Recon: Arkansas

Recon: Arkansas

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The only thing worse than being a fan of a mid-major that treats an Elite Eight appearance like the
second coming of Christ would be being a fan of a program like Arkansas. Back when most of you
were queerin’ around on bikes with your friends, the Razorbacks were the genuine article. Black
supremacist Nolan Richardson took the fledgling program out of Eddie Sutton’s shaky hands and
transfixed it into one of the more dominant programs in the nation.

Between the 1990 and 1995 seasons, Arkansas turned in the following performances:

1990: Final Four
1991: Elite 8
1992: Second Round
1993: Sweet 16
1994: National Champions
1995: National Runners-Up

That’s about as solid a run as one could hope for, as the Razorbacks put together a 21-5 record during those
six NCAA Tournament appearances (Arkansas averaged 29 wins per season over that time period). In 1996,
one year removed from the National Championship game, Arkansas reached the Sweet 16 as a twelve seed,
eventually bowing out to John Calipari’s #1 ranked UMass team in the regional semi-final.

Since then, Arkansas might as well be Dayton. Just seven trips to the NCAA Tournament (none
since 2008), not a single appearance past the second round. Nolan Richardson had an emotional
breakdown, Stan Heath (a black-to-black hire!) led the Backs to five inglorious seasons followed by four
uneventful years under the John Pelphrey regime.

I tried to think of a program that had such a concentrated period of success immediately followed by 20
years of borderline irrelevance. The only program I could come up with is UCLA’s cold run between 1981 and
their championship season in 1995 (and Arkansas clearly never reached the level of dominance UCLA
achieved in its heyday). 

Moral of the story: Dayton fans should take solace — it’s a lot easier to be a never-was than a has-been.

[/fullwidth_section] [spacer height=”15″] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Bluff Called[/title] [spacer height=”15″]

“If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take my job tomorrow.”

Frank Broyles, no time for foolishness.

Frank Broyles, no time for foolishness.

Former Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles didn’t suffer fools, especially ones in turquoise suits. Broyles proved that he had wheelbarrow balls soon after Nolan Richardson went on a post-game tirade following a loss to Kentucky in 2002. The defeat dropped the Razorbacks to 13-14 on the season and Richardson went off on one of his patented racially-charged diatribes:

I know for a fact that I do not play on the same level as the other coaches at this school play on. I know that. You [the press] know it. And people of my color know it.

When I look at all you people in this room I see no one that looks like me, talks like me, or acts like me. Now, why don’t you recruit. Why don’t the editors recruit like I’m recruiting.

My great-great grandfather came over on the ship, not Nolan Richardson. I did not come over on that ship. So I expect to be treated a little bit different. I’ve earned the right to have the type of season I’m having.

My practices will be closed to the media from this day until I decide to open it back up again – if I ever open it again while I’m still the basketball coach here.

I hope we’re all on the same page. Thank you.”

Never mind that Richardson was the only black basketball coach, being paid handsomely, at a major school in the South at the time. Although he was infamous for his bizarre and capricious accusations of racism, the tenor around the program had certainly changed by the time he made the aforementioned statement. Arkansas basketball was on a decline and his relationship with Broyles, which was never copacetic to begin with, was beyond strained. 

A few days later, Richardson was given the opportunity to walk back his comments following the Kentucky game. Richardson, in his typical bombasitc style, doubled down and basically dared Broyles to fire him (it was during this exchange that Richardson stated, “if they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take my job tomorrow.”)

Broyles, a Razorback legend, had grown tired of Richardson’s act and constant accusations of racism. So, the most revered man at Arkansas called Richardson’s bluff, shit-canning him soon after the coach’s challenge to terminate him. It was a bold move, one I’m not sure could be replicated today (for a variety of reasons).

The events surrounding Richardson’s dismissal came to symbolize the character of both men. Broyles, tired of baseless accusations (and looking for a way to rid Arkansas of Richardson) came out smelling like a rose. Richardson, tail between his legs, begged for his job back and took his case all the way to federal court — where his charges of racism and First Amendment violations were dismissed with prejudice. 

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After beginning the season with eight straight wins, the Razorbacks have lost consecutive games, to Clemson and Iowa State, and dropped out of the Top 25. Arkansas is coming of a 22-10 season, a fifth place finish in the SEC, that ended with a loss in the NIT Tournament. Mike Anderson’s squad returns six of its top seven scorers from last year, including three starters. 

Anderson seems to have the program moving in the right direction. Arkansas is 65-41 under his leadership, improving on their win total in each of his three seasons on the bench. This season’s Razorback team has plenty of depth and experience, leading most to believe that this is the most talented team, top to bottom, that has come out of Fayetteville in quite some time. Arkansas was picked third, behind Kentucky and Florida, in the SEC’s preseason poll.

What sticks out most about the Razorback roster is their size and athletic ability. Their guards are big, their bigs are long and they push the pace on both ends of the floor. Arkansas is one of the best offensive squads in the country, currently ranked second in the nation in assists (19.6) and eighth in scoring (85.2). Every coach since Richardson has attempted to employ his “40 minutes of hell” philosophy, this current Razorback team may be as close a facsimile of those early 90’s teams as any squad that has come before it. Buckle the fuck up.  

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Hatefull8background

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bobbyportisarkansas
Bobby Portis • F (6’11″/242) • So.
15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 56% fg

Portis, who returned for his sophomore season after contemplating a jump to “da league,” is the most talented big-man UD will face all season.

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michaelquallsarkansas
Michael Qualls • G (6’6″/205) • Jr.
15.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 45% 3fg

Remember when America let DJ Qualls act in a few movies? A real low.

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anthlonbellarkansas
Anthlon Bell • G (6’3″/185) • Jr.
11.4 ppg, 86% ft, 42% 3fg

Excellent perimeter shooter, really likes J Cole (I have no idea who that is).

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alandise harrisarkansas
Alandise Harris • F (6’6″/230) • Sr.
7.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg

Senior role player, very inspirational on Twitter.

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rashadmaddenarkansas
Rashad Madden • G (6’5″/182) • Sr.
10.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 5.8 apg

Guard with problematic size, proud father of Kyayla.

 

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500
Jacorey Williams • F (6’8″/218) •  Jr.
7.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Ja….corey.

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500 (1)
Manuale Watkins • G (6’3″/205) • So.
4.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.3 spg

A walk-on, defensive stopper.

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529f46eb0f770
Moses Kingsley • (6’10″/230) • So.
5.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg

Most underrated player from UNLV–another Moses, Moses Scurry.

[/column] [/row] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Numbers Game[/title] [spacer height=”15″]

billyc

[fullwidth_section text_color=”dark” background_type=”color” bg_color=”#C4D8E2″] [spacer height=”15″] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Prediction[/title]

Bud Walton Arena is a very tough place to play and this will basically be UD’s first true road game, I don’t like those odds any more than you do. UD will need to get hot from the outside, I can’t see how the Flyers get much done in the paint.

Dayton keeps it close but the Razorbacks pull away and win, 82-73.

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Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o’ D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.

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