Saturday, June 30, 2018

Glad to see it

Fansided says that Richard Pitino is on the hot seat at Minnesota. That does not exactly break my heart. Pitino is not a family name that has endeared itself to me, and his procedures with the Gophers were at least somewhat reminiscent of his dad's at the places he coached. I figure Minnesota can find someone who will win as many games without the off-court drama.

Friday, June 29, 2018

"And whoever is playing"

Every fan should have one of those teams. "I root for Slippery Rock and whoever is playing Hogpen Tech." That team that you will always root against, no matter what sport, no matter who they are playing. Arch enemies.

It amazes me the confused look that comes to the faces of some from the Sausage Factory whenever you tell them that. They cannot comprehend it, because they just assume that it is their right to have every citizen of Arkansas rooting for them. Which is the very reason that I do not root for them.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hate to see it

Fansided says that Danny Manning at Wake Forest is on the hot seat. Too bad. I sort of like Manning. For one thing, he is a big guy who can teach big guys, and those are rare in coaching these days. For another, he has a tough, tough job in the ACC. Maybe he can pull his job out of the fire this season. I hope so.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A pretty fair country decade

In the ten-year period from 1903 through 1912, Christy Mathewson averaged a record of 28-11 with an ERA of 1.89. In 1908, he was 37-11 with a 1.43 ERA. Not a bad decade of pitching.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Which sport will make a move?

Baseball looks really encouraging for next year. Men's track and field should be significantly improved. Soccer has a senior-heavy roster after an encouraging .500 season. Volleyball brought in some height and could be ready to bounce back after a down year.

We definitely need a surge from somewhere. The department as a whole is underperforming badly right now.

Monday, June 25, 2018

How good were the 1971-2 L.A. Lakers?

Wilt Chamberlain. Jerry West. Elgin Baylor. All three were all-time greats, among the greatest at their positions. Throw in Gail Goodrich with 25.9 ppg. and  Happy Hairston, who pulled down over 1000 rebounds. They were 69-13 during the regular season with a 33-game winning streak. They won the NBA finals in five games.

Image result for 1971-72 los angeles lakers

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Still recruiting points

We have more offers out for point guard than any other position, according to Verbal Recruits. Not that I am complaining. It is hard to have too many point guards. We have Pippins, Lottie and Nowell, none of whom is a senior, and we supposedly have seven offers out to players who will be high school seniors this coming season.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

How to win on the road

LSU coach Will Wade on why the Tigers had trouble winning on the road: "Offensively we’re so reliant on jump shots. We need to get better at the rim. That’s probably why we couldn’t win on the road. That doesn’t travel very well." Lay-ups and dunks shoot a pretty high percentage all the time, no matter where.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Any real reason for optimism?

I am battening down the hatches to wait out a sad season, hoping that things will get better after Walker has a full year under his belt. That remains to be seen, of course. However, is there any reason for optimism this season, assuming Walker can indeed coach at the D1 level? Well, it admittedly takes some rosey glasses, but here goes.

Ryan Pippin showed enough flashes that he may be a player. He ended up shooting 42% from the arc and acted like he knew his way around the court. But his numbers did not indicate a D1 point guard. But if he can shoot at that rate, there will be a place for him.

Even though his numbers were dismal, Jaizec Lottie at times showed potential. Maybe Walker can help him realize his potential - IF he gets on the court much.

Damir Hadzic has nice size for an SBC PF, but he hadn't done much on the court. Still, if his shot comes around, and if he shows himself willing to get his uniform dirty, he could play an important role for us.

Kris Bankston's potential is outstanding. He could be the blue collar guy underneath that we desperately need.

Rayjon Tucker was a 3-star coming our of high school. If he can keep his nose clean off the court, he could be a nice scorer for us.

Nowell Markquis looks like the real deal at point. He has not played a minute of college ball, but he arrives with the most fanfare of any player since Will Neighbour.

