Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Power forward

Position designations are flexible, but this probably is the spot where we have the most potential depth. (I say "potential," because we do not know how good most of these kids are yet.) We have fully six players in the 6-7 to 6-10 range. What this means is that we will be playing mix-and-match between the 4 and the 5, without a real 5, but we will stay with the 4 spot for the moment for purposes of discussion.

Kris Bankston is a prototypical 4, and was a good one last year. I think he has the potential to be a great one if he stays 4 years in Little Rock. He rebounds well and makes a high percentage of his shots. In other words, he is a true inside player. I suspect he will be our leading rebounder this season. Hadzic and Maric are European-style players, which means they probably are not (by my admittedly prejudiced definition) true 4s, but they probably will play there a good bit. Kamari Johnson and Horace Wyatt are complete unknowns at this point.

I figure this spot is Bankston's to lose this year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"3-point shooters are soft"

I have made the statement that teams that rely on the 3-point shot rarely have a tough mentality. They are white-collar, and because they do not choose to mix it up down low and get their hands dirty, they just have a "soft" feel to them.

Here is a statement about a player from Northern Colorado from Lindy's magazine that supports my opinion: "Jonah Radebaugh is a rare combo of a 3-point deadeye and defensive ace." The two just don't go together very often. You have to be tough to play hard-nosed defense.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sounds like a formula for success

"They defend, they take care of the ball, and now they're back to winning championships." That was Lindy's take on Montana for this season. Playing tough defense and limiting turnovers certainly is a good place to start. If the other guy can't score, and you don't give him the ball to get an extra chance at it, you are a big step ahead of the game.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Connor Vanover

I was really surprised to see this young man show up on the California roster this season (7-3 freshman). I saw him play, along with his brother, against Ozark a few years ago, and he had a nice shooting touch, but that was about all. They were so slow afoot as to be almost immobile. It appeared as though fast growth might have created some joint problems for them. Evidently Connor got better in the intervening period and became a legitimate D1 prospect, since he is with a power conference school. Not bad for an Arkansas kid.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Small Forward

We are a little thin here. I am assuming that this spot is Rajon Tucker's to lose. We had good reports about him in practice last season, and he is a good size for the 3-spot in the SBC. He put up some nice numbers at FGCU. However, if he doesn't cut the mustard and we have to play smallball (even smaller than it looks like we will have to play), Deondre Burns might slide over from the 2-guard position. Or, if we go the other direction, maybe one of the new guys can fill the bill when needed, but we have so little information about them that it is hard to speculate. We have a bunch of players in the 6-7 to 6-8 range. Hadzic came in advertised as a European-style big, but we had to use him otherwise. Maybe he slides out to the perimeter more this season if he can find his shooting stroke.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Yes, you can recruit height

San Jose State is definitely a mid-major, and not exactly a powerhouse, since they finished 4-26 last season. But this season their roster goes 6-11, 6-11, 6-11, 6-10, 6-9, 6-9. Whether they can walk and chew gum at the same time I couldn't say, but they are at least available.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

What Eustachy left behind

Larry Eustachy has left a trail of sleeze behind him in his coaching career. Niko Medved inherited the unenviable task of purging the Colorado State program of the negative atmosphere.

"New coaches inheriting struggling programs typically speak of 'changing the culture.' All Medved needs is industrial sized turbines to move out the toxic air." (Lindy's) Sometimes you have to fumigate.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

It starts with effort

"When you give good effort, all you need is a little better execution or a different philosophy in certain situations." (Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez in Lindy's)

The effort is on the team: the coach can lead them to water but he can't make them drink - up to a point. The execution is on the team: the coach can't do it on the bench - up to a point. The point is that the coach has to demand those things. "You give effort and you execute, or you don't play."

The philosophy is on the coach. The players cannot push the buttons. He sets the team's philosophy and recruits to that philosophy.

But it all starts with effort.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Zero tolerance. I like it!


The link above it to an article about Matt Painter's new Zero Tolerance policy toward turnovers at Purdue. I love it! Tolerating the sort of play that generally generates turnovers is one of the greatest weaknesses in the coach profession these days. "Let them be fancy, because they like being fancy, even though the attitude of trying to be fancy results in (fill in the blank) number of turnovers each game."

Saying "no turnover" is equivalent to saying "no playground ball." It is demanding intense focus on what is happening and what is about to happen ALL the time. It means you don't have so-called point guards with a 1.3 assist to turnover ratio. It means your kids forget about trying to look good in favor of being good. It means you watch Sports Center in order to find out what not to do. It means being willing to be boring, by today's standards.

Zero tolerance on turnovers means that you demand that your players play Good Basketball.

Monday, October 22, 2018

One tough kid

Wisconsin guard Brad Davidson battled through eight left shoulder dislocations, and needed surgery after last season. Said his coach, "We had to pull the reins back on him. He never wanted to take practice off."

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Shooting guard

This position ought to be one of the strengths of the team, and at this point I would hate to have to guess who will be starting. Last season Ryan Pippins led the team in 3PT% with 42.6%, as well as shooting 75% from the line. Season before last, Deondre Burns shot 41% from the arc and 80% from the line. So, we have a couple of bona fide shooters with experience (both will be juniors). And even though the 3 spot may be his more natural position, Rayjon Tucker is available, and he shot 45% from the 3-point line in his last season at FGCU. The 2-spot is in good hands.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Rutgers - I hope the AD is patient

Lindy's says, "Steve Pikiell believes solid programs are built on defense and rebounding and his team reflects that." I agree, and that is what made me an instant Rutgers fan when Pikiell was hired. For one thing, you can teach defense and rebounding; you don't have to recruit it, like you have to recruit size and high-flying athletic ability. And since you can teach it, that takes the pressure off your recruiting process because you don't have to recruit five-star players. Recruit teachable, hard-working three-and-a-half-star players, keep them in the program for four years (and redshirt them if you can get away with it), and by the time they are juniors and seniors they are superlatively good at doing the things your team is geared to do.

Pikiell's problem is that Rutger now plays in the Big Ten, and for years they have been famous for rugged, physical basketball. He also coaches a program that has been to the NCAA tournament a total of six times, and not since 1991. So he has a hill to climb. But I really like the way he is attempting to climb it. I hope his AD gives him time to do it.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Can Dixon do it?

If Jamie Dixon leads TCU to the NCAA tournament this season, it will be the first time since 1952-53 that they have appeared in back-to-back Dances. In fact, they have only been eight times, and three of those were before 1960. Lindy's is projecting them to go to the round of 32. We shall see, and it will be fun watching.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A passing center?

Back in the good ol' days when Wilt had moved to Los Angeles, he went from being the scoring star of the team to being just another scorer on a team filled with them. So, what did he do? He switched to being a passing center, leading the league in assists. I can remember him standing there, holding the ball with one huge hand, waiting for a cutter to get open.

Wisconsin center Ethan Happ led the Badgers in assists last season as a junior. You don't see that too often in college, either. And, that was while he was leading the team in scoring. Versatile kid.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

American female golfers?

Is there a lack of good American female golfers of college age? Or in America do they perhaps go a different path in their development than those from other countries? I doubt that either of those things is true. So, it seems strange to me that there are so many foreign-born athletes in women's golf. It is not like soccer, where the sport has not been popular: golf is a big sport in America. But out of seven athletes on our women's golf roster, all of them are from a foreign country. You will find the same situation (though perhaps not to that degree) in other schools. I have no problem at all with that; I am just curious why it is true. I do not have enough familiarity with the sport to know the ins and outs of its recruiting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sports Illustrated about Wichita State

"They do things that win you games. They want to sit down and play defense and control the glass. That can win you a game."

Point guard

This is probably our strongest position (which is a very good thing to be able to say). We have some depth, and we have some experience.

First of all, we have a bona fide budding star in Markquis Nowell. It is not too often that we get legit 3-star talent in Little Rock, but this is one of them. The kid is lightning quick. Other players had better be ready, or his passes will hit them in the face.

Second, we have back Jaizec Lottie, last year's starting point guard, and he may not be ready just to cede the position to Nowell. He has something that Nowell does not have, which is D1 experience. His numbers last season were very underwhelming, but he showed enough ability in spots to make us think that improvement is likely with a good coach.

Third, Ryan Pippins and Deondre Burns both have some experience at point, at least enough that they could fill in if it came to that. Plus, both of them are experienced juniors.

Point guard is in good shape, at least relatively speaking.

The Hall likes bigs; I like bigs

"While other teams are exceedingly guard-oriented, the [Seton Hall] Pirates still like their bigs. Sure, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo are all gone from last year's team, but Willard has reloaded with a deep crew of big men." (from Lindy's)

"A deep crew of big men" - how many teams can say that these days. How many teams even care about that these days?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Recruit the right type of player

"Something that I've learned is if you get the right type of kids who want to work, you can be successful." (Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, as quoted in Lindy's)

Not necessarily the most talented, just the hardest working. Now isn't that a novel concept!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Butler Way

Plenty of replacement parts remain, but in Butler's small-school situation, players are matured over a longer period of time, and not just in how to play the game. "There's a leadership component to it," [head coach LaVall] Jordan says. "That's maybe harder to replace than the actual point production."

(from Lindy's)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

John Beilein: a true sports hero

(from CBS Sports)
"If you're not going to follow these rules, get the heck out of the game," Beilein said during an interview I conducted with him for CBS Sports HQ inside the Lambert B Room here at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. "We'll survive."

"You don't have to [cheat] to win," Beilein said. "I think at some of the programs that have been able to be successful [without cheating], like a Michigan, you never even thought of [doing] these things. You just try to get the right kids and grow through them."

Friday, October 12, 2018

Just an old-fashioned basketball teacher

(from Lindy's) "Players get noticeably better under [St. Bonaventure head coach Mark] Schmidt, who is adept at unearthing hidden gems and developing them into stars. Schmidt's other sideline strengths include his ability to game plan and exploit opponents' weaknesses and his deep reservoir of plays, which make the Bonnies a nightmare to prep for."

Lindy's described one of the Bonnies' big men as "skinny as a Q-tip," which I thought was an interesting verbal picture.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tip of the hat to this coach

"In today's quick-fix, transfers-for-everyone college hoops landscape, George Mason head coach Dave Paulsen has been building the old-fashioned way with four-year players. The approach worked for him during his seven years at Bucknell." (Lindy's)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Good move: we need to reverse the trend

Savannah State will be moving down to D2, it has been announced. I salute their honesty. The gap between #1 and #300+ in the list of D1 teams has become so wide that any pretense that they are remotely comparable is a complete farce. Top level D2 basketball is better than bottom level D1 basketball - but the money that can be made by selling your team as punching bags is not as good as what can be made at D2. We need a bunch more teams to face reality and move down to D2, where they can win some games.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

No time for a break

"We're still clawing and scratching and scratching and clawing. When you're climbing the mountain, you don't have any time to rest. There is never any down time." (Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Go DePaul!

I enjoy watching programs that have been down and rooting for them to get things turned around again. DePaul has been on the bottom of the heap for a good while. However, 4-star recruit Markese Jacobs, who had committed to Kansas, changed his mind and will be returning to his home town to play for the Blue Demons. He is the second top-100 player to commit to DePaul this recruiting season.

The description of him reminds me a little of our own Markquis Nowell, and I figure expectations for the two point guards is about the same for their respective programs.

I have to believe Walker is taking a mulligan

Unless some other players show up late, it surely does look like that Coach Walker does not have big expectations for this first season and is holding back some of his cards against future seasons. Ten scholarship players just are not enough to be sure even of being able to scrimmage throughout the season. It doesn't make sense to me, in any wise, unless he is mentally writing off this first season. And, there is something to be said for slowing down and doing things right, including recruiting. It just looks strange, because most coaches do not approach it that way.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A nice compliment

About Cincinnati, by Lindy's: "A Mick Cronin team will battle like a starving dog for table scraps." In other words, a team that nobody wants to play, and one that everyone feels like they have been through the mill after they play them.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

One of the reasons I like Clemson right now

I like blue-collar basketball teams: hard-working, no-nonsense, hard rebounding, smothering half-court defense - that sort of stuff. Here is what Lindy's said about this year's Clemson team:

"Clemson is a hard-working, middle-class everyman. It's not the easiest way to win games in the ACC, but coach Brad Brownell is pulling it off admirably."

With all those blue-blood teams with one-and-done players, it is fun to root for a team that brings their lunch pail.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Bring good out of misfortune

(from Lindy's comments about Arizona) "This roster gets Miller back to his grittier Xavier days, when it was more about defensive toughness and cohesion and less about getting a bunch of McDonald's All-Americans on the same page. This is Miller's kind of team, which is one we'll take a chance on."

I am guessing Miller will have a lot more fun coaching this group, too.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Seniors or freshmen?

We likely would never have a chance of picking up a one-and-done player, but just for the sake of discussion: is it better to have a very good player for one year or a pretty good player for four years? I think it is almost certain that coaching the four-year player would be a lot more rewarding to any coach who wants to do anything past recruiting. For the sake of the overall health of the program, I would think the four year player has to be better.

It would be interesting sometime to see how a direct match-up between a Kentucky-type school with five one-and-dones and a not-quite Kentucky with five not-quite-one-and-done seniors would turn out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The tragedy of Hack Wilson

Hack Wilson holds the major leage baseball record for RBIs in a single season. At one point he was the highest-paid player in the National League. But he died penniless and his son refused to claim his remains. Here is what Wilson left on record:

"Talent isn't enough. You need common sense and good advice. If anyone tries to tell you different, tell them the story of Hack Wilson. ... Kids in and out of baseball who think because they have talent they have the world by the tail. It isn't so. Kids, don't be too big to accept advice. Don't let what happened to me happen to you."

Image result for hack wilson cubs

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I hope they nail their hides to the wall

The cheaters in college basketball are in the cross-hairs of the FBI. If they are indeed guilty, I hope they lock them up and throw away the key. There is enough wrong with the sport under the best of circumstances without having cheaters being tolerated as they obviously have been.

Monday, October 1, 2018

When they cross that halfcourt line

I love half-court basketball, on both ends of the court. So, I was glad to see this quote in Lindy's: "Loyola-Chicago will again be an elite-level basketball team with tough-minded point guard Clayton Custer and burly Cameron Krutwig back to drown teams in the halfcourt."