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.