Oh, better take the keys and drive forever
Staying won't put these futures back together
All the perfect drugs and superheroes
wouldn't be enough to bring me up to zero.
Aimee Mann “Humpty Dumpty”
Growing up in Fort Smith we used to go to 4 or 5 Westark (now UAFS) basketball games a year. This was back before they built Stubblefield Arena. The games were played in a gym that was much like any you would find at hundreds of high schools throughout the state. One side of the floor had polished wooden bleachers that could be folded up accordion style against the wall. On the other side of the court the stands only went up about half as high and most of the seats had cushions and numbers. they were reserved for season ticket holders and most years we had a couple of passes because my father did physicals for the team.
Westark had an excellent junior college program. Particularly back before players were required to attend 2 years of school before they transferred the talent level was very high. Ron Brewer and Darrell Walker and various Kellybrew and Skulman bothers and guys like Robert Shephard plied their trade for Gayle and then Wes Kaundart. The team even won a National title the year after Walker transferred up the road to Fayetteville.
When Brewer was there and to a lesser extent when Walker was there the team drew very well. But beyond those seasons a typical crowd was about half full - maybe a couple hundred people.
I loved going to those games but I remember how much that experience contrasted to the one I would have when I went to see the hogs play in Fayetteville. When I went to see Westark play I didn’t really have a vested interest. Sure I cheered for them but mostly I just liked seeing these big guys play my favorite game. When I went to see Arkansas play I would actually get butterflies and on the rare occasions when they lost I would be depressed for days.
It was more than the fact that the arena was bigger and the opponents better. A college basketball game at Barnhill and later Bud Walton had an almost formal, professional air about it. The quality was always good and the energy that flowed from crowd to team and from team back to crowd was truly an experience.
Conversely at Westark games the lack of crowd interaction, the low level hum of the crowd was almost startling.
In my mind, when I recall those Westark games, I hear the squeak of rubber soled shoes as the players made cuts, I could hear the players yell to each other when they were on defense. The bounce of the ball echoed just a bit and it seemed like there was a decent chance sweat from one of the guys might spray us. I picture fans sitting amiably, chatting with friends while the action was going on, getting up and going to get oversalted popcorn and random junctures, not concerned that they might miss some crucial action.
Its not that the Westark games weren’t good or fun. It’s not that those players weren’t doing their best. It’s just that those games lacked tension and focus. The crowd never rose as one to tell the team that they HAD to get a stop. They never howled and whistled at the refs - truly believing an injustice had been done. They never urged on unselfish play by wildly cheering guys that did the little things - making an extra pass or diving for a loose ball.
I guess it just seems like those Westark games were just that - games. Hog games, on the other hand, were an interactive experience where the fans played a role that seemed to my young mind every bit as vital as the players coming off the bench. The crowd not only offered energy it dictated style and tempo. In some vague ways it actually shaped those Razorback teams.
I am 2 minutes late for tip off tonight. My wife is pregnant and sick but she sucked it up and made the hour long drive with me to the game. She knows how much this silliness means to me. She can see my eyes sparkle and my lips curl when I start getting a positive feel for an Arkansas Basketball team or game or possession or player. he knows how much I long for the days when hoops wasn’t just relevant here - it was CENTRAL. She knows that as silly as it seems I get a very real sense of WORTH when I am cheering a really good Hog team. She knows that the pride we both feel when the Hogs play good ball actually DOES make our lives a teeny tiny bit better. And what more can we possibly ask from an activity than it give us a little bit of joy.
This is not a trivial thing. Beauty and wonder can be in short supply these days. If we find even a little of it we feel lucky.
As we pull up to Razorback Road, rushing because we are late, worried that traffic might delay us another 10 minutes, we are amazed that there aren’t any cars ANYWHERE. The traffic as I make a left at the light is no more dense than an average day on Roger’s Ave. Or maybe about the same as it used to be when I would pull onto the Westark campus with my Dad years ago.
I can hear every squeak and cut as the action is underway when I sit down. I can hear the players call out screens and yell “SHORT!” when a jumper looks off target. The crowd is not only very small it is very CASUAL. I am including my self here. We are not invested. We are just here to watch - not participate.
Rotnei is wearing a track suit on the bench, sitting next to Sanchez who again appears to be injured. Sanchez has bad wheels. In the past 4 years he has had devastating knee AND foot issues. You can’t play basketball with bad legs. You just can’t. It is a shame because he seems like a really positive guy.
Britt starts for RC. Where exactly are we going to get shooting? Outside of RC this is probably the worst perimeter shooting team I have ever seen at Arkansas - and that is saying something considering the absolutely atrocious shooting that has been the norm here for the past decade.
Washington clanks a pair of FTs. A guy in my section just yelled a couple taunts at him and it is so quiet in here I bet Wash heard him. So it’s gonna be like that is it?
FIRST TIMEOUT 4-2 Hogs
“Hmm what’s that stench? Oh I think its this basketball game” That was someone two rows up followed by loud laughter at his own joke. Greatest fans in America - yup that’s us.
Courtney isn’t on the bench. Now - we went 2-14 in conference last year with CF as our “leader”. But for some reason I keep thinking that if he comes back we will improve. How will that work exactly?
Alabama State’s unis are phantasmagoric. My wife just described them as “some kind of putrid yellow”.
Bryant hits a 3. I have hopes for this guy. Fundamentals are atrocious but he is active and can bounce. He needs to be in open court.
More taunts from the crowd. This time directed at Farmer - guy is yelling at him to “move”. Yup - that’ll solve it.
We are playing a lot of man. That is a positive I think. We need to embrace aggressive defense.
Mike makes a nice drive - and then gets a rest. That troubles me. He has seemed out of rhythm and as soon as he looks like he is getting in the flow he gets the hook because it is his turn to come out. A coach needs to be more flexible than that.
Nice aggressive rebound by Bryant.
Another nasty remark from a fan in our section. My wife just leaned over and said “That guy is sittin’ over there by himself just a-hollerin’ ” She’s from Charleston my wife is.
Britt hits a nice little tweener. He can look good when he is under control.
Even Alabama State has a guy that can rise up and just bury 3s in traffic. How long has it been since we had an athletic guy that could really shoot - anyone, anyone?
SECOND TIMEOUT 11-9 Hogs
Bryant gets a block. Washington makes a great pass to Britt cutting backdoor. Very nice.
Britt gets caught in between on a break and shoots it off the board so hard he doesn’t even draw iron. Hmmmm.
Nobles nails a wide open rhythm 3. He does that about once a game and has really nice form. Then he either stops shooting or bricks when he does. I can’t figure these guys out.
Nobles with a really sloppy turnover, then misses a pair of FTs. Not to be a negative nudge but is there ANY area of the game that this team excels at?
Bama State’s team kinda looks like a black fraternity circa 1985 - like Spike Lee’s “School Daze”. I haven’t seen a fade like #4’s since Kid’nPlay.
Whoa - Farmer just woke up and started defending. He is very good when he focuses.
Michael walks horribly but there is no call and he scores. The most importnt thing a big man can have is hands. The second most important thing is good feet and good footwork. I have never quite decided about Michael’s hands - but his feet and his footwork are just plain bad. He travels even when he just catches the ball at the top of the key. I’m not sure he has ever actually established a pivot foot. He seems only vaguely acquainted with the concept.
THIRD TIMEOUT 19-12 Hogs
Getting a bit of separation. This Alabama State team is, um, well, flawed I guess you’d say. Badly flawed. In more ways than just the uniforms and the haircuts.
I am looking at this team and I guess I am having a hard time finding the hope. I need to find it somewhere. It just isn’t much fun without it.
Two nice post feeds from Stef to MW. Awful post defense but nice feeds nonetheless.
My wife, “Boys these little players sure do get inked up young these days. Is our baby going to get a tattoo.”
She suggests a razorback. I suggest Cartman.
Whatever happen to that Pelphrey business of the whole team running to help up any teammate that hits the ground. Lately just 1 or 2 guys jog over and wave.
We press a bit and give up a 3. So we will quit pressing now. Persistent is not a word that I would ascribe to Pelphrey’s coaching philosophy.
Stef penetrates easily for a couple buckets.
Okay I’m going to say it. Right now Stef Welsh is our second best player. When Rotnei Clarke and Stef Welsh are your two best players you are going to struggle. They need to be our 3rd and 5th or 6th best respectively. Courtney and Mike need to be 1-2 and Powell needs to be 4th.
Stef and Nobles need to be guards that come off the bench for 18 minutes a game of INTENSE defense. They could thrive like that.
My wife is talking about #23’s calves. It’s like he has a couple of chunky rocks stuffed under his skin.
Now she is obsessed with the length of Britt’s arms. I nod in agreement that they are freakish.
