Sunday, December 31, 2017

How much would Nagurski have weighed today?

Bronko Nagurski was a powerhouse football player of the 1920s and 1930s. He was 6-2 and weighed 226 pounds. Fans today would tend to downgrade him because he was not nearly as big as today's players. The question, however, is what Nagurski would have weighed had he played today with modern nutrition and training techniques.

See the source image

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The case of Wes Flanigan

I held off my final opinion until I had seen this year's team in person. Now I have.

Unless something happens that I do not at all foresee, Wes Flanigan will not survive this season. RealtimeRPI projects us to finish the regular season 7-24. I just cannot see Chasse being willing to have another try at 24 losses. Attendance will be poor at best. I do not know anything about our financial situation, but surely we can afford to buy out one year of Wes' contract. If so, we need to do it and move on. And we need to be ready to move the day the season is over so the next coach can have time to get things ready.

We are not just bad, we are AWFUL. We are embarrassing. I will say here what I have said many times: if we were losing ballgames just because we are outclassed, that is OK. It happens sometimes and I can live with that. But we are just not playing good basketball, and there is no excuse for that. Wes has had a semester to get this team whipped into whatever kind of shape they are capable of playing, and we still look like a junior high team.

Many excellent assistant coaches cannot translate into a decent head coach. Wes evidently could not bridge that gap. Too bad. It would have been very nice to have had a Little Rock coach for Little Rock's team, but things do not always turn out the way we wished.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Basketball has become boring

Predictability makes any endeavor uninteresting. Now that the 3-point shot has totally changed the offensive landscape in basketball, offenses have become petrifyingly predictable. All shots are going to be from a thin strip of landscape outside the arc, or right under the basket. The rest of the court goes neglected. So, we bring the ball across the halfcourt, pass it around the perimeter for a while, and about half the time end up jacking up a long shot. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

We got an F+

Our mid-term grade? Well, we definitely did not do well. It was a failing grade, but I will give us an F+ as a nod to the injuries. But the sad fact is that our talent did not pan out and we did not do much with the talent we had. A few players did reasonably well - better than an F+ - but the program overall failed. It is not just that we lost, it was how we lost. I can forgive a team for losing, but not for playing bad basketball. We shot poorly, we defended poorly (that improved somewhat as the season went on), we turned the ball over too much, our rebounding was sub-par. The coaches let players do what they wanted to do instead of making them do what they should do. There just was not much to cheer about in the first half.

Is there a glimmer of light? Sure. We get probably our best shooters back at some point. Our defense has improved markedly. The Sun Belt is not so good a conference but what we should win a few games, and maybe even surprise a few folks. But we have to do it. It cannot be just theory, or what "might be."

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What has to happen?

So what has to happen for us to have a decent conference season? (I don't think we would have been in the running with Arlington this year in any case: they are very good.)

1. One thing already has happened. We have learned how to defend the perimeter. Checkmark to Wes on that one.

2. We have to find a couple of bona fide 3-point threats. Corcoran may be one, but we need a couple more. Hopefully the two injured guys will provide this factor.

3. We have to have some interior scoring. Whether it comes from Oliver or Wadly or Marcus, someone is going to have to step up.

4. Wes has to learn to crack the whip. If these guys won't do what they are told, then they shouldn't get on the floor. We have eleven guys who have averaged 12 minutes per game, and that is too many.

5. Andre Jones has to quit shooting 3s.

6. We have to cut down on turnovers.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Wadly has been a disappointment

My expectations for Wadly Mompremier were not high, but evidently they were somewhat higher than reality. I knew he would not be a scorer, but I thought he could come in and be a valuable role player for us - shot blocking and rebounding. Actually, he has not done too badly in either for the minutes he has played, but he does not get on the court much. He leads the team in blocks (although 13 is not many to be leading a team) and his rebounds per game would not be awful if he were playing more minutes. But he only gets on the court for 14 minutes a game, causing us to have to play smallball most of the time. He actually has shot the 3 fairly well (5 of 14). It would be nice if he could ramp up his production a little for conference play.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Jones needs to accept his role

In Andre Jones' defense, we have been without two of our best shooters so far this season, or for most of that time, and he may have felt compelled to try to do what he is not best at doing. However, as we move forward, he needs to accept the fact that (at least so far) he is not a shooter. That is not my opinion: the statistics over two seasons prove it without doubt. However, Jones is very quick and has great hops. He is an above-average rebounder for a perimeter player. We need him to rebound, penetrate, get to the basket. He needs to be a physical, slashing 3 for us. If he will stick to his role, he could be a very effective player. A shooter, he is not. His FT shooting is not awful, but could stand some improvement, because he should be a player who gets fouled a lot.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Jones wins MFP award

Most Frustrating Player. Definitely goes to Andre Jones. So much potential. So little discipline. So much athletic ability. So many shots taken, so few made. What could be, what might be, but isn't.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Miss Hathaway nailed it

"Jethro, you are like a magnificent skyscraper with an uncompleted penthouse." (Miss Jane on The Beverly Hillbillies) That sounds like a description of a lot of high school basketball players I know.

Difficult not to play "what if"

You will drive yourself crazy lamenting over injuries. Still, it is difficult not to think a little about what might have been this season if we had stayed healthy. Our defense was terrible at first, but to his credit Wes has gone a long way toward getting that fixed. But our offense is anemic, at best, and it is bound to have been at least somewhat better with Reedus and Burns available.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Anthony Black came out of nowhere

A tip of the hat to Flanigan for landing Anthony. He has been a valuable player for us. He is undersized, of course, but he has got things done. And I think he will do even better when our shooters get back from the injured roll. He leads the team in made 3-pointers and steals, and is third in assists.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pippins is going to make a difference

I never would have thought it based on his history so far, but Ryan Pippins has made an immediate difference in this team. Don't ask me what it is, but it is there. One thing is that he has only turned the ball over once in 41 minutes of playing time. That in itself is a rarity on this team.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The secret to Arlington's success

It is real simple: they somehow have been able to keep Scott Cross on campus. In his term as head coach they had won 204 games in 11 seasons going into this year. Given their success, I have to believe that he has had several attractive offers to go elsewhere, but he has stayed. And Arlington is not exactly a high-visibility situation, being as they are in a saturated metroplex sports environment. How have they done it (getting him to stay)? I wish I knew.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If Wes is to last, he must learn

Wes has to get better as a coach if he is going to make it as a coach. And I am not saying that he cannot do that, or is not doing that. There are some signs that some good things are happening in the program. But that WILL have to happen.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A few good things happening

Very quietly, some good things are happening. Nothing that is producing headlines yet, but that might do so on down the line.

1. Suddenly we have a couple of 3-point threats, those being Anthony Black and Cameron Corcoran. Just that one simple fact could make a major difference in our offense.

2. Ryan Pippins is suddenly a factor, maybe. Who knows? One game does not necessarily mean much, but he did more in one game than he had done in his entire career. Maybe that indicates something. If so, it could be huge.

3. In his last four games, Andre Jones has been 0 for 4, 0 for 4, 1 for 7, and 0 for 4 from the three-point line. To do the math for you, that is 1 out of 19 in his last four games. He did not play against Bradley and had only 15 minutes against Ozarks. I have no idea why his minutes went down, but maybe Wes is trying to get his attention. Someone needs to. He has been killing us! And if Wes is finally realizing that he is killing us, maybe he is doing something about it.

4. All of a sudden, we have become a very good team at defending against the 3. In our last six games, only Bradley shot over 30% against us. That sounds like the old Trojan defense!

5. Ben Marcus is for real. We are eleven games into the season and he is still shooting 76% from the field!

It has taken a long time to happen, but maybe things are slowly turning in the right direction.

What might get Wes

If we get our roster healthy and the team starts to do a little better, Wes might survive the full term of his contract. In fact, he probably will, for financial reasons if for no other. However, right now we are 7th (amazingly so) in Sun Belt average home attendance, which is not surprising considering how bad our record is and how badly we have been playing. However, the 1554 attendance per game we are averaging is well below what we have had in the past, and since men's basketball is the department's big revenue producer, that has to be a matter of concern to Chasse.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Why so little of Ben Marcus?

This team is very offensively-challenged. Putting it more bluntly, we can't hit the broad side of a barn. So why is Ben Marcus not playing more? He is shooting 73.5%, for crying out loud! He has missed only nine shots all season. Granted, I have not seen him play, and his game may be very deficient in other respects. But the kid makes his shots. Right now what we desperately need is someone who can MAKE SHOTS!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

One game at a time

In a season like this, each game has to be an entity in itself. Fans will get depressed otherwise. We have not lost the game until we lose it. You just have to forget the immediate past and move on. Being a fan is supposed to be fun, and at times in order to do that you have to have a poor memory.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Does the advantage disappear?

Does whatever homecourt advantage a team has disappear during bad seasons because of fan apathy? I am assuming that it does, at least to a large extent. If fans get to where they just do not care, then they don't come to games, and if they do, they are not as vocal as they might otherwise be. Since Little Rock's homecourt advantage has never been fearsome to start with because of its somewhat geriatric make-up, that is really bad news for the Trojans.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Determined to persevere

I still say that in a year like this fans need to have a sense of humor and just ride out the rough spot. Things will eventually change, one way or the other. I do not intend to let our ineptness spoil my enjoyment as a fan. I am going to be a good Trojan fan even if the Trojans are not very good players. (That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I know we are pretty bad this year

but I still love Trojan basketball.

