UALR lands commitment

The UALR men received their third commitment this week when Northwest Mississippi guard Reggie Fondren said he'll sign with the Trojans in November.
Fondren is a 6-3 guard who played high school basketball at Memphis Raleigh-Egypt. He averaged 9.3 points and 4 rebounds last season as a freshman for Northwest Mississippi. He'll be counted on to score more this year for NWMCC.
He's known as a player who can both score and play tough defense. In high school, he was rated the 16th best player in Memphis during his junior year.
If he signs as promised, this would be the first Memphis player UALR has signed in quite a while.
UALR also has a commitment from high schooler James White of Jonesboro, Ga., and juco Will Neighbour of Daytona State.

No respect

Do AP poll voters think before casting their ballots?
The Associated Press released it's women's basketball preseason top 25 poll today. UALR received three votes to finish toward the bottom of the list of those receiving votes. That UALR wasn't in the top 25 wasn't a surprise, but that they only got three votes (points) was a huge surprise.
A bigger surprise comes several notches up that receiving votes ladder. There you'll find Georgia Tech, which received 73 points. Georgia Tech? Really? Are we missing something here?
This is a UALR team that returns four of its five starters, including its best player from last year. It's virtually the same team that dismantled Georgia Tech on a neutral court last March. And Georgia Tech's best player has graduated and moved on.
The bottom line is that UALR has earned a lot of respect locally, but very little nationally. Of the 40 voters who cast ballots in the Associated Press Top 25, only two wrote down "Arkansas-Little Rock.
UALR's three points consided of a No. 25 vote (1 point) from Monte Hale of the newspaper in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and a No. 24 vote (2 points) from Jeff Linder of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, newspaper

5 learned

Five things learned at last night's Meet The Trojans at the Jack Stephens Center:
1. UALR men will have a closed scrimmage with Stephen F. Austin on Saturday in Shreveport. SFA is picked at the top of the Southland and generally has a good defensive team. This will be a good test. Trojans will also scrimmage Texas-Arlington on Nov. 6 in Marshall, Texas.
2. Freshman Daylon "Chucky" Guy looks like the backup at the point guard position to junior D'Andre Williams. That makes it likely that senior Solomon Bozeman starts at the 2 guard with senior Matt Mouzy backing him up.
3. Junior Marlon Louzeiro was playing some 4 last night, matched up against junior Courtney Jackson.
4. UALR women will scrimmage Tennessee-Martin this weekend. They've got another scrimmage against Oral Roberts next week.
5. Senior Shanika Butler is out with an injury. She said last night she hopes to only miss the season opener vs. Davidson. She wants to play Game 2 against Texas A&M.

New UALR You Tube site

Check out the new You Tube site for UALR basketball. (Click the title of this post). Below is the first video posted.


Fox 16 coverage

UALR slated to host 2012 Women’s Basketball Tournament

Video of NCAA Announcement

Here's some video from yesterday's NCAA Women's Tournament announcement at UALR.

UALR women ranked fourth

The new Women's Mid-Major Top 25 poll is out and UALR is ranked No. 4.
College Insider has done a men's poll for several years, but this is the first for the women's poll. Had this poll been out last year, UALR would have been a top 10 team for at least the second half of the season. The No. 4 ranking is big and puts UALR up there with some Mid-Major elites. And you might also notice that UALR received a No. 1 vote.
The writers and coaches polls should be out in the next week or so. UALR figures to either be ranked at the bottom of the top 25 or, more likely, among those receiving several votes. It was interesting to follow the polls last season to see who was voting for UALR. And frankly, outside of Sun Belt affiliated voters, UALR wasn't receiving a whole lot of respects. Beating Georgia Tech in the NCAA Tournament may have changed that. We'll find out soon enough.


Coach Shields posted this on his Twitter account this morning:
UALR Trojan Ted Crass and family in your thoughts and prayers after the sudden loss of his Uncle Keith
Ted has been UALR's student manager the past couple of years. He's a great guy who puts in a lot of time and works really hard for the program.

NCAA to Little Rock

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee has selected The Jack Stephens Center, UALR, and the city of Little Rock as one of the 16 sites for the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship first and second rounds. This will be the first time that Little Rock has served as a host site for the women’s tournament.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce that yesterday the NCAA selected UALR, The Jack Stephens Center, and the Greater Little Rock area as a host for the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship first and second rounds,” said Chris Peterson, Director of Athletics at UALR.
“First and foremost, we need to thank the Stephens Family, for without the philanthropic ways of Jack Stephens and the Stephens family, we would not have this opportunity,” added Peterson. “The Jack Stephens Center is the finest basketball facility of its size in the country. Because of that and the fact that the Greater Little Rock area proved itself as a host in 2008, we were selected.”

Read the rest of the story by clicking HERE.

A look back

Here are the final seconds of UALR's NCAA Tournament victory over Notre Dame. It tacked a few things on to the end including a Gazette commercial. But you get the idea.

World Wide

It's funny to look at the page stats for BTH. Obviously, the country that visits the site most is the United States?
What's Number 2? By a long shot it's Italy. No idea why, but Grazie molto.
BTH has been viewed by people in more than 20 countries in its infancy.

Penalties? Not likely

Did some more checking last night on the Sun Belt Conference's scheduling criteria. It appears there are no formal penalties if schools don't comply. Likely, there will only be some sort of public or private reprimand.
When the Sun Belt tried this a few years ago, schools had a choice. They could either play a schedule in which the opponents' three-year RPI average equaled out to an average of 150 or better or they had to finish in the top 150 of the RPI at season's end. But that policy also had no teeth. In one of the final seasons it was in place, one school did not have the 150 schedule. And they finished outside the top 150 in the season-ending RPI. And if anything happened to that school, it was never announced.
Listening to yesterday's media day interviews, it doesn't appear there's a lot of enthusiasm for the rule this time around either.

UALR to host 2012 NCAA

UALR will make the official announcement today, but word is already out.
As reported first here on Tuesday, UALRs Jack Stephens Center has been selected to host the first and second rounds of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. The games will be played either Saturday, March 17 and Monday, March 19 or Sunday March 18 and Tuesday, March 20.
Other first-round sites are Nashville, Tenn., Ames, Iowa, Baton Rouge, La., Bowling Green, Ohio, Bridgeport, Conn., Chapel Hill, N.C., Chicago, College Park, Md., College Station, Texas, Norfolk, Va., Norman, Okla., Notre Dame, Ind., Spokane, Wash., Tallahassee, Fla. and West Lafayette, Ind.
The Regional sites for 2012 are Des Moines, Iowa, Fresno, Calif., Kingston, R.I., and Raleigh, N.C.
"As a committee we are excited that in 2012 our championship will be hosted by institutions from 14 different conferences, with College Station, Little Rock and Kingston hosting for the first time," said Marilyn McNeil, vice president and director of athletics at Monmouth University and chair of the Division I Women's Basketball Committee.  "Having this blend of sites is important to the committee as we continue to look for ways to grow our game."
If UALR qualifies for the 2012 NCAA Women's Tournament it will play its first two games at the Stephens Center.
UALR might want to consider redshirting everyone this year to make a run at 2012. The Trojans are the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt Conference in 2011. It appears 2012 will be a rebuilding year for the Trojans.

UALR, Little Rock score big

It appears UALR's Jack Stephens Center and Little Rock have landed games in the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament. Too bad they couldn't snag 2011 games, but getting the 2012 tournament to Little Rock is a big deal.
There is a press conference scheduled for for 11 a.m. Wednesday at UALR.

For or against?

Just thought of this. It would have been a good question for someone to ask during media days today and tomorrow.
"Coach, pretend the Sun Belt Conference's new scheduling criteria, as it's written in the press release, is a bill before congress. And you are a congressman who has to vote for or against it as it's currently written. There's no line-item veto. Are you for it or against it?"
OK. Maybe that's not a well-structured question. But you get the idea.
Most would say publicly they are for it (probably not John Brady). Most coaches today talked around the question of whether or not it was good. North Texas Coach Johnny Jones said he was willing to try it (didn't seem like an endorsement). However, if you asked this question privately, the results would be much different. Probably more along the lines of at least 10 against it.
Is the Sun Belt Conference really that out of touch with its coaches?