Stef turnover. Farmer misses.
There are about 8 students here and a couple of them just high-fived because they felt their yelling caused a State player to miss a free throw. I am concerned with the nerd quotient of our student section.
LAST TIMEOUT 27-16
I wish I could say this has been a bunch of tough defense but no, that’s not the reason for the low score.
WOW! fancy behind the back from Stef to MW on the break. Stef is passing really well tonight.
And shooting terribly. He and Nobles both miss 3s.
Cox is open under the glass and you can see the shot block coming as soon as he starts his head fake. The sound of leather getting smacked echoes to the upper deck.
My wife, “COME ON REF! call a foul for my cute little guy.”
I bet Steven Cox is just livin’ the dream.
Cox passes on a 3 and drives and . . . he is so wide open he blows the layup. Cute only gets you so far.
HALFTIME 36-18 Hogs
One nice thing about a struggling hoops team - no lines at the concession stand. I grab a couple of surprisingly decent burgers and am back in my seat in about 3 minutes. The entire concourse is nearly empty and a good place for a casual stroll. There is even an older lady dressed in spandex and a sweatshirt doing an evening jog around the arena.
The band is cranking out the Aha classic “Take on Me”. Should I admit that I owned that album in high school?
We have a new halftime competition that involves the contestants spinning around for a minute before they run, jump rope, and make a layup. Contestant number 2 gets so dizzy she falls flat on her backside. We all laugh. Nothing like humiliation to bring a smile to our collective lips.
Boss Hogg is shooting free throws with his face. He has a plastic tongue that looks like an angry colostomy. My fear of mascots continues.
Farmer goes baseline and gets his shot stuffed by the rim.
Washington strokes a 3. He shoots well when he takes his time.
Nobles hits a pretty little pull up.
Things are getting ragged. Sloppy on both sides. Weak defense.
I think this is how Tennessee fans must have felt before Bruce Pearl. Huge, empty arena. Team that seemingly had talent but appeared to play without direction or plan or, most importantly, passion.
#00 for State is a tall boney guy with narrow shoulders and light brown skin. He has a pencil thin mustache that makes him look like a cartoon villain or maybe the lead singer of a swing band.
Stef makes another nice post feed.
Powell is playing some decent defense. He sat almost the whole first half because he had 2 fouls. This is an example of the lack of flexibility I mentioned earlier.
If you are expecting a tight game then maybe you hold him out so you have him at the end. But this is Alabama State and Marshawn Powell needs to play every minute he can in every different situation he can (including playing with foul trouble) before conference play starts. But nope, he gets a 2nd foul and we knee jerk him to the bench.
Britt on a 2 on none makes a 2 foot pass for no reason. His decision making can be suspect.
FIRST TIMEOUT 45-25 Hogs
We are actually doing some good things. State has no punch though and they are small, small. Powell and Washington should score at will.
Our lack of shooting ability is GLARING
SECOND TIMEOUT 48-33 Hogs
Team concentration is fading - possibly distracted by the middle-aged man in front of me wearing hiking boots with pink socks. “Fuchsia - there fuchsia” my wife informs me.
Farmer hits a nice 18 footer. That is his range right there.
Farmer has taken over for about 3 minutes. Good defense. Patient offense. He good be a piece of a good team if things fell into place.
Marcus Britt is making some nice plays as well. This might be the most minutes he has ever played in a game.
THIRD TIMEOUT 60-40 Hogs
Alley oop to Bryant draws a foul. Crowd almost got interested there.
Honestly - I have been going to home games since 1977 and this is the worst crowd I have ever seen. These are hard, hard times for Arkansas basketball and we as fans aren’t helping.
We don’t OWE the team anything. They are bad and it is hard to support a bad team. But it would be nice if we could do the “thick and thin” thing.
A big, active crowd could make this team better. Much, much better. They could learn intensity a focus. They could learn that they have another level of effort. They could learn what it feels like to play for something larger than yourself. Stuff like that sounds cheesy but it is proven to be true over and over and over. In college basketball if you have consistently excellent crowds your team will never be worse than “pretty good” and often much better than that.
I just noticed that Powell has remarkably skinny arms. At first glance he seems big but he is actually extremely thin. As he matures he will get even better.
Game is wide open now. Oop to bryant.
LAST TIMEOUT 69-45
The closing sequence was bizarre. State dribbled out the clock starting at the 35 second mark. Their ball handler was negotiating with Nobles (who was guarding him) what sort of shot they would let him take as the clock ran out because he HAD to shoot because the shot clock was going to run out a fraction of a second before the game clock.
He was going to take an uncontested 3 but Nobles said no - indicated he would have to challenge it. So the kid drives in for a layup at the buzzer - smiling and laughing.
The casual-ness and lack of intensity of that sequence kind of sums up this game.
FINAL SCORE 76-51 Hogs
Hey it’s a win. Our record is back to .500. There are positives. Nobles is fast and shows hints of being a perimeter defender that makes things happen. (He is also a sketchy shooter and makes handfuls of turnovers that leave you scratching your head).
Welsh is seeing the floor and passing better than he ever has and his ball defense is the best on the team. (But his shooting is awful and his handle is, as always, just not very good).
Powell was active on defense and will soon be a high level college scorer. (He also makes silly fouls, can’t hold his own on the block, settles for jumpers, and disappears exactly when he should be stepping up).
Washington had 22 and scored nearly at will down low. (But he always scores well against small teams. Against teams of equal size his awful footwork limits his ability inside and his shot is too shaky to count on. Defensively he is below average for an SEC center.)
Britt showed flashes of good perimeter defense and a nice mid range game. (But he is a truly bad 3 point shooter, gets beaten frequently and inexplicably, has a weak handle, and just doesn’t seem to be good enough to excel at this level).
Bryant might be the brightest spot. He has range and can rebound. He looks great in the open court and is our best true shot blocker. (On the flip side he can’t handle the ball and can’t defend the ball. He doesn’t seem to have a real good idea what is expected of him when)
I’ll leave it at that for now. Glass half empty or half full. Or maybe just spilled.
Until next time.
Unbelievable. A great performance in Baton Rouge was dampened by a last minute drive with some "home clocking," a bad dead ball call, a porous defense, and a missed field goal in overtime. Yes, the Hogs started off slow, but they played their hearts out down the stretch, which is about all that one can ask of them.
Back off of Tejada, he does his best, but is that enough for you? Is it enough for the team? What else can be said?
Talk to us. Let us know what you think about the game.
Did anyone else disagree with the official on the game-tying drive? What about the clock stopping during a play before the whistle was blown?
Feel free to comment above and to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I've been there I know the way,
You can't get there from here"
REM - "You Can't Get There From Here"
"Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out."
VACLAV HAVEL, Disturbing the Peace
As i head to the game tonight there is the smell of fireplaces burning dry logs. The air is sharp and clean and seems to be a deep navy blue. Multi-colored lights are blinking here and there and people are outside their houses, shooting baskets or just hanging out in loose circles.
It takes me back to holidays as a kid. There is wine on my mothers breath and the house is full and noisy and busy. My father has a glass of iced scotch and he allows me to sit with the grown ups for a few minutes. I get to sip his drink and it burns and seems to have fumes. There is music and it is always Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra or Louis Armstrong, music that has context and place. My hands are cold from dribbling the basketball in the dark outside after dinner and I'm waiting for someone to serve some dessert. There are glasses and chairs and voices and a half dozen conversations going on at once. I understand all of the words but nothing they say really makes sense. People burst into laughter about things that I am quite certain are not funny.
When I was a kid I had pretty concrete ideas about Arkansas Basketball. These were the Sutton years and there was a certain sameness to the way Eddie put together a team. Only a couple people got to shoot and everyone else's job was to do the fundamentals - pass, screen, rebound, and most of all, play defense.
The quality of his teams varied a bit depending on how reliable his scorers were but the teams were always at least good because their defense was the same. It was the same and it was simple. Man to man, every guy takes somebody and shuts him down. Man to man, in my child's mind, was the only REAL defense. Anything else was for people that didn't want to work hard or take responsibility. TEXAS played a matchup zone and THAT was all you really needed to know about that. Zones were for commies and playground prima donnas. If you couldn't play man and pull your weight you just didn't play.
When the Nolan years rolled around I learned that it wasn't actually the defense that mattered so much as how you played it. Defense had to be intense and intimidating. Every pass and shot and dribble had to be challenged. Defense had to say "this far and no farther". People needed to be SCARED to play you. They needed to DREAD playing you.
That's why Arkansas basketball sustained excellence for so long. The formula was simple. If you play spectacular defense then you will almost never lose at home. You just won't. And if you don't lose at home then AT WORST you will go about 20-10 and finish 3rd or 4th overall in conference and you will make the tourney. Then every once in a while the state will produce a superstar or we will pull a recruiting coup and the team will elevate to an elite level.
