Bozeman wins top shooting guard; up next we find UALR's best 3 guard

Solomon Bozeman wins top shooting guard during the Coach Steve Shields era in a landslide victory. He joins our winner for top point guard D'Andre Williams.
Up next, we'll continue to kill time this offseason by looking at the best 3 guard (or off guard) in the Coach Steve Shields era at UALR. The candidates are:

Josh Jacobs - Solid defensive contributor during Shields' first two seasons at head coach. Didn't provide much offensive pop but did a lot of things to make that team successful.

Elijah Muldrow - Two nice seasons at UALR for Muldrow, who arrived after a run at a California juco. Muldrow could do a little bit of everything.

John Fowler - Simply put the best defensive player UALR has had during the era. Fowler could absolutely lock up an opponents' best player. He could also shoot it a little, nailing two huge shots to beat Denver in the Sun Belt Tournament.

Alex Garcia-Mendoza - Always gave everything he had on the court. El Fuerte was a definite fan favorite and intercepted the final pass as UALR upset North Texas in the Sun Belt Tournament championship game. He also hit a memorable half-court buzzer beater to beat ASU.

There are your candidates. Vote in the left column of this page. And when you're finished, sign up for an absolutely free account and discuss your choice with fellow Trojan fans by clicking HERE.

UALR hopes to be back at full strength by mid-October

Did some checking on UALR's offseason injury issues yesterday.
As UALR has started its limited team workouts, several returning players have been out of action. Those who have not participated fully have included: Will Neighbour, Gus Leeper, Ben Dillard, Michael Javes, Taggart Lockhart and Casey Wilmath.

All are at various levels and some are not unexpected. Some are more severe than others. For example, Will Neighbour still has not been fully released after offseason shoulder surgery. He's expected to be released to practice in the second or third week of October. Official practice begins Oct. 12.

The same can be said for the other walking wounded. We know injury situations can change by the day. But if they remain on their current schedules, Javes, Dillard, Leeper and Lockhart will all be cleared to return by the second or third week of October.

That means UALR likely won't be at full strength when practice begins on Oct. 12. But, knock on wood, the Trojans could be at full strength soon after that.

The negative is that UALR Coach Steve Shields is doing a lot of teaching during team workouts, but he hasn't had five returnees available to use as examples. The positive is that the many newcomers are getting a lot of reps in these workouts.

And the bigger positive is that it's only September. These injuries would be devestating in November.

Have an opinion? Discuss it HERE.

Corliss says UALR, UAPB to blame for in-state tourney not happening

Central Arkansas Coach Corliss Williamson says UALR and UAPB are to blame for the in-state Division I tournament not taking shape.

“You’ve got two teams who are willing to do it, now it’s up to everybody else. We’ll see if that something they want to do. Of course, us at Central Arkansas we would love that – to create those in-state rivalries. To bring all these different college communities together, I think you’d see some great basketball well as a good atmosphere.”

Read the  story by clicking HERE.

Arkansas State and UCA will play each other in Conway on Nov. 21. The teams met last season in Jonesboro.

Discuss it by clicking HERE.

Freshman guard Casey Wilmath to have surgery on foot

UALR redshirt freshman walk-on guard Casey Wilmath says via Twitter he will have surgery on his foot on Friday. Wilmath has had foot issues throughout the year.

We wish him the best of luck with his recovery.

SpectacUALR fund-rasing event set for Oct. 13

This comes from the folks at UALR. SpectacUALR is Oct. 11:

SpectacUALR is only sixteen days away! If you have not yet ordered your tickets, follow the link below to do so or call Andrea Angel at 569-3393. We have an amazing event planned for you again this year with ten live auction items and 150 silent auction items. Again this year we have a full bar provided by Glazer's and food provided by Caper's. Also in store is the wine pull with two winners taking home 50 bottles of wine each!
Let's make this the biggest SpectacUALR yet and come out and support UALR student-athletes and our honoree, Mr. Jack Kinnaman. Proceeds from SpectacUALR impact all fifteen sports at UALR and is the largest fundraiser on campus.