Coach Shields at Media Days

UALR Coach Steve Shields was first up at Sun Belt Conference Media Days today. Here's some of what he had to say:
ON THE CURRENT PLAYERS: "We've our three leading scorers back, all of whom were seniors. I'm encouraged about their senior leadership in the offseason and feel like they've done an outstanding job of leading this team. In my opinion, you're only as good as your senior leadership."
IMPROVING REBOUNDING: "That is a concern. We had a negative rebound margin last year for the first time in seven seasons. That was an area of concern in or recruiting."
GUS LEEPER'S PROGRESS: "Every day you see guy like Gus Leeper making progress (Shields compares him to JakeYancey). He's been like a sponge. Every day he hangs on Joe Kleine."
NEW SCHEDULING CRITERIA: "The key is to be able to get more home nonconference games than road nonconference games. It's proven over the years that you win a good percentage of home games in Division I basketball. I think that's the key right now. That's why I've always been a proponent of playing 18 conference games. It builds in an extra home game."

His session ended kind of awkwardly. He was asked to talk about the virtues of Louisiana-Lafayette's new coach Bob Marlin, who is one of Shields' best friends. Nothing like having to talk up a guy that you're trying to recruit against. And then he was asked about Will Neighbour (from a student reporter). Of course, he couldn't comment on that.

Beating a dead horse

It's probably beating a dead horse at this point, but the timing of the Sun Belt Conference's scheduling and attendance announcement sure comes at a curious time.
This is something that has been in the works since early summer. But the conference office waited to announce it until about two weeks before signing day.
The conference office could have just put out: Hey recruits, our schools play bad schedules and have bad attendance. You can be sure other schools in other conferences are hammering Sun Belt Conference recruits with this right now.

More on scheduling

Arkansas State Coach John Brady was the first to speak out against the new Sun Belt Conference scheduling criteria. We're not sure if others did today at media days or not, but we know there are several other SBC coaches who oppose this. This is the reason it took almost six months for the Sun Belt to finally release the new requirements. It's also the reason it's a policy without teeth.
Here's the quote from today's Jonesboro Sun:
“I’m not really in favor of someone telling me how to schedule or who to schedule or what to do with the basketball program at Arkansas State that I’m in charge of. I don’t need anybody looking over my shoulder. I don’t need anybody telling me what’s good for this program in the stage of development that we’re in and what we should do. I’m not as concerned about the other teams in the league as I am about this program, and where we’re going, where we’re headed and what we need to do to make it better.”
Here's a link to the whole story.

No penalties?

Just read a story that said no penalties are in place for schools that don't meet the new men's basketball scheduling guidelines. They will police themselves.
Good luck with that.

Bozeman on 3rd team; Trojans picked fifth

No real surprises this morning as the Sun Belt Conference announced its preseason polls and all-conference teams.
UALR senior guard Solomon Bozeman was named to the third team and the Trojans were picked to finish fifth in the West Division. Both were pretty much expected. Of note is that all 12 coaches voted North Texas first and Louisiana-Monroe last.

Preseason Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Poll
West DivisionPoints
1. North Texas
72 (12)
2. Arkansas State
3. Denver
4. Louisiana-Lafayette
6. Louisiana-Monroe
East DivisionPoints
1. WKU
71 (11) 
2. Florida Atlantic
53 (1)
3. South Alabama
4. Middle Tennessee
5. FIU
6. Troy

First Team
George Odufuwa (North Texas, Sr., F)
Josh White (North Texas, Sr., G)
Tim Williams (South Alabama, Sr., G)
Sergio Kerusch (WKU, Sr., F)
Steffphon Pettigrew (WKU, Sr., F)

Second Team
Martavius Adams (Arkansas State, Jr., F/C)
Donald Boone (Arkansas State, Sr., G)
Greg Gantt (Florida Atlantic, So., G)
Raymond Taylor (Florida Atlantic, So., G)
Tristan Thompson (North Texas, Sr., G)

Third Team
Solomon Bozeman (UALR, Sr., G)

Brett Royster (Florida Atlantic, Sr., F)
Marvin Roberts (FIU, Sr., G/F)
Randell Daigle (Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., G)
James Washington (Middle Tennessee, Sr., G)

Preseason Player of the Year: Sergio Kerusch (WKU, Sr., F)

UALR on TV 4 times

The Sun Belt Conference released its television schedule this morning. UALR appears on it four times.
Nov. 24 - UALR vs. Oral Roberts (Fox College Sports)
Feb. 17 - UALR vs. Western Kentucky (Fox College Sports)
Feb. 19 - UALR vs. Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt Network)
Feb. 26 - UALR vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt Network)

Release out, questions unanswered

The Sun Belt Conference's Men's Basketball RPI release is out.
Some of it differs slightly from the ESPN report.
But one thing that doesn't differ is that they aren't discussing penalties. Without harsh penalties there is no possible way this will work.
Hopefully those working the various beats are asking those questions tonight.