Why "football"?

Have you ever wondered why football is called "football"? Yes, we do occasionally kick the ball, but not much as a percentage of the activity in the sport. The rest of the world, of course, reserves that name for what we call soccer. I wonder if they wonder at the logic of what really is a misnomer. We throw and we carry, but we do not kick a great deal. So why "football"?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Finish the shot!

I get tired, tired, tired of watching young players (including college) charge into the lane and throw up a shot at the basket. As if making a great move was all that was required. Finish the shot!

Monday, December 11, 2017

More offensive fouls?

I have not seen the statistics, but it seems clear to me that the officials are calling a lot more offensive fouls this season than in the past, both charging and pushing off. To me that is a very good thing. Almost every rule change or point of emphasis in recent years has been in the offense's favor. ("Scoring is good; defense is bad.") This new point of emphasis, however, has really made a difference. It appears to have given back a portion of what they took away a few years back when they clamped down on hand checks by the defenders.

Go defense! Go Trojans!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

ESPN comment about Kentucky under Sleezipari

"He has had arguably the most talent every season since he has been in Lexington and has just one banner hanging at Rupp Arena."

Some folks have worse trouble

Drake did not have a winning season from 1987 through 2006. That is pretty tough. Not that they did not win any championships through that period - they did not even have a single winning season. Their fans would have been die-hard of necessity.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Why pull players in foul trouble?

We all know the answer to this, but it does make for some interesting theorizing.

Every shot counts the same no matter when it is made in the game. (The only difference in that would be shots made after 1-and-1 is in effect.) Let's assume that a player is as likely to make a shot at the beginning of the game as at the end of the game. What difference does it make when he makes it? Assume you pull your best player with five minutes left because he gets his fourth foul, and put him back in with one minute left, on the theory that the score at the end of the game is the only one that counts and you want him in the game when it comes time for the final score. The other side of the coin, though, is that in the four minutes he was out of the game he might have accounted for several points so that your team would be in better shape on the score board when it did come to crunch time. You want him in the game when the game is tied, but if you had left your better player in the game you might be several points ahead. Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

The answer, of course, is psychological. A coach is taking a gamble to do that, and most of them are not willing to make that gamble. Sort of like always going for it on fourth down in football.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

3-point shots and home runs

The three-point shot in basketball is the logical equivalent of the home run in baseball. They get the most cheers, but in reality they are boring. What is exciting about watching a man swing a bat and then jog around the bases? Big deal! I do not get worked up about a bunch of players standing around the arc launching 3s in warm-ups, either. Pretty mundane stuff.

But put the fences back to 500 feet, and baseball immediately and automatically becomes exciting. Lots of running. Lots of action. And take away the 3-point shot, and you would take a big step toward restoring the entertainment value that the fathers of college basketball keep trying to restore by their continual tweaking of the rules. As long as players will be rewarded by 50% for falling back on threes instead of playing the game, why shouldn't they stand around and play HORSE?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It will be late, if it happens

If this team accomplishes much this season, it will be late. We are very young, and there are lots of kinks to get worked out. Presumably our injured players will be back at some point, and if we have any 3-point shooting it will come largely from them. I have little hope of Wes improving much as a game coach, but the team may come along despite everything. We do have pretty good athleticism, and sometimes that will rise to the surface. So, we need to stick around as fans. We might get a surprise later on.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sit back and enjoy the ride

It is frustrating when your main team, the team you root for, is pretty bad. But, hey, even Kentucky has off years, relatively speaking. Why, not so long ago they got beat in the first round of the NIT, even with all their high-powered, high-dollar talent.

But basketball is a great sport. It is fun to watch, even if your team doesn't win (as long as it is being played well). Trojan basketball will be back. Wes seems to be a good guy, even if he is not a very good coach. I can root for him, which I couldn't do for a jerk or moral degenerate who happened to win a lot of ballgames.

So just settle in, fans. Have a sense of humor. Don't take things too seriously. If you are able to go to the arena, then you are a lot better off than a lot of folks who cannot get out of bed. Enjoy what we have. Go Trojans!

Not acting like his seat is warm

Wes is not coaching like his seat is warm. Whether Chasse has given him any indication that it is, I could not say. A coach whose job is on the line is really getting on the kids who may be costing him his job by their shabby, sloppy play. I realize that that may not be Wes' style, but if my job were on the line, I would at least be cracking the whip a little.

Monday, December 4, 2017

We do not have a track record for Chasse

Since he has hired only two coaches and has not yet fired one that he hired, we do not know what our AD's criteria are for dismissing a coach purely for performance reasons. My guess is that he would be reluctant to fire Wes before he has served the three years of his contract. If when he hired him he theoretically gave him three years to get things going, then he probably will allow him that much at least.

However, if we do have another Moncrief-type season, all that might go out the window. Chasse is much closer to the program than any of us. (He can watch practices.) Thus he is in a much better position to know to what extent Wes can or cannot coach and to what extent he is just unlucky. (Imagine year before last without Josh Hagins.) If he decides that the program is just out of control and is not likely to improve, he might pull the plug regardless of the contract and probably should - IF we can afford to do so.

I have no earthly idea how much pressure big donors bring to bear on the AD at Little Rock. I cannot imagine that it is anything like the situation at Fayetteville, but still it is possible that there might be some heat on Chasse to make a move.

A more potent force than contributors, however, may be attendance. In the first four D1 games last season we drew 12,179. This year we drew 7771. That is a 37% drop in attendance, assuming we are accurately comparing apples to apples. If every one of those 4408 customers who did not attend this year bought a cheap $6 ticket and $4 worth of refreshments, that alone is $44,000 gone from the till in only four games. Granted, much of the attendance decline may be circumstantial and not connected in any way with the team's performance, but that really is beside the point. Revenue loss is revenue loss.

Big guys doing their part

Offensively, our big guys have been chipping in. Ben Marcus, Wadly Mompremier and Oliver Black are shooting 76%, 57% and 53% respectively, and even Kris Bankston is 5 of 7 from the field. They are not shooting much, but they are scoring when they shoot. (One cannot say the same for our guards.)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Oh, well

The next year or two may be painful if we let them be. I am just going to lighten up, take it as comic relief, and wait until the next shoe falls, hopefully in a positive direction.

Why no more fros?

Back in my youth, the fashion was for black folks to wear "afros" which rose well above the level of the scalp. I liked them considerably more than some others I see today. And I do not understand why black basketball players are not wearing them. If you appear two or three inches taller than you are, it is bound to have a psychological effect upon the guy guarding you. For example, Artis Gilmore was 7-2 anyway, and did not really need any psychological assistance, but when he wore a fro, he was even more intimidating.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Go with what we have

This team does not have much in the plus column yet - not much that we could call strengths. However, by all accounts we are pretty quick, and our inside guys do shoot a very good percentage. So let's go with our strengths. Drive to the basket and dish to the big guys or take it to the rack. At least at this point in the season, outside shooting is not a strength.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pick a team from each conference

My dad has a system for watching sporting events (which is about all he can do these days). He will pick out which of the teams he wants to root for - and then promptly go to sleep. It works very well for him.

I have at least one team in each conference that I root for, just for the sake of having one. In some cases I just picked one out because it sounded good.  For example, in the West Coast Conference I root for Portland. Don't ask me why. That does not mean that I follow Portland, but that is my team in that conference if the subject ever comes up.

Adopt a team from each conference. It spices up being a fan.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

How to have a decent team

Even sub-par talent can result in a decent team if they have excellent discipline - on the floor and off. That is why you recruit character and why you demand a lot of your players. Make them play basketball the right way. Require that they live life the right way, at least in those aspects that reflect publicly on the team.

Perfect practice makes perfect. Teach them how the game ought to be played, and insist that they play it that way all the time. No days off. If a team never beats itself, it is going to win a fair number of games, even if the other teams are better, because a good number of those other teams are going to beat themselves.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Arkansas State has one great redeeming virtue

They are our arch-rival, and we love to hate them. However, I must admit that there is one thing that I really, really like about them. They are not Fayetteville.

Michigan fan

I have never followed Michigan at all. Just never had any connection of any sort with them. However, I at least have begun rooting for them because of their coach. A poll of his peers named him as the "cleanest" coach in the nation. In other words, one of the good guys. I like to root for the good guys.

Monday, November 27, 2017

VERY satisfying win

Texas A&M put the hurt on Southern Cal. I really, really like TAMU with their fundamentally-sound game and dominant big men. I really, really, really do NOT like Southern Cal with their Hollywood coach. I did not get to see the game, but I really, really like the outcome. 75 to 59 TAMU!!!!!

The Aggies held USC to 28% overall, 26% from the arc, and beat them 52 to 39 on the boards. And the two starting big men for TAMU only had 14 points between them. And this was at USC. I like it!

Even bad years can be fun

If you can must up a self-deprecating sense of humor, even those years that go badly can be fun. I remember the first season of the New York Mets. They were awful! There were ten teams in the league at that time, and the fans would carry signs, "Ninth place or bust!" They knew they were bad, but they kept things in perspective. And, a few years later, of course, they beat Baltimore in the World Series.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It does not seem logical

I was watching the thread for a Purdue game the other day, and this event popped up: "Isaac Haas missed layup." My immediate reaction is disbelief. You see, Haas is 7-2, 290#, and it is ALL muscle. He is as imposing a physical specimen as you will see on a basketball court. But he missed. A layup.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Wichita State is legit

I saw them on television over the holiday weekend, and they look to me like a Final Four candidate. That level of talent. And of course, there is that defense. And that rebounding.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Good quote from ESPN

"A bad shot is the first pass on an opponent's fast break." I heard this by one of the broadcasters on ESPN. It sounded like he was quoting it from someone else, but it is a great line, nonetheless.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

It's when you lead that counts

Notre Dame led Wichita State 4-2 and 67-66. That's all. But that was all that was needed.