That amounts to a large group of pretty weak IFs, but stranger things have happened. Sometimes a new coach brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm into a program, and it is very possible that we had a lot of underperforming players under Flanigan's laid-back style. Walker seems to connect well with the players, but whether or not he can/will crack the whip to realize the potential remains to be seen.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A most impressive sporting moment

I am not a horse racing fan. I do not follow the sport at all. However, back in 1973 I got caught up in the excitement over Secretariat, arguably the greatest horse ever. His win in the Belmont Stakes, the final of the Triple Crown, was one of the most impressive things I have seen. He won by 31 lengths! That is the record margin in the race. The picture below will give you some idea of just how dominating his performance was. I got to watch it live on television, and I can tell you it was a memorable sporting moment.  Here is a LINK to a video of the race.

Image result for secretariat belmont

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Does Chasse rise and fall with Walker?

That is over-stating the case, of course. But if Walker was forced down Chasse's throat, then if he fails, it probably helps Walker. "See, I told you so. You should have let me do my job." However, if Chasse entirely signed onto Walker, then if he fails, Chasse would have had two flops in a row. Then the Beard hiring begins to look more like a lucky guess than a shrewd choice.

If the overall department were looking good, it would be one thing, but at that point Chasse would have had several years' track record, and if it is then in the shape it is now, Chasse will be looking really inept, at least on the competitive side of his job. (Of course, there is a lot more to his job than on-the-field performance.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Track champion

Amazingly enough, we have had an outdoor SBC track champion. Our women won it in 1996. Outdoor is tougher to win than the other two (cross country or indoor) because it requires more depth.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Director of Athletic Development?

We just announced the hiring of Tyson Baldwin as Director of Athletic Development. More power to him, and welcome to the Trojan family, Tyson. Glad to have you.

But what is that title?! "Athletic development" sounds like he would be developing players so they are more athletic. But no, he will be overseeing our fundraising efforts. Financial Development, maybe; or perhaps Resource Development; or just be honest and call him Chief of Fundraising.

That reminds me of a period with my late employer when we did not have Supervisors: we had Facilitators instead. Someone calls the plant with a problem and you tell him you will let him speak to the "facilitator," and what does he say? "No, I want to talk to someone with a little authority." Why make things more confusing?

Hard times on the gridiron in Indiana

We all know of the long-suffering programs at the bottom of the college basketball ladder. Northwestern (until recently), DePaul and Rutgers come to mind. What about in football. We know that Indiana has been great in basketball, and probably are aware that they are usually not very good in football. But just how bad?

The last time Indiana had a season .500 or better was in 2007 (7-6). Then you go back to 1993 for the next one. That is two winning seasons in 25 years. Their last head coach to have had a career winning record was Bo McMillin (1934-1947).

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Looks like I am going to be an Omaha fan

My daughter and her family have moved to Lincoln, NE for my son-in-law's new job with Monsanto. So, I guess I am going to have to pick out one of the Nebraska D1 teams to root for. It won't be Nebraska, just 'cause. It won't be Creighton, because I don't like their coach or their style of play. So, I guess I will have to root for the Omaha Mavericks. They play in the Summit League, along with Oral Roberts and the Dakota schools. South Dakota State has dominated the conference lately.

Go Mavericks!

Image result for omaha mavericks logo

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Baseball tournaments

Playoffs in baseball have one factor different from other sports: the fact that pitchers have to have a certain amount of rest causes managers to have to gamble one way or the other. "If I put my best pitcher out there today, he won't be available for the bigger game tomorrow. But if I don't use him today, we may not get to tomorrow." That is a strategic decision that most other sports do not face.

Of course, sometimes managers have just ignored the problem. In the 1905 World Series, Christy Mathewson pitched three complete game shutouts in six days, allowing a total of only 14 hits in the three games.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Kentucky AD worries about where the game is going

