Arkansas vs. UC-Davis Running Diary

“The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.”
Theodore Roosevelt


Greetings children. Another Hog hoops game has come and gone and I’m not sure I’ve learned anything. But as usual when I’m able to get to the game I’m here to share my thoughts in the form of a running diary taken from notes I took during the game.

There is a cold biting wind coming from the southwest as I’m trudging up the walkway to Bud Walton and I’m beginning to regret my decision to head out sans both underwear and socks. My trudge is in midseason form though – head down, shoulders hunched. There are few trudgers that are my match.

A guy is standing near the crosswalk selling a couple packages of season tickets. He has a huge posterboard sign with glitter and stuff. I’m picturing him working on it at home and deciding which color sparkles will be the most attractive.

I haven’t seen this before and I’m wondering if this is a sign of the economic times or a sign of sad hoop times. Maybe a bit of both.

I am almost late for tip off yet the arena is easily half empty. There are levels of responsibility on both sides here. People can’t be expected to spend hard earned money in bad times to see a team that has AT BEST been mediocre over the past decade play weak non-conference teams. At the same time is has become increasingly clear that we can no longer consider ourselves a top basketball fan base. We are, for better or worse, a good group of front runners.


So tonight’s foe is the UC-Davis Aggies. They don’t really look like Aggies, kinda more like a slightly tall group of waiters at an Olive Garden. This isn’t a particularly intimidating bunch.

The Hogs open with the same starting lineup we have been seeing – Fortson, Clarke and Welsh in a 3 guard set and Washington and Sanchez inside. Lets play ball.

1ST HALF

Washington and Fortson miss 3s early. Fortson’s mechanics look better to me than they did the other night and he does get good elevation – I thought he had more of a set shot before. This is encouraging.

Rotnei takes the ball into the lane with a left hand dribble and hits a short pull up. Very nice. He’s being guarded by a dude about a half foot taller than him that bears a passing resemblance to Colin Ferrell. I can’t get over the sheer suckiness of his work in the Miami Vice movie. I dislike this guy on artistic principle.

Stef hits Clarke on an inbounds under the goal. Rotnei is moving well.

There seem to be an unusual number of people in my section berating the UC-Davis players with rather unfunny and unpleasant insults. I guess I hadn’t realized the ugliness that had boiled up in this rivalry over the 3 minutes it has been going on.

1ST TIMEOUT 8-3 Hogs

Fortson with a gorgeous drive and dish to McDonald. Fortson also hits a 3. He is penetrating whenever he wants and really looks in control. This is the good Fortson. Great hops too.

Washington is struggling a bit. He has certainly gained weight and is stronger but it is all in his upper body – or at least it looks that way. His legs are still kinda spindly and he has trouble holding a spot.

Okay – I am going to be the first one to broach this rather delicate subject. (And please remember this is just an observation – I’m not judging.) I think Rotnei Clarke is tanning between games. He has a distinctly Dan Majerle-esque orangish glow.

Davis has a kid named Silva in the game that looks like he is about 5’1” and weighs maybe 125. He has a tat on his right shoulder that judging by his hairdo is probably of Shawn Cassidy. My current theory is that he is a Make-A-Wish foundation winner and this was his prize.

9:37 LEFT 22-10 HOGS

Sanchez looks great. If he played in UC-Davis’s league he would be All-World. He is the strongest player on the floor and he is playing harder than anyone. I really want to suggest that some people close to him stage an intervention regarding his hair.
3RD TO 22-15

Silva is a DIFFERENCE MAKER baby! Buried a deep three. Good for that little fella. He’s just precious.

I’ve decided the folks sitting in the folding chairs on the floor look uncomfortaby similar to the tightly grouped handicapped kids in wheelchairs that used to sit under the goal. Not sure what is going on with that.

The Davis coach is FREAKING out!. This is special. He has his team all the way out on the floor and they are huddled around him and he is stomping and screaming and they won’t make eye contact. There is a goofy 7 footer at the back of the huddle that looks like he is pissed off he’s gonna have to run because these other chumps are screwing up.

LAST TO 33-20 HOGS

I must be honest. I’m losing interest in this game. The pace is slow. The defense is soft, soft, soft. The shooting has been bad. We rarely press and when we do it is just a silly man to man thing.

A lady that had to be 70 just walked by with a pony-tail tied with a red ribbon and a dude that has a more than passing resemblance to Wild Bill Hickock has shown up in the front row. Good Times!

