Monday, July 31, 2017

I wouldn't touch a LaVar Ball recruit

Not even if he were a 5-star. Not even a 10-star. At some point talent just is not worth the baggage that comes with it.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Copying the NBA hurts

IMHO, the NBA plays a brand of team basketball that is inferior to the college game. That is one of the reasons that I hate to see the college game copying the NBA, but I suppose that is inevitable.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Those freebies along the way

No matter what else happens, any year when John Calipari has a bad year can't be a bad year for the sport of college basketball. Granted, "bad year" at Kentucky is a relative term given the level of talent he can command. But if Kentucky fans are disappointed, I am happy, at least to a little degree. Little Rock might have a bad year, but if the Wildcats also have one, then I salvage some degree of pleasure from the season. Call it a freebie.

Friday, July 28, 2017

An apology of sorts

I honestly think I need to apologize a little for this blog. I have followed Little Rock basketball since I got disgusted with Nolan Richardson and moved my loyalty to the next closest (at that time) D1 school.

It should be obvious that I am not a basketball expert in any wise. Set the Xs and Os in front of me and I am lost. The one thing I might know a little bit more about than most people is college basketball stats. Give me a roster and a stat sheet, and I can do a pretty good job of describing the team without knowing anything else about them. So you are not going to get much more than ignorant opinions from me, and bits that I pick up in the news here and there. And I know that that ignorance shows. But it is the joyful privilege of fans to cherish ignorant opinions, so I don't feel too badly about it.

I am old school - in most every way. I like fundamental. I don't like fancy. I like clean-cut. I don't like tattoos. And I realize that sometimes attitudes those get in the way of my calculations and at least partially invalidate my opinions. But, hey, it's a free country.

I have come close to shutting down this blog several times. After all, its readership is not overwhelming. Probably the main thing that has kept me going with is the fact that since our friend who had been at the Democrat shut down his blog and the message board traffic has dwindled badly with Doc's health issues, there really is not a regular stream of Little Rock basketball information on the internet.

So, I'll piddle along, at least for a while. Don't expect my opinions to have much merit (except maybe where statistics are concerned). Assume that I will continue to be a hidebound anachronism. But maybe in some small way we can help keep folks thinking about Little Rock basketball. Go Trojans!

Keep an eye on TAMU's front line

With Tyler Davis (6-10, 270) steamrolling the opposition on the inside, Texas A&M was going to be a problem inside for opponents to handle in any case. Then, when Robert Williams (6-9, 237) announced he was not going pro, they became perhaps the most physically imposing team around. Their roster for next season is not yet posted, but presumably Tonny Trocha-Morelos (6-10) and D. J. Hogg (6-9) will also be back, both of whom averaged over 26 minutes per game.

The thing that makes Davis and Williams such a load is not just their size - lots of teams have that - but their style of play. They are physical. Take no prisoners style. War zone basketball - the kind you don't see much any more (thanks to the 3-point shot). Williams had 77 blocks as a freshman, which was tied for 18th in the nation, and his upside potential is plumb scary.

Image result for robert williams tyler davis texas a&m

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hadzic for SOY

Surprise of the Year. A contrived title, obviously. And, frankly, not a very apt one for this team, given the number of new faces we have: whatever happens is likely to be somewhat of a surprise. However, Hazdic is a true freshman, and as such might not be expected to be a huge contributor. But I am going to predict that he will play a significant role on this team. I base that on two reasons.

First, he already has spent a semester with the team, so he is ahead of the game on learning Flanigan's system. Second, he comes from a basketball family, with his father having coached the Bosnian national team and having won a bronze medal in the Olympics. Third, he has had international experience, having played for three seasons for the Bosnian national team. In 2013 he averaged over 13 minutes per game for the 16-and-under team and averaged 6.6 points per game.

Hadzic will have to overcome the "soft" tendencies of European big men, but there is a spot on this team for him if he works hard and is coachable. Having had a coach for a dad, I am guessing that he is.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The 3-point shot claims another victim

Ethan Happ is Wisconsin's wonderful 6-9 post player. He has as good a set of post moves as you will see in the college game today. Almost impossible to guard, and not because of superior athleticism, but because of good footwork and fundamentals. A story by CBS tells that he is trying to expand his perimeter game to include 3-point shots. I understand why. He is "only" 6-9, and at that height, in order to have a future in the pros, he probably will need to develop some perimeter skills. I hate to see it, though. We finally get a kid whose inside game is really superior, and he falls prey to the almighty three-point shot.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Who will we have to replace?

On the new roster, the only scholarship seniors are Mompremier (6-11) and Harley (6-9). It remains to be seen how big a factor either of them is, but regardless they will be two of our three tallest players. So, it is no surprise that we have been going hard after big men this recruiting season.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Nice when the big boys don't get everyone

I love it when a lower tier school gets a top-level recruit. Like when Navy got David Robinson. Obviously, it doesn't happen very often, but occasionally it will. For whatever reason some kids have a connection to a school and just want to go there; or maybe the coach just does the Sales Job of the Year on the recruit.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I like our recruiting focus

Recruit big men. Lots of big men. It appears we are going after them with a vengeance. That should pay dividends down the road. . . . And don't forget the point guards.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Here is a "cold" prospect for you


The story of a kid from Barrow, Alaska trying to make the big time in basketball. Look up Barrow on the map. As I type, on July 22, the temperature in Barrow is 38 degrees.

Friday, July 21, 2017

What is "success" at our level?

