Ark. v. FAMU Running Diary

Posted by JCK | 11:51 AM | 0 comments »

Coming into the basketball game the sky seems gray and low and layered. The air is cold and I am walking behind a youngish man with hypertrophied arms, bare and goose pimpled - overexposed in a too small short sleeve golf shirt. He is tightly gripping the upper arm of his much taller and semi-unhappy girlfriend like he is ushering a drunk out of a bar or a child away from a fight.

In front of me is an 8 year old boy in a black Arkansas jersey and a cut up basketball fitted over his head with facial features glued on that look weirdly like sponge-bob.

The sports fields are brown and smooth and dormant and sparse flocks of small blackbirds dart overhead and I start thinking of old weather rhymes about “birds flying low . . . ”. Maybe it isn’t going to snow but it has that FEEL. It feels like winter, like the holidays, like football is done and it is time to focus on basketball season. I think I have a semi-chub.

My beloved hoop Hogs are up against the something or others from Florida A&M. A squad that, based on their unis, appears to fancy themselves a kind of Miami – lite. Orange with green trim. Is their a dude somewhere in the state of Florida constantly pushing for teams to wear these colors? I kinda get the green, what with all the trees and wetlands they pave over in that state every day, but ORANGE? They look like sherbet.

Right here today I am proposing that the state of florida get behind a new set of state sports colors. I am suggesting Gray and Yellow. The gray can represent concrete and highways and prisons and the hair of retirees. The yellow can be the sun and heat and the smell of urine that permeates Disneyworld on a 95 degree summer day.

Bud Walton is half full and there are few students. This is disappointing but it is a holiday weekend against a poor opponent and the Hogs are as yet a team that hasn’t caught the imagination of the public. I don’t see McDonald or Henry warming up. Criminy. Maybe we can join a 6’4” and under league.

Hog starters remain the same and it appears this won’t change in the foreseeable future. Clarke, Fortson, Welsh on the perimeter and Washington and Sanchez inside. Headbands regrettably remain in place on Stef and Mike Washington. Rotnei has a black lycra sleeve on his left (non – shooting) elbow and Stef has one on his right (shooting) elbow. Do they sell these in pairs? Did Stef and RC pool their cash to get one set? These questions will have to wait for the press conference.

FAMU appears to be pretty typical for early season fodder type clubs. They have the look of a very good juco team. Slightly short center with some skills hampered by an eating disorder. Teeny tiny point guard who actually isn’t a point guard but more of a 2. And you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a swingman.

Let’s play ball

Stef makes an early drive and gets blocked. His penetration has improved and he draws body ontact well but he isn’t a natural finisher yet. He is as confident with the ball as I have seen him.

Washington with a nice run out. He can really cover the whole floor quickly.

Looks like FAMU will use multiple defenses. Zone traps and some man. RC has a giy chasing him around that looks like he could slide right into the cast of “Little People, Big World”.

FAMU wants to run and shoot early in the clock. It will be interesting to see how we respond if McDonald and Henry are out as it appears.


This might be a good time to mention that I am at the game alone. This happens from time to time. I go to movies alone too. Is it possible I am not well liked?

In this case the reason is the holiday. The whole clan is in Boston with my sister and her midgets. I was there for 2 days also but as I have a job I had to catch a flight home at 5am Friday morning. When I arrived in Boston late Tuesday my sister told me that she had a chance to get 7 really good tickets to the Celtics game Friday night. But they were expensive – like $200 a pop. She was wondering if maybe I could treat.

I told her that I wasn’t going to be there Friday night. She hesitated for about a half second then said “Well then you’d only have to pay for 6.”

I paid and they emailed pictures of their smiling faces from the game. I love family.

Brandon Moore is in early. Nice to see that he is gonna get some run, even if it is out of pure necessity. I have no idea if he can play but he LOOKS like a ball player and in the end isn’t that what really matters.

Hogs played really good man to man on that trip. I’m wondering if they have different calls for different levels of pressure on their man defense because about 1 out of every 3 trips we look like a really tough defensive team. Welsh and Fortson can become a FORMIDABLE perimeter defensive pair. But then we lapse and allow easy penetration and open jumpers. Young team.

Courtney with a nice 3. When he just catches, elevates and shoots he looks really, really good. He seems to have a little hitch just before his release when he is being more casual and loses his touch. It is obvious he has worked hard on the shot and it is paying off.

Andre Clark in.

Sanchez with a full blown double post move after catching it on the block. Didn’t finish but got fouled. That was good to see. He needs to start thinking like he owns the block on offense.


It appears Sanchez has indeed gotten a haircut but impossibly it looks WORSE. Gracious!

RC transition layup after his man scored – nice recovery. Courtney with another 3. Dangerous! Kareem Reid comparison retracted fully.

Another defensive lapse. Those are just killers but I think they will become fewer and fewer. Dribble pop for Stef, very controlled.

HEY! We’re TRAPPING. We’re actually TRAPPING. Be still my heart.

RC misses a good look.


Stef needs to dish quick after beating his man off the dribble.

Nice run here. RC 3. Andre Clark with a little bank shot.


The people in the courtside folding chairs get little bitty bottles of soda brought to them free. I feel like such a loser.

Nice dish Fortson to Britt.

Free Throw shooting is still not what it should be.

Sanchez needs to EXPLODE up to the hole when he gets the ball under the basket. He is doing a good job getting boards and establishing position and drawing fouls but he isn’t getting anywhere near finishing. He needs to get where he is dunking those while being fouled. He is playing very hard.

Moore runs the floor and gets fouled. He looked like a baller there.

Our press is chasing from behind. Getting steals and touches with the backflow as they say. I LOVE it. Britt, Welsh, RC, Fortson. All have done a nice job the last couple possessions.


First some notes and some questions.

Played with good pressure at times both half-court and full. Inconsistent but that is ok for now.

Where was Washington after the first minute? Mostly ineffective. Is his back still hurt?

Where is McDonald?

Stephen Cox played about 3 solid minutes and he doesn’t look out of place. Where does he rate in the pantheon of walkons? Below Scott Rose and Ernie Murray obviously but who else makes the walkon starting five. Jimmy Dykes? Eugene Nash? Suggestions please.

Sanchez is visibly tired at times. He needs help.

If I am alone in my house and watch an episode of “The Ghost Whisperer” from beginning to end, does that make me gay? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

Finally – Tom Cruise is PHENOMENAL in Tropic Thunder. I laughed out loud. I take back all the horrble things I have been saying about him since “Days of Thunder”.

Halftime entertainment includes the contest between students dribbling for layup and then hustling to sit down in a chair. Sort of hoop musical chairs. There is one blonde contestant with white teeth and white Uggs that is kinda cute. She is basking in the glow of her celebrity. She gets knocked out in 3rd place and waves to an appreciative crowd.


Moore starts the 2nd half – I’m worried about Washington’s back. Moore layup.

Moore shoots a 3 after standing there thinking about it for 5 minutes and squaring up 4 different times. He misses. It appears decision making may be one of the things that has been keeping him on the bench.

Washington is in. We have 3 straight turnovers.

Make it 4. Welsh with a charge. Ugh.


Just want to point out a little quibble with the Bud Walton changes. Many of the seats now have cup holders. But the large sodas sold at the concession stand – the plastic cups – don’t fit in the holders. I’m just sayin’.

We look dead legged to open the 2nd half.

The dance squad has TWO brunettes today. Not sure if they brought in a back-up or if someone got a dye job. I’ll look into it and report back.

Sanchez has 3 fouls. Stef with a driving layup.

FAMU is starting to groove. 2 straight 3’s to take the lead. My prostate is irritated.

Courtney misses a 3 that looks kinda bad.

Washington misses a pair of tosses. Stef fighting hard on the boards. He is a surprisingly good rebounding guard at both ends.

Courtney has 3 fouls. Then he converts a BIG layup.

Washington with a follow layup and he is fouled. He is playing hard and it is obvious he is hurting.


It’s time to impose our will on these little fellas, but our lack of depth is a serious problem.

Washington misses a FT but we get the board and he gets fouled again and makes both. He is living at the line.

Britt with a drive, draw and dish to MW. Very nice.

I haven’t mentioned Britt but he is playing well. Maybe his best game. Controlled. Good defense (mostly). Rebounding. Passing. God awful looking shot though.

Washington can’t even bend over to get a ball at his feet.

Britt runs the floor for a hoop and a foul.

Do teams travel with bimbos? FAMU has a couple of classic C+ grade bimbi behind the bench and I have noticed this is true of many teams. If teams DO travel with babes I think this would be something I would heavily promote in recruiting as it would be much cheaper than a practice facility.

MW to a cutting Britt. Great interior passing. Amazing how a little ball movement and court vision can get things going.

We’ve had like 33 free throws and they’ve had maybe 7. It’s good to be the king.

Britt MAKES a 3. Goodness!


There is a skinny, youngish dark haired guy in the courtside chairs with tinted eyeglasses, gel-spiked hair, small, pointy goatee and an oversized sportscoat that looks like a cartoon villain or maybe the guy in an action movie that stays behind and works magic on the computer while making amusing wisecracks.

Britt rebounds an RC miss. Courtney with a 3. Things rolling now.

Big time OOP to Andre Clark for a lefty jam. Wow.

Lefty layup from RC.

Andre is rebounding fairly well and he has a nice stroke at the line. He has 7 points.

Our defense is doing a better job of talking to each other.

Andre Clark walks like he has a groin rash that is chafing or perhaps some large and uncomfortable hemorrhoids.

Clark gets a couple nice boards despite the chafing.


Drive, draw and dish – Britt to Moore for a layup. Moore has 7.

Welsh is passing up shots so they can work on the young guys (Moore and Clark) trying to work in the post.


It is still winter as I leave the game, maybe even a little more winter than before. A couple of 4 year olds are throwing a nerf football to each other and dropping every single pass. Every one. They will be sitting in courtside seats with goatees and sipping little sodas some day. Perhaps one will add a beret.

I’m walking a bit like Andre Clark due to my inflamed prostate making me feel as if I have been sodomized by a red hot fireplace poker but I’m a baller so a play through it. It’s all good anyway. I have no idea what to think of this team. They are inconsistent and soft but young and improving and full of potential. That is the beauty of early winter. It is full of hope.