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.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Dark horse?

I would say we have as good a chance as anyone to be  a dark horse this season in the SBC. No one knows much about us, and so it is unlikely anyone will pick us very high. Low pressure, at least from the outside.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Do we already have our recruits?

Verbal Commits lists Rayjon Tucker and Traylynn Spencer as already have given us verbal commitments for next season. If that is true, and if those both hold up, and if no one else exists the roster, then we already have our recruits for next season.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Maybe Tubby was smarter than folks thought

Kansas has suspended Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson for their trip to Italy. It involved an altercation in practice. He is not yet even eligible to play, and already he is causing trouble.

Hurray for the good guys

All coaches want to win: they would not be in the game if they did not. However, not all coaches are willing to turn themselves into the dog-and-pony show that big time recruiting has become. They will woo the athletes, but they will not promise the franchise. Naturally, they do not get many of the 5-stars with the huge egos, but they can get good players who will stay and get better. It is nice to survey the basketball landscape and conclude that not all coaches are willing to prostitute themselves.