There won't be many Gonzagas - two or three at most. There are not even many teams that are at a level that they expect to win their conference every year, or at least be right in the hunt for it. Maybe 10% of the teams of our size, max. So, does a program have to be at that level to be a "success," whatever that is? "Certainly," some fans would say. "We buy our tickets and we expect a winner every season." (Of course, very few of those fans would be successes in their personal affairs at such a high level, but who notices that?)

Even more pertinent to the discussion, from where we are right now, what it the next step to success? What is the next level? Oh, sure, we had that one great season - but we couldn't keep the coach, which almost always is the result at our level when a team does have a remarkable season. Sustaining a high level of success at a level where accomplishment (winning) means defeat (losing the coach) is a very difficult thing.

But, as fans we should be able to expect something, shouldn't we? As a basketball school, I think we should be able to anticipate being in the top third of the conference year in and year out. (Throw football into the mix, trashing up the situation, and I don't know; but that hasn't happened yet, thankfully.) If we perform at that level, then with a couple of breaks in a given year, we should be right there for the regular season championship.We ought to be able to get to where a .500 season is a complete disaster, not just a "down year." We are not quite there yet, but that is an achievable goal.

The 30-win season raised expectations, and that is a good thing. However, it may have raised them temporarily to an unrealistic level, and that is not good. We do need to keep moving forward, and if we do that, at some point we will get where we want to be - at a high level of performance that can be sustained. It is out there somewhere.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ryan Pippins' survival

I have to admit I am a little surprised that Ryan Pippins made the cut to stay on the roster.  He was obviously overweight last season when he weighed only 200 pounds, and how his bulk reportedly has ballooned up to 250. If that is correct, it is hard to imagine him retaining enough quickness to play point guard.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Everyone is down on Tubby

I don't know what is going on at Memphis. I do know that if the crop of players Tubby Smith had  were like some of the ones that have been in Sleeze City before he got there, I would have got rid of them, too. Or maybe Smith is just getting old and crabby; I can identify with that.

Be all that as it may, Tubby Smith has been one of the great coaches in the history of the game, and particularly one of the great program builders. If anyone is able to do more with less, he is the guy. It appears he will have to if they are going to have any success this season.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

For the love of the game

"It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game." That is the old saying regarding sportsmanship. We might amend that slightly to say that it is not how much glory you get from playing, but just the fact that you are getting to play.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ironic size

We have four players over 225# this year. Three of them are logical, with Mompremier, Hadzic and Black being in the 226-228 range, and all of them being 6-8 or taller. Our heavyweight, however, is only 6-0. A robust fellow, to say the least.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Out of work coaches


This link is to an article about the big-name coaches currently out of a job. There is a huge amount of talent that will be sitting on the sideline this next season. I cannot imagine that if they want to coach they will have much trouble finding jobs.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

One returning starter - at most

Someone will probably say that we have one returning starter, since Deondre Burns did start 14 games, mostly toward the end of the season. However, that number is less than half our total of games, and he was sixth in total minutes played, so he does not make the grade that way either. So, any way you want to spin it, we will have one returning starter this season at most. Since none of our incoming players are particularly high-profile, that means we will likely not be picked very high in pre-season prognostications. That also means, hopefully, that we will be underrated and will finish higher than we are picked.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Not the most height we have had

This is not the most depth in size we have had. On the 2012-13 roster we had six players 6-8 and over, including four 6-10 or taller: Poulter, Javes, Neighbour, Leeper, White, and Evans.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

You need length, but . . .

A team needs to have some true big men, if for no other reason than to play defense against the other team's big men. However, one of the really dominant inside players in the Sun Belt was 6-7 - not exactly a big man, although big enough, obviously. South Alabama's Augustine Rubit was a load in the middle, averaging a double-double over his career and shooting 721 free throws (making 72% of them).

Image result for augustine rubit

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

More than enough size

We have three players 6-9 or taller, and two more listed as 6-8. That is plenty of height, even for a high-D1 team. The quality that goes with the size remains to be seen.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Glad I don't follow baseball any more

On the broadcast of a major league game this past week, they went to some length to point out that this season both home runs and strikeouts are at a record pace in major league baseball as a whole. Oh goody! Swing from the heels and strike out, no matter what the situation. I left the major leagues behind in the wake of the steroid scandal, and never went back. I am glad I didn't.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The outlet pass is a dinosaur

I blame it on the 3-point shot. I could be wrong, but I am sticking with that story until I am proven wrong.

You just do not see the outlet pass these days. Remember when the giants battled for rebounds down low, and as soon as they got the ball they would kick it out to the guards streaking down the floor? Classic fast break. How often do you see that these days? Maybe some, but nowhere nearly as often as in the gold ol' days.

Wes Unseld was one of the great catalysts of the fast break ever to step onto the court. “I’ve never seen an outlet passer like Kevin Love, except when I was kid watching Wes Unseld play,” Cavaliers Coach David Blatt said. Here is a LINK to an article by about Unseld's passing. Here is a LINK to a YouTube video that has some great shots of Unseld's outlet passing. (Plus, Unseld had probably the most intimidating scowl in basketball history.)

Image result for wes unseld

Sunday, July 2, 2017

It can't possibly be a basketball school

IF the fan base in general are more interested in spring football practice than they were in basketball. Sad, but that is the case on a good number of campuses.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Curious about recruiting

Verbal Commits says that we currently have three offers out to juco shooting guards, and all three have been made in the not-too-distant past. I am curious just what is going on. Do we not have confidence in the #2 guards we currently have on the roster (none of which is a senior)? Maybe we want more depth at that position. The only incoming player listed as a SG is Cameron Corcoran, who will be a true freshman.