Hot Springs wants Sun Belt to stay, but will keep options open toward others


Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, made it clear Tuesday morning they want to keep the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournaments. But, if that doesn’t work out, they’ll be in the mix for other events.

Summit Arena in Hot Springs
Arrison made his comments during an appearance on KZNG-AM’s Talk of the Town with Dick Antoine.

“We’ve got two years remaining on our contract with the Sun Belt. They’ll be here the next two years for sure. We’re trying to convince them to stay here after that. It’s just a wait and see,” Arrison said.

Hot Springs will also bid again for the state high school basketball finals, which will be played this year at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock. Hot Springs also has interest in the Great American Conference, which features in-state schools Arkansas Tech, Harding, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist and Southern Arkansas. They also have interest in the Southland Conference, which features in-state Central Arkansas, along with out of state schools surrounding the state.

But it all starts with the Sun Belt Conference.

“Our agreement with the Sun Belt is that by May 1 of next year they’ll let us know if we’re going to renew the contract or not. The original contract was that they had to let us know by August 1st, but in our meetings in May they agreed to let us know by May 1st of next year,” Arrison said. “We’re looking at the Great American Conference, which might not even conflict. We could maybe do both. It just depends. That would be a fun event for us.  We’ve just got to play the waiting game to see date wise.”

The Great American Conference held its first postseason tournament last year in Bartlesville, Okla. They initially signed a two-year contract for 2012 and 2013, but have since added on 2014. After that, it goes up for yearly renewal with both the GAC and Bartlesville needing to approve it. That means the soonest Hot Springs could host the GAC would be 2015.

The GAC Tournament runs March 7-10 this year, while the Sun Belt Tournament runs March 8-11.

“We’re very interested in them. We’re very interested in the Southland Conference which UCA is a member of. Craig Drummond on our staff is bird dogging all of that, trying to figure out,” Arrison said. “We’ve just sort of got to see how it all lays out, which bid comes up first. Some of them are different, some are the same dates. If we don’t get one, we might have the opportunity to get another. It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Next year will be a big year for us in seeing what we’re going to have, at least when it comes to sporting events, for the next four years.”

The Sun Belt has held its tournament in Hot Springs the past four years. Recently, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson has been openly flirting with other cities, including New Orleans and Gwinnett, Ga.

Have an opinion. Discuss this story by CLICKING HERE.

Burn The Horse message board a new place to discuss UALR basketball

We're trying something new at Burn The Horse.
We've left the discussion part of UALR athletics to Trojan Town in the past. But starting today we're making the jump into our own discussion board on Burn The Horse.

You can find it at

Through the years I've noticed a lot of people come and go from the UALR message board. While the same 10-12 posters remain the same, there always seems to be a lot of occasional activity. Some folks will post a couple of times and go away. Others will have a run in with someone and go away. Others are probably turned off by the non-UALR and personal discussions that take place. They also go away.

We want you back. All of you. Register for a ProBoards account and give us your opinion on UALR basketball and Burn The Horse. Jeffrey Slatton will interact with posters and give his exclusive opinions on the Burn The Horse Board.

We also see via Burn The Horse pageviews that the number of hits to our site doesn't necessarily correlate between a link on a message board. Sometimes it does, other times it doesn't. If you're just lurking, we want you to post. We need more passionate, opinionated folks.

We'll try to promote this over the next couple of months to see if it's worth the effort. We won't be offended if you continue to post at Trojan Town. Any discussion of UALR basketball is better than no discussion. We'd just like to see you give it a try over here as well.

What we can promise is that our basketball board will be strictly about UALR basketball. Any non-UALR basketball posts will be removed.

There's also a mobile app for ProBoards. And it works pretty well.

Thanks everyone for your support.

Who is the best shooting guard in the Steve Shields era at UALR?

We've found our top point guard. Now we look at shooting guards.
This has been a problematic area at times throughout the years. But there are some solid candidates.

Brandon Freeman - Took over the majority of playing time after Nick Zachery left the team during Coach Steve Shields' first season. And Freeman, who has been a mainstay as a pro in Belgium, had a nice career.

