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.