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problems facing the program


bart
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Realistically, slu has really struggled maintaining any consisitency in the program - a good year or years is followed by a run of poor years. As the number of years without an NCAA appearance continues, I am bothered by several things that seem to indicate we are still some distance from having the type of program that can sustain any real level of consistency. In no order I wonder about:

1) When was the last time we filled ALL our available scholarships? Is our pool of real DI recruits so shallow that we leave them unfilled because of the lack of quality or are we "penny pinching at times?" To hear Brad say he would check with the players to see if they could find someone on campus that could help out by being available to practice is troubling.

2) "Sealing the deal" in recruiting is always tough. Announcing an arena years out when no one is able to say for months and months with total honesty when the arena will be open is a sign of real organizational (read athletic department)"challenges."

3) Even during Charlies "glory years" I will never forget an interview he did after Jeff Harris had a great game. The announcer said, "Charlie what would things be like if Jeff (who was our 6'4" power forward and a really good one) was 6'8"? Charlie immediately said , "if Jeff was 6'8" he would have never ended up at SLU he'd have ended up with Noloan Richardson." By the way, Charlie parked for free over a hunmphrey's because he ran into bureaucratic b.s. when he put in for free parking on campus.

4) We have needed a true DI power forward for sooooo long, I hope our coaching staff remembers what one looks and plays like.

The list of such issues over the years goes on and on - no one of them is in of itself a backbreaker for a program. Collectively, they have helped make the program what it is - an "up and down" program that has not been able to become a "top 50 program' as Father Larry indicated he wants.

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Holding schollies is a common practice by schools - I would much rather not sign a player who is not good enough to help and can only sit on the bench their 4 years and hope to get someone better next year. Doing without for 1 year rather than being stuck with someone for 4 makes more sense. I know some would say just take the schollie away if the kid does not pan out - and yes some schools do that - but if SLU started that then people would attact them for bein unfair and amoral. Brad has 3 schollies open to give this year - the spring and summer recruiting periods are coming up so you can not bang him for this until those periods have passed. Out of fairness you have to give him a chance to fill those. If he comes up empty handed then I will be standing right next to you asking what is going on.

The arena announcement was made by Biondi and when Woolard was here. Unfortunately for us, when the announcement was made, several things happened that was unexpected - 1. we hit a recession and when that happens giving drops 2. we thought we were going to build it in the Grand Center and then plans for getting the remaining land fell apart when owners tried to stick the school - not blaming them just pointing it out 3. The fund drive for the science bldg slowed for the reasons listed in #1 causing Biondi to say the science bldg comes first 4. Woolard was not the person to raise this kind of money - nice guy but not a hard driver 5. Levick is hired and she ramps everything up for the fund raising - not her fault the arena was prematurely announced 6. She has raised a good sum and increased interest in her 1.5 year tenure so things are back on track 7. Now I agree, I am getting a little antsy with this a big announcement is due any day now but I do understand that when you are raising money you are at the avarice of the those who have it.

Spoon's issues with Woolard were well documented - Woolard was a bean counter and not a leader. Besides, AD's like to pick their own coaches and Spoon was not his choice. That being said, Spoon was not good at playing the organizational game.

D1 athletes - good ones are hard to find, coaches have to be good at evaluating talent - Spoon and Romar were not given all the players that they turned down that went on to have good careers at other places - the list of these players has been talked about on the board much so no need to plow this field again.

I am not minimizing what you have pointed out but simply trying to give you a broader context as why we are here and how we can get and are getting out of it.

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I agree with Bart on the scholarship issue. It's not a bad idea to occasionally hold back a scholarship, but eventually the goal should be to fill the roster. Injuries happen, kids transfer, and players will redshirt - so use the scholarships. Nobody is advocating "wasting" scholarships. To tie it in with an earlier discussion about recruiting bigs, I would like to see us typically devote 6 scholarships to the 4/5 position. Of those 6 scholarships, one would be devoted to a freshman to redshirt, #5 on the depth chart would be a freshman who would play sparingly, but would provide depth in case of an injury to the top four bigs. The two starters would be upperclassman and the two back-ups at the 4-5 would be sophomores or juniors who would eventually move into starting roles. Considering we don't get bigs who contribute right away, player development is crucial. Most bigs take a while to develop. Ian is a perfect example. It wasn't until late in his sophomore season and really the beginning of his junior year that he has come into his own. And JJ is starting to develop. The problem at the 4 is not with JJ. The problem is that there is not enough competition for playing time at the position. With the exception of VN, who is really more of a 3, there is nobody to compete with JJ for playing time. That's a result of past recruiting failures.

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To say that Brad is holding back schollies on purpose is silly - he would love to give them out to qualifed kids who can help the program. But to just give them out to say you have filled them is not a good option. Spoon did that all the time and we got the likes of Sekue Barintine, and that kid from the Kan. Juco program - sorry his name escapes, along with the kid from West Virginia and the one from NY. While I understand that you can not continue holding schollies back indefinetly I do agree with holding them back when you can if you can not find suitable recruits. You may very well be homing in a several hot underclassmen who if you do not have a couple of schollies in your back pocket you would have to pass on some of them.

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i totally agree with cheeseman. i think it is idiotic to just fill spots on the roster with kids that would get beat at the intramural level. i will never forget the midnight madness under spoon when greg hardin walked on the floor. it was infuriating to think that we gave a roster spot to that guy. same with seke.

now if the argument is we just need to find the quality players that deservedly get a spot, well yes. of course. but if in coach soderberg's estimation the only takers are worth using the scholarship for because they conceivably wont add to the program in their prospective career, then i say bank it in case better come along in the way of a transfer or better the following year.

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I don't know who is advocating giving away scholarships. But only having 3 active bigs on the roster is not good enough. It shouldn't be that difficult to nab guys who are better than Greg Hardin. Not everybody is going to pan out, but that's all the more reason to devote 6 scholarships to bigs. The time to get it done is now (this spring). Now is not the time to be holding schollies again. We need to capitalize on the current crop of young guards. They will need to play alongside some good bigs down the road in order for this program to take the next step.

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I feel that the habit of holding scholarships is unwise. I can understand doing it now and then but to have more than one go unfilled or one unfilled nearly every year is unwise. One reason is that big men do develop slower than guards and therefore a big man on the HS level that doesn't seem to be much of a pick up could turn out well over time. Another reason is the ability to red-shirt players and have them learn the system. If we have a player injured and we have someone on the bench that has been in the system for about a year they should be able to come in and play adequate defense giving our starters a much needed break. You also need those players in practice.

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The only problem with taking a big guy who might not show the potential is that he might not every show it then you are stuck with him unless you can get him transfer. Who was that center from Ritnour that Spoon got that transfered to UMSL - perfect example. The other issue with saying just red shirt them is that if you start red shirted 2-3 players a year then you will be out of wack with having a good distribution of schollies available each year. I hear what you all are saying and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of this discussion. OK to sign a project now and then but not every year. OK to hold a schollie or two or three now and then particularily if you have a plan but not just to hold them every year.

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