Shaq Morris is a load!

I saw Wichita State play this past week, including their star big man, Shaq Morris. 6-8, 279#. He is full grown! A real load down low. Take a charge from him? Are you out of your mind?!

Image result for shaq morris wichita state

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Another Admiral

All America loved "The Admiral," David Robinson of Navy and the Spurs. He got the nickname, if course, from his connection with that branch of the armed forces.

We have another one now: Admiral Schofield of Tennessee. Not sure where he got the name.

Help not wanted

I will say up front that I am not enough of an Xs and Os man to know the answer. But I see an awful lot of 3s made when the player on the backside of the defense sags in to help, and then a quick pass or a kickout on penetration finds the man who was left wide open. I don't know what the answer is, but I know I don't like it. The secret to good offense is to force defenses to have to adjust so that someone is left open: I understand that. But in my uneducated basketball-loving soul I just have an abhorrence to handing a team a wide open shot that is rewarded half-again as much as shots closer in (stupidly, but that is how it is). If you are going to leave a shot open, leave open the one that is worth less. Don't take the bait; don't cheat in. Stay on your man (if he is a shooter at all) and take away that option.

Basketball is skewed horrendously toward the 3-point shot these days. We have almost turned into a game of H-0-R-S-E. But that is the way it is, and if were a coach, I would force the other team to beat me two points at a time instead of three points at a time. Help defense can end up not being very much help.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tired of watching the fancy stuff

I see a lot of high school basketball over the course of a year, and I am weary, weary of seeing players trying to be fancy. Almost always bad things happen when they do that. What I don't understand is why the coaches let them do that. As soon as they turn the ball over because of hot-dogging or miss a shot because they were trying to get on ESPN or commit a stupid foul, yank them out of the game and let them know why you are doing it. Taking a few losses early might pay big dividends later in the season.

Monday, November 20, 2017

I realize they are cannon fodder, but Wow!

Charleston Southern (D1) beat Toccoa Falls  by 71 points (107 to 36)! And they were ahead by 50 at halftime. I hope Toccoa enjoyed the check.

Wes has to show he can coach

Time will tell whether or not Wes Flanigan can recruit. I see some hope that he can. However, right now he is going to have to show that he can coach. A good coach 1) has his team ready to play, and 2) is able to fix things on the fly. I have yet to be convinced that Wes is competent in those areas. Again, time will tell, but he has yet to prove it to me.

I am not reading too much into the games so far this season. OBU was an aberration; let's just forget it. Memphis was encouraging and Grand Canyon may have been just one of those nights when a good-shooting team and a fired-up crowd steamrollered us. Which will prove to have been the norm?

But one of the things that disturbed me about last season was the way that Marcus Johnson was allowed just to shoot us out of game after game, and no one ever seemed to apply the brakes. It doesn't have to happen on the sidelines, but Wes needs to be getting in some players faces and telling them how the cow ate the cabbage. A coach just cannot let individual players get the team beat because they refuse to play good basketball, and we have had some of that going on. "You play it my way, or you don't play." Positive motivation is a good thing, but at some point the coach needs to add the stick to the carrot. Some teams don't make shots because they just do not have shooters, and that could be our case; but some teams do not make shots because they do not take good shots, and taking good shots takes discipline, and the coach is the one who has to enforce the discipline.

Again, I am not reading much into such a small sample, but it looks disconcertingly like last year is repeating itself.

A place for a gravy schedule

As I have mentioned, I think this is an excellent schedule for this team at our particular stage of development. Competition that makes sense. Not too hard, not too easy. However, I have no problem with a coach throwing in a gravy schedule some years. Sometimes a team needs to learn how to win, and that is more critical than the "toughening up" process. That is one of the problems that HBCU coaches have to deal with. Their players get into such a habit of losing that it has to affect their psyche at some point. Of course, they don't have any option to get a gravy schedule.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The non-conformist offense

One that does not depend on the 3-point shot. Would anyone even know how to defend it these days? Sort of like having to play defense against the Wishbone football offense.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chances for a non-Power Five team

I always love it when someone out of the big football conferences wins the national title. And it does happen reasonably often. Villanova in 2016. UConn in 2014 and 2011. And so on.

So what are the chances this season? Well . . . in the current AP poll:
Villanova - 5
Wichita State  - 6
Cincinnati - 12
Xavier - 15
Gonzaga - 17
St. Mary's - 21
Seton Hall - 22

Plenty there to work with.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Downsizing still lurking out there

One of the major website gurus posted the other day about his "fixes" to cure what ails college basketball. One of them was to drastically reduce the number of D1 schools. Who knows if we would make the cut. If that happened, we would become as irrelevant as Arkansas Tech or Harding. It would take us off the Big Stage and relegate us to the role of understudies.

I agree that it is a little silly to have the SWAC teams of the world competing directly against the Dukes and Kansases of the world, but this is one of those cases where I fear the cure might be worse (for us) than the disease. Of course, the big money schools rule the roost, and they are going to do whatever is good for them.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

In retrospect, a good schedule

I realize it is early in the season and the ratings by the various services do not have much data to work with, but at least they can give us a general comparison. Here are the current Sagarin ratings for our D1 non-conference opponents. Ours is currently 231.

Memphis 114
GCU 129
San Diego 150
R. Morris 306
Norfolk St 311
UCA 310
ORU 246
Bradley 171
Sam Houston 270
Miss State 86

We start tough and we end tough (relatively speaking), but none of the really big boys that would beat out our brains. After Memphis two more in their range, but increasingly less difficult. Then three straight easy opponents, then three more a little tougher, ending with a Top 100 opponent.

We did not schedule according to Sagarin, but as things stand now, that is a very logical progression for a team that is mostly newcomers. We test ourselves early, then get a break in the middle, then several that are about where we are, then finish with a real test. I like it!

Auburn got what they deserved

In August of 2011, Coach Bruce Pearl of Tennessee was fired and was placed under a 3-year "show cause" sanction by the NCAA. He was hired by Auburn while still under that sanction. Given Auburn's history of skirting the edges of propriety, is anyone surprised? Now Auburn is at the center, not of an NCAA investigation, but of one by the FBI. Two of Pearl's best players are ineligible as a result of that investigation, and reports by ESPN say that Pearl is under heat from the school for not cooperating with them in their internal investigation of the matter.

Should anyone at Auburn be surprised? To paraphrase a very old proverb, "Whatsoever a school soweth, that shall it also reap."
Image result for bruce pearl

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A mistake?!

Lonzo Ball speaking of his brother LiAngelo's arrest on shoplifting: "Obviously he make a mistake, but got to learn from it and move on." LiAngelo himself said, "I've learned my lesson from this big mistake."

What is there to learn from it? Does they mean to imply that LiAngelo did not know that theft is wrong? Is that what he had to learn? Or maybe LiAngelo only needed to learn that there were penalties for shoplifting? I repeat, What was there for LiAngelo to learn from this that he did not already know? They seem to be trying to mitigate his guilt by claiming ignorance for him - but that will not fly.

And he called it a mistake. What about it was a mistake? A mistake is when you think you are doing the right thing, but it turns out to be wrong. Was LiAngelo so morally defective that he thought it was the right thing to do to steal? No, I suspect that even he realized it was wrong, but just did not care. It is not a "mistake" when you  know it is wrong and do it on purpose anyway!

Interested in a little high school basketball history?

Here is a LINK to an actual video of the legendary Indiana state basketball championship game won by little Milan High School, which was the basis for the movie Hoosiers.

See the source image


There is a loud cry from basketball "experts" today to end the "amateurism model" under which we have been working, because they say it is unworkable. I just don't understand that. Are they wanting college basketball to become a minor league for the NBA?

They cry loudly that the players are the ones producing the product, so they should be the one making the money. Why? They are getting paid for their effort with an expensive and (theoretically) valuable college education. Yes, the colleges are making a ton of money off athletics, but then doesn't Monsanto make a ton of money off the products developed by their scientists, and those scientists are paid a salary that is far, far less than the executives of the company?

What is the problem? Just open up to allow high school players to go directly to the NBA, and stay the way we are. Then the players can make a choice (their choice) as to whether they value a college education or had rather become truly professional.

It appears to me that the college basketball power structure is maneuvering to get the best of both worlds. I hope they fail - miserably.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Come on, ref, get out of the way!

I will head down to Diamondback Arena this afternoon to call four games between Magazine and Eureka Springs. And inevitably I will miss quite a few calls because an official will be blocking my view of the play. In fact, more often than not there seems to be a ref in the way. I really do not understand how the big-time announcers do it. Maybe they have spotters. The scoreboard operator who sits next to me is good to help me out, but she has her own problems keeping up with the play - and anyway, the call on a big play somehow loses a little of its impact if it is several seconds too late.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Less the what than the why

The fact that we lost to Ouachita in itself does not concern me. Teams lose all the time to lower-tier teams, especially at this point in the season. It is just a fact of life in basketball. What I don't know (someone may, I do not) is why we lost to them. If we just caught a team with nothing to lose on a hot night, it does not worry me at all; that is what the stupid 3-point shot can do. If our lack of perimeter defense is chronic and Wes has done nothing to fix it, then that is a major problem. If it was first-game jitters for a bunch of new faces, I won't lose any sleep over it. If Wes is not sufficiently a disciplinarian to make his players do what they ought to do, then we have a major problem. Time will tell why we lost. Right now I am just moving on in blissful ignorance. I will worry about it later.

Villanova has it going

Villanova lost three starters from last season and still are picked to win the Big East. (Reminds us of Arlington in the Belt.) They seem to have their system down, i.e., reloading instead of rebuilding. Must be nice.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Lighten up!

Some fans act like that if the team does not win "for them (the fans)" that they (the team) have committed some gross moral offense against them, and that coaches who do not produce winners are something akin to baby rapists. The team and the coach "owe" them winning. Yes, we support the team, but other fans support the other team. Unless the coach is willfully negligent, he is doing his best. If he can't get it done, he will be replaced at some point. And he is supporting his family by the job.

It is what it is. My life does not revolve around sporting events. I think sometimes we just need to lighten up a little. Sure, we enjoy winning, but a loss (or even a bunch of losses) is not a life-changing event for fans - unless their priorities are WAY out of kilter.

Don't count your chickens, ESPN

ESPN lists Arlington in the "Projected conference winners you can take to the bank" category. I don't know that that prediction is all that secure. Sure, Arlington has two of the best players in the conference, but they lost a lot, and there are several other teams that might challenge them.

Friday, November 10, 2017

When David was Goliath

As famous as little Milan's 1954 Indiana state high school championship was, what might not be known is that in the Semi-State contest (quarterfinals), they faced a school less than half their size. Milan's enrollment was 161, but tiny Montezuma's was only 79.

Another famous person from French Link

Some of you may know all-time basketball great Larry Bird by his nickname, "The Hick from French Lick." What you probably do not know is that there was another famous figure in Indiana basketball history who also had a connection with that small town (population 1807).

Marvin Wood, the real-life coach upon which the movie Hoosiers was based, had come to Milan, Indiana from a previous coaching stint at French Lick. Just think: if he had stayed there he might have gotten to coach Bird. However, I expect he would not have swapped that privilege for his legendary state championship at Milan. What most people (outside of Indiana) do not know is that, unlike the school in the movie, Milan did not come out of nowhere to win the state championship in 1954. In 1953, they had gone all the way to the Final Four, so expectations were very high for the team.

The day after Milan won the championship, 40,000 people descended upon the little town of 1150. They lined State Road 101 for 13 miles to greet the team.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Not a very bright roster!

You may have noticed that three of the UCLA basketball players got arrested in China for shoplifting. At the very least, we can say that UCLA players are pretty stupid. Uh, fellows, China is a Communist country. They have a history of locking up people and throwing away the key - at best. That is NOT the place you want to get in trouble with the law. Duh!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

That would be huge

Most who have seen Andre Jones play agree that he is an impressive physical talent. However, in his first season in Little Rock, he did not shoot very well at all. Granted that an exhibition game does not necessarily mean much, but against Southwest Baptist, Jones nonetheless was 9 of 13 from the field, 6 of 6 from the line, and hit his only 3-pointer. Pretty impressive. On top of that, throw in two boards, an assist, a block and a steal. Maybe, just maybe, that is an indication that Jones is ready to break out this season. If so, that would be huge for this team.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

If exhibition minutes mean anything

They probably mean very little, but if the minutes played in the exhibition game mean anything, this will be our starting lineup against Ouachita:

Oliver Black 6-9
Ben Marcus 6-5
K. J. Gilmore 6-5
Andre Jones 6-4
Cameron Corcoran 6-1

The odds are very long that that will not be the lineup, of course, but that combination is interesting.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bound to be one big man there

We have five players who are 6-8 or taller, constituting one of the bigger rosters we have had in my tenure as a fan. Surely from among that group we can find a keeper or two.

I realize exhibition games against lower-level teams mean little, but at least Oliver Black dominated when he ought to have dominated. It was also nice to see Kris Bankston chip in seven boards and two blocks in only 12 minutes of playing time.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Will the missing factor be there?

This year we have a very young and inexperienced team. Last year we had a very mature and experienced roster. Nevertheless, something vital was missing last season. It just was not there. I don't know exactly what it was, but we did not have it. Will it be there this season? If it is, we might do fairly well, even though we are young and inexperienced.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Two of the top ten big men

You remember that I said to keep and eye on Texas A&M's front line this year. Well, there is good reason. In NBC's rating of the best big men for the upcoming season, TAMU has two of the top ten: Robert Williams (7) and Tyler Davis (10).


When do you keep a coach?

There are many factors in the answer to this question, of course: this is far from being the only one. However, all else being equal, the bottom line is this: Is there reason to believe things will get better?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Yes, someone would be that stupid

If Rick Pitino said he still wanted to coach, could he get a job? Sure. Somewhere out there is an AD who is just stupid enough to do that. It has happened before, sadly.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Maybe this will be the year

that Kentucky will get beat by an HBCU-level team. Well, maybe not, because they may not have any of them on their schedule. But wouldn't that be enjoyable?!

Will Black and Wadly both start?

Will Oliver Black and Wadly Mompremier both start? Or will they even be on the court at the same time very much? I hope so, but the odds are against it at this point. The main reason is that Wadly is a non-scorer, or at least has been to this point in his career. Black shot 55% from the field, so in a new environment in which he probably will be forced to shoot more, his scoring ought to increase significantly. If Black becomes a scoring threat, then we might be able to afford to keep Mompremier on the court with him.

I am hoping that Wadly is such a defensive eraser that we cannot afford to have him off the court. If that happens, then the pressure increases on Black to become a scorer, or we might have to go smaller at the 4 spot. Whatever the eventuality,  I think it would be fun to see 6-11 and 6-9 out there at the same time like we did occasionally last season when Black and  Shoshi were out there together.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I predict he will be successful

From NBC: "Archie Miller speaks Indiana's language. He expects them to work hard, play hard, and above all, focus on defense."

If he can get them to actually do that, he will have accomplished something pretty remarkable for a high-level, big money program that can bring in a constant stream of one-and-doners.

Monday, October 30, 2017

SEC teams I like

As a rule, I do not like the SEC. However, there are a couple of teams that I do follow.

Vanderbilt - because basketball matters there and because of their academics (actually have to go to class)

Texas A&M - because one of my sons-in-law graduated from there, and because I like Billy Kennedy's style of play (big men do matter)

Not much there.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Play Angry

"Play Angry" is the motto for Wichita State. I am thinking it ought to be the motto for our Trojans, also. We used to play a little bit like that - sort of like we had chips on our shoulders. "Take no prisoners" attitude. We have every reason to play like that. Second (or third) fiddle in our own home state. No respect even from our hometown newspaper. Come on, Trojans! Get an attitude.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

When low expectations might be a positive

Low expectations for a season generally indicates that all sorts of bad things are going to happen. And our expectations are LOW. However, exceeding expectations can give a program momentum as quickly as anything. "We can build on that," is the feeling. Hardly anyone expects the Trojans to be among the top in the league, but a modest improvement into solidly in the middle of the pack, and showing that we can play with the big boys, and showing that Wes knows what he is doing: given the fact that most of our roster will be back next season, that could make OK look encouraging.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Unrelenting and suffocating

I don't always agree with John Gasaway's opinions, but he coined a great phrase in describing Wichita State's defense:

On defense, Wichita State has long been known for its unrelenting and suffocating ways. Indeed, Marshall has made a specialty out of doing something you're not really supposed to be able to do. The Shockers both defend the rim with tenacity and limit opponents to just one shot.

That is exactly what Little Rock used to have a little of, and what we BADLY need to return to.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Still no relief

Re my previous comment that the "State" schools in the Pac-12 cannot seem to get any traction: NBC just came out with their predictions for this upcoming season, and Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State are picked 7, 8, and 12, respectively. Still mired in the second division.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Is the Real Deal on the roster?

Is there a First Team All-SBC type on this roster? If so, he is hidden at the moment. Still, we have had gems to emerge before. Who would have known that John Fowler would be one of the most complete players in school history? Or that Rashad Jones-Jennings would lead the nation in rebounding? At our level, most of the really good players are surprises. Perhaps in recent years only Will Neighbour was expected to be exceptional among incoming players. But you never know, you just never know . . . .

Monday, October 23, 2017

More conference games

The Big Ten is moving to a 20-game conference schedule, from 18 games. As recently as 2007 they were at 16 games. From their perspective, it probably is a very good thing. Most of the rivalries in the Big Ten are old and intense, and more chances to play those opponents can only help them. Plus, less non-conference games means less opportunities for one of those embarrassing losses to a non-power conference school, and less times having to shell out considerably money to buy a win. Of course, it presumably makes their schedule tougher, but that will only help them come Selection Sunday. Plus, it presumably will push games that will gain the attention of their fan base a little further into the football season, which can only help Big Ten basketball as a whole.

What does it mean for us? It is just one more small step toward the little guys getting squeezed out of the process by the money schools. We have only two times when we can be meaningful: upsets in the non-conference season and in the NCAA tournament. Less opportunities to play big games means less opportunities for little guys to help our RPI and to garner national attention.