Mitch Barnhart is the AD at Kentucky. He is saying the same things about the 3-point line that I am saying. At least misery loves company.
“But as a fan I always loved to watch the game with cutting and moving and inside games with interior passing. I think that’s a lost art in some respects.”
Barnhart, like most, has noticed a dramatic shift to 3-point shooting.
“I watched a pro game and one team shot close to 40 3-pointers and made six or seven of them,” Barnhart said. “I’m thinking, ‘If that’s where our game has gone, I’m not sure I want to watch,’ from a fan’s perspective. I appreciate the college game because I think it has some of the pieces of interior passing, moving people, some zone, some man-to-man so that part of it is good. The complete reliance on the 3-point shot? I wish we could get back to where the mid-range jumper was important.”
Some have proposed moving the collegiate 3-point line back to the NBA distance might deter teams?
“I think if you put the 3-point line at 27 feet they would shoot it,” Barnhart said. “It’s so funny to watch young people warming up. Nobody warms up at 10 or 12 feet. They all go three places – layup, free throw line, 3-point line. That’s clearly the emphasis of the game.”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The World Cup starts today

This is a BIG DEAL. The biggest in the world, except possibly the Olympics. We in the US do not appreciate it, but it is not the World Series, not the Super Bowl - this is the focus of the sports world. I do not follow soccer much, although I do enjoy watching it occasionally. I love the ebb and flow of the play. There is not much scoring, but there is always the possibility of an explosion for a score. And the agility of the players is amazing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Never waste a pitch - or a move

We constantly hear announcers saying that a pitcher "wasted" a pitch outside. He was ahead in the count and tried to get the batter to swing at a bad pitch. That is a mistake. IF the pitcher has good control, he should never waste a pitch. Yes, he might throw a pitch outside the zone, but it ought to be close enough to the zone to realistically tempt the batter to swing at it - and many of them present no such temptation. Efficient pitchers do not truly waste pitches.

Can we migrate that thought to basketball? I think so. There is (or at least can be and should be) an efficiency of movement in basketball. Far too much motion is wasted in trying to be flashy. Just as one example, why dribble the ball behind your back coming up the court? There is no need for it, and now the defender has watched you do it and subconsciously filed away how you did it so that he is a little more ready to defend you. If there ever is a (rare) legitimate need to dribble behind your back, at least keep it in store so that you can "spring it" on the defender.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mike Davis bounces back (finally)

Mike Davis is a good basketball coach, and he proved it, finally, at Texas Southern. He had been a top-notch assistant at one of the premier programs in the country (Indiana), and got promoted, but then got fired. Then he landed at UAB, and finally was knocked all the way to the bottom of the basketball ladder in the SWAC. But he was superlative in the SWAC, and so he got another chance, moving up to Detroit Mercy of the Horizon League. That is not the Big Ten, but the Horizon does play a pretty good brand of basketball, with teams like Wright State, Oakland, Milwaukee and Green Bay.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Lot of the little guy

Tennessee Tech is in the Ohio Valley Conference. They took mighty Texas to the last game of the super regionals, with a trip to the CWS on the line. But they fell just short. And mighty Texas jumps around and celebrates. And the little guy goes home. Such is their life. But at least we did get to watch our own Chanticleers (they weren't ours then) win it all a couple of years ago. That time the little guys won it ALL. That surely was fun!

Just get on base

Today many, if not most, hitters use a slight uppercut in their swings, because the home run is where the big money is. However, Matty Alou made a pretty good living actually swinging slightly down on the ball. He was taught to do this by the 1947 batting champ, Harry "The Hat" Walker. It worked well enough to make him a career .307 hitter and the NL batting champion in 1966. It wasn't glamorous, but it worked.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Glad Beilein stayed

Every little while we will hear of a college coach who is considering going to the NBA. There are some differences in the two jobs, of course. One of the big ones is that there is no recruiting in college, and that is generally the part of college basketball that many (most?) coaches like least.

Michigan's John Beilein just interviewed with the Detroit Pistons, but reportedly decided to stay at Michigan. That is a huge plus for college basketball, because Beilein seems to be one of the good ones. Not only is he a good coach, but he does it the right way. At least that is the opinion of his fellow coaches. Beilein stayed home, and the college game was a big winner. (On the other hand, I could name a few coaches that I would dearly love to see go pro.)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Billy Kennedy has been a disappointment

I had high hopes for Billy Kennedy at Texas A&M. After all, he is a very good basketball coach, with wonderful credentials all along the line. But so far, at least, he has been sub-par with the Aggies. Take this past season, for instance: he had one of the best front lines in college basketball, but just could not transfer that into an exceptional season. Sure, they made it to the Sweet 16, but that ought to have been their baseline considering their talent.

