Thursday, October 31, 2019

Not always, Mr. Norlander

CBS' Matt Norlander  just released a ranking of the teams within each state, and here is his comment on Arkansas:

"The Hogs always should and always will be the top team in the state."

Now, wait just a minute, Mr. Norlander. Fayetteville was not the top team in the state the year in 2016. Sagarin ranked the Razorbacks #71, and had Little Rock at #63. I grant you that with the disparity of resources which they possess, they should be the best team in the state, but there was at least one year when they were NOT the best team. Get it right, bud, if you are going to masquerade as a reporter.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The day that coaching won

Virginia and Texas Tech were in the NCAA Finals last season because they had the two best coaches in the game. Not because they were the best recruiters; not because they had the best talent: they had the best coaches.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Aggies won't be down long

ESPN picks Texas A&M to finish 12th of 14 teams in the SEC this season. SEC teams had better enjoy it while it lasts, because Buzz Williams will have them back in the hunt sooner rather than later.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The one question

Teenage boys (and even those a little older) as a rule are grossly lacking in self-discipline. That is why coaches exist. Legally and physically the players are men; in most other ways they are not.

I honestly think this team has the talent to be in the top third of the SBC this season. There is only one real question to be answered: Is Coach Walker tough enough to make them play like they ought to play, or will he let them play like they want to play? Because, mark it down, guys their age are NOT going to play the way that will win ballgames. Is he going to be a "please do it" coach, or an "or else" coach? Last year he was a "please do it" coach.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Season's Almost Here Dance

As we get within a few days of the regular season each year, I begin to get a little excited. The anticipation is half the fun, of course, and the close we get to reality, the keener the anticipation becomes. Are my predictions correct? Will we maybe be better than I thought we would? Could this just possibly be one of those special seasons? You just never know until the season actually begins - and it is just about here. Go Trojans!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Four walk-ons

Seventeen players on the roster, assuming everyone gets cleared. That means four walk-ons. Have we ever had that many? At least that means we can put three complete teams on the court at practice if we need to. I am glad kids want to be a part of the program.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

This team's upside?

What is this team's downside? about like last season. But let's move on from that.

What is our upside? Considerable, I think. The talent is there. Now, if the coaching staff will exercise some on-court discipline and make them play like they ought to, I think this team can be pretty good. Here are the question marks:

1. Turnovers. That MUST get better. We have to get off the playground onto the court.

2. Defense. Our defense was not terrible last season, but it was not great, either. Defense has always been a hallmark of Little Rock teams, and it needs to be of this one, also. Whether or not Walker can get this bunch to buy into that concept remains to be seen.

3. Rebounding. We have the size. This ought to be a great team on the boards.

4. Three-point shooting. We were not awful last season, but Rayjon Tucker is gone. Who is going to replace his 41% shooting from the arc?

Check all the boxes above, and this team is in the hunt for the title. The talent is there. Will the discipline and the desire be there?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


One of the major problems with this team last season was the high rate of turnovers. The nice thing about that fact is that it is one problem that is easily fixable; all you have to have is a coach that says, "Or else," and then makes it stick. For the most part it comes down to a matter of on-court discipline.

We have enough depth this season that Walker should be able to lay down the law to every player on the team. And he had to lay it down early in the season. What is a teaching moment early can become a discipline moment if it is held off until late. Set the culture from Day One. "Do it right, or you don't play."

Monday, October 21, 2019

Nowell starts where he left off

I realize it was only a pre-season game, which means nothing. But Markquis Nowell had 5 turnovers against 4 assists. Might be just a blip; but if this season is going to be just more of the same freshman mistakes and playground attitude, we probably will end this season where we finished the last one.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Records we might see this year

As mentioned previously, if Ryan Pippins makes a couple more 3-pointers and just maintains his career average, he would finish his stay in Little Rock 8th on the all-time list, just behind Solomon Bozeman. After Kris Bankston's amazing season last year, we could reasonably expect him to end up on the single-season FG% list, since it would take "only" 55.3% to get there.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Daddy Pippins

We have two seniors on the roster this season: Ryan Pippins and Sam Dunkum. This will be Dunkum's first year at Little Rock. This will be Pippins' fourth year here. He is the Old Man of Little Rock basketball this year, and he needs to fill the bill. I have always liked his game. He is very composed on the floor; doesn't get in a hurry. He needs to be the enforcer on this team, or at least the conscience of this team. And what people may not realize is that Ryan is a career 39.3% three point shooter, which, if he finished his tenure there, would make him #8 all-time at Little Rock.

Daddy Pippins needs to take hold and make this his team, even if he doesn't play a huge amount, which he probably will not.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Would a Designated Rebounder work today?

I have read that one of the reasons that individual rebounding numbers were so much lower beginning sometime in the 1970s (causing the NCAA to break out the records separately since that time) is that the philosophy of the game changed. The knee-jerk reaction is to say that it was because of the three-point shot, but that won't work because the change came before the advent of the three-pointer.

The official explanation is that in those days the 4 and 5 spot players were expected to clean the boards on their own, and the perimeter players released to defend the fast break. These days rebounding is considered more of a team responsibility, especially since the 3 was instituted. Of course, with that shift in philosophy there has been a de-emphasis on rebounding, and I honestly do not think coaches teach it as much or as well these days.