We probably will respond in kind to this movement by money conference schools: we also will have more conference games. But absolutely no one cares about Sun Belt games except the Sun Belt, so we will have been nudged a little further into irrelevancy and basketball will be a little closer to the situation in football, where D1 is divided into the big guys (who matter) and the not-so-big guys (who do not).

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dogfaces were not athletes

When we watch film footage of the foot soldiers during World War II (or any other, for that matter), their endurance under unbelievable stress is amazing. And yet they were not, for the most part, trained athletes. Just ordinary guys who got the job done. But they kept on, and on, and on.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Want to win consistently in high school?

In my job as the PA guy for Magazine, I see a lot of high school basketball, albeit at the lower levels size-wise. One thing I almost never see is anyone who knows how to play the post-up game. The player does not have to be big, but he does have to have good footwork and be able to make a five-foot jump shot. Not so hard, right? Well, you couldn't tell it by watching the players. Along with a post player who can make shots, you have to have a guard who can deliver the ball to the post man at that precise instant that creates that situation where he will either have a clear shot or get fouled. It happens most of the times down the floor, but practically no one takes advantage of it. Any team who could master the post game could dominate in the games I see.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fired up about TCU

I have not followed TCU in any sport: they have not been on my radar at all. But I will be following them pretty closely in basketball this year. Jamie Dixon has long been one of my favorite coaches. His teams played my kind of blue color ball at Pitt. Even last season the Horned Frogs were showing signs of life, and predictions have them in the upper tier of their league this year, also.

Dixon has a lot of room for success. TCU has been as far as the Elite Eight only once, way back in 1968. They have been to the NCAA tournament only seven times, and only four times in the last 50 years.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Shades of Duke and Kentucky

It has been a while since Missouri basketball has been much of a factor. They have never been to a Final Four and to the Elite Eight only five times, most recently in 2009. However, their lineup this season looks a little like one of the buy-a-championship sorts. Their front line features two 5-stars and a four-star. It should be interesting to see what they do with that new-found talent.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Do we win the prize?

250 pounds. 250 pounds!!! Do we win the prize for the heaviest point guard in the nation? Maybe not, but I am guessing we are right up there in the running.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Starting line-up minus Reedus

Who knows? He might not have started, anyway, but I think he would have been in the rotation for sure. Possibly he might have started at point or at the 2. Without him, my guess is that this is how things will look:

1. Lottie
2. Burns
3. Jones or Gilmore
4. Black
5. Mompremier

And that is working blind about as badly as you can.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How good was Pele?

Even if you do not follow soccer, you probably have heard of the great Pele. How good was he? Just watch this clip from the 1970 World Cup.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Four world records in 45 minutes

Jesse Owens is most famous for his performances in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but perhaps his most amazing day was May 25, 1935, when he set three world records and equaled another within 45 minutes during the Big Ten meet at Michigan. He set records in the long jump, 220 and 220 hurdles, and tied the 100 yard record. The long jump record would stand for 25 years.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Who knows how Mompremier will do?

Who knows how Wadley Mompremier will do this next season? Will he start? No idea. Will he play significant minutes? Probably. But here is the thing about Wadley: he may be just now coming into his own. He has played a total of only 488 minutes in his entire career, and 262 of those were in 2015-16, his most recent season.

What will his value be to the team? Rebounding and defense. He is not going to score many points, and at this late point in his career, it is probably pie-in-the-sky to think that he is going to develop much in the scoring area.

But consider this: last season Lis Shoshi led the Sun Belt in blocks with 41, or 1.5 per game. That comes out to 0.062 blocks per minute played. Wadley had only 34 blocks, but he played only 272 minutes, so that comes out to 0.125 per minute, or right at twice as many as the SBC leader. And that was in the only season in which Wadley has played significant minutes thus far. Think about it! At that rate of blocks, Wadley only has to average 12 minutes per game in order to lead the conference in blocks (if all else remained equal). How long has it been since we had that kind of an eraser underneath the basket?

Rebounding? Wadley averaged only 3.1 rpg the last season he played for Ohio. However, that was in only 9.1 minutes per game. Our leading rebounder last season was Shoshi with 6.4 per game. At the rate he rebounded, if Wadley had had Shoshi’s minutes, he would have averaged 8.4 boards per game, which would have been third in the SBC last season. And in case you are wondering about the relative level of competition, the Mid-American last season was ranked 14th to the SBC's 13th, just a fraction behind us, so we are comparing apples to apples.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It doesn't matter if they know

When head coaches try to establish their innocence regarding violations within their program because they were not aware that those things were going on, all they are doing is adding insult to injury. If you are in charge, then you have the responsibility. You are making the big bucks, so the blame is yours, Besides, turning a blind eye to things that you ought to know are happening is a totally bogus version of "now knowing it was happening."

If you are the boss, then you get the credit when things go right. You also get the blame when things go wrong. It goes with the job. They say they don't know, but it doesn't matter that they didn't know: they still are responsible!

Monday, October 9, 2017

I do not even keep up with Fayetteville

Given the blanket coverage they get from the in-state media, it is impossible to ignore the Sausage Factory if you follow sports at all. However, I do not go out of my way to keep up with them. At any given point in the season, I could not tell you what their record is, or even more than one or two players on their roster. I just have no interest in them further than keeping up with the sport in general.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Do slimy coaches even know they are slimy?

The arrogance of people of low standards often leads them to think of themselves as paragons of virtue despite their despicable conduct. I wonder how it is in basketball. Do the scumbags of the sport realize what they are? Do they even care? I doubt it. Such rarely do.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pac "State" schools

While we are on the subject of under-the-radar programs, it interests me that the three "State" schools in the PAC-12 never seem to get much traction. Arizona State, Washington State, Oregon State. Last year all three of them were buried deep in the bottom echelon of the conference. Same for the year before. You have to go back to 2014-15 to find a finish in the top half of the conference (by Arizona State), and then it was only 6th. It is almost like there is some sort of stigma attached to having an S in the middle of your initials.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Montana State: every dog has his day

Years ago, when I began following college basketball, I chose several teams to follow closely beyond the ones with which I had some natural connection. One of these was Montana State, merely because it was about as obscure a situation as I could imagine.

Well, part of the fun of rooting for underdogs is that sometimes the worm does turn. NBC picked MSU to win the Big Sky this year. Amazing!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Who are our big upside players?

Who may have a breakout year? Ordinarily newcomers would be excluded from this type of discussion since they have nothing on the books from which they can break out, but since we have so few returning players, I will throw them in. Here they are, in no particular order.

Andre Jones. He got plenty of minutes last year, for a freshman. He certainly has the athletic ability. His problem last season was that his shooting was not good. He does not have to be a big 3-point shooter to be an impact player, but he does have to understand his role and stay in it. The natural ability is there.

Oliver Black. This guy passes the eye test big time. He is an impressive-looking specimen. Last year he did OK when he shot (55%), but he did not shoot much. This year we are going to need him to shoot more and to be more dominant on the boards.

I am not including Deondre Burns, since his breaking already came late last year.

Jaizec Lottie. You get the impression the staff thinks this kid could be special. We do not know much about him, and he could be a year or two off, but who knows?

Camron Reedus. 19.6 points/game and 39.7% from the arc last season in juco. If he is even close to that this year, that will do nicely.

Damir Hadzic. It is possible he could be ahead of the curve for freshmen, since his dad is a coach and he has played internationally in Europe.

K. J. Gilmore. He appears to be a sort of all-round player who does a little of everything. Sometimes those kinds of guys find their niche in D1.

Ben Marcus. He only played 191 minutes last season, but he shot 57% from the floor. Small sample, but it might indicate something interesting.

Or maybe one of the others. We don't know much about Cezanne Carson and Khari Harley, but they could turn out to be players. Mompremier probably is strictly a role player, but he might play that role better here than he has in the past.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

European soccer cheers and Texas A&M

This time of year my father and I watch a little soccer on television. One point where they have it over our American sports is their cheering. I don't know exactly how they do them or what they are, but they are a sort of sing-song chant that evidently pretty much the entire home team crowd participates in.

With the exception of Texas A&M, our American "cheerleaders" are for the most part window dressing. Of course, at A&M they call them "Yell Leaders," which is what they ought to be doing everywhere.

LINK to Aggie yell leaders at work at basketball game
LINK to A&M midnight yell practice

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Understatement of the Year

From Sports Illustrated:
"It's certainly possible that the FBI's investigation has uncovered, or could uncover, corruption in college football."

If money corrupts, then greater money corrupts to a greater extent. You can just mark it down that the investigation may uncover corruption in college football.

Monday, October 2, 2017


It is really, really, really satisfying to see Pitino get his just dues, or at least some small portion of them. The guy was a total blot upon the basketball landscape.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Move up?

We finished 10th place last season with a senior-laden roster. If we could manage to move up the ladder this season, at all, with a roster mostly newcomers, that would be an accomplishment.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The best pure hitter ever?

It is a matter of opinion, of course, but my vote for the best pure hitter of all time goes to Ted Williams. Not the best player - that would be Babe Ruth with his Hall of Fame quality pitching - put purely as a hitter.

Want proof? Here is just one stat. Since Williams retired in 1960, only four players have had single-season on base percentages as Williams had for his entire career (.482).

Friday, September 29, 2017

Good riddance, Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino has left a trail of slime behind him throughout his history in college basketball. But win-at-any-cost programs kept giving him a job, regardless. Finally it has caught up with Louisville, "and it couldn't happen to nicer folks." And their football coach is Bobby Petrino, who has operated with a similar cloud over him.

