Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball Preview

90% of this pastor blog is stuff that you would find on a pastor blog.  The other 10% is the stuff you would expect on my blog–fun things that I love to talk about–Disney World, Movies, 80’s Music and Razorback Basketball.

coach AI have been a huge Razorback basketball fan for as long as I have memories, which for me dates back to Eddie Sutton.  I was at the first basketball camp that Nolan Richardson had at the U of A and loved him and his style.  This is part of the reason why it was very easy to say yes to the call of God to move to Fayetteville, where they just happen to play most of their games.  I have been a season ticket holder for the last couple of years.  It’s great.  I love taking one of my girls or hanging with guys.  I just love being in the building watching the hogs.

So far, I’ve been to the Red-White scrimmage with Heidi and Laylah and met some folks from the Grove there.  Last night was the first exhibition game and I was there with the one and only Gregg Post. We’ve probably been to 50 games together.  He has tickets as well.  He drives and we use my parking pass–the perfect arrangement. You should put it on your bucket list to go to a bball game with Gregg and me.  It’s quite entertaining.

So after an inter-squad scrimmage and an exhibition game, what can we say about the 2015-16 Razorback Men’s Basketball team?  Not much, it’s too early, but that won’t keep me from throwing down about 1000 words.

Returning players: Unless last year’s starting point guard, Anton Beard, can resolve his legal troubles, we (yes we!) will not have any returning starters.  That obviously is a challenge if you want to build on last year’s NCAA tournament appearance and first round win (Yes, first round.  Those first games are play-in games.  The first round happens on Thursday.  I don’t care what they call it.).

Because of early departures, graduates and 2 alleged counterfeiters, we only have 4 players returning who saw any real minutes last year.

Anthlon Bell–One of the best 3 point shooters I’ve seen when hot, but in the past has gone through extended cold streaks.  Looks great so far.  Looks mature, calm and like a leader.  Optimistic about his senior year.

Moses Kingsley–The big man.  Huge defensive presence.  Trying to be more assertive in scoring and so far it’s not working great.  Needs to let the game come to him, but love the aggressiveness and his defensive presence.

Manny Watkins–The kind of guy that people who use the phrase “emotional leader” would call an emotional leader.  I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.  Anyway, one of the top hustle players I’ve seen in a hog uniform.  Does whatever it takes and works hard.  He know the limitations of his game and doesn’t try to do more than he can do

Jabril Durham–He didn’t see that many minutes.  More times than not he was the 3rd string point guard.  However, due to the mass exodus and legal issues, he has been thrust into the starting lineup.  He’s a pass first, pass second, pass third, I suppose I’ll shoot 4th point guard.  That’s good for a guy without a great shot.  Seems improved.  Better court awareness and not pressing it too much.

Technically also returning:

Trey Thompson–A sophomore who rarely played last year.  He seems slimmer and more athletic and more comfortable on the court now.  Gave some solid minutes off the bench and I can only see him improving.  Very excited about his junior and senior years.  Should be solid this year but with growing pains.

Miles Keaton–Senior forward who played sparingly last year and now finds himself in the starting line-up.  I haven’t been impressed in either game, but then I look at his stat sheet and it looks better than I remember.  Maybe my evaluator is off. Needs to play within himself a little bit more, i.e. the 15 footer is not his shot.  However, great hustle guy.

New players this year:

Jimmy Whitt: I couldn’t be more excited about this guy.  I’m always hesitant when someone comes with big scoring numbers from high school.  Often, it is a reflection of low level competition in high school (read: Cannon Whitby and Darnell Robinson) However, he looks amazing.  Doesn’t seem like a freshman at all.  Reminds me a lot of BJ Young, but without the attitude.  Shot looks ugly, but he scores.  Doesn’t shoot 3 pointers but crashes the basket like crazy.  He’ll have some freshman moments but should be a great player.  He will likely lead us in scoring this year.

Dusty Hannahs–I was skeptical, but now a believer.  In last year’s red-white scrimmage, it didn’t look like he was very quick and his shot looked flat.  However, either that was an anomaly or something has happened in 12 months.  He has Pat Bradley and Rotnei Clark written all over him.  He can take people to the basket and has a decent floater in addition to Al Dillard-ish range.  He will score 40 in at least one game this year.