Pick-up Game Video

No, not from UALR. But good stuff. And people always say there's no defense in pick-up games. This should help pass the time. Real thing is 18 days away.

The thought was nice

Update: MT Web site reporting the announcement will be made this afternoon.

Everyone knew it was coming, most likely this week. But the Sun Belt is going to announce its decision regarding RPI and scheduling. And instead of giving it to all its beat writers last week, it gave it to ESPN first. Here's the story:
Good idea, bad execution. The Sun Belt had a similar policy in place a few years ago and it didn't work. What if a school just can't find anyone else to play? Can you schedule a team outside the criteria in those circumstances? What if you have traditional rivals that you'd like to play but can't because they fall outside of the criteria? Getting rid of non-Division I games is great. But replacing them with Division I opponents costs more money. The Sun Belt said it's going to promote. That better include writing checks to member schools to pay to buy games. And the majority of Sun Belt teams limp into the regular season with .500 or below records as it is. Are they going to be any better with this scheduling? And is that going to help RPI or national reputation? And what about penalties? That was another issue the first time around. Paper penalties won't force schools to schedule better.
And the attendance factor of this? It's the most laughable part.
No doubt scheduling needed to be tweaked. But this appears to be an overreaction.

20 days to go

The countdown clock has reached 20 days to go.
Another big week on tap this week.
Sun Belt Conference men's basketball media days. We'll hear from UALR Coach Steve Shields first. We'll find out the preseason coaches polls (not likely to be good news) and the preseason all-conference teams (also not likely to be good news). But news is news.
Sun Belt Conference men's basketball media days continue.
Meet the Trojans Open practice with a new format at the Jack Stephens Center.
Saturday or Sunday
UALR men will play their first closed scrimmage of the year. While that won't generate much, if any, news. It will give the coaches a great progress report of where things stand.

Old news is still good news


This was reported back in July or August, but it's always good to hear information about recruits holding on with their commitments. This one for future UALR Trojan women's basketball player Taylor Gault of Conway.

Sutherland returns

Confirmed junior guard Tramar Sutherland has been medically cleared and returned to practice. Three weeks until the opener at SMU.

Thanks very much

Thanks to those linking BTH on different Web sites. Each week the number of page views continues to go up. It's already exceeded the early expectations.
BTH will continue to try to dig up links and post stories as the basketball seasons approach.

Nice honor, but ....

Chastity Reed received a nice honor when Fanhouse's Michelle Smith ranked her the fifth best power forwards in women's college basketball. You can see the list by clicking on the link below.
That's a great honor, but it would appear to BTH Reed should be a little higher up on that list (unless it's just an amazing group of power forwards).
Still, it's the type of recognition that will help UALR garner attention early this season.

So much for tradition

Check out Louisiana Tech's new women's basketball uniforms.

Trojans got dropped 5

Check out what South Alabama Coach Rick Pietri did to the UALR women afer their loss in the Sun Belt Tournment last year. UALR lost 70-68 in overtime in a fantastic game at Hot Springs Convention Center. As a result, Pietri dropped UALR five spots in his ballot for the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Check out where Pietri ranked UALR and Middle Tennessee down the stretch:
February 9 MT 25, UALR NR
February 16 MT 22, UALR 25
February 23 MT 19, UALR 22
March 2 MT 17,UALR 20
March 9 MT 14,UALR 17
3/9 poll came out right before the championship game
March 15 MT 13, UALR 22
After this game, both UALR and Middle Tennessee went on to play in the NCAA Tournament. There is no postseason poll.

Star ratings

Was asked about recruit's star ratings and if they mean anything. They do, but there's a catch.
If a recruit plays in the appropriate summer tournaments and is seen by the right person, he can get rated. Those kids rated 3, 4 or 5 stars are probably legitimately ranked.
But what about the kid that doesn't play in the summer? Or the kid that is hurt in the summer? Or the kid that doesn't play well the one time he's seen by an evaluator? These kids aren't going to get a high star rating. In some cases, they don't deserve one. In others, they just haven't been seen.
Star ratings are subjective.
As for WN's star rating right now? It's doubtful he'll receive any stars. Most evaluators (rivals, scout, espn, etc.) don't have anybody at the Division B European Championships. And WN didn't play anywhere else this summer. And he's not playing in the preseason jamborees because he's injured.
But you can assume he's close to a four star. Last year, Ricardo Ratliffe was the top juco player in the nation. He was the player of the year in his conference, edging out WN (who was second) by only a vote or two. Ratliffe was rated a four star by Rivals.
WN was rated a three star out of prep school by rivals. He's played a year in juco and two years with Great Britain's U20 National Team since then. Safe to say he hasn't gotten worse. He's likely at least a 3 and maybe a 4. Though, once again, I'd expect him to remain not rated.

Hot Springs gets extension

Not sure this is big news because it has been rumored for several months. And it's even been seen on some message boards and in some of the media.
But The Sun Belt Conference has extended the contract for Hot Springs to host the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for two more years. The current contract was to end after the 2011 tournament. This means the Sun Belt will be coming to the Spa City for the 2012 and 2013 tournaments as well.

Day 2 Recap

Recap of Day 2 of the Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Media Days.

Update from Coach Shields

UALR Coach Steve Shields has updated his Website with some preseason information.

Day 1 recap

Here's a recap of Day 1 of the Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Media Days.

Story from today's DG


Women's Media Day

Just a couple of notes from UALR Coach Joe Foley's appearance at Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Media Days today.
On scheduling: "It was like pulling teeth. We're one game short and couldn't get a full schedule. We had SEC, ACC and Big 12 teams that we verbaled with that we'd play. But once we got through the conference tournament and NCAA, we couldnt get phone calls returned."
On who will take over Kim Sitzman's leadership: "I hope Asriel (Rolfe) and Nik (Butler) have seen what Kim did. They give us a chance to be a good basketball team."
Foley is 14 victories from 600: "It means I'm getting really old and been doing it too long. It would mean a lot with those three seniors because they've invested a lot in me and I've invested a lot in them. I'd feel very good about who I'm sharing it with."
Leader for Sitzmann's minutes (Sophomore Janette Merriex and freshman Karisma Tyson): "Thats the two that I think have the best shot of replacing Kim."
Asriel Rolfe is healthy this year: "There's no doubt you'll see more shooting out of Asriel. With her leg, it was good for her to just get through a game."
Chastity Reed is just now returning to practice after having to wear a protective boot for quite a while: "She takes challenges very well. She's always looking to improve herself, looking to see if she can do something better."

Foley was on for about 17 minutes, answering questions. BTH will have more from this interview throughout the next couple of weeks.

Twice on TV

The UALR women have two appearances scheduled on the Sun Belt Conference TV package this year.
The first comes Feb. 13 against Louisiana-Monroe at 5 p.m.
The second comes Feb. 20 against Middle Tennessee at 1 p.m.

UALR picked first, Reed preseason POY

More later on this. But just released is the Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Poll. UALR received all 12 first place votes for the West Division.Chastity Reed is the preseason player of the year and first team all conference. Asriel Rolfe and Shanika Butler were named second team all conference.
Read UALR's story by clicking here
You can also get a look at the new home uniforms on that link.
West Division
1. UALR 72 (12)
2. Denver 55
3. Arkansas State 45
4. North Texas 39
5. Louisiana-Monroe 21
6. Louisiana-Lafayette 20
East Division
1. Western Kentucky 71 (11)
2. Middle Tennessee 56 (1)
T3. Florida International 43
T3. South Alabama 43
5. Florida Atlantic 22
6. Troy 17

Preseason Player of the Year: Chastity Reed, UALR

Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference
First team
Chastity Reed, UALR
Kaetlyn Murdoch, Denver
Elisa Carey, Florida International
Arnika Brown, Western Kentucky
Amy McNear, Western Kentucky
Second team
Asriel Rolfe, UALR
Shanika Butler, UALR
Shay Scott, Arkansas State
Emily Queen, Middle Tennessee
Jasmine Godbolt, North Texas
Third team
Britteni Rice, Denver
Lyrell Barfield, Florida Atlantic
Mercedes Johnson, Louisiana-Lafayette
Anne Marie Lanning, Middle Tennessee
Donnette McNair, Troy

Appointment today

According to UALR Coach Steve Shields' Twitter account, junior guard Tramar Sutherland will see Dr. V today. No idea if he'll be cleared to resume full activity, but I'm told everything has gone to plan so far.