I don't like coaches who have no self-control. Everyone ought to have self-control, regardless of the circumstances. But Kennedy goes a little too far in the opposite direction. He shows a total lack of emotion, even when his team is melting down and playing stupid basketball. Sometimes a little man to man conversation is appropriate. Of course, he does have some medical issues, and that may have something to do with his sideline demeanor. Still, you can crack the whip without losing your cool, and that has not appeared to be happening during his tenure at College Station.

Friday, June 8, 2018

I do not understand our lack of recruiting

We have only ten players on the roster. The full compliment is, of course, thirteen, plus however many walk-ons we happen to have that season. It is normal not to have your full thirteen scholarship players available at any given time due to injuries and other factors, but that is not a problem because you normally carry several in surplus. Right now, if everyone is healthy and available, we can scrimmage. If anyone gets hurt, though, we cannot even scrimmage.

Scraping together a few walk-ons usually is not a problem, so as far as having warm bodies to scrimmage, that ought never to be a problem. There are enough "almost" players on any campus who would love to wear the uniform. And we might not be announcing commitments right now since we are not in the usual season for it, and will wait until they pass whatever official procedures must happen. However, with our access to Verbal Commits and Twitter, we usually are able to see even the verbal aspects of recruits when they happen - and so far they are not happening.

I am sure we will get some players sooner or later, but this staff seems to be laboring under a curious lack of urgency.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Big Ten resurgence?

The Big Ten had only four teams in the Big Dance last season, which was a decade low, according to ESPN. The league was noticeably weak. Teams that had been bullies turned into 90-pound weaklings (Wisconsin comes to mind). However, ESPNs Joe Lunardi projects the Big Ten to have eight teams in the tournament this coming season, and a ninth as the first team out, so prospects have improved some. The reason? the Big Ten survived the pro draft better than some conferences, with several key players returning.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The kinship of economics and basketball

You may have heard of famed economist Dr. Walter Williams, who is a syndicated columnist and was a Professor at George Mason University. What you may not know is that he is a cousin of famed high-flying basketball star Julius "Dr. J" Erving.

Another interesting fact is that Dr. Williams grew up in the same neighborhood as comedian and actor Bill Cosby, and actually knew many of the characters that Cosby used in his routines, such as Weird Harold and Fat Albert.

Image result for walter williams

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How does it feel, Big Blue?

Wonder of wonders, CBS picked Tennessee higher than Kentucky in their post-draft pre-season poll. How often has that happened in recent years? And you know that Tennessee's standing is less because of freshmen than is Kentucky's, which is good for the sport in the SEC, and is more likely to translate into real success.

Monday, June 4, 2018

But he was a good golfer

Max Baer was a one-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Given that he fought 81 professional fights and went on to a modest movie career, the fact that he was a top-notch athlete was widely known.

His son, Max, Jr., surpassed him in Hollywood notoriety with his long-running role as Jethro Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies, but he made little name for himself in sports, even though he had an imposing build. However, he was a four-sport letterman in high school and twice won the junior championship at the Sacramento Open golf tournament. Playing with Charlie Sifford, in 1968 he won the Pro-Am portion of the Andy Williams tour event in San Diego.

Image result for max baer jr golf

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A great quote

From Fansided's Lukas Harkins: "Playing quality defense is about creating a program identity focused on teamwork and determination." I think he nailed it. You are not going to play really good defense unless you are willing to assume that identity and be known for that.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Anyone surprised?

Jefferson Circuit Judge Barry Willett has ruled that the University of Louisville made a deliberate attempt to withhold embarrassing and damaging information from the public. I don't know why they bothered. If Louisville fans are bothered by anything, no matter how sleezy, it would surprise me.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Skewed discussion

The old question, "Who is the best shooter?" has been greatly malformed by the 3-point line. It has become, "Who is the best at shooting from a prescribed, narrow strip of court, knowing beforehand exactly where he will be shooting?" Back in the good old days, before the 3, shooters shot from the place which was the best shot, and that place changed from moment to moment depending on the situation in the game. Shooters had to be good at shooting from anywhere, not just from "Here."