Friday, August 31, 2018

From the "And You Think We Have Troubles" Department

According to Mid Major Madness website, Chicago State has had one winning season since 1985 and has lost 75% of their games in their 34 years at the D1 level. Lance Irvin just became the new head coach there. Needless to say, he has his work cut out for him.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The big man has a big man to coach

In the list of all-time great college centers, Patrick Ewing's name will inevitably come up. Maybe not at the very top of the list, but toward the top. And with big men being such a non-factor these days in college basketball, it is nice to see a big man coach a big man. Jessie Govan is 6-10, 270#, a worthy student to the intimidating force who used to patrol the inside for the Hoyas back in the good ol' days. Govan was very good last season (17.9 ppg, 10.0 rpg). Maybe he can be ever better this season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Desperately needed - another BTH

The fans in this program badly, badly need someone with a reasonably good connection to the staff and good social media skills to keep us informed and fired up about this program (not just basketball). In today's world newspapers are largely irrelevant, and our local paper is anti-Trojan anyway, so there is no help there. People search the internet, and we fall into patterns of searching regularly the same sites where we find consistent and reliable information. If we had a "Trojan guru" who gives us daily information or even speculation via a blog or Facebook, or even an email list, we could do our part to get out the word that such a source again exists, and I think that would be a significant step toward fostering fan enthusiasm about the program. There are only certain things the SID can do officially, and we need someone who probes a little further than that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Robin Hood in reverse

The NCAA transfer rule is just a mechanism for the rich to rob the poor. And, of course, the rich like it just fine like it is. Which is why it probably will not get changed. (I hope I am wrong.)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bankston needs to have a huge year

Kris Bankston may be our most critical player this season, what with our lack of true big men and proven inside players. He has proven he can rebound, make shots inside, and guard the rim. He will need to be playing a LOT of minutes, so he does not need to get into foul trouble. I hope he put on some muscle in the off-season.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Volleyball pipeline moving south?

A while back several of our better volleyball players were from Eastern Europe. It appears now, however, that our foreign pipeline has shifted to South America, as three of the current roster are from Brazil, and another from Colombia. Interesting. And, we do still have one Bosnian and one Romanian player.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

LIA Award

Least Interesting Article Award: "Ranking One and Dones Under Calipari"

I don't care about Kentucky, and I don't care about Calipari, and I don't care about one-and-dones. So, I skipped reading that article.

Friday, August 24, 2018

"Power" forward - a misnomer

Back in the good old days power forwards were just that: bruisers who crashed the boards and played killer defense. Not so these days. Now we have "stretch 4s", who are more concerned with dribble-drive and stretching the court with 3-point shots. The "power" aspect of the game is just about gone wherever you look. No more blue collar.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Is Loyola overvalued?

With a few notable exceptions, when a lower-level team has a great run in the NCAA tournament, they tend to be ranked highly in the early polls the following season - regardless. That is true even if most of the pundits thought their tournament performance was somewhat of a one-time fluke.

So this year, is Loyola over-ranked? Probably. They have the advantage of being the class of their conference, and so they probably will win a lot of games during the regular season. And we know that Porter Moser is a good coach. But the glow is still there from their wonderful performance last season, and that is what the prognosticators are still seeing. I think Loyola is good, but I doubt that they are worthy of Top 25 ranking at this point in the season. But we shall see. I hope I am wrong.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Fischer vs. Spassky

The World Championship chess match in 1972 between Bobby Fisher and Boris Spassky was high drama. It was in the middle of the Cold War and was called the Match of the Century. Fisher won despite the US having little grassroots chess culture, while the Soviet chess machine dominated the world scene. As Fisher's sister put it, "It was as if an Eskimo had cleared a tennis court in the snow and gone on to win the world championship."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How tough is the Big 12?

Chris Beard came into Little Rock with zero D1 head coaching experience and won 30 games, so we can say with confidence that he is a very good basketball coach. Then he moved on to the Big 12. After two years there, he is 17-19 in conference play. Just a brutal place to have to coach basketball. Beard will win his share, but it isn't easy for anyone in the Big 12 - except maybe Kansas.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Exposure produced by Canada trips

Several teams have taken pre-season trips to Canada in recent years, and frequently the Canadian teams have held their own pretty well. Of course, this gives the US teams a chance to take a nice vacation trip, as well as working out some of the kinks ahead of schedule.

However, there is also a flip side opportunity. For the Canadian kids who might be looking to play in the US, this is a great opportunity to show their stuff to American coaches, as well as NBA scouts. And the proximity makes everything more workable and less expensive than some of the junkets that teams take. I think the whole concept is a great idea.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A relatively easy task

When a "name" coach takes a step down the coaching tree, for whatever reason, he faces a relatively easy job - because of his name. He has an immediate entrée into important recruiting doors, because some players will be eager to play for the name. He has a multitude of contacts all over the country who can help smooth out his task of jump-starting a program. All of which, of course, are benefit of experience; all of which are reasons to hire a name coach at a lower level. There are several reasons on the other side of the ledger, but plenty on the plus side.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Unseld was great, but short

I am very concerned about our lack of height this season, and it is primarily on the defensive end, since the 3-point shot has made size pretty irrelevant on the offensive end. Wes Unseld was an all-time great, and he played center in the NBA, and he was only 6-7. BUT, he did have trouble guarding Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. OK, so everyone had trouble guarding Jabbar, but Unseld gave up seven inches to him, and really looked overmatched. I am afraid that is how we will look this year against good big men (although probably not quite to that extent). Good defensive technique and good team defense can help overcome that, especially at the college level, but it is still a problem.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Run and gun (like it or not)

I am not a fan of run-and-gun basketball, mainly because it generally is sloppy. However, for us to have any chance of winning much this year, I am afraid we are going to have to do a lot of running and pressing - because we certainly do not (so far) have much size. The problem is that pressing and running requires some depth, and right now depth we do not have.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cinderella criteria

There has been a multiple-part article on the Mid Major Madness website about what it takes to constitute a "David" among the Goliaths in the NCAA tournament. Author Matt Craig gives some interesting benchmarks for success:

"In this paper we’ve assembled a set of criteria the prospective school needs to follow: a coach who’s an outsider, players who are catalysts, an administration that supports the basketball program and a fearless attitude.
Though not black and white rules, we’ve found benchmarks for each aspect: the coach shouldn’t have played high level Division I basketball or be an assistant coach for a long time under a hall of famer, none of the players should average more than 16 points per game, the school shouldn’t have a football program, and the team should win close games to prove their clutch ability. The final question is whether these criteria can predict future mid-major runs to the Final Four." 
In other words, neither the coach nor the team should have an ego, and should be hungry. The team should not have a star who completely overshadows the rest of the team. And the team should have that playground sort of tough-mindedness.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Which little guy this year?

Almost every year some team that we would not consider to be from a power conference steps up and make a splash during the season - either regular or tournament. Maybe Wichita State. Maybe Loyola. It varies from year to year, but generally there is someone. To me, one of the interesting parts to the season is trying to guess who it will be this year.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Assessing value on defense

Correctly evaluating a player's contribution on the defensive side of the ball is very difficult for the typical fan. Watching what happens away from the ball is something that takes training, for example; and what happens away from the ball is where much of the defense occurs. One of the most important statistics in basketball is not quantified: Shots That Were Not Taken Because of the Defender. We have blocks and steals, but we do not put a number on a player who "locks down" his opponent. Without a number to hang on it, we tend to undervalue any given aspect of the game.

Occasionally you will find fans of a particular school where defense matters who are "educated" on that aspect of the game more than the norm, and they will cheer their team when the shot clock gets low - but it is rare.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

SBC gets a leg up

A small leg, for sure, but we'll take whatever we can get. College Sports Madness does their interesting 144 Teams in 144 Days feature each year. This year they have Georgia State picked #92 and Georgia picked #95. Nice! SBC over the SEC. I'll take it.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Clemente's arm

Whenever the subject of great outfield arms arises, the name Roberto Clemente inevitably arises. As a great all-round ballplayer, he was legendary in many regards, but especially his arm. There are not a large number of videos of his defense, but below are two links that give a hint at the cannon he could unleash from right field.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Rayjon Tucker

This kid should be one of the better players on the team. He was a 3-star coming out of high school. In 2016-17 he was FGCU's best 3-point shooter at 45.3%, and his 50.9% overall and 75% from the line. He averaged 7.7 ppg.