: D

Meet The Trojans Oct. 28

Click here.

SBC Women's Media Days schedule

Tuesday, October 19
9:00 a.m. - Preseason All-Sun Belt Women's Basketball Team and Preseason Poll Released
10:00 a.m. - Head Coach Joe Foley Web Conference
10:10 a.m. - Head Coach Brian Boyer Web Conference
10:20 a.m. - Head Coach Erik Johnson Web Conference
10:30 a.m. - Head Coach Errol Rogers Web Conference
10:40 a.m. - Head Coach Mona Martin Web Conference
10:50 a.m. - Head Coach Shanice Stephens Web Conference

Wednesday, October 20
10:00 a.m. - Head Coach Chancellor Dugan Web Conference
10:10 a.m. - Head Coach Cindy Russo Web Conference
10:20 a.m. - Head Coach Rick Insell Web Conference
10:30 a.m. - Head Coach Rick Pietri Web Conference
10:40 a.m. - Head Coach Michael Murphy Web Conference
10:50 a.m. - Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles Web Conference

This week

There are a few things that should happen this week.
1. Sun Belt Conference Women's Media Days are Tuesday and Wednesday. That means we'll have the preseason poll (UALR figures to be first) and the preseason player of the year (figures to be Chastity Reed). I can't remember if they do a preseason defensive player of the year. If they do, it figures to be Shanika Butler. Men's media days are next week.
2. Men's junior guard Tramar Sutherland is hoping to be medically cleared to return to practice sometime later this week.
3. Recruits have been taking official visits. It's possible there could be committment news this week. James White remains the only official men's commitment at this stage.
Other than that, no news is good news. For the most part, the only news coming out right now in college basketball is bad news.

Shields on NCAA Committee

Hearing UALR Coach Steve Shields has been selected to the Division I Men's Basketball Regional Advisory Committee. This group has a representative from every conference. They submit rankings of teams in their respective regionals for consideration for possible at-large selection. Rankings are submitted in January, once in February and once in March immediately before selection weekend.

First practice

Men's practice begins today

The UALR men’s basketball team begins final preparations for the 2010-2011 season when official practice begins at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. The Trojans have four weeks to prepare for the season opener Nov. 12 at Southern Methodist.
This season opens much the same as last season with question marks surrounding the roster. Like last year, there are some proven commodities and some unproven ones that will have to be effective to reverse last year’s fortunes.
No one will ever know how last season could have went if senior forward Mike Smith didn’t get injured in mid-December. But that Trojan team had fought through a tough nonconference schedule and showed signs of lift as it entered Sun Belt Conference play.
Without Smith’s presence in the locker room, at practice and on the court during games, the Trojans imploded and finished 8-22 overall and 4-14 in the Sun Belt Conference?
Even with Smith, it’s unclear how well that Trojan team would have done. They struggled to get defensive stops and were a terrible rebounding team. That was evident from the time they played their first closed scrimmage against Tennessee Tech and continued with an exhibition loss to Harding.
While some schools have continued to play two exhibition games to force their fans to buy the tickets as part of the season ticket package, most others have determined that it’s much more beneficial to play the closed scrimmages. :UALR will do this for the first time this season. And UALR has upped its competition in these scrimmages this year, playing Texas-Arlington and Stephen F. Austin. These are typically like-styled teams that should provide an early indication to the coaching staff about the Trojans’ ability to play tough defense and rebound.
The newcomers added to this year’s roster are the type of physical players Coach Steve Shields has won with in the past. And that toughness has been one of the most important aspects in Shields’ teams that have won Sun Belt Conference division championships in four of his seven seasons.
Newcomer D’Andre Williams is believed to be the pass first point guard the Trojans have been searching for since the departure of Brandon Patterson (and really Zack Graber). His ability to take over the point guard responsibilities could clear the way for senior guard Solomon Bozeman to move to the 2 guard position. Bozeman can still play some point and there could be some minutes here for freshman guard Daylon Guy if he proves he can handle the pressure and run the offense.
If Williams works out at point, Bozeman could see considerable minutes at the 2. Bozeman led the Trojans at 14.3 points per game last season and shot 33 percent from three-point range, a number that tailed off at the end of the season. Senior guard Matt Mouzy also returns after averaging nearly 10 points per game. He shot 39 percent from three-point range last season. Guy and freshman guard Reggie Sonnier could also figure into the mix at the 2.
Options were not always plentiful at this position last year with senior guard Alex Garcia-Mendoza forced to play some at forward. That shouldn’t be an issue this year. Garcia-Mendoza got better throughout his junior season and should be an impact player for the Trojans. Shields also wanted a lock-down defender that could play the 2 or 3 and believes he’s found one in junior Tramar Sutherland. He’ll have some catch-up to do as he’s not yet been medically cleared to play. That should happen sometime next week.
Junior forward Courtney Jackson showed improvement throughout last year, but struggled to stay on the court because of foul trouble. Jackson scored effectively when he could stay in the game. When he couldn’t UALR had to move smaller players into this role. Junior Eric Kibi should provide some insurance at this spot. Kibi is a slasher who will play defense and rebound, something missed last season. And with his ability to shoot, UALR could also play a bigger front line by moving junior Marlon Louzeiro to this spot.
Senior Derrick Bails finally became the player many Trojan fans had hoped for late last season. Will it continue? This is one of the big question marks going into the season. Bails has the size and skills to be an all-Sun Belt player. But he, like Jackson, needs to play without getting into foul trouble. There appear to be more options at the 5 this year. Senior Montrell Thornton, Louzeiro and freshman Gus Leeper will be in the mix for playing time.
What does it mean?
On paper it looks like a much-improved lineup and a lineup that features more of the type of players Shields has won with in the past. If it remains injury free, this is a team that has the ability to move to the upper half of the Sun Belt Conference again.

New Top 25

While I know most are hoping to see the UALR women in the AP or ESPN/USA Today Top 25s, I think it's a safe bet they'll end up in this poll.

Women's Mid-Major Top 25


Once again.
If you want this site to grow and have a chance to be successful, please do not copy and past BTH material on other Web sites.
Please post links to this site or to the Twitter account (if appropriate). Links drive traffic to the site which increases page views which could help make the site stick around in the future.

One more

Nearly forgot SpectacUALR is tonight. If you're thinking Christmas gifts for BTH, we've got a few suggestions. Have fun tonight.

A few notes

- This continues to be a recruiting period for the UALR basketball teams and visitors are scheduled this week. Those at tonight's SpectacUALR include guard Tyler Kalinoski of Olathe (Kan.) East HS. He's considered one of the top five players on the Kansas side of Kansas City.
KC Prep Hoops article
- And WN will make his official visit this weekend. Will has been injured of late and did not participate with Daytona State at last week's Southeastern Jamboree in Tallahassee, Fla. It's once again a possibility that he will sit out the 2010-2011 season as a redshirt and have three years to play in Division I. Stay tuned. Signing day is about four weeks away.
- UALR men start practice sometime Friday night. The women are continuing to practice (They started last week). Officially, practices are closed by the UALR Department of Athletics. You should call before trying to attend practice in order to avoid a wasted trip.
- Heard the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a new UALR beat writer. His name is Matthew Harris and he's a Mizzou graduate (You can't escape). He's also a former business department intern at the Democrat-Gazette. Judging by what he's written so far, it appears he'll have similar primary responsibilities to what Jeffrey Slatton had (golf and UALR).
- Also keep this in mind:
A reminder to those fans going to UALR events that they are not permitted to initiate contact with prospective student athletes making visits. These are NCAA rules and could potentially jeopardize a recruit's ability to attend UALR. Administration, coaches and current players will give these recruits all the information they need to know.

Take note

I doubt Saint Louis would have even released this much if they didn't have to. But this is a perfect example of why schools don't release information about student-athletes who are no longer students or in some cases athletes.

"Saint Louis University men's basketball players Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed are currently not enrolled at the University. Federal law — the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) — does not allow the University to release any additional information without the consent of the students involved."
In almost every case, the story about what really happened comes out in the media when the student-athlete speaks out about it. If they don't speak out, there generally isn't much of a story.
You can read the story this came from by clicking here

Two things

First. Notice the countdown clock to the start of the season has dropped below the 30 day mark. It will be here before we know it.
And second. Tonight's the big night for SpectacUALR. It was a really great event last year and UALR was able to raise a lot of money for athletics scholarships. I would expect tonight's event to be a little bigger and even a little better than last year.
That could be important with prospective Trojans visiting today and over the weekend.