Terrance Akins - Junior college transfer who was a lights out shooter. Probably didn't ultimately meet the high expectations placed on him. UALR was dissapointing both of his seasons on campus.

Steven Moore - He was also on the point guard ballot. Moore wanted to be a point guard but seemed better suited to play the 2 guard position. He hit a couple of clutch game winners at Minnesota and Troy.

Solomon Bozeman - Again, he was on the point guard ballot. But he was at his best when D'Andre Williams ran the point and he was able to work from the 2 position. He hit one of the biggest shots in UALR history, beating North Texas at the buzzer to send UALR to the NCAA Tournament. He was also first team all-Sun Belt Conference and the league's player of the year.

Matt Mouzy - Overachieved as a walk-on and hit tons of big shots at UALR. No shot in his career was bigger than a late three-pointer against North Texas in the Sun Belt Tournament championship game.

Vote early. Vote often. But only once per day. We'll run the poll all week. After you vote, discuss who you voted for here:

Congrats to D'Andre Williams for winning BTH poll

Congrats to D'Andre Williams for being named best point guard in the Steve Shields era at UALR. He narrowly edged out Zack Graber to win the voting.

Williams helped lead UALR to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. He followed that up by being first team all-Sun Belt Conference as a senior, leading UALR to a West Division championship.

Thanks to all who voted.

Hot Springs takes wait and see approach to Sun Belt Tournament

In a story in today's Sentinel-Record, Visit Hot Springs says they're taking a wait and see approach to the future of the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournaments.

The story reacted to news that the Sun Belt Conference was openly courting other cities to host. The most interesting part was this quote from Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs: "If their qualifications are that we have to host the football, and the conference office, and basketball, we can't do that. We don't have the facilities to do that."

This is the first we've heard that the Sun Belt wants to have all three, the football championship game, postseason basketball tournament and the conference office all in the same location. The Sun Belt would be eligible for a football championship game next season. Hot Springs does not have a suitable football stadium. It might also be the end of the Sun Belt Conference's offices long-time stay in New Orleans. (Update: We forgot about the UNT and FIU departure. That leaves the SBC two short for a championship game next year. And it makes its inclusion in this even more strange).

Hot Springs has a contract to host the basketball tournament in 2013 and 2014. The Sun Belt says it will reach a decision about the future of the tournament by May 1, 2013.

The story also says Hot Springs might look toward the Division II Great American Conference if the Sun Belt goes elsewhere. It doesn't mention the Division I Southland Conference, but that would also seem to be a fit. Hot Springs has spent a lot of money attracting the Sun Belt Conference. No doubt they'll use that money to attract another tournament if the Sun Belt goes away.

iPhone users need to download the UALR app

Users of Apple's iPhone need to download the UALR app, which was released today.

It's got a lot of great campus information, including news, maps, trolley schedules, images and videos. But the best part for sports fans is the Athletics tab. You can get the latest news, schedules and other information right from the app.

Props to everyone involved in getting this done.

Get more information and download it at this link:

Who is the best UALR point guard in the Coach Steve Shields era? Cast your vote

Who is the best UALR point guard in the Coach Steve Shields era at UALR? That's the newest Burn The Horse Vote poll question in the left column of this page.

The candidates are:
  • Zack Graber - Two-year starter at point guard. He wasn't flashy but did a lot to make his teammates better. He also hit some big shots, including an East Division title clincher.
  • Steven Moore - He was really the polar opposite of Graber in a lot of ways. But Moore could take over games at times. He also hit a couple of big finishers to win road games against Troy and Minnesota.
  • Brandon Patterson - Patterson had so much promise when he transferred to UALR from Ole Miss. He played with a shoulder injury much of his time in Little Rock. He was a solid defender and distributor of the basketball.
  • Solomon Bozeman - He probably fits more into the shooting guard spot where he hit one of the biggest shots in UALR history. But he had the ball in his hands so often it's difficult to leave him off this list. And he was at the point much more in the first of his two UALR seasons.
  • D'Andre Williams - He had a slow start to his UALR career but blossomed into a solid scorer, distributor, rebounder and leader. At times during his senior year, Williams put a less talented team on his back and carried them.
You can vote once per day. And be sure to leave comments using your Facebook account. Click on the headline of the story and the Facebook comment box will appear at the bottom of the story. This feature works best in Chrome or Firefox.