Willie Kouassi–(How big a hog fan am I?  I didn’t have to look up the spelling of that name.)  Big guy, tough on the boards.  Potentially great defender.  Will score almost all of his points on put backs.  Will give solid minutes off the bench but won’t supply much offense.

Lorenzo Jenkins–Small forward freshman.  This year’s Trey Thompson.  Will see limited minutes, more of a project.  Showed confidence but not much else.

We will do well:

When both 3 point specialists are hitting their shots.  It’s great to have 2 guys (Bell and Hannahs) that you know can light it up at any time.  When they both are on, we will be hard to contain.

When we can find a 4th scorer behind Bell, Hannahs and Whitt.  It can be a different guy each game, but when there is a 4th guy who can score, we will be hard to stop.  Otherwise, we will struggle with points.

When (as always) our press and defense are at their best.  Haven’t seen much in that regard yet, but it’s Coach Anderson, so it’s coming.

We will struggle:

When one or both of the 3 point guys are cold.

When we are on the road and play timidly.

When Whitt plays like a freshman.

When our post players can’t score at all.


I am more optimistic than a lot of fans are. Not “Bo I think we have a shot at the final 4.  I’ll hang up and listen.” optimistic.  However, we will exceed expectations.  We have a lot of inexperience and youth.  This is probably the least talented team Coach A has had, but it has the potential to be one of the hardest working.  The lack of a superstar will make them play team ball.


9-4 in non-conference and 10-8 in conference. 19-12 going into SEC tournament.  Win a game or 2 in the SEC tourney and make a good run in the NIT.  That’s down from last year, but will be a solid year.  These guys will be fun to watch and will set us up for a great year next year, especially if Malik Monk comes to the U of A.

Go Hogs!

Diary of a Soul Inflicted with March Madness #2

The Appeal of the Underdog.

Thursday, March 18th, 2:15 pm–I pick Villanova to go to the Final Four in what is considered my “official bracket.”  I enter different brackets in different contests.  So, why was I rooting for Robert Morris?  Why? Because it is so cool watching these little, out of nowhere school beat the “elite” teams.

You might think that this is about to make a hard left turn and I’m going to talk about David and Goliath.  Maybe that they inspire us to believe that we can do anything.  “Anything is possible if you believe.”  Uh, no.  I am officially on vacation and it is unlikely that you will get anything on this week that you would call “significant content.”  (I know, I know.  How is that different?  I get it.)

I just don’t like the big teams from the big schools.  If you have ever won a championship, we don’t want you to win.  Not one game.  Go home.  The best part of the underdog win?  When the scrubby bench players lock arms on the bench during the freethrows and sway back and forth.  Do coaches recruit some players based on their ability to execute that well?

It’s hard to have too much animosity for Villanova, per se.  It’s not like it is Kansas, Duke or Kentucky.  Nonetheless, Robert Morris is a cool team to root for.  What is their mascot? TheCats? (dated reference) Scholars?  Is Robert Morris a cigarette brand? Did he sign the Declaration of Independence?  Is he the first architect to use the flying buttress?  I could look it up, but I don’t care.  It’s just cool.

I would like to formally apologize to the Robert Morris fan(s?) out there for writing this post too soon and jinxing it.  If it makes you feel any better, my final four picks are still in tact.

Diary of a Soul Inflicted with March Madness #1

This series (?) of posts will be what Simon would call indulgent nonsense.  Indulgent–only I care about what I’m writing.  Nonsense–just keep reading.

Thursday, March 18th, 9:30 am–For the 20th year, my brother and I are about to watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney together.  It is (almost) always the first weekend of the tourney.  Exceptions have been when we would have tickets to see games that were the second weekend, or once, wait for it, the Final Four itself.  Yes, I was there when Roy Williams broke his jinx and cut down the net for the first time in St. Louis.  In fact, Roy Williams coached teams are 6-0 in the tourney when I watch him live.  Twice w/ Kansas in STL, twice w/ UNC in STL and twice w/ UNC in Memphis.  Roy, if you’re listening and you ever make it back to the tourney again (hee hee) call me, I am available to be flown into your games and torturously watch you win.

Anywho, my brother and I have been doing this for quite a while and we love it.  We have several mini-traditions, IBC root beer, making fun of commercials, etc.

For me the most exciting part of the tourney is the anticipation leading up to it.  Right now my bracket is perfect.  By 2:00 it will destroyed and hope will have abandoned my house yet again.  My problem in the past is that I pick often what I want to happen.  I pick the Razorbacks to advance one round further than they do.  (Do you guys remember when the Razorbacks used to go to the tournament?  Those were great days.  UAPB over Duke!!!!!)  I pick teams I hate to get upset early.  It never happens and it is the double whammy.  Teams I hate win and my bracket is terrible.

This year I am hedging my bets.  (Not literal bets.  Settle down people).  I am picking teams I hate.  This way, either my bracket will do well or Kentucky, Duke and Kansas won’t.  I’m sure there is 3rd option out there somewhere.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you (and by you I mean me and my mom.  Anyone else even still reading this?) updated.

Hard Picks, Sore Losers and Looking in a Mirror

February 16, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

I have written about my girls playing basketball before.  Truth be known, I would talk about it all the time, because I love it.  I love watching my girls play and I love being their coach. I am very proud of them and how hard they work.

What I noticed on Saturday was a couple of things.  First, both of my girls seem obsessed with setting hard picks, playing highly agressive defense and clawing for loose balls and rebounds.  They are not particularly concerned with scoring baskets, even though they both are good at that as well.  If they don’t score, they don’t care as long as they play good defense and set good picks that allow their teammates to score easy baskets.

Why is that?  Why at an age when every other kid focuses so much on scoring baskets would my kids be focused on other things?  The answer is simple.  I have been their coach for 3 and 6 years and they know that is what I care about.  More than that though, I have been their dad for 9 and 12 years, and what I say and what I value matters to them.  They want to reflect what is important to me and they do.

The second thing that I noticed on Saturday was immediately after a tough loss.  We had a big lead and some might say that the referees were um, nevermind.  This is Upward Basketball and you can’t say stuff like that.  So both of us, were swelling up with frustration like an overheated water heater with no pressure relief valve getting ready to blow up the whole house.  20 minutes later, walking into a restaurant, Maylee says, “I don’t think I’m going to be OK.”  “Yes, you are sweetie.” We laughed.

Why is she like that?  I’m guessing that if you are reading and not skimming, you know that is a rhetorical question.  She reflects what she sees.  My daughters being like me and reflecting my values doesn’t only apply to what I’m good at and my good quality(ies?).  You know what I’m talking about.  You say to your spouse that one of your kids is “just like you.”  Sometimes that’s a compliment and sometimes, well, not so much a compliment.

What do you reflect?  What are your values?  Your real values, not just what you say, but how you live.  What do they see?  Trust me they see it all and you will see it right back in them.

Ice Days, Cancelling Basketball and Gender Stereotypes

So here we sit as a family on what people call a snow day.  However, considering that there is minimal snow on the ground, we will call it an ice day.  We got an automated call at 5:30 this morning that school was cancelled (nice system, keeps me from feeling the need to check every hour in the middle of the night.  OCD anyone?).  Then, much later, after I got up, I saw an email that the girls’ basketball games had been cancelled for tomorrow.   (Even though I am a native Arkansan, I do not understand the cancelling due to weather the day before.  But that is a matter for another day.)

Really, what I am concerned about today is that the games were cancelled, regardless of the fact that it is likely the right call.  I want to play.  I love watching them play basketball.  They have an unbelievable intensity on the court.  If someone touches a loose ball or, heaven forbid, attempt to take the ball from them, they both get this look on their face that says, “how dare you.” Then like a wild animal they will, in fact, get the ball back.  Even Maylee, my girly girl princess, (actually especially Maylee), has this switch inside her that transforms her from the diva strutting during the introductions, to a destructive basketball force that gets every rebound, allows the girl she is guarding to score no points and sets picks that would make a grown man cry.

As always, this is the point where you, the reader (noun intentionally singular), says “what is the point?”  I dunno, to brag on the girls? To make you want to come to one of their games?  Stereotypes of genders are real.  Sometimes we may not like or appreciate them, but some of them are real.  However, in this house we do not let those things define us.  My girls may be emotional, they may love pink, and they may even both hate math.  On the other hand they play basketball with aggression and passion and intensity.  In the same way, your boys may run with the energy of a perpetual motion machine, throw every toy they have, and make guns out of Twizzlers.  Let them cry, let them express emotion.  Let them be balanced men. 

Maybe in 30 years, I will let one of them date one of my daughters.