Favorite

C'mon, coach Anderson 

Arkansas will keep playing basketball past the Ides of March 2014. Whether you met that news with modest applause or audible scoffing is your call, but after the way the Hogs capped off the fixed portion of their schedule, it's hard to muster anything but gross indifference.

The Razorbacks played their way to an inside track toward one of the final NCAA at-large berths in the unwieldy field of 68, then imploded in Atlanta as they have done many, many times before regardless of coaching regime.

South Carolina — mind you, losers of 19 games and likely a little dead-legged after beating Auburn Wednesday night —exacted superiority over the Hogs in every way over the final 30 minutes. Frank Martin outclassed Mike Anderson from a gamesmanship standpoint. Carolina knew Arkansas was soft in the paint and prone to being overly physical on the perimeter, so ultimately the Gamecocks parlayed those relative strengths into one more win in the tourney. Arkansas was worked over in the paint by some unheralded Lithuanian, and despite getting popped by the overzealous officials for hand-checks and such, the Hogs stayed in that mode, surrendered about 98 free throws, and ended up petering out at the end in the most critical game of the season.

This is why the Anderson era has been perplexing to many, myself included. The team's obvious strengths and weaknesses remain so. Yes, it's going to be hard to rebound when you are not manning the middle with much girth; but again, the baffling insistence on rarely putting Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley on the court together seems to be one of the most glaring of many curious personnel decisions that Anderson makes from time to time.

Then there was this moment late in the first half of the game, with South Carolina turning back an early and modest deficit into a slowly swelling lead. The Hogs were flubbing at both ends, so Anderson's presumed fix was a lineup consisting of steady senior anchor Coty Clarke and four of the more nondescript players in the program's recent memory (Rickey Scott, Jacorey Williams, Fred Gulley and Alandise Harris). At a juncture when the squad sorely demanded some offensive spunk, they were represented by an utterly punchless and puzzling array of role players.

Anderson's leaving much to chance right now, betting on the come, thinking that every wart that pops up throughout a season will be Compound W'd with some rising frosh the next fall. The dependency on Bobby Portis this year was mostly met with great results and, in fact, Portis probably wasn't leaned on enough. He has to reach another level of physical maturity so his frame is bolstered for hard contact in the paint, but honestly, Portis' already copious production should balloon next fall.

Now, I guess, we hope that the thing that takes this team above the "sputters to NIT" stage is another young kid, Anton Beard, who happens to play point guard. There are numerous teenagers all over the country stepping into this role now, since predecessors are bailing on off to the NBA as soon as the scouting analysis is complete, so it's not quite the position that requires mastery as it once was. Arkansas could excel with a Corey Beck again, a guy who will be rugged and fiery but will also complement that with basketball smarts. Gulley was too skinny and neutered offensively to matter. Rashad Madden ably accepted the role for now and progressed this fall for certain, but his money will be made on the wing and not in the pilot's seat.

The NIT bid, all vexatious hand-wringing aside, we hope will be something good for the program regardless of how long the stint ends up being. Postseason basketball and all the additional practice time that accompanies it is a source of positive energy for a team that has been bereft of it for far too long. It was an NIT bid in 1986-87 that Arkansas slowly parlayed into something greater over the next decade; when the Hogs slipped in 1997 to an NIT berth, they ate it up, played their way to the final four, and got back to the NCAA tournament the next year. It's not an ideal territory to be in, but it's territory that can be mined for value.

Just realize that the value is plateaued. With the fans starved for success, the only real consolation for losing that shot at the big dance is a good three- or four-win run in this tourney. Ironically, doing that would give the team its most wins since 1995, so volume matters. A demonstration of pride and commitment, something unlike what Kentucky gave last year in tossing away a first-round NIT game at Robert Morris, would have consequence.

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • Not worthy

    February 16, 2017
    There's something to be said for an Arkansas basketball team that spends two-and-a-half games looking like quitters before rising off the mat. /more/
  • Another disaster

    February 9, 2017
    I swear, y'all, I am trying like hell to come up with a new angle on this tragicomic mess called Arkansas basketball. But every week presents the same dichotomy, and the past few days just qualifies as flat-out bewildering. /more/
  • Skeptical about Anderson

    February 2, 2017
    Consider yourselves lucky, Hog fans. Most teams that manage to play about five quality minutes out of 80 in a two-game week don't end up fortunate enough to forge a split like Arkansas did in its latest two road games. /more/
  • Critical stretch

    January 19, 2017
    The minute you take a shine to an Arkansas Razorback team is almost assuredly the same minute you have your sanity tested. /more/
  • Solidly second tier

    January 12, 2017
    It only makes sense that in this numbing era of Razorback slip-and-falls, the Hogs could really put vaunted Kentucky to the test at Rupp Arena for a good 30 minutes of action ... and end up losing by 26 points. /more/
  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    December 8, 2016
    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte. /more/
  • What coaches do lives after them

    March 28, 2016
    News that UALR was going to lose its first-year basketball coaching phenom Chris Beard to UNLV got me thinking about the potential ups and downs of coaching changes. /more/
  • Basketball Hogs in review

    March 17, 2016
    They were every bit of 16-16, 9-9. Average. /more/
  • A roller coaster for Hogs

    February 25, 2016
    You'd think that two nights in Bud Walton Arena against the undisputed dregs of the SEC would be gratifying, a return to normalcy of sorts, even for a pretty mediocre bunch coming off two horrible road losses. /more/
  • Down and out in Mississippi

    February 18, 2016
    Call it "Mississippi Burned." Arkansas took a spin through the Magnolia State, and it ended up being one of the harshest road trips in recent memory, even for a basketball team that's had its share of struggles abroad. /more/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Momentum

    Sure, I'd like to think that Pearls About Swine, that modest batch of haphazard prose, had something to do with motivating Arkansas's beleaguered basketball program to rise from a seemingly inestimable late-season swoon to re-emerge in the NCAA Tournament discussion.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Not worthy

    There's something to be said for an Arkansas basketball team that spends two-and-a-half games looking like quitters before rising off the mat.
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Another disaster

    I swear, y'all, I am trying like hell to come up with a new angle on this tragicomic mess called Arkansas basketball. But every week presents the same dichotomy, and the past few days just qualifies as flat-out bewildering.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

    Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
  • Petition calls for Jason Rapert Sewage Tanks in Conway

    A tribute is proposed for Conway's state senator Jason Rapert: naming the city's sewage sludge tanks for him. Petitioners see a similarity.
  • Health agency socked with big verdict, Sen. Hutchinson faulted for legal work

    A former mental health agency director has won a default judgment worth $358,000 over a claim for unpaid retirement pay and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is apparently to blame for failure to respond to pleadings in the case.
  • Religious right group calls for compromise on damage lawsuit amendment

    The Family Council, the religious right political lobby, has issued a statement urging its followers to oppose the so-called tort reform amendment to limit attorney fees and awards in damage lawsuits.
  • Constituents go Cotton pickin' at Springdale town hall

    Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Momentum

    Sure, I'd like to think that Pearls About Swine, that modest batch of haphazard prose, had something to do with motivating Arkansas's beleaguered basketball program to rise from a seemingly inestimable late-season swoon to re-emerge in the NCAA Tournament discussion.
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Not worthy

    There's something to be said for an Arkansas basketball team that spends two-and-a-half games looking like quitters before rising off the mat.
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Another disaster

    I swear, y'all, I am trying like hell to come up with a new angle on this tragicomic mess called Arkansas basketball. But every week presents the same dichotomy, and the past few days just qualifies as flat-out bewildering.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation