Favorite

Hogs hard to pin down 

click to enlarge ANDERSON: Hovering just above .500 again. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • ANDERSON: Hovering just above .500 again.

Say what you will about these basketball Hogs, they’re doing their damnedest to still make March an interesting month.

This has indisputably been the most erratic Razorback team in my lifetime. Stan Heath’s first team, assembled hastily after Nolan Richardson’s ugly ouster, was just a terrible mess, but it wasn’t the coach’s fault, and the players that were cobbled onto that roster did all they reasonably could do under trying circumstances. John Pelphrey had a couple of squads that were notably inconsistent, a direct reflection of the coach’s slipshod disciplinary practices and the players’ own obvious disenchantment. As for Richardson, his first two teams did struggle after Eddie Sutton’s ignominious departure but history obviously reflected favorably on the nucleus he was working toward.

There’s simply been no team in recent memory quite like the 2018-19 Hogs, and that’s why Mike Anderson goes from imperiled one minute to safe the next and back. Consider this: After absolutely blowing the doors off a hapless Vanderbilt team that went winless in SEC play, Arkansas capped its regular season with one of its better all-around performances in an 82-70 win against Alabama on Saturday. The net effect of that game: The Hogs and Tide finished with identical 17-14 overall and 8-10 SEC records, but Arkansas gets the tiebreaker for the SEC tournament and plays a struggling Florida team Thursday in an effort to keep this late surge intact.

The Hogs assembled that record thusly: after a 9-3 nonconference slate that realistically should have been 11-1 thanks to two late-stage collapses against Texas and Western Kentucky, the Hogs had a grind-it-out league opener for a win over Texas A&M, followed by four losses in a row that ranged from uninspired to ugly. And then the first rally came, a four-game SEC winning streak that included the team’s highest-quality win of the year, a road triumph at LSU. Suddenly, Arkansas looked like this young, exuberant bunch that could pounce on the tourney bubble.

That all came to a screeching halt in the form of a six-game losing streak. But in a bit of irony, it was the last of those losses, the close shave at Rupp Arena against No. 4 Kentucky, that emboldened the team for one last charge. Arkansas followed that loss by nudging its overall record back above .500 with a last-second victory against Ole Miss on a day that the 1994 championship team was celebrated, the Hogs went to Nashville and absolutely pounded the Commodores, and then Daniel Gafford put on a 29-point, 16-rebound show in the breakaway win over the Crimson Tide.

But where does that leave us, as fans and backers of the program? Anderson’s mercurial tenure really hit overdrive this season with all these streaks, and it’s downright scary to think of what next year’s team will look like, regardless of whether Gafford takes the NBA leap or not. There are rumors of players staying or leaving depending on what coaching decisions get made once the season wraps, and some junior college players are being offered for next year, but can anyone at this point affirmatively state that there is a plan for this program? It seems like it is constantly teetering on the rails, and from offseason to offseason, we never know what to expect.

This doesn’t lay entirely at Anderson’s feet, but again, for all the talk about his “legacy” of having no losing seasons, he’s toed that line many times over the years and his last .500 squad here, the 2015-16 group, was solid enough at its core that adding immediate scoring help in the form of Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford the next year made them an instant threat. At this moment, it doesn’t appear that quality transfers are going to flock to a program that really can’t decide on its identity and has a paucity of leadership.

As fans, we all still are pulling for this team to keep this new, latest surge intact and play well in the conference tournament again, where a couple of wins might well bring “bubble” back into the local lexicon. A one-and-done flameout is completely likely, too, of course.

Buckle up, I guess, folks. The next couple of weeks may determine a lot about the future of this program and frankly, if the net effect is just keeping the status quo as far as staffing is concerned, then it’s going to lead to a lot of frustration and apathy, both traits that are already abundant in the fan base’s collective psyche.
Favorite

Speaking of...

  • 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

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Hogs flop in SEC tourney

    Arkansas has had a curious history in the SEC men’s basketball tournament. The 1994 national champs were ousted from it by a stellar Kentucky squad, and when that happened, it seemed to provide a spark as the Hogs spent the next three weeks wiping out their competitors to claim the ultimate crown.
    • Mar 15, 2019
  • Hog basketball purgatory

    The hardwood Hogs’ six-game losing streak reached its paradoxical high and low of the entire season in the span of a single half against Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
    • Mar 1, 2019
  • Time for Anderson to go

    Arkansas’s standby excuse during the lean portions of the Mike Anderson era has been reduced to one word or its variants thereof: “youth.”
    • Feb 18, 2019
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Time for Anderson to go

    Arkansas’s standby excuse during the lean portions of the Mike Anderson era has been reduced to one word or its variants thereof: “youth.”
    • Feb 18, 2019

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Hogs flop in SEC tourney

    Arkansas has had a curious history in the SEC men’s basketball tournament. The 1994 national champs were ousted from it by a stellar Kentucky squad, and when that happened, it seemed to provide a spark as the Hogs spent the next three weeks wiping out their competitors to claim the ultimate crown.
    • Mar 15, 2019
  • Hog basketball purgatory

    The hardwood Hogs’ six-game losing streak reached its paradoxical high and low of the entire season in the span of a single half against Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
    • Mar 1, 2019
  • Time for Anderson to go

    Arkansas’s standby excuse during the lean portions of the Mike Anderson era has been reduced to one word or its variants thereof: “youth.”
    • Feb 18, 2019
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Hogs flop in SEC tourney

    Arkansas has had a curious history in the SEC men’s basketball tournament. The 1994 national champs were ousted from it by a stellar Kentucky squad, and when that happened, it seemed to provide a spark as the Hogs spent the next three weeks wiping out their competitors to claim the ultimate crown.
 

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