But would a Designated Rebounder function work today? Certainly not unless you had a kid who loved to do it and was taught how to. We probably had one in the days of Rashad Jones-Jennings. He did not leave many rebounds for the other players. His senior year, when he led the nations in boards at 13.1 rpg, our second-best board man was Byron Ray with only 4.9. JJ pulled down 36% of our rebounds that season. So, yes, it can be done, but I would say it is not likely to happen. That day has passed. We are not going to see players average 20 boards a game over the course of their career.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Coaches I root against

If he were not at Little Rock, I would be rooting hard against Darrell Walker. I just do not like the practice of bringing pro players into the college game without their having "paid their dues" in some respect along the way. But, DW is at LR, so I do root for him. Chris Beard is, of course, the poster child for "paying dues" in the coaching development ladder.

But not Juwan Howard at Michigan. I hope he crashes and burns. I hate it when programs try to buy glamour instead of substance.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tall Rainbows

Hawaii can throw some size onto the floor this season. They have three 7-footers, including two from Australia. And they have a couple more guys at 6-9 for good measure. Can they walk and chew gum at the same time? I don't know; but they should look very impressive in the pre-game huddle.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How quick for Mick?

The preseason speculation is discussing how quickly Mick Cronin will be able to turn around the program at UCLA. I am guessing it won't take long. The returning players will be in for a culture shock. They are accustomed to Hollywood, and what they are getting now is Blue Collar U. I suspect they will play Mick's way, or they won't play. But there may be some hiccups in this first season until he gets the deadwood weeded out.

However, I figure he also is going to do what Chris Beard did at Little Rock. Beard made a big leap just by taking the slop out of the system, making the players play his way, or else. The fact that he is an excellent coach added to that, but even without his coaching skill the program would have improved significantly just because of his on-court discipline. I figure that, at least, will happen in this first season at UCLA. They may not be great, but they will play Mick's way.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The poor PA guy!

Sacramento State has on their roster Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa, Osi Nwachukwu and Chibueze Jacobs. I hope he makes it through the season without a sprained tongue.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Champions of the Look Abroad league

Maine has twelve foreign players on their roster. However, their top player going into the season is from Maine - Andrew Fleming, a senior forward.

Canada - 2
Sweden - 2
Serbia - 2

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

What is our "Non-negotiable"?

Here is a quote from the Virginia basketball blog concerning big man Jay Huff:

"His defense as part of the Pack Line [defense] has to improve. His struggles on that end of the court are what kept him on the bench (to the chagrin of the fans), but that’s a non-negotiable for Bennett-led teams." 

It suggests the question: What is the non-negotiable factor for a Darrell Walker-coached team?

Monday, October 7, 2019

The CEO is responsible for it ALL

The fact that Bill Self had to publicly apologize for their pre-season entertainment show illustrates why he is in trouble with the NCAA. He does not take responsibility for the things for which he is held responsible. "Lack of institutional oversight," I think they call it. Out of control, I call it.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Two Lazars

According to Street and Smith's, Loyola Marymount will be the only program in the country this year with two players named Lazar: Lazar Zivanovic and Lazar Nekic, both from Serbia. Not much of a distinction, but hey, it's something.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The indoor advantage

I attended the Lamar/Paris football game last night and the weather was almost ideal. Very pleasant. But it won't be most of the time. Pretty soon the temperature will be down there, and there is always the possibility of precipitation. That is one advantage that basketball has: dry seats and controlled temperature.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Baby steps first

This year's pre-season Big Ten poll was the first time since they joined the league six years ago that Rutgers was not picked to finish last (or so said the site I read). Well, you have to walk before you can run. And in a league as tough as the B10, it will be difficult to claw their way toward the top. But at least they have started.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Just Dunk It! - some more

This team is going to have plenty of size and athleticism not to have to worry about taking cutesy shots around the basket. Just dunk it! Kris Bankston taught us how last season. We need to make that the program identity. Phi Slamma Jamma II.

First of all, you aren't going to miss many dunks. High shooting percentage. Second, you are going to get the other team in foul trouble, or they are going to back off completely. Third, monster dunks are intimidating to the other team. Fourth, nothing gets the fans involved more (or quiets the home fans if you are on the road) than a great slam. So just do it! Dunk it! Every time you get a chance. Make it the identity of the team.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Just call him Sleezipari, Jr.

No, wait, Josh Pastner has that title, so I guess it will have to be Sleezipari III. I am talking about Andy Enfield at Southern Cal.

Here is what NBC said about them: "Andy Enfield has proven that he knows how to get it done on the recruiting trail. He has two five-stars enrolling at his program this season. He has the top player in the Class of 2020, Evan Mobley, enrolling next season. The issue with USC is that the Trojans have not been able to have the success on the floor match what their potential is on paper."

Translated? High-powered recruiter; but can't coach.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hey, I like this guy!

from Street and Smith's pre-season magazine:

Mark Turgeon wants his teams to play physical defense and hammer rivals on the boards. While he embraces the three-point shot and wants to spread the floor, he is also a fan of tough big men who can lock down the inside.

Go Terps!