Those were the possibilities for an Arkansas basketball team - a pretty good team that makes the tourney or a fantastic team that threatens the Final Four. No other options existed.
I'm not sure when this completely ended, probably after Joe Johnson left. We lost our commitment to defense and we lost our dominance at home. It all imploded from there.
The 2009 Hogs have been an awful defensive team. In some ways this is expected. With so many new players trying to learn the speed and tenacity of the college game there are going to be some rough patches. But potentially this is a good defensive team. There is good size on the inside and at the 3. Nobles has all the attributes of a good defender. Rotnei is much improved.
But this is NOT a good defensive team. They play a sagging man or a weak zone. Sometimes they throw half hearted traps out of the zone and occasionally they run a 2 man up press that doesn't trap and ALWAYS gives up the sideline. It is maddening to watch.
I think the idea is that these guys are so young that they can't play all out defense yet. That would be too risky and Pelphrey is trying to give us the best chance to win. But half hearted defense bleeds over into the rest of the game. It emboldens the other team to do whatever they want, to attack the glass and to snap crosscourt passes without fear of interception. By designing a strategy meant to WIN NOW Pelphrey is actually ensuring LOSSES TODAY AND TOMORROW because the team isn't growing. They are becoming a team of victims. They are passive and scared.
Defense will be the key to this version of the Razorbacks just like it is the key to every version of the razorbacks.
The crowd is small tonight, probably 7000. This is understandable - the team is bad, it's a holiday, high school playoffs are going on - but it is disappointing just the same. Consistently good crowds could raise this team up. We could teach them which possessions were MUST STOPS. We could wildly cheer unselfish play. We could positively reinforce whenever they played winning college basketball the way we believe it should be played. This sounds stupid but it is true. Much of the consistency of old was due to crowd consistency -the fans supplying a steady level of energy and desire. This matters. It just does.
ETSU looks a bit like a juco team. Everyone is 6'3 - 6'6". Long and lean. They look older than us, more seasoned. 2 of their guys have knee socks - WOW!!
The band is playing "The Final Countdown" by Europe. I think this was voted the #1 bad heavy metal song of all time on MTV. I'm just saying.
Nobles has a sound looking jumper. I'm not sure why he struggles so much shooting the ball.
Hey its a Murray Bartow sighting. I didn't realize he was their coach. This should be interesting. For the 2nd straight game Pel is matched up with a seasoned coach who may have fallen from their peak job, but who definitely has had some big time success. Murray Bartow comes from a hoops family. He knows winning basketball. He just does.
Stef and Rotnei both make their last jumpers during warmyps. Good omen?
As they announce the starting lineups I am thinking that Farmer is the key to this team. He is the wildcard. He can provide a second perimeter scorer and a reliable shut down defender and rebounder. Or he can be the usual up and down juco swingman that simply can't be counted on. We will see.
Our students (there are only about 10 here) need to get some new taunts during opposing team intros. The "who's she" and "he's cute" was borrowed and stale when they started it a decade or two ago and now it is downright sad. Gracious!
TIPOFF - Lets show a little something.
Farmer with a quick steal. RC with a quick 3. The early bomb from RC is almost a given in each game.
Ouch, they get to the whole unchallenged.
Farmer with a putback and he is fouled. Nice start for him.
Powell has an early foul and he is out. Huh? they will have to explain that on to me.
We are primarily in zone - very soft at the free throw line and free throw line extended. Washington kicks crosscourt out of the post to RC for three. Need more of that.
Nice inside pass to Bryant. He looks like an anorexic version of Stringer Bell from "The Wire".
Now a Farmer baseline drive. First step a tad slow but it worked.
FIRST TIMEOUT 14-8
I'm looking at the folks sitting in the courtside seats again. Seriously, are they Make-a-Wish winners or something. If we are going to let rich people have by far the best seats in the house could we at least have some nice-looking rich people step up to the plate.
RC AGAIN. Now he finally misses. His 3 point shooting Percentage is remarkable. Hog defense is surreal. ETSU is getting to the basket at will. There are failures of ball defense, help defense, and rebounding. What else is there?
ETSU is playing a soft zone and BAM! a backdoor alley oop to Farmer. He got higher than I thought he was capable. Nice.
Stef in for Farmer - hmmm. Bryant takes a three. Not sure that is what he should be doing but at least his mechanics are good.
THERE! is a nice trap. It breaks down and they score. Pel will back out of it now. He just isn't committed to pressure defense.
Now ETSU is trapping. We don't scare them offensively.
SECOND TIMEOUT 19-14
There is an older guy in the section catty-corner from me. He has a shiny bald head and unkempt gray hair sprouting wildly from the sides. He is frozen in his seat, face pitched forward in his hands. I think he is having a stroke or maybe he just heard his favorite dog was eaten by a coyote. Being a doctor and all I should probably go check on him but, you know, there is a game and all. I'm sure he'll be fine.
We are scoring well and easily but you can't build a lead or have a big run without stops. They are man handling us on the boards. It isn't a matter of effort it is a matter of aggressiveness and strength and doing things with a purpose. We are sorely in need of those things.
Delvin Johnson looks HUGE out there. Why aren't we pounding the paint? Because they are sagging off everyone but RC. Nobles and Farner are no threat whatsoever.
We have RC out and Stef in and we press. It is a good lineup for that but where are the points coming from. A shooter, a shooter - my kingdom for a second shooter.
RC is back and we have an awful possession followed by an unmolested pull up 3 from the wing. Then a silly turnover and the same guy bombs another.
Stef misses badly on a three and they drain another. Timeout Hogs.
FOUR! straight unguarded 3s. Our 3 point defense is the worst I have ever seen. We close out slowly and don't challenge. We are late on rotations and passive when we arrive.
We finally switch to man to no avail. They get to the rim.
Nobles turnover and ETSU is on something like a 14-1 run.
THIRD TIMEOUT - 23-30 GOOD GOD!!
ETSU gets 3 tries at a lay up. Washington breaks the run with a 15 footer. Why is he way out there?
Nice inside passing but Bryant mishandles. Even our good stuff goes wrong. Washington takes ANOTHER 15 footer and misses. They will let him do that all day.
We are down a dozen and finally Stef goes to the hole and gets fouled. Of course he only hits 1-2.
LAST TIMEOUT 29-39
There is a child next to me, a young girl of about 8. She tells her father she wants to scream so high that only dogs can hear it. And she commences to give it a very good try. I think my ears are bleeding.
We need a little run. If we lose this game we might as well pack up for the season. It is THAT important.
Stef makes a pair. Cox is in. Why? (Outside of his general cuteness that is.)
Good D from Stef. RC misses a 3. That was huge. Every time this team absolutely needs a play they don't get it. Mostly it is execution but some, like RC's shot, is just bad luck.
MW with a inexplicable turnover. Now he gets a 3 second call. He has regressed as far as the little things go. Every time he touches the ball there is a 50/50 chance something terrible will happen.
Its a 14 point game a Wash airballs from 4 feet. He is totally gassed.
Good effort from MW but he saves the ball on the opponents end and they get wide open 3.
#43 checks in for ETSU. He looks like Bowser from Sha-Na-Na.
HALFTIME - 32-48
No that isn't a misprint. Over the last 8 minutes of the first half East freaking Tennessee State outscored us 34-10. OMG. I would be ROFL if it wasn't so sad.
Is this the nadir of Hog hoops. I hope so. I really do because I am literally queasy watching this team. Its like watching an early '80's Rice squad - one guy that puts up 40 and they still lose every game by double digits.
I am at this game alone. Stepson is with his Dad. Stepdaughter watching her boyfriend play for the Charleston juggernaut. Wife attending a wedding then going home exhausted to puke and pray for sleep and to curse my existence for knocking her up.
In years past I would go smoke during halftime. The unwashed masses of the addicted would huddle outside in the cold and go over the first half. It was usually a 2 cigarette break but if I really put my mind to it I could inhale 3.
I haven't gone out there in a couple years because I was an on and off non-smoker. But today I must smoke.
But my people are GONE! At first I think they all must have died from tobacco related diseases and there was no new generation of fans coming in to replace them. But no, it was worse. They just weren't letting us go out and come back in anymore. Alas, another treasured ritual of youth evaporates.
Question: Are Morgan State and ETSU better coached than Arkansas? Both teams have very solid and experienced guys at the helm. Their teams are smallish, athletic, and they shoot well but I think it would be very difficult to argue that they have more talent than Arkansas. The Hogs have the best shooter on the floor and the 2 best big men. Farmer and Nobles would start for either of those teams.
So if that is the case then something else is making the difference. ETSU plays with more aggression and more purpose than we do. They have a scheme that emphasizes strengths and minimizes weaknesses. I'm sure that our schemes are meant to cover up holes in our squad but I am not sure at all that we take advantage of our assets.
More importantly - while I don't question our effort at all - I absolutely question our aggressiveness at all facets of the game. Our defense is passive which bleeds into passive rebounding which bleeds into stagnant offense.
I am not calling for Pelphrey's head. He is our guy and I realize he knows exactly what the problems are and he is trying hard to fix them. The question is can he do it? Is he capable? Well coached teams, even talentless ones, rarely play defense like this team does. They just don't.
The crowd is dead. The players look whipped, maybe lost.
RC pulls a quick 3 and it rims out. Powell gets stripped - he has been nonexistent!
RC hits and Mike finally posts down low and scores. That should be ALL DAY.
Farmer makes a tough right handed drive. He is playing pretty well but has HUGE lapses of concentration.
The crowd is up now, begging for a run. The team is on its toes now, challenging.
Farmer gets beat for a backdoor layup. Geez that hurts.
MW again - keep feeding it.
Farmer again lapses on defense but they don't make us pay. On the other end he pulls up for a pretty 15 footer. Now an RC 3 and the place explodes. It's a 9 point game. ETSU timeout.
RC has 17. We need to push push push on both ends.
Criminy - open 3. Drained. No excuse.
FIRST TIMEOUT 46-58 ETSU LEADS
Momentum is gone, just like that. Stef way short on a 3. Nobles airballs a 3 - why is he such a crummy shooter? Stef misses again but this time Farmer picks it up.
Unforced turnover by us. We had our chances. Another sloppy turnover and a dunk on the other end. Its back to 13. RC misses a 3. This might be over.
SECOND TIMEOUT 51-64 ETSU.
I took a sip of my coke during the timeout and for some reason when a closed my mouth a short stream of soda sprayed out between my lips and plunked the guy in front of me on the back. I have been drinking various liquids for pert near my whole life and I don't think I have ever experienced this sort of mishap.
The victim of my squirtage doesn't notice and I act casual. Nothing going on here.
Fans are whining about calls because ETSU is beating us up in the paint. We need to stand up and fight back.
Farmer grabs a defensive rebound then drops it. ETSU grabs it and converts for a 3 point play. Lordy be.
Nice push to MW for a hoop and harm. Why are we not pushing and hitting RC as a trailer?
We press and give up a layup. We won't see any more of that for awhile.
MW makes a post move and gets fouled. He goes down in a heap and the ref call it flagrant. I don't think he realizes Mike is just goofy and he tends to go down like that.
MW makes 1-2 and Stef hits a 3.
Stef with an insane drive that goes.
Powell finally scores.
Still pressing but it is SO SOFT. The just dribble casually up the sideline.
Stef forces a turnover. He has had a solid few minutes.
RC 3!!! He is a serious weapon.
Charge on ETSU
THIRD TIMEOUT 65-71
The game is right there to be taken. The crowd is raucous again. they are throwing and shooting t-shirts from that cannon and I think my section might stampede in hopes of getting one. What if its the wrong size?
This last few minutes will be a matter of focused effort and energy. The crowd can help with that.
MW blows a layup. He gives his all but PLEASE.
Good defense and their PG throws up a rainbow prayer as the shotclock expires and it drops. Oh My.
Stef gets fouled and hits 1-2. RC with good defense and hustle.
Get it inside! GET THE BALL INSIDE!!!!
RC misses. We needed that. Time is getting short.
MW called for an illegal screen. That is just weak officiating.
4 Fouls on Farmer and we are walking the ball up, using the whole shot clock.
Another 3 from RC but then Nobles makes a silly turnover. Chances, chances, chances
Everyone but RC is afraid to shoot. Grand.
LAST TIMEOUT 69-79
Hey a stat girl sighting. I didn't think she was here. I feel like stat girl and I have drifted apart over the last year. What with me getting married and having never actually met her and all.
Farmer fouls out. MW makes 1-2 FTs. Our press is comical. No backside help on defense. None. Zero. Down 11. My stepdaughter would say "Really? Really?"
We are giving up nearly 100 points a game to low-major teams and we are doing it while we play pretty much slow down ball. What percentage of their possessions do our opponents score on. I need to see that stat.
RC has 32. The guy in front of me has a huge stain on his shirt.
FINAL SCORE 85-94 ETSU WINS
Ugh. Sometimes there just isn't much to say. I can still see what this team should be but unless they get rid of their fear of losing, losing will be all they ever know. Defense, defense, defense. I hate to keep harping on it but there really is no valid reason for the level of incompetence we have shown.. Pel knows its importance. Rob Evans certainly knows how to coach it. Our players are physically capable of it.
I don't know. I just don't know.
Until next time
--Just a note - I frequently write under the name "seattlehog". From this point forward all of the diaries will be written under that name.
Arkansas vs. Morgan State - Running Diary
“Y’all know me,
It’s the same ol’ G
But I been low key”
Dr. Dre “Forgot About Dre”
Greetings boys and girls.
It happens every year. The squeak of rubber soles on waxed hardwood can be heard across the land. Hundreds of cocky freshmen are finding out that maybe they aren’t going to jump straight to “the next level”. Junior College transfers are learning new terms like “help defense” and “role player”. Football writers are having a group hug whenever someone mentions the names Manning, Favre,or Tebow. The Raiders coach is on the hot seat. NBA writers are telling us that THIS year the Bulls will finally come together. Utah fans are complaining that Deron Williams doesn’t get as much love as Chris Paul. Hawks fans think they might have a point guard and that Josh Smith will develop an offensive move that involves something besides dunking or jacking a 3. People are saying the Spurs are too old. Everyone thinks the University of Kentucky has REALLY sold their soul this time. Middle aged men are showing up in high school gyms and talking about lateral quickness, stroke, and “basketball IQ”. Middle-aged women are scouring Facebook trying to take down drunken pictures of themselves in misguided “Sexy Nurse” Halloween costumes. These are the rites of November and I dearly love them all.
Another staple of the season is Seattlehog awaking from a 6 month slumber, clearing the cobwebs from a baseball and reality tv soaked brain, exploring with a finger the ever expanding depths of his belly button, referring to himself in 3rd person, developing amnesia regarding the hideous disappointments of Hog Hoop campaigns recently past, and cranking out a diary about the Razorback Basketball team. WooHoo!!
Much has changed since the sad, lifeless, and frankly embarrassing end to last year’s edition of Razorback hoopsters. The roster has turned almost completely over. The fan base has gone from disappointed encouragement to near outright hostility. Seattlehog has gotten MARRIED (gulp!) and become step-parent to a pair of teenagers. Mrs. Seattlehog became pregnant and an infant seattlehog is expected come summer. Oh things have changed alright.
But amidst all of that some truths remain. Seattlehog looks at the Hogs in uniform and can squint his eyes and imagine that THESE little piggies are different. That THIS group understands "The Secret" to basketball immortality. They MUST know it. It is so simple. Why do so few teams seem to grasp it?
I was once prattling on about "The Secret" and the woman who would become Mrs. Seattlehog finally caved and asked me what this great Secret was.
"You play like wild dogs on defense and you always look for the open man on offense" I said.
"That's IT?" she gaped at me. "That is sage and wise seattlehog's great secret to winning basketball? EVERYBODY knows THAT."
"You'd think so" I said and shook my head, feeling wistful for the good ole days.
So I am speeding up to the game - doing about 80 - wondering what the Mrs. would think if her sage and wise husband got a speeding ticket. She is already at the game and I am late. I had to work today and couldn't head out until well after 6 pm with an hour and a half drive to Fayetteville.
"Just stay home" she said. "Its freakin' Morgan St. You can go to the game Friday."
"I haven't been to a game yet this year, hun. My people are clamoring for a running diary of a game."
"Your PEOPLE?" she says. "You have PEOPLE?"
"Yes! Well seattlehog has people." I clarify.
"And these people - they are clamoring?" I sense she is being a wise-ass now.
"Well maybe not clamoring so much. But I'm pretty sure they would read it if I posted it. They LOVE seattlehog."
"Your people do?"
"Well seattlehog's people yes. They love me . . . or him. I'm getting confused."
"I married a retard" my bride said then.
I just gave her a half-wit smile.
And so I am running through the Bud Walton parking lot 30 minutes after tip off, hoping to catch some 1st half, swearing to myself once again that I MUST quit smoking - like for real this time. I stop for a rest halfway there and cough up something that looks like raw sewage. I'm thinking to myself that the hogs better get good SOON because I might not have too many basketball seasons left in these lungs.
My favorite hairy faced usher that reminds me of a bearded Wilfred Brimley nods to me as I jog by. Thats the sort of relationship I have with this usher, incredible amounts of unspoken understanding.
I debate using the bathroom because I really, really need to pee. I eschew that option because it is basketball season and during basketball season fans are in their seats.
Well I guess not ALL the fans. I notice as I jog down the steps that at least half the seats are empty. We are a front running bunch here in hogland
Julysses Nobles buries a 3 and I yell his first name just to hear it aloud. It is a FANTASTIC name. I imagine it would be the name of the lead character if Homer's "The Odyssey" was remade with an all black cast, like "The Wiz".
A steal and a layup from Powell. Are we pressing? Yes I do believe we are pressing. Good god amighty I can't believe my eyes.
I find the wife (I like saying that. Makes me sound like a real grown up) and kids and various friends of the kids and plop down, lean over to give Mrs. Seattle a peck.
"My boobs hurt" she overshares. This pregnancy is starting to get on her nerves.
LAST TIMEOUT 48-37 HOGS
Not bad. Up 11 against a decent team. Mike Washington makes a glacier like move to the basket.
"He'll go right" my wife says. He goes right. Not sure its a good things when casual fans notice your tendencies.
RC and Powell run a nice little 2 man game but Powell misses.
Rotnei at the line. He makes this weird little face where he puffs out his cheeks and grimaces every single time he releases a shot. Not a good look for him.
Morgan State is making a run. We just threw a zone at them that was maybe the weakest defense I have ever seen. It left the lane WIDE open and gave the added bonus of not guarding the perimeter either. Yikes!
HALFTIME 52-47 HOGS
Powell has 16. The kid is a playa.
My wife says I remind her of the dad on the sitcom "Modern Fanily". She claims I say things like "playa" trying to be cool but that I just look like a massive nerd. I tell her that I am using irony when I say "playa".
"I know honey" she says. "Nerds do lots of irony".
They are having the same lay up contest for halftime entertainment that they did last year. Is it really THAT hard to come up with 12 minutes of entertainment to distract us folks from the halftime blues.
The ushers are all wearing khaki pants and running shoes. They look like frat boys home for their 50th reunion, ready for a night of old-fashioned beer chugging and date rape.
My wife points out Stat Girl. This could turn into a touchy subject so I just nod. She says she thinks Stat Girl looks like Rachel Ray. Maybe, I'm not sure. And I'm not sure what my wife thinks of Rachel Ray either. I'm so confused.
Powell has a chin-only beard. This was a popular look back during the Civil War and had a brief resurgence around the time Keith Wilkes changed his name to Jamaal. Not sure if it's time has come again.
Its now a 4 point game - criminy. We haven't gotten a shot off in 3 trips. Set play anyone? Anyone? My kingdom for a set play.
No joy on that dream. RC forces a 3 and eats it. Too much side to side with his dribbling. He needs to move with purpose.
When Pelphrey is angry his eyes look stone scary, like he just might be capable of murder.
We run 2 nice plays out of a timeout to go up 8. Now how hard was that?
1ST TIMEOUT 59-51 HOGS
"Morgan State's coach (Todd Bozeman) looks like Alfonso Ribiero from "Fresh Prince"" Mrs. Seattle says to me.
And THAT, ladies and gentleman, is why I love her.
I had forgotten Bozeman was their coach. I remember when he was coaching those impossibly talented Cal teams, pacing the sidelines with the "Blazer over a black t-shirt" look. The world was eating out of his hand back then - 29 and head coach at a major program. He'd just gotten his boss Campenelli fired by instigating a player revolt led by Jason Kidd and he had 3 McDonald's All-Americans on his roster. Then it all came crashing down because one of those stars (Jelani Gardner) got miffed about playing time so his parents dimed out Bozeman to the NCAA. The NCAA came down hard because he lied to them and they banned him from coaching for something like 10 years.
Interesting how someone like Calipari, whose programs have been just as bad if not worse than Cal's, has skated through completely untouched while someone like Bozeman ends up looking tired and gray. He reminds me of a grizzled man running a 12 step meeting. Bitter and ashamed about what he gave up through foolishness, intent on getting back to where he was, but maybe fighting just a little too hard, becoming a tad too desperate for any real success to find him.
Nobles goes coast to coast. He looks just a bit like LaBradford Smith of Louisville fame.
Mike W. walks - again. Goodness he has clumsy feet.
Our interior defense is just awful. They are making uncontested entry passes to guys posted up DEEP in the lane. Man I hate being a bad defensive team.
RC misses a pull up. He is having to work hard for looks.
Farmer is struggling on both ends.
I just caught sight of Rik Schafer's hair in my peripheral vision. It is STUNNING. Absolutely STUNNING.
The crowd is dead
2ND TIMEOUT 63-60
#11 for Morgan State looks like he is 37 years old. Nice player though.
"Would you look at that ref's britches?" my wife says. I do. He has the belt well up over his belly button.
"He's a little high-britches man, isn't he." she adds.
Love I say. Pure love.
RC gets a 5 second call on one end and gives up a 3 on the other. We are in trouble.
Stef is in. It appears that he didn't lose his headband during all of his off season stuggles. We can only dream of luck that good.
Nice defense from Stef drawing a 5 second call.
MW makes a slow move to the hoop (to his right) and drops a hook through.
Johnson is in for MW and he just got torn up inside. Gotta be tougher than that.
Stef makes a nice dribble drive from the top of the key and pulls up for a wide open 3 footer - and comes up a foot short. Is that a metaphor for a career I hear knocking?
We are down 1. Oh my.
Bozeman has an assistant that looks like Morris Day's (of "The Time") sidekick Jerome. Well he would if Jerome weighed 500 pounds. I'm not kidding, 500 pounds EASY.
Rotnei is trying to create a shot off the dribble but more than half his steps are AWAY from the basket. Forward, young man. Forward. Get a quarter step then push push push.
3RD TIMEOUT 68-69 HOGS TRAIL
#44 for Morgan State has a remarkably tiny head. Just thought I would share that.
"Marshawn has no butt!" Mrs. Seattle cries out, as if maybe he had one once and it was now missing and it was vital that she alert everyone. "Absolutely NO BUTT".
Old Man #11 nails a 3. He has 26.
MW with another move (to his right) for a nice hook.
They score and we are down 3. I sense a collapse.
Washington goes LEFT!! Washington goes LEFT!! Washington goes LEFT!!!
RC out, Stef in. Stef drives and draws a foul - knocks down a pair. The Arena announcer is calling him "Stef". That seems a little familiar.
NOBLES with a pretty open court steal but misses the dunk - draws the free throws.
Stef drive and score - oh my.
LAST TIMEOUT 83-81
The folks in the foldout courtside seats aren't the livliest looking bunch. Normally you would have to go to a dialysis waiting room to find a cast of characters like these people.
RC still out
We give up a score on the out of bounds play. GOOD GRACIOUS! I almost come out of my chair but I am held there my a massive wad of gum that it appears I have been sitting in. This is an omen methinks.
RC is at the scorer's table waiting to come in. Stef barely draws iron on an open 3. State scores on the other end.
We have to call TO to get Rotnei in. THAT'S why all this defense/offense subbing is so ridiculous. I hate that it passes for strategy.
We finally run a set play and RC misses a wide open 3.
RC misses another open 3.
I begin to concentrate on the gum stuck to my butt.
Down 3 and we just had the worst possession in history. Nobles dribbling around looking for double teamed RC, finally makes a move as the shot clock winds down and loses the ball. State converts layup. Ballgame.
NOW RC hits a 3.But they won't miss FTs.
CRAZY 3 from RC. But they still don't miss.
Desperation 3 from RC to tie - no joy
FINAL SCORE 94-97 Morgan State wins
There were positives I'm sure, but they are hard to see right now. Our offense has spurtabilty. Our players are unselfish. Nobles will be very very good. Powell IS very very good. Rotnei is the player we thought he was. Stef gives us a touch of depth. Rotnei is a decent defender.
BUT BUT BUT
Stef is a limited player. Powell disappears for long stretches. Rotnei can be shut down and he is no better than an average defensive player. Nobles gets ahead of himself at crucial times. Mike Washington is Mike Washington - A fair rebounder, poor defender with a good offensive game but limited passing instincts. Farmer was a no show. Bryant may not be ready. We don't have a single good interior defender. Our perimeter defense remains spotty. We STILL haven't decided what kind of team we are. Do we press? Do we push? Do we attack on both ends? I see no evidence of it.
Seeing these guys up close I think I now understand what Pel has been doing as far as recruiting. He is building a physically strong, quick team with good perimeter size and a strong post presence. Unfortunately he has ignored or been unable to find even 1 shooter to compliment RC and he hasn't turned loose the players he DOES have.
Things can come together for this team I truly believe that. It will take exceptional coaching and leadership to do it but it can be done. Now they just have to do it.
See ya Friday
With Saturday Night's 56 - 20 victory over the Troy Trojans, the Hogs are now bowl eligible. And with the amount of SEC bowl ties mixed with the high probability that both Florida and Alabama will play in BCS, even if Arkansas were to stumble and lose the next two, a bowl game would be eminent.
We are working on our bowl projections right now at The Big Red Board, but we must say that it is too congested too tell. We will go out on an easy limb and say that if the Hogs do win against both Mississippi State this weekend in Little Rock and LSU in Baton Rouge, then we fully expect Dallas to be calling. What some might consider a regular in the Cotton Bowl, several Hog fans enjoy this game despite the Cotton Bowls physical deterioration, mostly due to its close proximity and that it is in a major city.
We will know more Saturday.
Feel free to comment above or to e-mail me at email@example.com.
Time to focus on the men of Troy. That is probably not the most heterosexual statement that The Big Red Board has ever written, but it is probably one of the most accurate. Yes, we are that mistaken that much of the time. With five wins under their belts and only three games left, the Hogs cannot afford to look past the Men of Troy.
A bowl game looks like a definite in the future for this still young Razorback team. One more win guarantees them eligibility, but 6 - 6 in the SEC has been left out before. What about a win out? Could 8 -4 get them even a mention for a bowl such as the Cotton.
Step 2 is Saturday.
Feel free to comment above and to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Spurrier's team attempts to invade Donald W. Reynold's on a letdown of their own after falling victim to a way less than average Tennessee Volunteers squad. Can "the Old Ball Coach" get his team ready for a road game against the passing offense of Bobby Petrino? Is the competitive nature of the once-ranked Gamecock team ready to burn itself in their bellies again?
What about Arkansas? Are the Razorbacks prepared for what has to be a winning streak to close out the regular season? To be bowl eligible, the Hogs now have to beat two of their next four games consisting of South Carolina, Troy, Mississippi State, and Louisiana State University. But the spirited Hogs do not want to settle for getting two out of four and going to just any bowl that would make a used car salesman happy. No, even with a BCS bowl out of their grasp, this team has the dedication and knows that they have the ability to have the door to one of the remaining upper-tier bowls.
Whether or not they can complete the first step is yet to be determined, but a cool day on 'The Hill' Saturday will give us more insight.
Feel free to comment above and to e-mail me at email@example.com.
Let us call a spade a spade - our trip to Oxford sucked. Of course, we got to sit by probably three of the most obnoxious football fans in the Country. The Grove was a sloppy mess. Excluding the game, Vaught-Hemingway (is that their married name) Stadium has very little, if any, entertainment. It is kind of boring actually. Plus, most of it looks like it could collapse at any moment. Seriously.
But that is just us being sourpusses due to the game. Did we mention the game? It had more in common with a Hoover than it did with a football game. We got beat. Period. Yes, there were a few bad calls, a few bad no-calls, and a guy with his best "Where's Waldo" sweater on, but these affected no one except Section K who feared Waldo's 40-Weight hair blowing up from exposure to his lighter. You know who you are, Waldo. And if you do not, then there truly is a problem in Oxford.
Arkansas got McClusterf.... Never mind. #22 caught, ran, and danced all over the field. It makes us sick to our stomach to say that he "bounced around out there." We did not get outcoached; we got outplayed. We missed opportunities and Ole Miss did not. We dropped passes, we missed holes, we definitely missed tackles. '22' was not a jersey number, it was a license plate.
No mention of a ridiculous Gatorade bath is necessary. No mention of a mad man chewing his nails and impersonating a crab. And no mention of some of the (surprisingly) most rude fans that we have ever met. We had a stereotype of how nice Ole Miss fans were, and many of them are, but we met more people that we could not stand, that were more interested in making fun of us throughout the game. You do not like our "Calling the Hogs?" At least you can understand the words and meaning to that. No one... we mean NO ONE... outside of the 50th-ranked-in-everything state of Mississippi can understand more than four words of "Hotty Toddy."
Wait, calm down, we are off-topic here and it is Wednesday. Someone please pass the Xanax before we embarrass ourselves further.....
Congrats, Ole Miss, you played a fantastic ballgame. Great job. Kudos to your players.
Oh, and what is left for the Razorbacks? The road to a bowl game starts Saturday against Eastern Michigan. Focus, guys, we got this one. Then we have to beat (in no particular order) Troy, and at least one out of three with South Carolina, Mississippi State, and LSU. We have a chance to win all of them, but then again, we have a chance to lose most of them. We have to show up and take steps forward each week. No more taking a week off like this past Saturday. Too much focus perhaps?
Feel free to comment above and to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and God Bless.
Ah, the enticement of finely woven fabric in a basketweave pattern making a light-colored dress shirt. The way the fibers feel to the touch. The perfectly aligned buttons, each smooth and glossy, making even the ugliest of Houston Nutt fans look almost spiffy.
Wait, what a mistake has been made. This was supposed to be about Houston Nutt and Oxford........ We all know that he does not have any fans. Well, scratch that first small paragraph. In fact, scratch this paragraph as well. Time for business.
The Florida Gators and the Birmingham Mafia are behind us, but Ole Miss stares us directly in the face. And they do not seem very friendly. Well, actually, they do not seem that mad either. But we are. We are furious. We are furious about the bad calls last Saturday, and the most stubborn and clingy of us all are still upset about a questionable call last year in Fayetteville that some say cost the Hogs the game.
The brief comparisons:
Ole Miss Quarterback (what is his name again?) came into the preseason being touted as the best quarterback in the SEC. That title is not only in jeopardy, but it has all but been placed on the mantle of Razorback Ryan Mallett.
"We had a great time in Oxford."
Even in the WildHog, Ole Miss has put up the offensive numbers that analysts predicted to place them at Number Four in the Country, but their defense has given up a good number themselves. Arkansas has similar stats as the offense has went off of the charts putting up 436 yards per game. The Hogs problem: their defense gives up almost 400 as well.
Houston Nutt's second year is not looking nearly as good and hopeful as his first year did at Ole Miss. Sound familiar? Petrino is righting The Good Ship Razorback, but the record stands at .500, and even a Nirvana song blaring from Mike Slive's office window cannot take the sting out of that.
The Schools: Mississippi likes to think that they are a tradition-rich school. We are not buying it. The Grove has its prestige, but all of the Oxfords in Oxford does not a football school make. Nice try frat boys. Arkansas - it has its tradition and prestige, but that was a long time ago. This is now. The time for winning is now. We do not cling to the last name of Manning. We do not cling to the name McFadden, or Jones, or Bercher, or even Grovey, although they are all cherished.
The fans: Ole Miss - A great fan base, but not the best. Arkansas - The best. On to Oxford.
Even though this is not my best of all of my terrible work, feel free to comment above and to e-mail me at email@example.com. Thanks and God Bless.
Well, the game that we have all noted on our calendars for this season is finally upon us. But first we have to play the number one team in the Country. Yes, the Hogs have to travel a little further southeast to play the Florida Tebows.
Wait a minute, did we say "Florida Tebows?" Oh well, according to CBS sports, that description is pretty much accurate. How about a highlight reel clip of even just a Gator cheerleader sometime soon, Columbia Broadcasting? My gosh, last Saturday, Tebow's face got more coverage from CBS than a penis at an AIDS rally.
But here lies the question: is the mission serving, third-world surgery performing, living his life as "The Bible" says guy as saintly as people make him out to be? Sure, he is made out to be a great example of Christianity off of the field, but on the field, are his antics and attitude really that of what one deems a Christian?
We bet most of his opponents would disagree. It is a safe bet that the LSU defensive lineman from last Saturday would have some rebuttal. Surely he did not appreciate Tebow grabbing his helmet and pushing him towards the ground after the play was dead. What about all of the times that he has mouthed off to opponents during big Gator victories? How Saintlike is it for him to run around doing the "Gator chomp" right in the faces of his beaten opponents. But he's a great guy,.... right?
We leave that last question up to you. Feel free to comment, but please partake of the poll to the right. We will not hammer you now with countless arguments from both sides of the pro-Tebow/anti-Tebow bandwagons, but we will put it to a vote. Or does anyone even care - "This is football, and football is separate from Christian living and example." Bring that excuse to the table if you must. We apparently already know how much the Heavenly beings care about sports; it has been decided already. But what do you think?
Feel free to comment above or to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and God Bless.
If you learned anything from last weeks tough performance by Tennessee’s squad versus Florida is that nothing is guaranteed when playing in the SEC. The media spent much of the past week wondering if Florida would have a chance to run up the score against the Volts and you saw what happened. If you think a Lane Kiffin led team gave Florida a game then it shouldn’t be a surprise to expect such a performance from an experienced coach like Bobby Petrino. The razorbacks led by Quarterback Ryan Mallett and wideout Greg Childs have one of the strongest passing offenses in the country and Alabama hasn’t seen anything like it this season. The Tide has a strong pass rush however Running Back Michael Smith should be able to play and that will help keeping Alabama’s pressure off the line. The Tide is favored by 17 points according to Vegas odds makers but I expect a much closer game and a good performance by Bobby Petrino’s team. Alabama has lost key players including their starting quarterback and possibly the best offensive lineman in College Football last year in tackle Andre Smith. The Tide have won three of four overall against the Razorbacks and four of five in Alabama and coach Saban hopes to have star receiver Julio Jones and tailback Roy Upchurch back from injury to help them get another win. These players were key contributors last year when the Tide won 49-14, but that’s not what we hope for as coach Petrino now has some of his own players taking the field. The coach sees a lot of potential as the “Pig Suey” squad is not landing in Alabama expecting a loss. The Razorbacks have a chance to upset one of the best teams in the nation and that’s what we’re rooting for here at The Big red Board.
I believe that Bobby Petrino now with a year under his belt is going to make Arkansas not only a great team but a well run college football program. Bobby was one of the most sought out coaches in college football before he decided to go to the Pros. When Arkansas signed him they got a steal and now as he is able to develop this program the way he wants, I expect big things from Bobby P. I wouldn't be surprised to see Arkansas threatening for a BCS game this year and by next year playing in one for sure.
I do a decent amount of college football betting and you can count on my riding Bobby P this year as I know how he likes to score a lot of points.
The big one: who will be the starting quarterback come late August - Ryan Mallett or Tyler Wilson? Wilson, who split time on both the Red Team and the White Team seemed to put up better numbers in the court of opinion. Mallet's passes seemed to look better and get to their desired targets quicker.
Many thought since his announcement of a transfer from Michigan to Arkansas that Mallett would be the hands-down starter come Fall 2009. He did, after all, see significant playing time at the tradition-rich home of the Wolverines. He is big and strong, with an accurate arm that has the pop to get the ball to its desired location at a high velocity. His ability to zip the ball in between defenders quickly earned him permanent tenure in the echoed halls of all that is"YouTube." And at least one Big Blue was so disappointed in Ryan's leaving that he pieced together this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5KJKjqGDOI.
Enter Tyler Wilson. Since his signing from Arkansas River Valley powerhouse Greenwood High School, Wilson has impressed the critics and the fans. His arm is strong and accurate, and he has bulked up with muscle since his arrival on campus. He is talented with the ability to make smart decisions. During a previous interview with us, a high school teammate of Wilson's made the statement that Mallett has the ability and potential to play in the NFL someday. Overhearing the conversation, a passerby agreed. Unfortunately, Razorback fans have not been able to see Wilson's full potential. After seeing some playing time early as a Freshman, Tyler was diagnosed with mononucleosis, thus prohibiting him from appearing on the field throughout the remainder of the 2008 campaign.
A tough battle will ensue over the next months for these two athletes, but it is a battle that is welcomed by Razorback faithful. A battle that has been much needed but not seen in awhile, especially with the run happy history that Arkansas has written for decades now.
So our point fails to be made and an answer seems to be a debate for the coaching staff when Fall practice begins. Until then we will have to wish all students well on Finals, and we will see the Hogs in the weight room come May.
We will do our best to analyze the remaining positions' (including some on the remaining athletes at quarterback) outlooks following the Spring game.
Until next time and forever - Go Hogs!!!
Feel free to comment above or to e-mail me at email@example.com.
Travel, illness, family illness, covering too many basketball games to remember, and a lack of sleep have caused us to fall behind. But we'll be back very soon, ready to go at it once again.
What has happened to cause the suspension of Courtney Fortson from the Razorback Basketball team?
How long will he be suspended?
Will we be able to survive Kentucky with only 7 to 8 scholarship players available?
The answers to these questions are as of yet unanswered despite the rumors and "This is what happened" statements floating around the Arkansas Internet World. Does someone know outside of those involved? Probably. Do we know for a fact who that person is? Probably not.
We can talk about the impact that Fortson's suspension will have upon the team, but accusations and innuendos should be avoided until things are cleared up from within the situation. Keep your heads and class about you while we let the young man and those around him keep a private situation just that - private.
We also know that whether or not this could produce off-season transfers weighs on your minds. Pelphrey knows what he is doing; we will just have to hope and leave it at that.
Thank you for your time.
Feel free to comment above and to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m not sick, but I’m not well.
And I’m so hot, cause I’m in hell.”
Harvey Danger - “Flagpole Sitta”
I was dribbling a basketball outside yesterday. The seams were rough from bouncing on concrete and an invisible grime covered the ball. When I shot it looked good at first but the rotation was slightly off, the arc heavy and uneven, as if the ball was not a perfect orb. I kept clanging bricks and I stared at the ball, blaming it for my failures.
At the goal next to me a group of high school kids were playing 3 on 3. It was 1pm on a school day but here they were. Maybe it was some kind of grubby teenager holiday.
The sun was bright but ineffectual, the air frigid and clear. I smelled burning oil and wet wool.
The kids were not good, not at all. They were dressed in sweatshirts and long sleeve shirts and too big jeans and watchcaps. Their shoes were those heavy skater sneakers where the laces don’t tie. Everyone looked heavy and slow and clumsy. A little guy kept jacking from deep despite the breeze and airballed two. His friends didn’t seem to care. They seemed to be having fun.
I wasn’t that way when I was a kid. I felt the need to win every pick up game and so did my friends. That was how we were taught and how we felt. The journey wasn’t important, just the destination. We got in fights quite a bit and guys that jacked weak jumpers weren’t invited the next time.
To me that has always been a beauty in sport, that winners and losers are easy to distinguish. You win or you lose, just look at the scoreboard if you are confused.
As I have gotten older I have softened on this, but not much. Sports are a live drama. Winning and losing are the ending of the movie, but you have to watch and savor the whole thing to understand the plot and the character arcs. Whether you win or lose is crucial only in that it effects how you look back on the story, see what you’ve learned, how you got to where you are today.
We are running late for the game. A wreck northbound on the Arkansas River bridge brought us to a standstill. I feel good about the game, comfortable and serene. That’s probably not game.
We sit down just before tipoff. Henry is in the lineup and this is good. Bruce Pearl is going with a mock turtleneck and sportscoat, like it is a theme day during a high school “spirit week” and he is dressed up as a ‘70’s gigolo. Richard Gere would be proud. His out of season tan is nearly spectacular.
I like Bruce Pearl and I have loved his teams, the way they get after it and go for the jugular. But I don’t like this team. They look like they have 5 forwards that all think they can shoot but can’t. Their defense is soft and weak. I think there might be something in the water in Knoxville that turns great looking basketball players into enigmas. Their teams always seen to be good only in theory. Maybe its the uniforms.
Texas, as much as I dislike them, has a cool shade of orange. It is burnt and smokey and masculine. Tennessee looks like pale sherbert. You could put their colors on a sun dress for an Easter outing. This bugs me.
Let’s play ball.
My date looks great. She has kind of a school teacher/dominatrix thing going on. I tell her this but she doesn’t seem to think it is the compliment I do.
Man we look slow early. Fortunately Tennessee looks perfectly happy to throw the ball around the 3 point line against our weak zone then jack up a set shot every once in a while. Where is their point guard? They are in desperate need.
My date is troubled by the fact that some UT players have orange shoes and some have white. “That’s silly”, she says. She likes Tyler Smith’s socks though. They are a “pretty color”.
Stef has a steal and a couple turnovers. Rotnei misses. Henry misses and fouls and is replaced. We still haven’t scored but Tennessee has only made a bucket and some FTs.
We are down 8-1 before Stef decides to take a couple easy dribbles against his bigger defender and pull up for a nice J.
FIRST TIMEOUT 3-8 Tennessee
Sweet tempo change. Courtney drives. Henry scores. Stef buries a 3. Crowd comes alive. Now that doesn’t seem so hard.
RC is off. He misses again but he seems to lack a spark. He hasn’t taken it to the hole like he did in the second half against LSU. He is busting it around screens and his teammates are looking for him but it just doesn’t seem to be there. I would argue that playing a soft zone on defense has this effect on a team. It saps them of energy. They become passive on both ends.
We now have ushers in there sweater vests go to each corner of the floor during timeouts - protecting the floor I guess. I feel safer already.
Courtney looks to get fouled on every drive. he needs to use his hops and his strength to go through people because he isn’t going to get calls doing that dipsy-doo stuff.
Henry scores and Tenn has to call timeout. Jay Bilas would say that Henry is “long”.
SECOND TIMEOUT 12-8 Hogs
Sanchez does a spin move for absolutely no apparent reason but makes a nice fade. He looks skinny, like the season is wearing on him. He moves better at this weight though.
