Arkansas Final Four Celebration Showed What Razorback Basketball Can Be

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Hog fans hadn't forgotten what it was like to have an elite basketball program, but when that history was on full display Saturday, the craving to return to that status was stronger than ever.

This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in it's entirety here.

The event was fantastic. Hardly any fans left their seats for the extended halftime ceremonies. About three times as many former players showed up compared to what was initially advertised. Some of the ovations were as loud as for the game itself (not quite as loud as Alandise Harris’s dunk or Ky Madden’s behind-the-back lob to Bobby Portis, but still, very loud).

This of course isn’t the first time Arkansas has held this type of event for its basketball legends, and each time it’s a hit. In 2009, in the midst of John Pelphrey’s infamous 2-15 SEC season, Arkansas celebrated the 15th anniversary of the 1994 National Championship against Georgia. It was a huge crowd and the resulted in one of the two SEC wins that season. In 2012 the Razorbacks held a "movie premiere" style event for the debut of the 40 Minutes of Hell ESPN documentary, and thousands of fans stayed after that team’s victory over South Carolina to watch the movie with Nolan Richardson and several former players in attendance.

These events are always fun, and the Razorbacks tend to play well (perhaps Arkansas needs to do this every game). We’ve said before that once football Signing Day ends, the rest of February works as a veritable season of basketball nostalgia in Arkansas, as fans celebrate whichever anniversary of whichever great moment comes along the calendar.

As great as all of it is, and it is, there’s also a hint of bittersweet because the number of years on these anniversaries keep rising and the trophy case stays the same. It raises the question, how much longer until Razorback fans have new things to celebrate, or are fans relegated to celebrating the same moments year after year?

I’m on record as saying the pieces are in place for a resurgence. The only question is whether or not the program will take advantage of those opportunities.

For further talk on the direction of the basketball program, read the column in its entirety here.

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