The Role of Assistant Coaches

Does anyone know how difficult it is to coach college level athletes?
The reason I ask is I wonder if the lack of advancement we saw in the pitching staff this year and the lack of adjustment we saw in some of the hitters, even the productive ones, reflects on the coaches or the players?
To everyone that I respect on the subject coaches Hobbs and Thompson are two of the very best in the business. DVH loves them and hopes they stay forever. I believe every word of that.
Yet in this past season I would say that only Kopps, Wicklander and to a lesser degree Tole, actually developed into consistently reliable pitchers. Everyone else you had no idea what to expect from them when they entered the game. Control was ever the issue.
You could tell this was true by the way Kopps was used. There was no one else that DVH truly trusted to throw out there if he had the choice. That is a very low level of development.
So based on this is it the players that are just not finding it despite the best coaching available? And you cannot say they were not given a chance to prove themselves because they certainly were.
Kudos to Hobbs and DVH for juggling this box full of nitro of a pitching staff and turning it into a 50 win season. There are not many that could have done that.
On the hitting side Franklin and Slavens had holes in their swings that teams really started to figure out late in the season. Analysts were breaking down Franklin’s swing in easy to understand terms and agreed that a couple of simple adjustments could turn it around. Yet it did not happen.
By season’s end everyone seemed to know that Slavens would chase any high fastball and miss.
I have to believe Thompson worked and worked with them, but at the plate they did the same things and were strikeouts waiting to happen and it cost them at the end.
This is not meant to be spitting on a great season that I watched nearly every out of. That is the beauty of ESPN+ and retirement. It is just curiosity on my part. I like to analyze.
DVH and his coaches, based on all of the above, did an absolutely amazing job of juggling this team into the powerhouse it was all season. But the fact is the things listed above, combined with the injury to Pallette late in the season, I believe led to the NCS defeat. NCS and Nebraska both had more starting pitching than we did and NCS had those TWO lefties in the bullpen where all we had was Kopps, who was almost enough if the batters had hit.
So the ultimate question here is how hard are college level athletes to coach and develop?

I think every case is different. I also think the competition is highest in post season. And pressure increases.

As for Slavens, he hit the high fast ball some before his injury and timing was off when he came back.

Franklin was terrific in stretches, before slipping into some mechanical issues trying for power. Nate did show him the fixes involved and they were practiced. Did not transfer to the game.

I don’t see the same thing pitching wise. I thought Connor improved at the end. Bolden was improving until being injured.

Starks seemed to develop, too.

Pitching was interesting in that they all basically had a year without coaching and competition. Because of Covid, coaches could not see players. They worked on their own away from UA facilities.

I’ve written this several times. This has Ben a strange 15 months. Some get it. Some don’t.

Curious- How do coaches think about pulling regular position players (especially in the post season) vs pitchers. When a pitcher is off -their is generally zero hesitation to pull them. (Like a QB who throws two picks in a row or running back who fumbles twice or a receiver who drops two passes in a row). But When a position player goes on a strikeout binge for 25-30 at bats, they just stay in. (1) How long does a slump have to go on before the starter gets pulled? I believe DVH alluded to leaving the regular starters in because if you pull them due to a slump - the team may think you are panicking. (2) Is that the same rule in the majors?

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The development of the pitchers took a hit last season and this season by having mid week games cancelled. Starks, Tole, Wiggins and Ramage could have all gotten more time on the mound. The live game action for pitcher to perform is where the rubber meets the road.
Injuries to Noland, Vermilion and Pallette changed the course of the season and greatly affected the way DVH could use his bullpen down the stretch in post season play. It’s a miracle the Hogs made it as far as they did with the hits the starting pitching took!
At the plate when all was needed was a ball put in play or a sac fly many times.
Too many K’s is a product of the hogs leading the nation in homer’s last season. The team went into a slump at the wrong time and got beat. The first game of the NCState series would have been better for our gigs if it would have been close. Then they would have used the bullpen arms they rested.

Considering what has transpired last season thru the start of this season. It’s was an incredible year. The coaches (all of them) did a masterful job with this team.
No we didn’t lock down a true 3rd starter but it was managed by committee. Then the injury bug hit us late but that wasn’t a downfall to the season as it was still managed by the fact we had the best pitcher in baseball. May have 1 or 2 questionable decisions made. But those were based on what coaches know about their personnel and at the end of the day those decisions work out for the better more often than not.
We lead the nation in HR’s and Walks, now that’s a rarity. Our batters looked for good pitches and showed a good eye for that. HR’s in baseball are like 3 pointers in basketball if you live and die by them. Yes there will be some chasing pitches by certain batters, that happens every year ie Casey Martin and some others recently. It takes time and reps to change split second decisions at the plate. But again the good far out weighed the bad there. Hitting slump came at worst time, some of that was due to good coaches on the other side and scouting reports. Factor in again injuries and illness and the wrong time. When you get into the post season your playing against the best players and coaches. Then throw in the pressure factor.

Great season by the players and coaches. Are they completely satisfied - NO.
Are we completely satisfied - NO.

We won’t be until that CWS Championship is finally secured.

Yes Clay has explained and covered these points several times. He is a genius if you read his posts “fully”.


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They also were near the tops all season in walks. That total and home runs produced their runs.

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FYI, on sitting players, Van Horn will do that. If you will recall, Van Horn sat Casey Martin when he hit the skids last year. Casey was making a surge as the SEC season started. I have seen him sit Dominic Fletcher in a slump. Same for Matt Goodheart.

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Remember when a lot of fans wanted to sit Chad Spanberger?

DVH stayed patient with him, knowing his capabilities. DVH’s patience paid off. Spanberger went on a tear like we haven’t seen before and propelled UA to the CWS.

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I do really like Starks from what I saw. I have to assume his role increases next season.
It is hard to measure the affect of Covid. I agree it had to have been a factor of some sort.
It is going to be interesting to see how this pitching staff is rebuilt. With no Kopps they will have to find three reliable starters. They will need to be a more traditional pitching staff.

Actually Spanberger did sit a lot. He would start out playing, then go to the bench. Maybe he’d get some chances in midweek again. But it is not like he was a full time starter for his career. At the end, Dave finally put him on the field and left him there.

Jimbeau I agree with most of your takes.
Nothing I said had any trashing in it. They did some amazing things and the coaches did do a great job in game.
I do not agree that the only issue was finding a third starter.
Wicklander did not even start the season in the rotation, but he DID adjust and improve.
Paulette, Lockhart, Zeb, Wiggins and Bolden were in and out of the rotation due to inconsistency. Now DVH and Hobbs stuck with them and got something out of them, but they were never totally reliable and I am basing that on my eyes, the box scores and/or their use by DVH. The rotation was a revolving door all season, start to finish.
Strong Kuddos to Wicklander and Kopps for holding this team together. They were truly amazing and will be strongly missed next season.
My whole point was wanting takes on how hard it is get college athletes to listen and adjust. It had nothing to do with not appreciating all the amazing things we witnessed.

I think every player is different. I don’t think you can put a blanket over all college athletes and say whether they listen or not. Obviously, Kopps listened to Hobbs. Ovviously, Wicklander solved his diabetes and figured out how to build his strength back and develop more than one pitch.

I think the root of your question is the supposition that if they do listen then the coaches should have done a better job.

The root of the problem was covid. Coaches didn’t have the players for last season or in the summer. Facilities were closed. A few players got in a brief number of games in the summer.

But what you had is pitchers that should have developed with SEC games last year not get any games. That stunts development (and also sets pitchers up for injuries). If that is hard to comprehend after I’ve put that out there about six times and you still have questions, I probably am no good at what I do.

Injuries are part of the game, but in the case of pitchers, they need to pitch games and fine tune their mechanics under pressure and strain. They didn’t get that last year and some of that probably added to injuries. I’m told by MLB folks that they saw more injuries in the post-covid year (last year and now).

To answer the question, I think players listen to coaches.

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Didn’t think I accused you of trashing anybody and I didn’t think you were trashing anybody. If you took anything I said that way it was unintentional.
You merely stated lack of advancement by some pitchers and lack of adjustments by our hitters. Was it a coaching issue?

There’s been many discussions on here about both and probable factors concerning each category. Without the coaching we had the season could have turned out less than stellar. JMHO.

No I took nothing you said personally or negative at all. I just disagreed with one of your points.

There was no underlying point. I just wanted to discuss the role of assistant coaches and the player/coach dynamic. I just used this season as an example.
There was no need to make it personal and I am a bit surprised that you were the only one who did Clay.
I thought it was an interesting subject I wanted to see what other readers know or thought. Yet it now seems to have been shut down. Sorry if I offended you.

Personal? I find that hard to believe. I just detailed what I thought was in your long post. I don’t see that as personal. It is interesting, or I wouldn’t have posted in the thread several times. Good on you for the thought behind your post. It was thoroughly discussed.

One thing that gets lost is that other teams have good coaches who make adustments to find the weaknesses of players and that can sometimes happen late in the season. I believe that happened as players perhaps hit a slump or developed a weakness that wasn’t there earlier. One of the things we forget, a loop, hitch or issue can develop late.

One of the things that is difficult for baseball players is that there can be a lot of voices involved in their development during college. They have college coaches, summer coaches and advisers. I think Arkansas’ coaches do a good job of making sure they are the dominant voice.

Franklin was in a slump at the end, but to his credit there were still some good at bats that led to walks. He had eight walks in Hoover and had the great AB that led to the go-ahead run to win the regional. I thought Slavens was hitting as well as anyone before he got hurt. He didn’t look the same after he came back.

Nate Thompson made a change to Cayden Wallace’s batting approach early in the season that led to his big numbers. There was also a change with Matt Goodheart’s swing that led to a big stretch early during conference play. And there were adjustments to Franklin’s feet that helped him have some success early in the year. Toward the end he developed a tendency of dipping his shoulder trying to launch. They worked on it, but it never seemed to click in a game.

I saw improvement from more pitchers than Kopps, Wicklander and Tole. I thought Monke, Noland, Wiggins and Pallette all were better this year. Monke struggled to find the strike zone the last couple of weeks, but had some strong performances late in the regular season. I thought Pallette had secured the No. 2 job until he struggled in early May, and I wonder if the arm injury that eventually sidelined him played a role in that.

Developing pitchers who are reliable every time out is rare in college. Look at Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. They played for the national championship, but even those teams could only trust a few pitchers to be dominant most times out. The difference in those teams and Arkansas at the end of the year, in my opinion, is that they got some timely hits and Arkansas did not in the final two games against NC State.

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Some really good points here Matt.
I think reliable was my main point of interest and adjustments made as the season went along to become reliable.
While Monke, Noland, Wiggins and Pallettte (and I would throw Lockhart in that group too) to say you knew what to expect from them when they entered the game I have to question. They never got to that point for me. I was shocked if Kopps, Wicklander and Tole were bad. The rest were just not in that tier.
Starks is a guy that I am interested to see next season. Most of his outing, although limited, were good. I hope he earns more exposure.

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