HALFTIME 36-27 HOGS

Bad close to the half. We should be smoking this clan. Sanchez is the biggest bright spot. Rotnei hasn’t been open unless he has gotten himself open with the ball. Fortson played great early and faded a bit. Not sure still what our defensive philosophy is. Andre Clark and Brandon Moore barely saw the floor which is just weird.

Now on to the important stuff. The halftime entertainment.

We had a rather disturbing combination of gross commercialization and weird mascot behavior as the Razorback and Pork Chop along with Strike (Naturals mascot) and the mascots of various local establishments such as Sonic, Chic-a-fila, Papa Johns etc. had a 5 on 5 full court battle that seemed to last for a couple of hours.

It looked like it would end it a hard fought scoreless tie but the Papa Johns slice of pizza, who interestingly had arms covered with tattoos, scored late. Dignity was the big loser here tonight.


2ND HALF TIPOFF

My girlfriend doesn’t like Sanchez and she is trying to explain why.

“He has no butt. Look at him in back. It just goes STRAIGHT DOWN.” She is making hand gestures here. “I mean he has no butt. I hate no-butted people.”

As a no-butted person myself I have little response to this other than to wrap my coat around my waist.

Welsh with a nice little shot then Fortson with a pretty one.

Pelphrey finally pulls a good freak out and gets a T when Washington fouls a jump shooter from behind. Gotta love the Pel.

Rot with 3 free throws after barely missing a four point play.

1ST TO 47-39 HOGS

Our defense is atrocious the last couple of minutes. Davis has missed 3 straight uncontested 3s. We are soft.

My girlfriend again (who has previously commented that Courtney Fortson is “pretty – like a girl”) “Courtney looks a little like Jamie Foxx don’t you think? And Jamie Foxx, do you remember him when he played Sha-nay-nay? Do you see what I’m saying?”

Sadly I knew exactly what she was saying. We kinda think alike.

“Does that mean you found Sha-nay-nay pretty?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I’m getting confused.”

Rotnei is just a hair off. Maybe fading away a bit too much.

2ND TO 53-46 HOGS

The officiating is too tight. Both teams are already in the bonus. Our press is a joke. We use mostly a man press that is beaten simply by clearing out and then a 2-2-1 that never traps. It is soft, token pressure. If we are going to attack then ATTACK. I despise half measures. As small as we are we better learn to be an aggressive defensive team.

Sanchez, butt or not, continues to play very hard and rebound well. Moore and Clark haven’t seen the floor this half.


Rotnei needs to be the backup point. He is very good with the ball. He is quick and can score and pass and handle. He is a better point than stef and stef is a better 2 than he is a point. Rotnei is arguably a better point than 2 at this stage of his career. He isn’t yet a natural moving without the ball. We can get very, very good minutes out of Rotnei at the 1.


Beautiful dish from Henry to Welsh. He’s a ways a way but Henry is a player.

3RD TO 61-52 HOGS

We aren’t closing the deal on these guys. Fortson and Clarke are both sitting which seems odd. Ball movement is bad. A 60+ year old lady just walked by with leopard print pants. Where are the refs to call a foul when you need them.

LAST TO 61-54 HOGS

RC and CF back in. Sanchez hits a pair. Nice Michael.

Welsh with a pretty length of the court pass to Rotnei as he was
falling down.
Just mopping up now.

HOGS WIN 68-59

Well I must say that I was disappointed. Davis isn’t a terrible team. They can shoot and run some nice base offense. but they shouldn’t be able to cover us and we should run a team like that out of the gym – especially at home – and we made no attempt to do so.

This team has 6 viable and productive players for the 1, 2 and 3 spots. Britt, Henry and McDonald all bring something to the table and each combination of those six offers a little something the other combinations doesn’t whether it is more size or more shooting or more strength or quickness.

With that sort of depth we should be pushing the ball on offense and moreover we should be hyper-aggressive on defense. We need easy buckets because this still isn’t a great shooting team. And we need to harass opposing guards so they have trouble getting the ball inside where we will struggle defensively.

I also have to wonder if Moore and Clark can’t play against the UC-Davis frontline what teams will they be able to help us against? Throw them out there.

Last thought. Soft presses are just silly. Press or don’t. Attack or don’t. It is time for Arkansas basketball to decide who it is. Are we soft or are we hard?

JCK

2 comments

  1. sam // November 21, 2008 at 7:33 AM  

    good stuff

  2. Hayden Hodges // November 21, 2008 at 10:26 AM  

    Brilliant piece of writing.