Thanks to the wonders of satellite radio, I had the pleasure of listening to last night's game. And I don't mean "pleasure" ironically. Yes, it was yet another loss, but I thought it was the Hogs' strongest effort of the conference season. No great half of play followed by a mind-numbingly bad one (or vice versa). No blown double-digit leads.
Just one very solid effort. On the road, mind you. Against arguably the SEC's second-best team.
I know we're all tired of the losses, but in their last two games, the Hogs have taken LSU and South Carolina down to the wire. There is reason to hope that this team is closer to being NCAA Tournament material than its ghastly 1-11 conference record suggests.
And an ever-improving Jason Henry is a big part of that hope. It was fun to hear the South Carolina announcers heap praise on the West Memphis native for his fantastic performance last night. Who knows - when all is said and done, Henry might be the best player out of this freshman class.
On a final note, I continue to be impressed by the Hogs' effort. In the last few weeks, the message boards have contained lots of ominous rumblings about a program in turmoil, about a team full of players who don't respect their coaches.
I don't see it.
Whatever this team's numerous shortcomings may be, giving up doesn't appear to be one of 'em. I think that speaks volumes about Pelphrey and his staff - and these players.
Make no mistake: this team has a long way to go. But I walked away from last night's game thinking that maybe the journey won't take as long as we fear.