Favorite

Hogs short on talent 

Let's just lay it out there at the start: this isn't Mike Anderson's fault.

The halcyon days of Arkansas basketball are so far behind us now that the discussion has morphed completely. We no longer wonder when Nolan Richardson's trusted consigliere will have the team back on a pedestal, but instead we muse about all the things that the championship teams did well and just sigh. For crying out loud, the 1994 national championship team had a doughy 6'9" guy who was a better three-point shooter than anybody on this team!

Anderson's middling results so far — 29 wins, 20 losses, and no real signature moments to date — are a testament not to his inability to coach, but rather an indictment of John Pelphrey's nose for talent. Make no mistake, when Pelphrey got the team its first NCAA tournament victory in a decade and started wearing red jackets and playing with the team in practice, it had the feel of being the right hire. The man's pedigree as a hard-nosed overachiever with basketball in his blood made him seem so appealing.

But we are still seeing how badly Pelphrey mismanaged the program over a four-year period. Anderson is overseeing what appears to be a more disciplined squad, on and off the court, but the recruiting misfires are substantial. This isn't a space where picking on individual athletes should occur, but anyone who watched the Hogs struggle to put away another flaccid Auburn team in a double-overtime mid-week tilt knows where the weaknesses lie. This isn't meant to impeach Pelphrey or his staff's judgment on every single signee, because there is talent on this squad, but Anderson's reconstruction has to be more thorough than previously thought.

Arkansas is in the midst of a dreadful and inexplicable stretch where something so seemingly mundane as beating Ole Miss has become a chore. Since 1996-97, the Razorbacks are 9-24 against the Rebels, and they haven't won at the colloquially named "Tad Pad," more commonly described as the Division I arena most fit for condemnation, since Pelphrey's woeful 2009-10 crew eked out a victory there. Take note that Ole Miss has not been a terribly accomplished team during this stretch: Andy Kennedy, now in his seventh season, still hasn't guided the Rebels into the NCAA tournament. At this point, though, Razorback fans would be comforted to have an NIT-bound team — as has long been the argument about the virtues of even lesser football bowls, the extra practice time even for modest reward is worth it.

What remains so puzzling about the Anderson experience thus far is how uncomfortable the Hogs seem to get when they seem to seize control of a game. Against Auburn, Arkansas assembled a masterful first-half run that flipped a 12-6 deficit into a 25-14 lead almost in an instant. Even during the leaner final years of Richardson's long tenure, this was still the sort of game-altering run that used to generate a thrill as the Hogs coasted to a blowout.

Auburn basically has adopted the same template of every bad but bothersome team that has populated the SEC, and thereby given the Hogs fits, for years. The Tigers have a bunch of nondescript supporting players, one bulky and profoundly graceless enforcer in the paint (in this case, the fittingly named Rob Chubb) and a high-level scorer that, as fate would have it, gets way too many unchallenged opportunities at all the worst possible times. That guy, Frankie Sullivan, poured in 26 on Wednesday, which gave him his seventh career double-digit scoring effort against the Hogs. Ole Miss is more well-rounded than that, so when the Rebels ceded all of a 13-point second-half lead, it was no great shakes for Kennedy to calmly reconnoiter and send his guys back onto the floor for the final minutes and stretch the lead right back to 13 in short order. The Hogs lost 76-64 and never threatened to close in the final five minutes because, once again, nobody other than B.J. Young or Marshawn Powell seemed all that interested in putting up a fierce attack.

From a pure talent standpoint, nary a gulf exists between Arkansas and Ole Miss. There is a subtle but important disparity in team cohesion, though. Ole Miss was utterly unfazed by the Hogs' second-half burst and its composure was built upon a commitment to finding sharpshooter Marshall Henderson even though he had been way off the mark for the first 30-plus minutes. Arkansas, given the chance to exchange blows till the end, simply looked lost and confused, a dark harbinger for the last two months.

Favorite

Speaking of Mike Anderson, Arkansas Razorbacks

  • Terrible showing from Hogs

    January 10, 2019
    Young basketball teams — we’ll routinely exclude those at Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and the like, which feature top-tier talent at every position — really struggle to find cohesiveness. Arkansas’s 2018-19 men’s squad is often described as the “youngest team in America” because there are no seniors and only a single scholarship upperclassman (junior forward Adrio Bailey) on the roster. /more/
  • Two Razorbacks face suspensions for mingling with opposing squad's dance team

    November 20, 2018
    Flirting with the enemy. /more/
  • Worst ever

    September 17, 2018
    Let’s get this out of the way: Arkansas hasn’t had two consecutive weeks of football this torturous ever. /more/
  • Arkansas Razorbacks 2018 football preview, part 1