Tenn hasn’t score in like 5 minutes but they seem perfectly happy to keep having big men shoot bad 3s. How did UT get like this? They haven’t pressed yet - not even token pressure.
I point out to my date that Prince is wearing black stockings.
“Tights, honey. We call them tights.”, she says and pats me on the knee. I’m always learning.
Stef actually makes a layup. He is playing very, very well.
Smith gets off the schneid.
THIRD TIMEOUT 17-13 Hogs
I understand the zone defense idea and I’m sure it is the right move but I HATE it. We are just waiting for D-1 scholarship athletes to find their range. This idea that we let other teams beat themselves IN OUR HOUSE instead of attacking, attacking, attacking drives me nuts. We stagnate in half-court and look really good in transition. They don’t have a guard. We are at HOME! Let’s push it. (I understand that this runs the risk of getting THEIR team and athletes comfortable in a transition game but so what. If we are going to get beat let’s get beat hard.)
Did I mention that Tenn started 3 guys with headbands and sometimes has a 4th on the court. We started 3 as well. This is a problem. It needs to be addressed on a congressional level.
Chism’s headband is silly. He has it way up on the crown of his head. It looks like a yarmulke with a sunroof.
Tyler Smith puts his bright orange mouthpiece in his headband during timeouts then puts it back in. Uhhhhh - Yuck.
We are bricking FTs, even Sanchez who is reliable. RC misses again but they are good shots. Just keep firing.
Maze is in for Tenn. I think he is supposed to be their PG. Bang he makes 2 in a row. Maybe he doesn’t play because he shoots too much for a point.
WOW Hopson with a semi-360 cram. Seems a little early for showboating but if I could do that you couldn’t get me to stop. I’d do it all day, just like when I first discovered . . . well that’s another story for another time.
Henry hits a 3. He is sooo good. he gets his hands on everything.
And now Stef hits. This is a game of kinda weak runs. Maze comes back with a 3. He has by far the best looking shot from the creamsicle squad.
Stef again to answer another UT 3.
LAST TIMEOUT 30-26 Hogs
Stef is carrying us and Maze is keeping them in it.
Stef with a pretty look away to Henry for a cram. Offensively Stef is more in control than he has been.
“Boy, Tennessee has some cute little coaches over there, don’t they” my date says. I was just about to mention that.
There is a big white goofus in the game for Tennessee. His last name is Pearl. Hmmmmm. If he IS the coaches son then his dad is hogging the tanning bed.
Mike W makes a nice little pro-fade before half.
HALFTIME 35-33 Hogs
What a weird half. We played soft and weak for at least 10 minutes of it but had brief flashes of dominance. Tennessee is a shell of the last couple of years. Neither team wants to press. Rotnei can’t hit to save his life. Just weird. We learned nothing other than the fact that Henry has to play 25-30 minutes a game.
The halftime entertainment is a male female duo that are billed as “Quick Change” artists. This is a lie. He is a magician right down to the gloves and the tuxedo. I think he is just trying to fool me because he knows that magicians, mimes, and clowns join mascots in my pantheon of creepy things. I feel like all of those career choices were made under the influence of prescription narcotics just after a bad breakup and around the time of a recovered memory featuring a drunken uncle sneaking into their room when they were 7.
I tell this to my date and she is speechless due to my wisdom.
“They were on ‘America’s Got Talent’”, my date says. “They were GREAT!” She is giddy. Giddy I tell you.
I want to tease her for watching “America’s Got Talent” but I’m pretty sure I saw that episode too.
The magician’s assistant is looks to be an eastern european immigrant in her early to mid fifties. My backstory for her is that she advertised online for a husband so she could move to America and this guy told her he was a “Quick Change Artist”. It wasn’t until she arrived here penniless and alone that she found out he was a MAGICIAN and she has been his prisoner ever since, secretly passing notes to mascots at every arena they visit in hopes they will rescue her.
This story gets my date asking what I’m drinking.
The Artists are dancing which is a mistake. I am claiming that I can see her layers of clothing - as I am a man of science and cannot be trifled with. I really can’t.
The change of clothes is actually kinda weird and remarkable. At the end she changes while stepping through not much more than a hula hoop. It seems like, like . . . uhhhhhh MAGIC!
My jaw is on the floor and my date is cackling. Actually cackling. She’s lucky I’m into the dominatrix thing. I tell her our “safe word” should me “MAGIC”.
She says that there will be no “safe words”. CHECK PLEASE!
My date went to get some burgers and I am inordinately excited about this. She seems less so.
We start the 2nd half just like the first. Soft, stagnant defense saved only by crummy Tenn shooting. We haven’t scored in 4 minutes and are suddenly down 7. How did that happen?
“That Williams guy on Tennessee looks like Sinbad” my date says. “I loved him in that movie where he was a cowboy.”
I am excited by a Sinbad reference. I tell her that he was on the first season of “Star Search” along with other luminaries like “Sawyer Brown”.
“Man I loved me some ‘Sawyer Brown’”, she says. Well who didn’t.
Stef with a drive and some tosses then a steal and a feed to Henry. Let’s go Stef.
Pel was just chewing out RC, I’m not sure for what. First time I’ve seen that.
FIRST TIMEOUT 41-42 Tennessee
UT seems to have figured out they can get inside the zone with a few simple passes. And if they get it up on the rim they can crash the boards instead of letting us get the long rebounds off missed 3s.
This zone has been successful at times this year but it is a fundamentally poor defense in its execution. If we are supposed to be letting them shoot then there is no reason we shouldn’t be controlling the paint.
I’m excited about my burger but the bun keeps falling apart. This is upsetting.
Courtney buries a 3 point bank shot falling down as the shot clock runs out. he just caught and shot which is key for him. I think that was his 1st three since the Truman administration.
Stef penetrates and scores. Does he have 20 already?
Stef and Courtney spend an extended period of time doing a very complicated low five. Good to see.
A bit of back and forth. RC misses again, badly this time.
SECOND TIMEOUT 49-49
“Those were some very thin band people during the timeout” my mom says. We aren’t a musical family so we refer to band folks as if they are another species.
Stef misses a short one, Oy Ve! But then he hits a deep one. Atta boy SW.
Henry is playing much better than the stats will show. He is active and touches everything.
MW dunk and I think this thing could be ours.
Chism is scoring at will inside. No doubt we are small but goodness.
THIRD TIMEOUT 58-55 HOGS
We have trouble finishing teams, for a lot of reasons. Mostly due to a lack of lock down defense which is, in part, a function of size.
Courtney showing signs of taking over. Prince did a good job on him but noone else can stay in front of him.
Stef misses a 3 that could have been a dagger. story of the season.
Mike W misses a pair of FTs (not even close) that could’ve put us up 6.
Stef misses again from 3. Good shots. Gotta make them.
And it’s tied. prince is a decent ballplayer. I like him.
Did I mention that when I came into the game there was an older couple (early 70’s) leaning against a wall with their cute red sweaters and jeans on. The man had his left hand firmly stuck in his lady’s back pocket. Good Times!
Criminy - Henry misses and Chism gets hoop and harm.
CF makes a 3 pointer! - straight in I swear.
LAST TIMEOUT 64-64
CF drives and scores. The kid can play and has played well today.
Can’t make free throws though.
This slow pace leads to games like this - that can go either way. We can’t let this happen at home. And Tenn STILL hasn’t pressed.
Tie game with a minute and a half left but our defense is porous. Smith scores.
Courtney answers. Prince gets a tip in. Get a freakin’ STOP!
Down 2 we run down the shot clock - why? CF with a pretty bucket.
Maze pushes up the left side and makes a nearly unchallenged 8 footer. Wow the air just went out of this place.
Stef got the inbounds pass and went up the left side and got a clear jumper from 5 ft and missed. Chance at a tip and we miss.
FINAL SCORE 72-74 Tennessee
UT did execute the last 4 or 5 possessions quite well. We just have to be better than this.
Stef played well but had too many turnovers. Henry played well but shot poorly. CF just played well. Rotnei was off and had maybe his worst defensive game and maybe hurt his shoulder. We played almost NO bench which I just can’t understand. Moore and Clarke make tons of mistakes but at least they are active defensively and they couldn’t have been worse than what we had inside. But I don’t watch practice.
This season has become a bit of a sojourn, a long trudge. There are mountains and valleys within each game and each half and even each possession. I can see progress but again I can’t. I have little patience for the “We have no depth so we can’t play fast” excuses. We can always play like wild dogs. Go down hard in a blaze of glory. Make the opposition HATE to play us.
I guess I need to sit back and enjoy the journey for a bit. Winning isn’t everything. At least that’s what they tell me.
Until next time.