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The good, the bad and the ugly 

A week's worth of fodder from Razorback Country is akin to a Leone spaghetti western. To wit:

Il Buono: Bud Walton Arena's self-affixed label as the Basketball Palace of Mid-America is kind of laughable these days, but it's nonetheless remarkable how much better Mike Anderson's troops look when they are at 1270 Leroy Pond Drive. Against a Mississippi State program awash with inexperience, the Hogs were just plain nasty. The 96-70 win had all the flavor of a 1990s-era box score, what with the Bulldogs coughing up possession 28 times and the Hogs employing better scoring balance (four in double figures) than they have all year. The hectic transition game that has been missing reappeared primarily in the form of thunderous dunks, namely one by Marshawn Powell that was eradicated by a horrid charging call.

Excitement about Bret Bielema's inaugural recruiting class is also rising. The Hogs flipped a massive offensive line commit, Dan Skipper, from Tennessee, and they are making an earnest push to sign one of the nation's truly elite tailbacks, Florida product Alex Collins, away from Miami. Even the Bielema detractors here and abroad at least acknowledge his cockiness is virtuous, and if he continues his zealous push into Florida and Texas, he's going to swing more votes in his favor. That said, how does anybody get worked up one way or the other about recruiting season anymore? It is such a ludicrous sport-within-sport, and Bielema's successes at Wisconsin are tangible proof thereof.

I digress, though. The past week also featured...

Il Brutto: These are ostensibly the best days in Razorback baseball history. Dave Van Horn's team rides into 2013 with what most observers regard as the deepest and most gifted pitching staff in the program's history, and that's even after All-SEC stalwart DJ Baxendale elected to bypass his senior season. Buoyed by a splendid postseason run, Arkansas therefore commanded the attention of all the amateur baseball publications and has claimed the preseason No. 1 ranking in three different polls.

So, right before the season starts, how about a disciplinary matter to sully these bright waters?

Freshman southpaws Colin Poche and Adam Meyer were arrested and charged with shoplifting for allegedly doing an inherently juvenile thing — swiping sandwiches and beer — in the one place (Walmart) where the phrase "loss prevention" is king. Poche is held in particularly high regard, as he was a fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles last June who passed on a cushy bonus to reaffirm his commitment to Arkansas; Meyer probably figured in this season's bullpen plans as well.

Look, it's a minor offense and it seems unlikely that it will cost either player his roster spot, and Van Horn's squad has had a pretty resplendent history as far as criminal scrapes are concerned. But it is still disenchanting news and a potential distraction for a team that is staring down the barrel of unprecedented expectations for the coming season.

Anderson also had to mete out in-house discipline recently when he sat sophomore guard Rashad Madden for the South Carolina game. The impetus for the suspension was unknown, and I guess Madden was fortunate to have not been on the court last Saturday, because it was...

Il Cattivo: No team in the country, I would hazard to bet, swings so wildly from the precipice of greatness to utter collapse quite like the Hogs basketballers. They are a modest 3-3 in SEC play, their trends home and away being exhaustively documented. Arkansas's three wins were inside of Bud Walton Arena by an average of 19 points; their three defeats away from home were the epitome of ugliness with an average margin of 17 points. The psyche of the team is clearly and demonstrably affected.

Arkansas sprinted out to a 15-3 lead against the Gamecocks Saturday, only to watch it disappear as South Carolina predictably defied its own conventions by nailing long-range shots and smothering the Hogs' guards at will. South Carolina's response to the Hogs' early jabs was a slew of uppercuts, and by the time the half was over, the Cocks had finished on a 40-11 surge that made Arkansas look like some kind of wayward midseason out-of-conference breather. Only Marshawn Powell (22 points, 13 rebounds) bothered to give any kind of sustained effort in the loss. The Hogs still have incredible potential, but nothing is clicking consistently at all, and opportunities to salvage the campaign are drying up.

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Speaking of...

  • Bad year a blip

    May 19, 2016
    Dave Van Horn's performance as Arkansas's baseball coach is beyond reproach. The program was respectable, if flatlining a bit, under longtime head coach Norm DeBriyn. /more/
  • NFL baffling for Hogs

    May 5, 2016
    Each year, the NFL Draft's escalation/descent toward a more audacious and ludicrous spectacle becomes more obvious, but amid this backdrop of pomp and bluster is a troubling, inane trend. /more/
  • Don't despair about baseball

    April 21, 2016
    Arkansas's baseball freefall is not something atypical for a Dave Van Horn team. Being 21-15, 4-11 at the midway point of the conference season would seem so distressing, if you bought into the belief that records mattered all that much. /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/
  • Sweat equity: UA spending includes an $8 million football coaching staff

    March 10, 2016
    On news that the University of Aransas football coaching staff now has a payroll of almost $8 million, a question: What are the staff salaries by department of academic arms of the University of Arkansas? /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/
  • Signing Day takeaways

    February 11, 2016
    Say what you will about National Signing Day's absurdist pageantry — you'd be right, in fact — but in Arkansas, there are some inescapable certainties that usually denote it. /more/
  • Razorbacks up, down and up again

    February 4, 2016
    Even at a modest 11-10, Arkansas has so much still at stake. /more/
  • More »

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