Sunday, March 31, 2019

Connor Vanover - who would have thought it

I saw him play for Arkansas Baptist against Ozark a few years back, He had a nice shot, but he was virtually immobile - literally. He could barely lumber up and down the court. He looked like someone who had grown too fast, and whose knees had not been able to keep up with the growth. I figured he would end up at some D2 school, or lower, purely because of his size (7-3). Lo and behold, he ends up at Cal, and was a significant contributor to their very bad team. He averaged 17.5 minutes per game, 7.5 ppg and 3.0 rpg. He was a good 3-point shooter. All that as a freshman.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Dani Koljanin's contribution

He was not here long, and he did not make a huge impact on the program, but within the one season he played in Little Rock, Dani Koljanin did  contribute. He played in 26 of the 31 games, averaging 13.3 minutes. He did not shoot well, and his stats were underwhelming. On a per minute basis, he was comparable in rebounding to any of our big men (which is not saying much). However, in a season with a short roster in which injuries figured largely, he did fill a very needful slot coming off the bench (along with seven starts). And he did finish with a bang, getting a double/double in his final collegiate game. We wish him well and hope his memories of Little Rock were pleasant.

Friday, March 29, 2019

I won't play the coach

Do you suppose any of the Virginia Cavaliers want to take on Coach Tony Bennett in a game of HORSE? He holds the NCAA record for career 3PT FG percentage.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

No reason we can't be a rising program, BUT

One of two things has to happen. We have to get a good coach to stay, or our AD has to get consistently good at picking coaches. Chasse has not shown that he is up to the latter task, and we have not accomplished the former, which is not the AD's fault, for the most part. We got a fair coach to stay (Shields), so we came that close. We got a really good coach for one year, so we came that close. Past that, we have mostly whiffed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The "other" tournaments


Who cares, right? They are regarded as meaningless, but the teams in them would not have had any realistic chance at winning of the NCAA tournament, anyway. So, there is meaning, but just a different significance. For some teams, getting to go to any post-season is a big deal. For some hard-working seniors who never saw the bright lights of post season, it is a big deal. For some programs that are on the move in the right direction, it is a jump-start in the right direction. Different measuring stick, but perhaps very meaningful.

Monday, March 25, 2019

So we had a guy who scored 20 points a game

BIG DEAL! We also lost 21 games.

Hard work off-season

Both coaches and players need to spend a few months in self-examination and introspection, as well as in hard physical work. "Why weren't we better? What did we do wrong? What did we fail to do? What has to be fixed immediately?" The whole will only get better if all the parts get better. And I think we can all agree that there is a LOT of room for improvement with this program. The staff has to be recruiting relentlessly, looking for high character and coachableness, as well as talent. They have to be teaching, teaching, teaching - and DEMANDING that the players play right. "If you don't play right, you don't play," needs to be the theme. The players have to drive themselves to improve the weak spots in their games. I hope that players and staff were embarrassed by this season and will start to work immediately to fix what was wrong.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Bad chemistry?

I'll say this here, but understand it is just a hunch. Logic tells me there had to be a chemistry problem on this team this past season. No way the talent was as bad as our record was. It was a headscratcher, and that is the only thing that makes sense. I don't know if it was a problem between the coach and the team, or among the players, or maybe even between two players. It might not even have been something that was definable. And I am not saying animosity, just a lack of chemistry. But it must have been there. We had more talent than we had wins.

Just a guess, but it was the only thing that makes sense to me, except maybe a complete lack of discipline.

A tad above average

I have been a Trojan fan since the (shudder) Sidney year, which means about two decades. During that time we have been to the NCAA tournament twice, or on average once every ten years. Since most seasons there have been more than ten teams in the SBC, we have beaten the average by a little bit, so I suppose I ought not to complain.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Our strength?