In the 2015-16 season he made 35.9% from the arc, and also shot a very solid 54.5% overall, so he is not just a gunner. He shot 71.4% from the line, and he made it to the line a lot. He averaged 6.2 ppg in 18 minutes per contest.

Simply put, this kid is an offensive force who likely will be a difference maker for us.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Remembering Joan Marichal's kick

One of the dominant pitchers in the Golden Age of Pitchers was the Giants' Juan Marichal. He had a pinpoint control and featured probably the highest kick in baseball history. HERE is a link to a brief video of Marichal's delivery.

Image result for juan marichal

Monday, August 6, 2018

Who's in charge?!

I'm sorry, but there is just no way you can hope to compete with the roster we now have. Nine players on the roster. NINE. One more who reportedly has committed, but is not on the roster yet, so he is not a done deal at this point. NINE!!!! Of those nine three are true freshmen who have never played a minute of college ball at any level. The phantom (so far) commit has not played any D1 ball.

Maybe all this is under control. Maybe we have two or three more players committed and word has just not filtered down yet. (But if that is the case, Verbal Commits has not picked up on it.) Usually you can round up as many walk-on wannabes as you need in order to be able to scrimmage, but that level of talent does not sharpen your scholarship players much.

This whole situation has the feel to it of no one being at the helm of the ship. No, I have no concrete information, but I have been in such situations before, and this one has that feel. It is not a comfortable feeling for fans.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Kris Bankston

This kid's potential is considerable. He was our leading rebounder per minutes played. He shot an outstanding 62% from the field. He lead the team in blocks with 30. All this as a true freshman on a team that obviously was not very well coached. What might he do with good coaching? He is a true inside player, having attempted only one shot from the arc all season. I really, really like this kid's upside. Hopefully this new staff has someone who knows how to teach the inside game (those are very rare these days). Hopefully this staff is even interested in having an inside game (many are not these days). I hope Kris is putting in lots of time in the weight room in the off-season and bulking up so he can dominate inside. And I do not use that word "dominate" lightly. This is a kid who could reach that level of play.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Miguel Indurain: man or machine?

Back in the 1990s, Spaniard Miguel Indurain was the dominant road cyclist in the world, winning the Tour de France five times. My family made a vacation trip during that time, and I enjoyed watching some of the cycling on TV. I remember the announcer saying that Indurain had almost instant recovery, which impressed me greatly, being an old middle-distance runner.

His body took 7 liters of blood around his body per minute, compared with 5-6 liters for other cyclists and 3-4 liters for an ordinary person. His "maximal oxygen consumption" was 88 ml/kg/min, compared to 83.8 for Lance Armstrong and 92 for Greg LeMond. His resting heart rate was 28.

When he was 46, twelve years after he retired from competition, his absolute maximal and submaximal oxygen uptake and power output still compared favorably with an active competitive cyclist. He was an amazing physical specimen.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Horace Wyatt

Supposed to be an athletic kid with a high motor and good hops. Good rebounder, but not a good shooter. He was listed out of HS as a "combo forward," so he may provide DW with some versatility. He will need to put on some muscle. The descriptions of him that I found indicate that he may have a high upside, since some areas of his play are still a little rough, but that the basic tools are there.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Taking a mulligan?

This probably is not true, and I certainly have no way of knowing, but this season is looking more and more like Walker is "taking a mulligan," i.e., writing off this season before it gets started. I certain do not mean that he is not trying to win, but only that he does not expect to win big this season. And, I have no particular problem with that. There is something to be said for slowing down and doing things the right way. I don't like the short roster, but that may get fixed before the season. I don't like the lack of height, but that may fit his style of play. I am not hugely impressed with the schedule, but those are games that we have at least an outside chance of winning. Next season? Then I want to see a full roster and some games that will bring in fans.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Kamani Johnson

Two-star by Rivals. Played in Brooklyn. Plus he is 6-8, and on this height-starved team, that means something. And he had interest from Memphis. I could not find much on this kid. Looks like he could be worth something to us, and he will get some playing time if we only have ten players.