osse has played in 91 games. Lis Shoshi had 39 blocks and needs 57 to make the list.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Monroe-Australia connection

Three of the five announced recruits coming to Monroe next season are from Australia. I am curious how that came about.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

NBA favorites for a non-NBA fan

I do not follow the NBA any more - at all. But I used to do so, back in the good old days. So who are my all-time favorite NBA players? Bill Russell, David Robinson, Oscar Robertson  (Don't ask me about my least favorites: that list would be too long.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

One thing I would like to see

Little Rock and Arlington in the Belt tournament finals. The only two schools without football. That would be sweet!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Anticipating Moorman

Evan Moorman is still on the roster. He hardly played at all last year, and he is  a walk-on, so he might still have a more-or-less permanent seat on the bench. Still, in his two previous seasons he had averaged over 50% from the arc. I don't care how lacking he may be in the other skills,someone who can shoot like that can make a place for himself.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A good year on Staten Island

I follow Wagner a little, mainly because they are the only D1 school on Staten Island. So how did they do this year? They finished 23-11 and had one win in the NIT. Not too bad.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thurston Howell was a pretty fair golfer

Actor Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo and milionaire Thurston Howell on Gilligan's Island) made the 36-hole cut in the 1964 Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournament.

Johnson at point?

Marcus Johnson had some really nice numbers at point guard in junior college. However, they were very mediocre last year. Obviously, he can play point, but I wonder if he would be able to get such things as A/TO ratio back where they belong. I am guessing he could. Josh Hagins' numbers were not overly impressive until he was the fulltime point guard, and I see no reason why the same should not be true with Johnson if he were forced back into point guard service.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Big man schools

Decent big men are the rarest commodity in basketball, I think it would be safe to say. Let's eliminate from this discussion all those one-and-done types who are using college  only as a brief stepping stone to the NBA. They go to Kentucky so they can get started early on the hype and get maximum exposure from the Sleezipari media mill.

But what about the normal big men - those who might possibly end up in the NBA, or who will never go there but who will be good college players. They want to improve, either to help their chances at a pro career or just because of the old-fashioned reason of wanting to enjoy playing ball and maybe win a few games along the way. If they have a choice, they may want to go to a school that gives them the best chance of improving their games. So what are those schools? Oklahoma State was a major big man school back in the days of Eddie Sutton. Where are those schools now?

I would put Georgetown high on the list. Good big men seem to want to go there, and the Thompsons have had a long history of making good use of their post players. Jamie Dixon did a good job in that regard while he was at Pitt; maybe that will also be true at TCU. Gonzaga seems to crank out impressive big guys who get better as they go. Those are just a few.

Wouldn't it be nice to get some day to the point where we were recognized as a mid-level Big Man University? That definitely would enhance our chance of getting better-quality post players.

Red-shirting and transfers

I read an article several years ago that discussed successful mid-major programs. It noted that one of the few advantages these teams had is that they generally were more mature and experienced, since their players tended to stick around longer than the money conference schools. And it also commented that these programs augmented that advantage by aggressively red-shirting, on the principle that a fifth-year senior is much better than a true freshman; and that a fifth-year senior from a smaller school just might have developed to the point that he would be at least as good as the freshman from a higher-level school.

But the revolving door that is college basketball these days has largely blunted that one advantage of mid-majors. It is so easy for players to transfer that they won't stick around if they are not playing a bunch right off the bat. So, once again, the Powers That Be of the NCAA have kicked the little guys in the shins. It is all about the individual these days, and not about the team.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A very nice "What if?"

What if Corbyn Jackson is the real deal? What if he is a beast on the boards, and takes no prisoners on defense? I had been assuming that we would have a mix-and-match up front, with Black and Shoshi swapping off, or maybe playing together, or maybe Hill and Jalen Jackson swapping between the 3 and the 4. In any case, I have to admit that Corbyn was not in my thinking. But he looks like a classic 4 at our level. Big, strong. And what if he is good, to boot? Nice problem to have.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I always come back to Bill Russell

What I love about basketball are defense, rebounding, and team play. And when you think of those things, one player stands out above all others. Bill Russell's offensive statistics were not as glittering as some others, but his defense was astounding; and his very presence on the court made any team better.

Nomination for NOY

Name of the Year. Incoming Maine recruit Ilker Er. That one will be a real challenge for the PA guy. He is from Turkey, by the way.

Remembering Joe Louis

People of my generation and later  cannot realize what a symbol Joe Louis was during his lifetime, and especially during his active career. His revenge victory over German Max Schmeling in 1938 was in fact a symbolic blow for the entire free world. He won 66 of 70 fights, 52 of them by knockouts, with one of his non-wins being a No Contest. From 1939 to 1941, he defended his title an amazing 13 times.