Taco Time

This is pretty funny. Check out Coach Kleine making two free throws to get Chicago Bulls fans free tacos.

Baseball hosts OU on May 4

The UALR baseball team will play Oklahoma on May 4, 2011, at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. Last year the Trojans hosted Kansas there for what was a pretty well-attended game.
Here's a story about the schedule

Click here

Nuggets cut Shane Edwards

Shane Edwards
The Denver Nuggets released former UALR forward Shane Edwards today. Sounds like it may have been a contract-related issue, meaning that other players were already under contract. Edwards should get another shot in the NBA D-League this year with an opportunity to play there the entire season. I think he played well enough this summer with the Nuggets that he'll at least remain on their radar.

Story here

Cool stuff

If you've got some spare bucks sitting around at your house, Thursday's SpectacUALR might be a good place to unload them. They've got some really cool stuff up for auction
Auction Items

Waiting on rankings

Still waiting on the preseason women's basketball rankings to see if UALR finds a spot. I suspect UALR will get a number of votes but will likely fall just outside the top 25s to start the season. But I do think they should be in there somewhere.
UALR would have likely finished last season in the top 25, but they don't have a postseason poll. UALR was receving votes when the final poll was released during the Sun Belt Tournament.
Until then, check out this discussion on a national women's basketball message board. There's a lot of love for UALR on here.

RebKell's board

UALR women get started

The UALR women opened official practice today, a full week before the UALR men get started.
The NCAA has a new rule that allows the women's teams to start practice 40 days before their first game. The catch is that they are allowed to practice only 30 times, the same number as in previous years.
Why would the NCAA do this? Who knows. But some aren't taking advantage of it, including Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma. Then again, when your team has won a billion consecutive games and is the team to beat again this year, I guess you don't need any extra time.
Most others had at it on Thursday. The men will begin next Friday.

SpectacUALR is nearing

UALR Coach Steve Shields made an appearance on KTHV's THV This Morning on Wednesday and talked about some of the auction items that will be available at the 2010 SpectacUALR.
Click here

Reed named to top 30 Wooden watch list

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Senior Chastity Reed was named to the John R. Wooden Award Women’s Preseason Top 30 List announced today by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.  Reed is the first UALR women’s basketball player to be named to the list which is comprised of 30 student-athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for this prestigious honor.
The New Orleans, La.-native led the Trojans to the team’s first-ever NCAA appearance and win while averaging team highs of 24.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
The two-time first team All-Sun Belt Conference and 2010 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America honoree was named to the 2010-11 Preseason “Wade Watch” List.
Reed is the only student-athlete from the Sun Belt Conference named to the list.
The John R. Wooden Award was created in 1976 and is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball.  It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0.
Previous winners include Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (1984), Tim Duncan (1987), Candace Parker (2007 and 2008), and Maya Moore (2009).  Ohio State’s Evan Turner and Connecticut’s Tina Charles won the award in 2010.


It appears all of the UALR men's injuries are healing as official practice gets closer. Tramar Sutherland remains on schedule, which means he should be cleared a few days into practice.
Trojans are going to play two closed scrimmages instead of exhibition games this year. They'll play Stephen F. Austin in late October and Texas-Arlington in early November.


UALR men had a recruit visit last week.
WN is scheduled for an October visit. He was going to come during SpectacUALR, but the dates didn't work with his schedule. I believe they have another recruit visiting at that time.

Kleine honored

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame will honor UALR Assistant Coach Joe Kleine at a banquet on Nov. 18 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.

Hard Commitment

We're guessing a hard commitment is better than a soft verbal.
Anyway, here's a story about James White's commitment to UALR. He was recruited by Western Kentucky and some others. You have to be a subscriber to read the rest of the story.

WN ranks fourth

There's still about six weeks to signing day, but check out what S.I. has to say about Will Neighbour. They rank him the fourth-best, U.S.-based player at the U20 European Championships (both Division A and B).
Neighbour is scheduled to visit campus during the same time that SpectacUALR is going on. That should be a pretty good show.