Maybe, maybe the NCAA will impose the death penalty on Louisville. Pitino was a cancer that should have been removed years ago. Louisville wouldn't do it. The NCAA wouldn't do it. So the FBI is doing it. Good riddance!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Flawed logic

In the media today, you see a lot of writers pushing for college athletes to get paid. They do get paid! They get a considerable scholarship, plus room and board and other things. All in all, it amounts to a considerable amount of money.

"But (these commentators say), the schools are profiting hugely by the work of these students, so they ought to be compensated." So what?! If a man signs up to work for a company as a designer for $100,000 and is involved in developing s product that makes billions of dollars for the company, he still gets paid his salary. That is what he agreed to work for, and that is what he gets. Why should a college athlete be any different?

I will grant you that a lot of these college athletes' educations do not really do them much good, because they are phoney-baloney educations and no employer in his right mind is going to hire them to do an actual job. But if the kids would work hard and go to class, they would get their degree and be prepared to hold down a job.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It takes the fun out of it

Bill Self has said he may not coach past 60. The reason? Recruiting. The sleeziest part of college basketball is also the least enjoyable for the coaches.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Whining quarterbacks

Quarterbacks had better not complain about receivers dropping passes or not getting the protection from the line that they want - until they are putting every pass right on the button. (I never had much sympathy for those pretty boy types, anyway.)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Blown call of the year?

The ref who gave the out-of-bounds call against Texas A&M in the Arkansas game gets a strong nomination for Blown Call of the Year. That wasn't just bad: it was awful. Refs have a tough job and miss calls all the time, but there is no excuse for missing one that badly.

Who would have believed it?

I saw a pre-season poll this week that had Northwestern listed at #23. Who would have dreamed that could be true? The perennial doormats of the Big Ten and, indeed, all of college basketball are now among the elite, at least for the moment. And what does that mean to us? Why, Little Rock has a win over Northwestern in our program history!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Here's to pressure

I hope Wes Flanigan is really, really feeling the pressure. In a positive way. This will be a rough year because we have so many new faces, but it needs to be a good year. Positive things need to happen. Young kids need to take big strides forward, if not for a ton of wins this season, at least as a springboard for next year.

All that starts with Wes. He needs to have an edge, and communicate it to his staff, and they need to communicate it to the roster. They all need to feel the pressure.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Great names for fullbacks

Occasionally in the sports world a player has a name that fits him perfectly. A couple of examples are football fullbacks Bronko Nagurski and Larry Csonka. Maybe Eastern European surnames fit that position somehow. (Nagurski's parents were from Ukraine and Csonka is a Hungarian name.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

An acronym that just does not work

My dad and I watched a soccer game the other day between Texas and UT-Rio Grande Valley. UTRGV. That just does not roll off the tongue very well. I would think they would be miles ahead to just do like we have done, and even go one better, and just call themselves Rio Grande. In looking at their logos on Bing Images, I see some that have UTRGV, some with RGV, and some with just V, which is what the official athletics site displays. That one works a LOT better.

Image result for utrgv

Monday, September 18, 2017

No wonder coaches like to coach offense

I have no use whatsoever for Rick Pitino, who pretty well sums up "sleeze" in today's college basketball scene. But he ought to understand the game, and so his assessment of certain aspects of coaching should be accurate. Here is a LINK to a CBS article in which he discusses the future of one-and-done.

Notice particularly this comment by Pitino: "It's tough to play with freshmen. They have so much to learn at the defensive end." The defensive end of the court. He did not say that about the offensive end of the court. Kids coming to college know now to play offense to a much greater degree than they do defense, because playing defense is harder. Harder to do. Harder to teach. Not as much "fun." Doesn't make the headlines. No wonder some coaches just load up on offense and do not seem to care particularly about the defensive end of the court. It is a lot harder work to coach defense.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Too small to play center?

Dave Cowens was 6-9, and was said by many to be too small to play center in the NBA. However, no less an authority than Mr. Bill Russell (himself 6-9) urged Boston to draft him. All he did in his rookie season was to average 17 points and 15 rebounds that first year.

Image result for dave cowens

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Then who will be inside?

One of the major websites had a lengthy article this week about the fact that the current crop of big men are "inside-out" players (which, I gathered, means they shoot a lot of 3-pointers). The article seemed to think this was a good thing. All of which raises the question, however: If perimeter players are playing on the perimeter, and inside players are playing on the perimeter, who is playing inside?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Realistic optimism

I usually am optimistic as a fan. After all, it costs nothing and it makes my "job" much more enjoyable. If my enthusiasm doesn't pan out, so what? And (my last-place prediction notwithstanding) that is how I am approaching this season. We could have one of those really special seasons where everything just comes together - but probably not. So, if not that, what might actually happen that would be on the positive side. Let's take it alphabetically: what might happen this year - realistically.

1. Oliver Black could break out. He has some impressive physical tools and just needs to refine his game a little and get more confident. Having Mompremier available can only help him.

2. Deondre Burns shot 41% from the arc last season - but the focus was not on him. This year it will be much more so, but he rises to the challenge.

3. Cezanne Carson/Khari Harley/K. J. Gilmore. I look at these guys as gravy. Anything we get from them is a plus. But let's suppose that they do turn into significant contributors, and maybe even a starter from among them.

4. Damir Hadzic. Being a coach's son and having international experience and a semester with the team, he is ahead of the curve for a true freshman.

5. Andre Jones. He gets his considerable athletic ability under control and learns to play better basketball - particularly to take better shots - and becomes a consistent offensive force.

6. Jaizec Lottie. He is only a true freshman, but let us suppose he compares, even loosely, to Josh Hagins' freshman season, which was solid but certainly not overwhelming.

7. Ben Marcus. He shoots 57% from the field again and forces Wes to seriously consider putting him on scholarship to keep him on campus.

8. Wadly Mompremier. He is as advertised: a veteran shot-blocker and rebounder who leverages Black's ability inside.

9. Ryan Pippins. He demonstrates why he is still on the roster.

10. Camron Reedus. He is a legit juco scorer who complements Burns perfectly to make a potent tandem at guard.

None of these things is a stretch. I can see any of them happening. It would be a big stretch to see ALL of them happening, and that is why we probably won't win the league. But some of them will happen. Anticipating which ones and how many will happen is what makes this time of year lots of fun.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bob Hope's revenge

Old movie fans will remember the "Road" series of movies made by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. They were lots of fun and totally without any other merit except for a few very nice songs. Once that series began, Hope and Crosby became one of the biggest cash cows that Paramount had, and the running gag from those movies carried over into their radio and television spots.

Crosby bought a stake in the Pittsburgh Pirates and Hope had a small interest in the Cleveland Indians, so that played right into their comedy routines. As the comic member of the team, Hope was more often the butt of the jokes, so if Old Ski Nose were still alive, he would be having a blast right now with the Indians' winning streak.

Image result for bob hope cleveland indians

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Coaches do not win games

I have to remind myself of this fact occasionally. Coaches do not score a single point or grab a solitary rebound. Neither do single players win games. They may score the final basket, but someone else scored others and prevented the opposition from scoring. It wasn't the "winning" basket, because all the other ones counted just as much as it did in the total score. It was just the final basket.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What I think happened last season

The main thing that happened was that Josh Hagins was not there. He had been the heart and soul of the program - a four-year player, leader and clutch shooter who did a little bit of everything and ended up as one of the great players in program history. You just do not lose someone like that without having a big hole. Then Johnson had to move to point, and he was not an outstanding point guard. The rhythm never was there, and frequently it felt like things were out of control.

It may be that Wes Flanigan just simply is not a very good coach. Time will tell. It may also be the case, however, that he got caught in a difficult scenario and simply did not handle it very well. We had come off the most successful season in program history, and while some key seniors were gone, we still had a very large senior class of key returners. Given the emotional nature of that season, it likely would have been a formula for disaster for Wes, having been an assistant under Beard, to have tried immediately to install another system. The problem was that Wes is not Beard: Chris was very intense and Wes is much more laid-back. Even with the same functional system, you necessarily were going to have a different motivational system. When players have had success under a coach at the extreme end of the personality spectrum and have to go immediately to someone on the other end, it sometimes does not work right off the bat.

The team last season still belonged to Chris Beard. You do not have a season like we had had without the outgoing coach casting a long shadow over the program for at least a year. If we had had one or two holdover seniors it might have worked - but we had six.

Just because Wes is not as demonstrative as Beard is absolutely not a negative. There have been any number of really outstanding coaches who have been quite reserved on the sidelines. Brad Stevens, who took Butler to back-to-back championship games, wore a mask on the bench. And then there was that old gentleman named Wooden.

Now this team fully belongs to Wes, for better or worse. This particular season we may not win as many games as we might like because of our youth, but Flanigan needs to show that he has the team under control - and that he can coach.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Foreign recruiting

Since we do not have football, it is likely that our recruiting will have a foreign flavor more than some other schools. Even baseball (Latin America) and basketball (Eastern Europe) draw as sports from foreign countries. Golf, soccer and volleyball do so heavily. Football is about the only one that does not.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Who will be The Player?

In order for this team to be much good this season, at least one man on the roster is going to have to show up big time. There are several candidates for the job. Burns or Black, maybe? Perhaps Reedus or Gilmore. Who knows. Certainly the opportunity is there. Someone just needs to step into the void created by the graduation of all those seniors from last year, and take charge.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Staying off the bandwagon

I have a deep-seated dislike for bandwagon jumpers - people who check out who is in first place and immediately become "fans." Likewise with players who just sign up with whomever is most likely to win the national championship. Here is a LINK to an article about some players who chose to take a somewhat different route. More power to them!