What will the strength of this team be next season? This year it was offense. We had a number of weapons and could put points on the board against most teams. We have more size coming in, so hopefully our rebounding and defense will improve. We ought to have enough scoring options remaining, depending upon any further defections. But right now, without knowing what the roster will be, it is hard to tell where we will hang out hat.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Turnover may be a good thing

We already have lost three players from this year's roster, including two of our top four scorers. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It is not any one player who counts, but the team. Will the team be  better without the departing players? very possibly so.

Each coach has his own style and his own program. Really hard-nosed coaches don't mind a player who takes a bare-knuckle approach, because that is their style. Other coaches are gentler in their demeanor, and need players who are coachable and who will listen and who are not constant off-court problems. I don't know what went on in the locker room this year, but even with our injury issues, this team badly under-achieved; and that usually is a sign of off-court problems. Walker does not appear to be an in-your-face style coach, so he is going to need players who respond to that style.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Will anyone care?

The Sausage Factory failed to make the NCAA tournament this year. I wonder if anyone will care very much. Probably not enough to make a coaching move -  but who knows? If Mike Anderson did not have a direct connection to the Glory Days, would he have survived this long? In eight seasons he has advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament twice, and he has failed to make the tournament five of those eight.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A strategic error

In the post before this one I crowned a Regular Season Champion. No big deal, because no one cares about my opinion. But I will say again that I wish some meaningful sports entity would do that. College basketball has made the NCAA tournament one of the biggest sporting events of the year, but by de-emphasizing the regular season, they have made those few weeks to be the only thing about college basketball that most sports fans care bout. That, in my opinion, is a strategic error. If the regular season is to be important, we are going to have to make it be more important.

Monday, March 18, 2019


This year it goes to Duke, which is no surprise. They have been hovering close to the top of the heap all season.

Not quite ho hum, but closer

Since the Trojans are not in the NCAA tournament, my interest in it is somewhat diminished. Not too much, but a little. Perhaps it is a defect in my personality, but I still have a much greater interest in what a team does over the course of a season than in a short tournament.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

How to package success?

How do successful mid-tier teams manage to prolong their success? Let's take Gonzaga and Butler as the prime examples. The obvious answer is that you get a good coach, and then you get that good coach to stay for a long time (which is MUCH easier said than done). The other component, which is somewhat less obvious, is that neither of them attempted to make a move into a Power Five conference, or even one of the top seven or eight conferences. They stayed in conferences where basketball was king, forcing the attention of the sports fans at their school to be upon them for most of the year instead of for just one month.

Friday, March 15, 2019

No way to answer, but it is thought-provoking

I can't help asking myself what Chris Beard would have accomplished with this year's roster, injuries and all. I sort of doubt that it would have been the same roster, because I think we would have had some defections by players who would not have been willing to play under Beard's discipline. But I do think that what were left would have played a much better brand of basketball.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It probably won't be the bench

I just saw a headline commenting on how Minnesota is facing postseason with a short bench. I figure that is the least of their problems. If you are figuring to win at tournament time with your bench, you probably are in trouble to begin with.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Surprising headline

"Alabama fans unhappy with Avery after latest loss." That was the headline, and I had to look twice to believe it. I was not aware that there was anyone in the state of Alabama who cared enough about anything but football to be unhappy.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Final Records Watch for the season

Blocks - Bankston - 64 for 12th

FG Percentage - Bankston - 81.3% for 1st
FT Made - Tucker - 164 for 4th
Scoring Average - Tucker - 20.3 for 4th
Points - Tucker - 497 to tie James Scott for 15th

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Where we ought to be

We finished the season where we deserved to finish it - in the basement. We were not very good, and we evidently did not particularly seem to care about getting much better. At least we did not work very hard at doing the little things that go to make a good team. Low hanging fruit doesn't cost much, but we did not seem to want pick it. We were more interested in flashy offense, which obviously did not get us much. Pretty ugly. Pretty discouraging.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Did Virginia patch enough holes?

Right now CBS has Virginia #1 in their power rankings. That means they are the best team in the country by their measuring stick. It does not mean that they are the best tournament team, not by a long shot. More often than not the best team does not win the NCAA tournament. Good tourney teams have to have a good accelerator; they can turn up the RPMs when they need to.

Every team has a weakness. In the last couple of weeks the experts have been exploring the weak spots of each team with a realistic chance of winning the title. Virginia is a superb team when they are playing with a lead. They are very, very hard to catch because they have a superb defense and an efficient offense, and because they play at a very slow pace, limiting the other team's opportunities. But, as last year's humiliating 16:1 loss showed, when the Cavs need to pick up the pace to play catch-up, sometimes they do not have an afterburner. When they are hot from the 3-point line, they can score in bunches; but if their shooting eye is off, and they fall behind, then they are hurting. Maybe in practice Tony Bennett has worked the team on those other factors. I hope so, because I would love to see Virginia win it all.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Clock control press

I wonder why more teams don't use a clock control press. By that I mean a press that is not intended to produced turnovers immediately, but to eat a few seconds off the shot clock, perhaps producing a turnover on the back side if the buzzer sounds, or at least forcing an ill-advised shot late into the shot clock. The press would not only slow down the other team getting across half court, but if it is continued into possession, would prevent them from getting into their offense immediately once they do get across half court. Sounds like a good idea to me. The net effect of doing that the whole game could be considerable.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What if Fowler?

It does not good, but it is fun to imagine. What if this year's team had had John Fowler playing? Defense would not have been a problem, because John would have forced a culture of defense, even if the coach did not.

Monday, March 4, 2019

How do you rank old-timers?

You have no doubt seen the arguments about who is the GOAT - Michael Jordan or Lebron. I always tell them that they haven't gone back far enough, that it was either Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt or Russell. And then there is the inevitable sneer: "Well, he might have been OK for those days, but if he played to day . . ."

The problem is that they do not play now, and neither did Jordan and James play back then. If Lebron James played back in the 1960s, then he would have had 1960's training techniques, 1960s nutrition, and played in the 1960s style. How good would he have been if all of those factors were true? Every player has to be judged within the context of his own era.

The problem is how you judge a player from one era and compare him with another era. You can say that we have better shooters today, but how good might the shooters have been from before the 3PT era if the only place they ever shot from was that one line on the court? Jerry West shot from all over the place. That question is not easy to answer. I suppose that the key is that each player is relative to his own era. How dominant was he against his peers?

But come on, fellows: do you really think anyone today could have stopped Jabbar's sky hook, or kept Wilt from dunking?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

No rebounders

We really do not have any rebounders on this team. True, Rayjon Tucker averages 6.8 boards per game, but then he is on the floor an average of 36.7 minutes per game, so he ought to get a lot of rebounds. But Tucker is not really a rebounder. He doesn't think "rebound" while he is out there; his instincts are offensive. Kamani Johnson is probably the closest thing we have to a rebounder, but he is a true freshman and has a lot to learn, plus he only averages 19.2 minutes per game. Kris Bankston has the physical tools to rebound, but he does not seem to have the nose nor the heart for it. Rebounders are rebounders primarily because they think "rebound," and it is a priority with them.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

How the refs view Sleezipari

“He wants to be seen. He loves the attention and feeds off it. He likes doing things that draw attention to himself. It’s all about him.”  (unidentified current official, from

Friday, March 1, 2019

Krutwig and Big Country

Loyola's sophomore center Cameron Krutwig reminds me a lot of Bryant Reeves of Oklahoma State fame ("Big Country"). Krutwig is 6-9, 255# and Reeves was 7-0, 275#, so there was a whole lot of both of them. Both of them know how to use their bulk effectively. Both shot a high percentage from the floor. In this era of high-flying athleticism and long-range bombing, it is refreshing to see a lumbering big guy who just knows how to play inside.