He volunteered for the army in 1942 and served until 1945. To an entire generation of Americans, Joe Louis was The Man in boxing.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Muhammed Ali - the idolizing begins

There is nothing like death to make a man greater than he was. Certainly Ali was one of the greater boxers, but he was not even the greatest heavyweight, let alone the greatest boxer of all time. And he was a draft dodger, and an obnoxious, self-centered individual who had to have the limelight. By his own estimation he was the Greatest, but not by any objective measurement. He certainly did not look like the greatest after Joe Frazier got through with him in their first fight.

Big man potential

Lis Shoshi was good last season. Solid. But I think everyone agrees that he still has considerable upside. Oliver Black played 490 minutes for Mississippi State year before last, so he can be assumed to have talent. Since big men generally improve more than guards, there is no telling how good he may be. Shandon Goldman is from a small school, but he moves well and seems to have a nice shooting touch. There certainly seems to be plenty of potential there. Three players 6-9 and taller - not many times that has happened in program history. Let's hope all of them get better - considerably better. And let's hope Wes teaches the guards how to make a proper access pass.

Friday, June 3, 2016

More proof that shooters are cheap

Shooters are a dime a dozen. Want more evidence? UAFS was good this past season, but certainly not dominant. They were 23-9 overall and 14-6 in conference. That in spite of the fact that they shot 39.6% as a team from the arc. They had three players with at least 50 attempts who shot over 40% from 3-point range, and another at 35%. They could knock down 3s all day long! And these kids were not even good enough to play D1. But they can shoot, no denying that.

Shooters are not hard to find. Lock-down defenders are. Dominant rebounders are. Distributors are. Exceptional quickness with size is. But not shooters.

The annual SEC "fix it" attempt

It has become almost an annual ritual. Now the SEC is bringing in a consultant to try to help the situation. And so they will throw more money at the problem, propose a lot of short-term fixes, and pay lip service to the fact that they want better basketball. And maybe SEC basketball will improve, because it is possible to buy wins up to a point. But the real problem in the SEC is that the fan base does not care about basketball and probably never will, with a few notable exceptions. It is not that they don't care about their school's team - they will follow the mascot - but they just do not care about the sport. If the Crimson Tide is not going to the NCAA tournament, that is not likely to cause much heartburn in Alabama. Oh, yes, they will jump on the bandwagon come March, but then they promptly forget about basketball until the following March; and as long as the football team is doing well, the prospects on the hardwood barely merit mention.

One non-usual stat I watch

I pay a lot of attention to teams' A/TO ratios. That says a lot about how well they take care of the ball and share the ball, and that goes a long way toward wins. However, I have also begun watching a team's opponents' collective A/TO, but that says something about their defense. That might not mean so much in a given game, but over the course of a season, it says a lot. If opponents are able to run their offenses without turnovers and are able to make their passes for assists without being unduly hindered, then the home team is not causing them much problem.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Point forward

First Team All-Big Ten forward Nigel Hayes from Wisconsin boasted an unusual statistic this past season. He is 6-8, but he led the team with 104 assists, which is 20 more than the next closest person. Point forward? Or maybe just a very good passer.

Jordan Hill was the lone exception

This past season the same five players started all 35 games for Wisconsin, with one lone exception. Sophomore guard Jordan Hill started one game in place of Vitto Brown. That is an unusually consistent pattern, especially considering that it spanned two coaches, with Greg Gard replacing  Bo Ryan in mid-season. (Incidentally, all five of those starters should return next season.)

Tulsa's daunting recruiting task

Tulsa had a pretty good year just past - probably not as good as they had expected, but still a good one. They were 20-12 overall and 12-6 in conference. Not bad. What lies ahead, however, is anybody's guess. They have one starter returning, 6-5 Pat Birt. Taplin, a 6-1 freshman, logged 283 minutes. Outside of that, there is no one on the roster who played more than 18 minutes. Tough.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My introduction to lacrosse

I have had to do a lot of "sitting" with my elderly father lately, and this past Saturday we watched the NCAA Championship lacrosse match. I had seen bits of lacrosse previously, but had never paid much attention to it, but I watched most of this game, and it was fascinating.

First, these players are in shape! They make even soccer players look like pikers. And the poor goalie doesn't have much of a chance with the ball hurtling at him at no-telling-how-many miles per hour. It amazes me how adept the players are at catching and throwing the ball with those little pockets at the ends of their sticks. Great eye-hand coordination.

The scoring is just about right. Little enough that individual goals mean a whole lot more than they do in basketball, but enough so that the game flows right along. I was pretty well impressed with the sport.