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Bad time for Arkansas basketball to be rebuilding 

Let's run the Betamax all the way back into mid-March.

Arkansas loses a fevered matchup against North Carolina, ending its winningest basketball season in two decades in the NCAA Tournament. The consensus at that time was that even if Bobby Portis did take the expected plunge into the NBA, the program's renaissance was secured. Michael Qualls would come back to be that rare breed of a do-it-all senior, combine with Anton Beard in the backcourt and let new blood in the form of Jimmy Whitt and Ted Kapita basically ensure that the progression marched onward.

Four months later, Portis is a Chicago Bull, and he's pretty much the only one flashing that familiar childlike grin. Qualls ended up getting suspect counsel, departing for the draft himself, and his visage was one of excruciating pain after he blew out his knee in Phoenix as he tried desperately to prove himself better than a second-round talent. Kapita failed to hit the academic marks and is now on his way to prep school, presumably never to land back in Fayetteville.

As for Beard, along with fellow returnee Jacorey Williams and Colorado transfer Dustin Thomas? They ended up getting snagged for some sort of thoroughly unsophisticated (read: idiotic) currency forgery ring, and it's utterly likely that the touted North Little Rock point guard, the mercurial Williams, and the athletic but untested Thomas never see the court again.

Certainly didn't take long for any scant traces of optimism to drain swiftly out of the tank, did it?

Mike Anderson's 2014-15 turning point now looks more like the anomaly, or the peak, and there are going to be understandable questions about why a scholarship was invested in Kapita when his credentials were dubious. Arkansas does return Moses Kingsley, who is good for one sustained burst of offense per season, and Trey Thompson, who may actually have more innate physical gifts than Kingsley but hasn't been afforded the same court time yet. The post likely will be manned by two guys who may do well to average double-digit points together.

Your incoming backcourt is Whitt, senior Anthlon Bell, transfer Dusty Hannahs and senior Jabril Durham. Whitt is believed to be dynamic, and he'll have to be. Bell's streakiness is a known quality. Durham was hardly allowed to do much last year, and Hannahs' body of work is one middling season for a horrid Texas Tech team. And yet, taking all that into account, the backcourt is the relative strength.

If Anderson thought the temperature beneath his seat rose to uncomfortable levels last year when a promising bunch lost a batch of close conference games, he's going to practically want to relive that by the time, oh, December rolls around. This portends as the worst bunch since Stan Heath arrived in 2002 to collect all the parts of the USS Richardson's floating debris, and perhaps it won't even rise to that level. The SEC still isn't the most daunting league on a week-to-week basis, but Arkansas now resembles an average mid-major anyhow. This is not how anyone envisioned things, and it's accordingly amplified the pressure surrounding the coach who may have invested unwisely in a risky project like Kapita.

The Malik Monk pipe dreams may have summarily died, too. This program went from bull market to disarray in record time, and at the worst possible time, too. Band-Aids in late July simply don't exist, and if they do, they usually are of the off-brand variety. Anderson now finds himself in territory that, to be frank, he never had to suffer at any of his prior stops, and how he can possibly reconstruct this will be an oddly compelling little storyline this fall.

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Speaking of Mike Anderson, Arkansas Razorbacks

  • Woeful

    December 1, 2016
    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference. /more/
  • Williams shines

    November 24, 2016
    Alternating wins and losses has been the pattern behavior of Arkansas's 2016 season as it draws to its terminus. So after the Hogs gave their most listless and disappointing home effort in a good while against LSU, why wouldn't they just explode all over the cowbell-clanging din in Starkville the next time out? /more/
  • Deflated

    November 17, 2016
    Foolish consistency, per Emerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. What commentary he would've offered about the Arkansas Razorbacks' 10 weeks of wild inconsistency is for debate, but he might've been more profane than pithy if he had to sit through this madness. /more/
  • Lessons learned

    October 20, 2016
    Picture Bret Bielema pole-vaulting for a minute. Then, once the laughter subsides, hear me out with this absurd analogy. /more/
  • On to Alabama

    October 6, 2016
    With War Memorial Stadium's mystique and alleged efficacy dying by the year, it was at least comforting to watch Arkansas finally devour a purported cupcake there. Bret Bielema boosted his Little Rock record to 2-3, with those two wins coming against Football Championship Subdivision schools, after the Hogs pummeled Alcorn State 52-10 on Saturday. /more/
  • Hogs blew it

    September 29, 2016
    Arkansas needed to beat Texas A&M. That's it. Sometimes perfunctory is poetry. /more/
  • 2-0

    September 15, 2016
    If you tuned in to ESPN Saturday night or settled into your seats at Fort Worth's compact but energetic Amon Carter Stadium, you undoubtedly felt like the impending Arkansas-TCU tilt was going to be compelling, if for no other reason because it pitted a burgeoning Big 12 power against a rising SEC program, with both having that Southwest Conference badging that went dormant a quarter-century ago. /more/
  • Soft secondary

    September 8, 2016
    Two schools of thought may well emerge after Arkansas nipped a spirited Louisiana Tech team, 21-20, in the 2016 opener Saturday. /more/
  • Hogs' first opponent, La. Tech, depleted

    September 1, 2016
    Both teams are trying to replace seasoned, and oft-maligned quarterbacks. /more/
  • Razorback offense can't fail

    August 25, 2016
    The first year of the Dan Enos experiment was an unqualified success, even if the Hogs struggled to put up points in crippling losses to Toledo and Texas Tech early in the year. /more/
  • More »

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More by Beau Wilcox

  • Woeful

    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Williams shines

    Alternating wins and losses has been the pattern behavior of Arkansas's 2016 season as it draws to its terminus. So after the Hogs gave their most listless and disappointing home effort in a good while against LSU, why wouldn't they just explode all over the cowbell-clanging din in Starkville the next time out?
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Deflated

    Foolish consistency, per Emerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. What commentary he would've offered about the Arkansas Razorbacks' 10 weeks of wild inconsistency is for debate, but he might've been more profane than pithy if he had to sit through this madness.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

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Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Woeful

    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Williams shines

    Alternating wins and losses has been the pattern behavior of Arkansas's 2016 season as it draws to its terminus. So after the Hogs gave their most listless and disappointing home effort in a good while against LSU, why wouldn't they just explode all over the cowbell-clanging din in Starkville the next time out?
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Deflated

    Foolish consistency, per Emerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. What commentary he would've offered about the Arkansas Razorbacks' 10 weeks of wild inconsistency is for debate, but he might've been more profane than pithy if he had to sit through this madness.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

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Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Woeful

    • If the UA could get the SEC to stop all games if at any time…

    • on December 2, 2016
  • Re: Woeful

    • The Mizz loss was worse than getting beat by Louisiana-Moron

    • on December 2, 2016
 

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