Next week we'll look at shooting guards.

Is the Sun Belt now courting Gwinnett for basketball tournament?

Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson seems determined to move the Sun Belt Basketball Tournaments away from Hot Springs.

He's openly talked about New Orleans in recent months. Now he's touring the Atlanta area in this story:

Gwinnett would seem to have the exact same issue most complain about with Hot Springs. It's not at all centrally located to anyone (except a school that isn't even in the conference yet).

Previous commissioner Wright Waters fought bringing the tournament to Hot Springs initially. He sided with Huntsville, Ala. But Hot Springs wowed Sun Belt Presidents with an amazing bid and stole the tournament at the last minute. I remember being on a flight to Mobile, Ala., when the vote was taken and my shock, upon landing, that Hot Springs won.

Hot Springs also upped their stock when the Sun Belt came back and asked for more, including a second court. Hot Springs made it happen.

While Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky fans openly blast Hot Springs on message boards, they still show up in good numbers here. The same can be said here for UALR, Arkansas State and North Texas fans. I guess it could be reversed in Gwinnett with Troy, South Alabama and Georgia State fans subbing out for UALR, ASU and UNT.

Perhaps the Sun Belt should rotate between the two sites. Play one year in Hot Springs, one year in Gwinnett. That won't satisfy everyone. But it could be a comprimise.

But be careful what you wish for. Hot Springs has put together a pretty nice four-year run as host. It has solved many of the problems faced in recent years by the rotating of the tournament between campus sites. Overall, it's bee pretty successful.

This seems like a big year for Hot Springs. And they should get an attendance spike based on the dates. Instead of playing Saturday through Tuesday, the Sun Belt Tournament is moving to Friday through Monday this year. That should keep more fans around for the weekend.

Obviously, we have a stake in keeping the tournament in Hot Springs. We'll make no attempt to hide our bias. Benson might find a better city or even a nicer arena than Hot Springs. But it's unlikely any city is going to give the Sun Belt as many amenities as Hot Springs does.

Still, we have no expectations that the tournament will be Hot Springs after the contract runs out in 2014. It doesn't seem like the Sun Belt is willing to commit again.

UALR's inexperienced point guards have more to work with this time around


Unless something changes, UALR will either start a freshman or a walk-on at point guard the entire 2012-2013 season.

Josh Hagins (left) and John Gillon (right) are
among those competing for minutes at the
point guard position.
All the apparent candidates for that position are either freshmen (Josh Hagins and John Gillon) or walk-ons (Ted Crass and Casey Wilmath (redshirt freshman)).  Typically, that’s a recipe for disaster. It remains to be seen whether or not this season can buck that trend.

I was trying to find something comparable in Steve Shields’ time at UALR. About the closest thing I could come up with was the 2006-2007 season. That season UALR started sophomore Buddy Harding and freshman Steven Moore at point guard all season. And it ultimately didn’t work out. UALR finished 13-17 overall, 8-10 in the Sun Belt Conference.

Moore and Harding were very different types of point guards who brought very different games to the court. When Moore was in the game, UALR scored more. But the Trojans also gave up more points. The opposite was true for Harding. UALR scored less with him in the game but gave up fewer points.

In fact, this was the first time I really started looking into plus/minus ratings. Of course, these plus/minus ratings are now a Burn The Horse staple. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but Harding’s plus/minus was a little better than Moore’s.

So how does any of this relate to this season?

It is likely point guard duties are going to primarily fall to one of the two freshmen. Both were highly touted point guards in high school. And both will have to make adjustments to play at UALR. I’d also say both were rated higher out of high school than Moore or Harding.

But here’s the biggest difference: Supporting cast. 

The Moore/Harding supporting cast was Terrance Akins, D’Andre Eggins, Byron Ray and Rashad Jones-Jennings. Who of those would you take over Ben Dillard, Taggart Lockhart, Will Neighbour and Michael Javes/Gus Leeper? Maybe Jones-Jennings for his rebounding?  And that doesn't even include the new players added to the roster.

Taking that into consideration, it's clear the inexperienced point guards have a lot more to work with this time around. We’ll have to wait to see if they take advantage of it.

Former Trojan Eric Lawton lands at Abilene Christian

Former UALR Trojan Eric Lawton has landed at Abiline Christian and will play for former UALR assistant Coach Joe Golding.

Lawton played just one season at UALR and served primarily as the backup point guard to D'Andre Williams last season. As Williams played better and better, Lawton's minutes became less and less. He ended up playing only sporadically down the stretch.

Lawton is the second Trojan to land at ACU, which is in the process of moving to NCAA Division I and the Southland Conference. Eric Kibi transferred there before last season and played in 20 of 28 games.

Also of note is that former UALR guard John Fowler, who was the Sun Belt Conference's defensive player of the year his senior year, is working as a student-assistant on Golding's staff this fall.

Little Rock natives highlight roster for UALR's opener vs. Tennessee-Martin


When Tennessee-Martin travels to UALR to open the 2012-2013 basketball season on Nov. 9, the Skyhawks will bring some local flavor with them. Little Rock natives senior Jeremy Washington and sophomore Myles Taylor will be a big part of the Skyhawks game plan this year.

Myles Taylor
Washington, 6-7, 230 pounds, played on Little Rock Hall’s 2008 state championship team. He averaged 9.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, shooting 49 percent  from the field.

Taylor, 6-7, 250 pounds, was the Ohio Valley Conference freshman of the year last season after averaging 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds last season. He’s another Little Rock Hall product and played in four consecutive state championship games. One came while as a freshman at Lonoke and the other three were at Hall.

Overall, it wasn’t a very good season last year for the Skyhawks. They went 4-27 overall and 0-16 in the Ohio Valley Conference. That included a 63-45 loss to Arkansas State and a 75-68 loss to Central Arkansas. But it also included a very nice victory with the Skyhawks going on the road to defeat Alabama-Birmingham. That was their only victory over a Division I program last season.

The Skyhawks went 12-21 and 4-25 the previous two years. But in 2008-2009, Tennessee-Martin went 22-10 and played in the postseason NIT.

Neighbour's recovery much quicker this time thanks to work of UALR staff


Shoulder surgery is nothing new for UALR junior forward Will Neighbour. The speed at which he's recovering definitely is.

Neighbour, who had surgery on his right shoulder in the spring, had a similar surgery on his left shoulder about 18 months earlier. Knowing what he went through the first time has helped with his recovery the second time. And being at UALR with Athletic Trainer Michael Switlik and strength and conditioning Coach John Barron hasn’t hurt either.

 “Obviously, Coach Barron is a great weight coach. We’re even putting weight on me right now. And Swit, he’s awesome too. We’re doing range of motion every day and certain exercises the doctor wants us to do. I think just having the people around me is helping me get better faster.”

Neighbour was just hitting his stride when he got hurt last year. He just came off 19 points vs. Illinois State, 19 points against North Texas and 17 against Denver in the game in which he was injured.

He immediately knew he had a problem. He had injured the other shoulder before his sophomore year at Daytona State College. Knowing what the surgery and recovery consisted of, he put it off and played in great pain the rest of the year. Some nights the pain was too great. Other times, he fought through it and was the best player on the court. One such night came in a nationally televised game at Middle Tennessee, when he scored a career high 22 points.

He passed up an opportunity to try out for the Great Britain Olympic team this summer. That enabled him to have the surgery and begin rehab. He’s on track to be ready when UALR opens the season Nov. 9 vs. Tennessee-Martin.

“Last surgery it took all year. But I really think it’s the people around me now. I’ve been recovering much faster,” Neighbour said.

And that’s welcome news for UALR fans.