    August 2, 2018
    Shockingly, Pearls has done this "season preview" thing for just shy of a full decade now, starting with its debut before the 2011 season. That team went 11-2 and finished in the Top 5, and I guess some would say I'm kind of a journalistic hex on the Arkansas football program, because no team has since come within shouting range of that high-water mark. /more/
  • Pearls About Swine College World Series recap: one strike away

    June 28, 2018
    Arkansas Razorback fans, frankly, have earned a right to unlimited psychotherapy. What happened in America’s heartland Wednesday night was heartbreaking, and it cannot be reduced to a popup in foul ground. /more/
  • Pearls About Swine on the Razorbacks' game 1 win in the College World Series finals

    June 27, 2018
    Dave Van Horn has always presided over the Arkansas baseball program with such a steely confidence that it was not at all surprising to see his facial expression barely change in the Razorback dugout on Tuesday night as Oregon State looked to build an early lead against his Hogs. /more/
  • Razorbacks introduce new football coach Chad Morris

    December 7, 2017
    Chad Morris meets the press today. /more/
  • Bleak in Hogville

    October 26, 2017
    In 2015, Bret Bielema's perilous future as Arkansas's head coach tilted in a favorable way when the Hogs outlasted Auburn in a four-overtime classic at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, setting in motion a strong finish to what was shaping up as a lost season. /more/
  • Game on

    August 31, 2017
    This entire opening game preview, I suppose, has a giant asterisk accompanying it. If the havoc that Harvey wrought upon Texas makes its way nor'easterly, then the Arkansas season debut Thursday night in Little Rock may be in jeopardy, and I suspect would not be rescheduled if such a cancellation came to pass. Arkansas may need that presumably easy win for bowl consideration later, but let's presume for the moment the Hogs do get to take on Florida A&M at War Memorial Stadium. /more/
  • Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 3

    August 17, 2017
    Halfway through the Hogs' 2017 football season, which now will undoubtedly be played out in the memory of J. Frank Broyles, Pearls has the team sitting at 4-2, 1-2 after back-to-back road defeats against South Carolina and Alabama. /more/
  • More »

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Hogs short on players

    When Arkansas started SEC play by sneaking out of College Station, Texas, with a really shaky victory over those pernicious Aggie types, it all seemed so simple, right? The formula for some degree of success in what is shaping up to be a rough-and-tumble league in 2018-19 was set: The Hogs could ill afford to be so reliant on the three-pointer, they had to be aggressive defensively, and they had to figure out some way to get their short, inexperienced bench to contribute.
    • Jan 17, 2019
  • Terrible showing from Hogs

    Young basketball teams — we’ll routinely exclude those at Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and the like, which feature top-tier talent at every position — really struggle to find cohesiveness. Arkansas’s 2018-19 men’s squad is often described as the “youngest team in America” because there are no seniors and only a single scholarship upperclassman (junior forward Adrio Bailey) on the roster.
    • Jan 10, 2019
  • Raw bunch

    The major Arkansas programs continue to get one meaningful opportunity to take their talents to the center of the state each season and the pre-Christmas squaring off between the basketball Hogs and a generally inept foe has become tradition.
    • Dec 20, 2018
  • More »

People who saved…

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Hogs short on players

    When Arkansas started SEC play by sneaking out of College Station, Texas, with a really shaky victory over those pernicious Aggie types, it all seemed so simple, right? The formula for some degree of success in what is shaping up to be a rough-and-tumble league in 2018-19 was set: The Hogs could ill afford to be so reliant on the three-pointer, they had to be aggressive defensively, and they had to figure out some way to get their short, inexperienced bench to contribute.
    • Jan 17, 2019
  • Terrible showing from Hogs

    Young basketball teams — we’ll routinely exclude those at Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and the like, which feature top-tier talent at every position — really struggle to find cohesiveness. Arkansas’s 2018-19 men’s squad is often described as the “youngest team in America” because there are no seniors and only a single scholarship upperclassman (junior forward Adrio Bailey) on the roster.
    • Jan 10, 2019
  • Raw bunch

    The major Arkansas programs continue to get one meaningful opportunity to take their talents to the center of the state each season and the pre-Christmas squaring off between the basketball Hogs and a generally inept foe has become tradition.
    • Dec 20, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Hogs short on players

    • By all accounts Mike Anderson is a really nice guy, however that doesn't put check…

    • on January 18, 2019
  • Re: Hogs short on players

    • Whoo Pigs-phooey!

    • on January 17, 2019
 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation