Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Washington State's 1917 team

We have documented not long ago the futility which has been Washington State basketball. However, it has not always been so. WAY back in the good old days, they did reach the pinnacle of success. Before the days of the NCAA tournament, they were the Helms Foundation national champions. The 1917 version of the Cougars had a record of 25-1. Their only loss was at Cal by the score of 28-20. And hey, folks, a win is a win and a championship is a championship. Their national championship counts just as much as anyone else's.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

It doesn't say much for your program

if your longest win streak (only win streak) of the season is a whopping two games over Norfolk State and UCA. Really impressive.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Why not car racing?

I just have no interest in auto racing at all. I am not opposed to it. I admit the high level of skill it requires and the teamwork involved with the pit crew. It somehow does not appeal to me. I think perhaps it is the impersonal aspect of it. In other sports you can see the human being competing - see clearly as they do whatever it is they do. In auto racing all you see is a car buzzing around the track - sort of like a video game. The personal touch is removed.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Always getting good coaches

Hiring an endless series of home-run coaches is almost impossible - the kind that stay a year or two and get hired by a higher-level school. You can do it a time or two, but inevitably there will be one who will not achieve at that rate. The Kentuckys and Michigan States of the world get all-time greats to come in and stay for their entire career. It doesn't work that way for the little guys. We see other schools at our level that hire successful coaches, but do we follow up to track how they do with the next three or four hires? I doubt it. It is tough to be always successful.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Reminds me of Alcindor

I saw a highlight reel of a recent Purdue game in which Isaac Haas had a strong performance, and for a moment it took me back almost 50 years to the Lew Alcindor era at UCLA. An honest-to-goodness post player. Haas might be the closest thing you will see to Alcindor today. I am not talking here about ability (Alcindor was the greatest) but about style. Remember the sky-hook? Remember a true low-post player. Ah, the good old days.

And, wonder of wonders, Haas has not attempted so much as a single 3-pointer this season.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A record-setting career starting?

Cameron Corcoran has had a awfully good start to his freshman season. If he can sustain anything close to that pace, he will go down as one of our better 3PT shooters. And those are always nice to have - absolutely essential in today's game.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Unusual workhorse

So far this season, Oliver Black is the workhorse of the team. He has 550 minutes through 20 games. I mention that only because it is a little unusual for the man with the most minutes to be a big guy on the inside. Usually it is a guard. Big men are lugging around more weight, plus they tend to get in foul trouble because of the collisions inside.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Guaranteed failure

With the 3-point shot being paramount in today's game, the failure to defend it vigorously is almost guaranteed to bring failure. It is amazing how many teams are sloppy in doing it, however - even teams at a high level. Really, things being like they are, teams that won't cover the arc don't deserve to win.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Lottie's numbers

Jaizec's numbers are not horrible for a true freshman thrust into the fray from the get-go. They are just not terribly good, either. He leads the team in assists at 2.9 per game. Not bad. However, he also has 44 turnovers in 20 games. On the other side of the ball, he leads the team in steals with 21. He is third on the team in FTA, but he only makes 55.6% of them, which is strange for a point guard, because they usually are pretty good FT shooters.

Lottie will get better. Experiences fixes a lot of things if the player has a good attitude.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Is Lottie the man at point?

Any team needs a take-charge guy at point. Someone who runs the offense, and takes care of and distributes the ball. Someone who hands out a lot of assists, but keeps his turnovers low. Is Jaizec Lottie that guy? Maybe, but his turnovers are way too high to this point. That is not surprising in a true freshman, but it definitely needs to be corrected if he is to realize his potential.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Final Four wide open

Would you care to guess who will be in the Final Four this year? Not too many years in my memory have things been more wide open than they are. Villanova definitely is the best team in the country, but they have lost a game and do have a weak spot or two; and in the Tournament you don't get a mulligan, of course. There is just not a team that I could put my finger on and say that I feel comfortable that it will make it to the FF.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cougars' problems

We may whine that our attendance is not as good as it should be, but there are those who have it much worse. Washington State is a Pac-12 member. That means they are in one of the "power" (money) conferences with the big TV contracts. You can watch them on satellite or cable all the time. Yet their home attendance averages only 2785 per game. (Imagine 2785 in Bud Walton arena, for instance.)

It must be granted that Washington State has some unique problems. It is located in Pullman, a city of just over 30,000 in the southeastern part of the state, out in the desert far from the bright lights of the coast and facing considerable weather issues in winter. Furthermore, in recent years they have had to combat the success of fellow east-sider Gonzaga for the attention of the fans in that part of the state.

Washington State actually has one national championship way back in 1917. Outside of that they have made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament only three times, most recently in 2008. In fact, they have been to the Tournament only six times.

Washington State actually played in the championship game of the Tournament in 1941 and had a brief period of success during the tenures of Dick (father) and Tony (son) Bennett in 2004-2009. (Tony is now at Virginia, currently ranked #2 in the nation.) Outside of that, things have been pretty bleak in Pullman. To his credit, however, Ernie Kent is currently doing a good job of getting them to be marginally competitive in big time basketball.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I watched Texas A&M blow a game against Kentucky a few weeks past by just a few sloppy plays down the stretch, and the thought crossed my mind that they were not tough enough yet. That raised the question of just what does constitute toughness in basketball? We hear the term used: what is it?

I will contribute this much: toughness is directly related to maintaining focus in the critical portions of the game. Lack of focus leads to bad passes, being out of position on defense, taking ill-advised shots when they do not have to be taken - in other words, things a player might do in panic under pressure. A tough player maintains his composure and stays zeroed in on the game even when the stress becomes high. That doesn't mean he always makes the right play, but it does mean that he doesn't make the wrong play because the pressure takes away his presence of mind. Tough players do not panic.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rutgers is for real

Since Steve Pikiell became the head coach at Rutgers, I have started following the Scarlet Knights pretty closely. He is another of those boring "defense and rebounding" coaches who usually get ignored by the pundits because they do not play "exciting" basketball.

But Rutgers has been a doormat for a long time, not having had even a winning season since 2004. And Piscataway, NJ is not exactly the garden spot of the country to which to recruit. And Rutgers has made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA only twice. (They did have one Final Four appearance, but that was way back in 1976.) So Pikiell did not have much to work with. At least for the time being, he is not going to get the flashy bluebloods that Sleezipari cycles through Kentucky. So, he has gone for "ugly" basketball, and I like it!

No, Rutgers is not among the elite even in the Big Ten yet. But they have proven to be a tough out, the sort of team no one enjoys playing. And Pikiell has brought a little excitement and enthusiasm to a program that for a long time was not even on the radar.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Making basketball too easy

Any decent shooter can get really good at a shot if he always shoots from the same place. The Globetrotters make amazing shots, but they practice them over and over. Their guys can shoot an amazing percentage from half-court.

The 3-point shot has become too easy. It certainly is not worth half again as much as other shots. After all, that is about all players practice these days. Just watch them during warm-ups. Ninety percent of their shots are from a narrow strip of court. So, they have gotten exceptionally good at that shot and it has become almost a "gimme" to many of them. Add to that the fact that the 3-shot foul has protected that particular shot more than a shot from closer in, and there is just no reason to do much else but stand around the perimeter and blast away. A glorified game of HORSE. Really exciting, what?

Think about the great shooters before the advent of the 3-point shot - guys like Jerry West, just to name one. His shots would be more from the outside than would those of teammate Elgin Baylor, but they would not be from any one specific place. He might shoot from ten feet out or 25 feet out. And, he shot from whatever place was the right place given the flow of the game at that moment. He did NOT step back (of all things! - how illogical is that?) before he took his shot.

We drool today over players who are such "great shooters." Why shouldn't they be great shooters: they are only shooting from one spot! Take away that stripe around the court so that they have to shoot from ALL OVER the court and see how good their shooting is then!

The three-point shot is making basketball too easy, and in the process, making it boring. It was introduced in the old American Basketball Association as a gimmick to give it a leg up against the established NBA. We need to send it back where it came from!

Monday, January 15, 2018

What college basketball oughtt to be all about

I got to watch St. John's play Georgetown the other night. Big East basketball - where basketball counts. Lots of tradition. In fact, the two coaches for the teams are former stars for their schools and played against each other back in the heyday of the old Big East, before realignment. The game was played in Madison Square Garden. Big crowd. Passionate crowd. "Take no prisoners" style of Big East basketball. I loved it.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Basketball discrimination

The Executive Council of basketball has legislated into the game a subtle but very real form of discrimination. Do you ever hear of a big man being referred to as "the most exciting player in basketball?" The game is hugely biased toward guards today.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Not entirely what I would have expected

As I write, the top five teams in the Belt are UL, Ga Southern, Texas State, App State and Georgia State. Three of those I would have expected, but Texas State and App State I would not. Just goes to show that you cannot take things for granted.

Friday, January 12, 2018


Penn State is playing Nebraska tonight. Somehow that just seems irrelevant in the basketball world.

Tremont Waters - impressive

LSU point guard Tremont Waters is a very good little ballplayer. He has ice water in his veins, and just does not get shook, even against the much-ballyhooed Razorback press. He leads LSU in scoring at 16.8 ppg, but that is not what makes him so valuable. His court vision is really impressive, and he always seems to be under control, no matter how confused the situation on the court.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Double standard

I am genuinely sorry that the kid from Texas has leukemia. I wish he had not contracted it and sincerely hope he will be cured. However I have to admit that the "outpouring of support" that the television stations documented for this young men did annoy me just a little - not because it happened, but because of where it did not happen. Is his health worth more than the health of, say, an accountantcy student, or perhaps a nursing student? We sort of have a double standard when it comes to athletes.

Good things that have happened.

1. Cameron Corcoran has shown he could be a big-time shooter.

2. Anthony Black has shown he can play D1 ball.

3. Ryan Pippins is for real.

4. Oliver Black is a legit SBC rebounder.

5. Andre Jones is a good rebounder for his size.

6. Kris Bankston could be a big-time rebounder in time.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

It is possible

We could still make a late run this season. I have to keep reminding myself that our best returning scorer and our best incoming scorer really have not been heard from yet. Very few teams could sustain that sort of blow and not sustain a lot of damage.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Corcoran has earned more minutes

I don't know about Cameron Corcoran's game other than what appears in the stat sheet, but by that standard he certainly has earned more minutes. He is the best shooter on a team that has been hurting for shooters this season.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

"Doc" was a good athlete

Do you remember the character "Doc" (the medic) from the old Combat! television series? That role was played by actor Conlan Carter. He actually was born in Center Ridge, Arkansas, and grew up in the bootheel area of Missouri.

I include him here because he was a very good athlete. He was the state pole vault champion in Missouri, and attended Southeast Missouri State on an athletic scholarship.

We loved to watch that program with my father. There was a lot of German spoken in the dialogue, and Daddy had studied German in college and could speak it fairly well, so he could translate it for us.

See the source image

Friday, January 5, 2018

Doral Moore - Wake Forest

It is no secret that I love post play and big man basketball, and I hate the 3-point shot. That being the case, it should be no surprise that I really enjoyed getting to watch Wake Forest's Doral Moore play the other day. He is a classic inside player. 7-1, 280#. And he has 7-0 and 6-11 on the roster with him - three players that actually are listed as centers. And he has a coach (Danny Manning) that actually was a big man. Currently Moore is averaging 9.9 ppg and 7.7 rpg, and is shooting 77.9% from the field. And wonder of wonders, he has not attempted a 3-pointer all year! I love it!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Attendance - how critical?

How critical is basketball attendance to the overall financial health of the athletic department? I have no way of answering that question, but the answer would go a long way toward explaining how Conque approaches his moves or non-moves with coaches. Does the difference between 2000 and 3000 average attendance make or break the budget?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

And now with Pippins

Ryan Pippins has played in four games, and we are 2-2 in those games. That is a small sample, and three of those four were at home, and one of them was against a D3 team. However, we have seen enough of Pippins to kindle at least a glimmer of optimism that the conference season might not be a complete washout (as I must admit I was expecting). Can we do .500? That might be reaching a little, but even winning a few conference games is more than I was thinking after the loss to Louisiana. We still have to do it, but Pippins' presence will make a difference.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I don't disagree with Ewing's schedule strategy

New Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing has taken a lot of criticism for his soft non-conference schedule, but I see method in his madness. The storied program had fallen on hard times. The Big East is brutally difficult. It was almost certain that Georgetown was not going to bounce back in a single season. What Ewing had to do was to get his team accustomed to winning again, and that he did with his schedule. They will take their lumps this season in conference, but they likely would have anyway. There is plenty of time to bulk up the schedule next year.

Monday, January 1, 2018

So much for regional integrity

West Virginia is playing a conference game against Kansas State today. That just does not seem right.

Rooting for good guy coaches

There are quite a few teams that I root for simply because they have "good guy" coaches. They play by the rules, don't behave like insane jerks, and put forth a good face for college basketball. We have enough of the other sort. And good guys do not always finish last. Just check the record books.