Inexperienced UALR appears to have more pluses than minuses

Even as inexperienced as UALR appears to be this year (12 players who are either sophomores or freshmen), the roster looks to have improved as a whole over last year’s team, which finished atop the Sun Belt’s West Division with a 12-4 league mark.

Ben Dillard

While the Trojans face massive inexperience at the point guard, they should be at least equal at the shooting guard. The three other spots appear to be pluses as we head into fall practice.

Let’s take a look.

Point guard

Minus. It will take a pretty special effort from a freshman if UALR is to improve at point guard from last year. That’s not to say that any of the freshmen point guards (Josh Hagins, John Gillon, Casey Wilmath) or even senior Ted Crass can’t step in and have a nice season. But it will be difficult to replace what D’Andre Williams brought to that position last year. Williams had some iffy moments, but he largely carried the Trojans on his back. One plus here is whoever ends up being the backup. Eric Lawton served in that role a year ago. Lawton, who wasn’t really a point guard, never really clicked at the position. He’s since transferred. This year’s backup should provide more depth than UALR had a year ago. Based on potential, the sky’s the limit for this group. Based on experience, this is a minus going into practice.

Shooting guard

Equal. From an experience standpoint, this position is probably a minus when you subtract Chuck Guy, who transferred to DII over the summer. It was pretty much Guy and Ben Dillard at this spot a year ago. Guy was erratic most of the season. When he was good, he was really good. When he struggled, he really struggled. Dillard got off to a slow start after missing the summer after surgery. He had a nice freshman year, but didn’t provide the spark to consistently ignite the Trojan offense. He’ll need to this year. He’s stronger this and brings an air of confidence and leadership we didn’t see much of last year. One area where UALR is sure to be a plus this year is guard depth, albeit inexperienced depth. Freshmen Kemy Osse, Mareik Isom and Stetson Billings will battle for time here. Based on experience, this is a minus. Based on depth and potential, this is a plus. We’ll call it equal.

Off guard/small forward

Plus. This might be the most competitive spot on the roster going into camp. Last year, Will Neighbour started down the stretch in this spot. That was made possible because Courtney Jackson started at the 4 and could guard Neighbour’s matchup on the defensive end. That might be the case again this year. But it won’t be because there isn’t another option. Taggart Lockhart had a nice freshman year and is now healthy. He’s put in a lot of time on his game and could be much improved at this spot. Billings and/or Isom could also figure in at this spot with their height. But a bigger impact at this spot might come from junior college transfer Leroy Isler.  The depth he provides at this spot probably enables UALR to move Neighbour to the four spot. Then again, Isler could be used similarly to Jackson with his ability to guard a faster player. All of this doesn’t even include redshirt freshman James White, who by all accounts has made tremendous strides since last year. White came in as a four but has the skills to play the three and will absolutely be in the mix for playing time. This position is at least an equal and leaning heavily toward the plus side.

Power forward

Plus. Courtney Jackson was a nice player at the four last season. His ability to drive to the basket to score, along with improved free throw shooting, made him tough for opponents to deal with. But Jackson couldn’t stretch the defense with his outside shot. UALR has several players this year who potentially could do that. It starts with Neighbour, who figures to get a lot of his time here because of the logjam happening at the three spot. Neighbour’s shoulder is healthy (or will be by November) and he’s been able to add some strength over the summer. White and Isler should also figure in here and walk-on Mike Evans will provide additional depth if needed. The wildcard here comes in Gus Leeper. He was more than solid during the 2011 run to the Sun Belt Tournament championship and provides a little outside shooting to go with an inside game. Jackson’s departure hurts, but if Neighbour’s healthy it’s an absolute plus.


Plus. UALR loses Marlon Louzeiro, who struggled to get consistent minutes last year. Michael Javes and Neighbour played most of the minutes here. Javes  showed some flashes of greatness as a freshman. He’s stronger this year and should have a better concept of what the coaching staff wants from him. UALR also has more options this year. In addition to Neighbour, Leeper also returns with added strength. And freshman Andrew Poulter could add some depth here if he doesn’t redshirt. This position is an a no-brainer equal but likely moves to the plus if Leeper plays the way he did in the 2011 Sun Belt Tournament.