Friday, September 8, 2017

The next Fish?

It is difficult to get a freshman player of superlative ability to come to Little Rock - and stay. Derek Fisher did it. So did Josh Hagins. In both cases the results were exceptional.

And now Jaizec Lottie arrives in town. He has nothing in common (yet) with the aforementioned pair except that he is a freshman with nice credentials. But every time such a player shows up, it makes us wonder, "Is this another Fisher?" Wouldn't it be nice!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

What do I require from this team?

We may or may not win many games this season. I do not yet know just how good our talent level is, nor do I know if this staff can properly develop and manage a team, which they did not get done last season. But regardless of all that, there are certain things I want to see, and I will be at least somewhat satisfied this season if I see them.

1. As always, good effort and good attitude. I want to feel like the players are giving the full effort and are listening to the coaches. I did not always feel that last season. I sort of had the feeling some of the players had their own agenda last year.

2. Improvement over the course of the season. This is a young team. I do not know where we will start, but we definitely need to be moving forward at a steady pace throughout the year, and considering where we are starting, that should happen if the players listen well and work hard. This is a season where the total record for the season is less an indicator than how good we are at the end of the season. There may be a few hiccups early on, but the team needs to grow up as it goes.

3. PLAY DEFENSE!!! Little Rock Trojan basketball teams have been known for their defense as long as I have been following them - through three different coaches. Last year we were laughably bad on defense. It was embarrassing. Wes needs to have a rule: If you don't play defense, you don't play.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Re-examining the point situation

Given the fact that we have seen hardly any of the current crop of possible point guards play at the point position, it is almost impossible to assess our situation at that critical position. However, never daunted by the illogical, we shall launch forth.

Anthony Black
Brandon Brady
Ryan Pippins
Jaizec Lottie
Deondre Burns'
Camron Reedus

That is a good-sized sample from which to piece together the position. Surely we can come up with a workable combination of players. My best guess is that Lottie was brought in with the expectation that he will be the Point of the Future. The "coachspeak" language that was used and the situation surrounding his recruitment seem to indicate that, as well as the fact that he was rated a 3-star. If indeed this kid is what we hope he is, then to a significant extent he represents the future of the program.

However, should he not pan out immediately (and, after all, he will be a true freshman and maturity does count for something), then Burns and/or Reedus seems the next likely candidate, probably Reedus. This is not because either of them appears to be a true point, but because they have some miles behind them and because both have played point earlier in their careers.

Anything we get from the other three players will be gravy at this point. Black comes from the cream of the crop in Arkansas high school basketball, so who knows? He definitely has been a winner so far in his career, and that counts for something. I have pretty much written off Pippins as too lazy and/or undisciplined to play college ball, but the fact remains that when we had the opportunity to "gracefully" reduce the roster to 13 and cut him in the process, we did not. So, there must be some reason that the coaches have kept him around. Maybe they can light a fire under him.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Never was a record, and we didn't notice

Bob Beamon made his legendary long jump of 29' 2 1/2" at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. It was not until 1980 that Lutz Dumbrowski jumped 28 feet. Imagine that! How would you like to be the first person in history to jump 28 feet-something - and no one noticed? To this day, almost 50 years later, Beamon's jump remains the second-longest in history. It still stands as the Olympic record.

Image result for bob beamon's long jump record

Monday, September 4, 2017

Three late guards might make a difference

Wes Flanigan brought in Rayjon Tucker, Anthony Black and Jaizec Lottie late in the recruiting process. (I still cannot figure out who is on scholarship and who is not.) Those three might just make the difference between a total "rebuilding" year and a decently competitive season. (Rebuilding from sub-.500 is not much, but that is where we are, sad to say.)

Lottie looks like the real deal, and with the loss of Watkins and the ballooning weight of Pippins we were desperate for a point guard. Black played at a low level, so there is no telling how much he can contribute, but he put up good numbers at Arkansas Baptist and will at least provide some depth.

Tucker did not put up big numbers, but FGCU has had a lot of firepower in recent years, and he did shoot 45% from the arc, which we badly needed. He will have a year to get accustomed to our system and to prove that he left his off-court baggage in Florida.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The number that MUST be fixed

Last year opponents shot 36% against us from the 3-point line. In this era, a team that allows that kind of perimeter shooting leaves itself with very little room for error in other areas. That is something that has to be fixed, and fixed from the get-go.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Lots of unanswered questions, BUT . . .

How good a coach can Wes Flanigan be? How good are our new recruits? How quickly will they come together as a team? Will we have the leadership we need?

There are a lot of questions to be answered about this team this season. However, if we will just play Trojan Defense, then the rest of the answers will not be quite as critical. Defense is that constant that gives you just a little slack to solve the other problems.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Who are the good guys?

Who are those college coaches that you can actually root FOR, at least as far as their ethics are concerned? CBS did a poll of coaches and Michigan's John Beilein won the title among the high major schools. And he won by a bunch. Here is a LINK to the entire article.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Never did like sit-and-kickers

In sports, as in life, I have long valued the consistent and diligent over the talented and spectacular. Thus, back in the days when I ran competitively and followed track and field closely, I liked the distance and middle-distance runners who went out hard and pressed the pace. In running, the one who sets the pace is considered to be the one who is doing the hard work. There may be some law of physics that makes it physically more demanding, just as geese switch out the point in the V flying formation; but it definitely is more psychologically demanding. The wait-and-kick guys were the ones who let the other runners do the heavy lifting, and then came charging by down the stretch to grab the glory. I never did like them.

There have been a few of the front runners who have been spectacularly successful. I remember one runner from one of the African countries who courageously went out to a huge lead on the field in the Olympic 5000 or 10,000 race, then had the guts to hold on for the victory. Outstanding! Emil Zatopek (arguably the greatest distance runner of all time) liked to run from the front. He said it was the only strategy that gave him a chance to win. Zatopek won four Olympic gold medals, including the unduplicated feat of winning three golds (including the marathon in his first try at the event) in the 1952 Olympics.

Dave Bedford and Ron Clarke were two runners from my era who were known to be strong front-runners, but who did not have much success in big meets. Bedford set the world record for 10,000 meters, and Clarke set world records 17 times.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Foreign flavor in golf again

Once again our golf teams will have several foreign students on them.

Men: Malaysia, Brazil, Germany, Bolivia, Australia
Women's: Norway (2), Sweden, New Zealand
In addition, our current Student Assistant Coach Stina Resen is from Norway.

The women's roster has yet to be updated, but there were no seniors last year, so presumably it will be the same. The golf coaches are to be commended for working to bring in talent from all over.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Army an unexpected powerhouse

The Sporting News did an article in which they ranked all the Games of the Century in college football. Four of the 23 games listed involved Army. We tend to forget just how much of a powerhouse the Cadets were back in the Davis and Blanchard years.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Most eager to see Mompremier

Wadly Mompremier intrigues me. It has been a good while since the Trojans have had a bona fide eraser inside. There is nothing in his past to indicate that he will be any sort of an offensive threat, but especially at the SBC level, he could be one of the better defensive big men in the league. We certainly need him to be. With all our inexperience, for this team to have any sort of success, we are going to have to improve vastly over where we were last year on defense, and Mompremier could be a big part of that improvement.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Butler Way

Much has been said in recent years about The Butler Way, the basic philosophy of the Butler Bulldogs. There is no denying the fact that it has been successful. The five basic principles are Humility, Passion, Unity, Servanthood, Thankfulness. Lots of schools come up with these catch phrases, but few have actually put it into practice as successfully as Butler.

The philosophy was originally forged by Tony Hinkle, the legendary Butler coach for which the famous fieldhouse was named. He took Butler to their first Sweet Sixteen in 1962.

Friday, August 25, 2017

How will continuity do vs. One-and-done

Wichita State has for a good while been among the best of the non-power conference teams. That means 1) that they actually have to recruit, and 2) that they do not have many one-and-done type players. They have almost every relevant player returning for this season's team. CBS currently has them ranked 5th in the country. It will be very interesting to see how they do against the big boys. Will the formula for the little guys work?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

November 18 - mark it down

Mark down Saturday November 18 as the first real benchmark test for this team. Ouachita should be a "gimme' win, and even yet we may not quite be in Memphis' class. However, Grand Canyon is from the WAC, which is a weaker conference, but they won 22 games last season, so hopefully they should be pretty competitive again this year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How good of a starting lineup?

It is the first five players who most determine how good a team can be. They will spend well over half the available minutes on the floor. Depth is important, but not as important as the first five. So how good a group can we put together? Tough to know, with so many new faces, but let's take a look.

Deandre Burns. He is the leading returner in minutes played. He closed the season very strongly and ended up shooting 41% from the arc.

Oliver Black. He averaged 18.3 minutes per game in a largely back-up role. He was not a scorer, but he did shoot 55% from the field and averaged 3.3 rebounds per game.

Camron Reedus. Juco All-American. Averaged 19.6 ppg last season. Shot 39.7% from the arc. Made 148 FTs and shot 77.5% from the line.

K. J. Gilmore. Averaged 9.6 ppg and 3.5 rpg his freshman season in juco. Shot 47% from the arc in limited attempts, and shot 50% overall.

Wadly Mompremier. 6-11. Played for an Ohio team that played in the 12th-ranked Mid-Am Conference and fnished 2nd in the East Division and tied for 2nd overall. He was strictly a role player, but did average 3.1 rpg in 9 minutes per game played. He also had 34 blocks, which would have tied for 6th in the conference, except he did not appear in enough games to qualify for the final stats. If his rebounds and blocks numbers are extrapolated out to normal starter's minutes, they look pretty good.

6-11, 6-9, 6-5, 6-3, 6-2

That is not a starting line-up that makes your eyes pop out. Burns and Reedus are proven offensively. Black ought to play much better with a bigger role. Mompremier is strictly a role player, but he plays the role well. Gilmore shot well when he shot. And who knows what the other newcomers will provide, or which of the returning subs will take a big step forward. Not exactly a bumper crop, but at least reason for hope.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Edwin Flack, versatile athlete

When the great athletes of all time are discussed, measured in terms of their versatility, different names inevitably pop up - men who have excelled in different venues. One that undoubtedly does not get mentioned very often is Edwin Flack, who was Australia's lone entry in the first modern Olympics in 1896. He was the first Olympic champion at 800 and 1500 meters, quite an accomplishment in itself. He had been in the lead in the marathon with only 300 meters to go, but collapsed. Before that, he had placed third in the Victorian ten mile cross country championships in 1892. Flack also competed in singles and doubles in tennis at the 1896 Olympics, making it to the semi-finals in doubles.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The way it ought to work

I really, really like the fact that former Trojan star Charlie Johnson has sent one of his players to be a current Trojan - that being Kris Bankston. Given the fact that Johnson is the 3rd-leading single season rebounder in Little Rock history and scored 1159 points in his career, if even some of his ability has rubbed off on Bankston, he ought to be a good one. It is great so see second-generation Trojans coming home!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

We will improve

This will be a young team, and even short on experience where we do have some maturity. That means we probably will start out behind other teams that have more experience. That is to be expected. However, one thing that usually is the case with young teams is that they improve more quickly over the course of the season simply because they have more areas in which they need improvement. Babies grow quickly.

IF this team buys into Wes' system. If this team is coachable. IF this team listens. IF this staff can teach. There are several caveats, but I expect that we will be a considerably better basketball team in February than we will be in November. Which means we as fans may have to exercise patience in November.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Coaching staff

The jury is still out on this staff. They did not handle well the transition from the Chris Beard era. If they learned some lessons we should turn the corner this season. If not, oh well. The only member of the staff with head coaching experience is Mitch Cole, but he was very successful at Birmingham Southern. Kwanza Johnson is well thought of and probably will get a shot at a head coaching position at some point.

They now have a year under their belts. Whatever went wrong last season can be fixed. With all the new faces, we will find out immediately how well this staff evaluates and recruits. They have a roster that is woefully lacking in D1 experience, but at least this is their roster.

Because of the youth of this group, the win total may not be where we would like for it to be this year; but we definitely need to see evidence that this staff has their act together, regardless of how many wins we have. At time last year we looked promising, but too much of the time we just looked like the Marcus Johnson Out-of-control Show. That will not be the case this season with Johnson gone, but we need to know that there will not be a repeat of that situation with some other player(s).

Can Wes crack the whip?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A pretty fair walk-on

Assuming that Lottie will be on the roster this season on scholarship, it would follow that Ben Marcus will be a walk-on. If that is the case, he certainly will be one of the better walk-ons we have ever had. He played 191 minutes last season as a sophomore, and led the team with a 57.4% shooting percentage. He knew his role: he did not attempt a single 3-pointer. Given the lack of experience we will have on this squad, having an upperclassman who gets the job done where he is supposed to get it done will be a definite plus.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


If everyone stays healthy, this position is in its best shape in a while. Mompremier is legit center size and is a proven shot blocker. He is lacking in offense, but hopefully we won't need him there too much. Black shot 55% from the field, which was second on the team only to Ben Marcus, and he still has upside. Either of them ought to be more than competitive in the SBC. If we want to play small ball, maybe Bankston and/or Hadzic will develop into a reliable back-up.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Power Forward

According to Verbal Commits, these are our power forwards:

Oliver Black
Damir Hadzic
Kris Bankston

We can throw Khari Harley and Wadley Mompremier into that mix if needed, and maybe even Carson if we play smallball.

This is one of our strongest positions, and also one with perhaps the most topside. Mompremier brings maturity and experience and is a proven shot blocker. Black performed reasonably well last season, and I still think he has a lot of upside potential. Hadzic and Bankston appear to be recruits that have a lot of promise.

Given the lack of experience on this squad, I am guessing that we will be going with a big lineup a lot, because that is where our experience lies. So, probably Wadley and Oliver will be on the court at the same time a lot. If my guess is correct, then Black will be our man at the 4 for the lion's share of the minutes. However, obviously, when Mompremier is out of the game, Black will likely slide over to the 5. Keep an eye peeled for who it is that gets the remainder of the minutes at the 4, because that person is likely to be a future star.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Small forward

This generally is the deepest position because it is the most generic: a little bit guard, a little bit forward, not specifically anything. Here is who Verbal Commits lists at this position:

Khari Harley
Cezanne Carson
Ben Marcus
K. J. Gilmore

Plus I think you could throw in Andre Jones and Camron Reedus in spots. Plus Damir Hadzic's skills seem to be more suited to the 3 than the 4. (Just a guess, because Marcus and Jones are the only ones I have seen play.)

Who will get the minutes? I would say this one is wide open at this point. Harley and Carson have D1 experience, and Reedus has played juco, so they probably have the inside track. Andre Jones has considerably athletic ability, but he has yet to channel it to be under control. The good news is that we have a lot to choose from, including better than usual size for this position. Too often the 3 is just the tallest player in a three-guard lineup. We may have an actual small forward this season (and possibly a 4-sized small forward if it happens to be Harley).

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shooting guard

Verbal Commits lists only Andre Jones and Cameron Corcoran at the 2 spot. However, for the purposes of position coverage, we can throw Deondre Burns and Camron Reedus into the mix. My guess is that those latter two will end up playing most of the minutes at the 2. Jones shot only 29% from the arc last season, so his shooting is going to have to improve a bunch in order for him to be more than stop-gap help at this position. Corcoran is a true freshman, so he may or may not provide any immediate help.

My guess is that this spot is Burns' to lose at the start. He ended up shooting 41% from the arc last season, which was the best by anyone with at least 75 attempts. Reedus has some experience and (presumably) maturity after a reasonably effective juco career. Unless and until one of the others steps up, I would expect these two to be the main players at the shooting guard position. If they stay healthy and play well, that should be all we will need.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Disappointing home schedule

Robert Morris

Not the stuff that dreams are made of. I am disappointed that we cannot do better than that. Chasse used the excuse that teams don't want to schedule us, but the 30-4 season is in the past, and our sub-.500 record from last season is not scaring anyone. We can do better than this!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

An unbreakable record?

In 1930, Hack Wilson of the Cubs drove in an amazing 191 runs. The closest anyone has come to that since the season was lengthened to 162 games is 165 ribbies by Manny Rameriz in 1999. That is 26 RBIs short, and they had an extra six games in which to do it! Consider further that of the top twenty single-season RBI totals, nineteen of them were in 1938 or before, and again, those were all with a shorter season.

This raises the question of whether or not Wilson's record now falls into the "unbreakable" category. Times have changed. Batters' attitudes are different today. Maybe the RBI has gone the way of the rebound in basketball.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

National dark horse - TAMU

Here is a LINK to a CBS spot about five "under the radar" teams to win the national championship. It intrigues me that Texas A&M is one of them. TAMU is one of the few SEC teams that I care anything about (along with Vandy and Missouri, a little bit). I like what Billy Kennedy is doing with the program. As the article says, the Aggies are a point guard away from being in the national hunt. If they find one, they could be really good this year.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The shot blocking king

His total numbers are not the best because he did not play enough minutes, but Manute Bol was The Man of Swat what time he was in the game. According to Wikipedia, Bol is first in NBA history in career blocks per 48 minutes (8.6), almost 50% beyond second-place Mark Eaton (5.8). And even though he did only average 18.7 minutes per game, he still finished second in career blocks per game (3.4).

Image result for manute bol

Monday, August 7, 2017

Point guard

Verbal Commits lists these as point guards:

Of those, I think that probably Watkins and Pippins are true point guards. Burns came into the program advertised as a combo guard, but has proved to be more of a 2 during his time here. Likewise, Camron Reedus' stats from the last two seasons are not such to make you think point guard. That is not to say that Burns and Reedus could not play effectively at point if needed, but the numbers would indicate that that is not their natural position.

So, we have four possible scholarship points on campus, and throw in walk-on Brandon Brady for good measure. Until I see something to indicate otherwise, I am assuming that someone who was recruited to a power conference school (Watkins) will be the starter. Also, unless Pippins has improved a bunch since last season, I am assuming that either Burns or Reedus will slide over to play back-up point when Watkins needs a rest. (I can't see a 250-pound point guard being quick enough to play D1 ball effectively.) Since you assume your starting point guard is going to play in the neighborhood of 30 minutes a game, that should take care of things.

We have the depth - evidently. What there is in the way of quality is very hard to tell at this point. IF one of these four turns out to be a definite "keeper" and take charge guy, then the first stone has been laid for a successful season. If not, we probably need to get ready for the slow walking and sweet singing.