UALR Athletics, UALR and the UALR Alumni Association have done a tremendous job supporting UALR in the NCAA’s Sixth Fan Contest. As of this morning, UALR ranks seventh nationally in votes. Imagine if everyone put this type of effort into promoting the actual product.
The contest works like this. You can vote for your school at http://6thfan.ncaa.com or by using Twitter and including #6thFan and #UALR in your Tweet. And UALR has loads of votes due to the constant promoting every day by Athletics, Alumni and school officials. That's been really great to see.
However, chances are that the majority of those people won’t be in attendance tonight as UALR hosts Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center. Why? Because all the majority of this promotion failed to mention the actual product, which is the basketball game. Until the last 24 hours, it also failed to mention that tonight is a #WhiteOut game for fans.
Marketing and promotion continues to be an area where UALR needs to improve. Having a White Out was a great idea. Making shirts only available to students wasn’t. Not making a huge traditional media push to promote the White Out to the community wasn’t. The problem is that when it’s not successful, it won’t get attempted again. That would be a mistake.
This is why I hate to criticize when UALR finally attempts to do something fun. UALR needs more fun. More fun equals more fans. And there isn’t enough off-the-court fun at UALR basketball games.
Congratulations to #UALR for the success early in the NCAA’s #6thFan contest. It’s quite an accomplishment. Now get all of these people to start showing up for games and we’ll really have something to be proud of.
Louisiana-Lafayette has a couple players to keep an eye on. Point guard Elfrid Payton averages 19.6 points and 5.8 rebounds and made noise this summer playing on the USA National Under 20 team. And 6-9 big man Shawn Long is averaging 20.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
“They are very talented with two of the premiere players in our league,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said. “Both are in the top five of the conference in scoring. Long leads the league in rebounding and blocks, and Payton leads the conference in assists and steals. Bryant Mbamalu is another outstanding player, and someone who has hurt us in the past.”
Mbamalu averages just 8.4 points per game this season but averaged 19.5 points in two games vs. UALR last season.
DAY TO PLAY
Louisiana-Lafayette is 0-3 in Thursday games this season. UALR is 4-0 in Thursday games.
We don’t officially know the status of UALR sophomore James White for tonight’s game. He’s missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain. We were told there was no structural damage and that he just had to rest. Louisiana-Lafayette will be without sophomore guard Kasey Shepherd, who is out for the season after tearing his meniscus on Saturday. Shepherd only played 16.9 minutes per game. But he was really good in those minutes, averaging 8.2 points and shooting a Sun Belt Conference best 55.3 percent from three-point range.
KING PRIAM’S KEYS
Bounce back: Will Neighbour hasn’t had many bad games in his career. But after one point last Saturday at Arkansas State, UALR needs him to bounce back in a big way tonight.
Paint patrol: Long is a beast inside. Expect Elridge Moore and J.J. Davenport to throw their weight around as well. UALR’s bigs have to fight them to a stalemate. This includes rebounds and points in the paint.
Win field goal percentage: Louisiana-Lafayette is 11-0 this season when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Ragin Cajuns are 1-4 when shooting a worse percentage.
Threes below 35: It didn’t work out on Saturday, but UALR has been succeptable to the three-point shot. Louisiana-Lafayette shoots 40.7 percent from three-point range in its victories and 30.6 percent from three-point range in its losses. UALR needs to keep ULL in the low 30s at best.
Free Josh: UALR sophomore guard Josh Hagins is due for a breakout game at home.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS?
It opened as a pick’em but now Louisiana-Lafayette has moved to a 2.5-point favorite in Las Vegas.