We gather here today to lay to rest Arkansas' NCAA Tournament at-large bid. It passed away today around 5:45 p.m. CST.
The Hog team that traveled to College Station, Athens and Tuscaloosa earlier this season found their way to the Georgia Dome. The team that beat Kentucky twice and hung 110 on Ole Miss was no where to be found.
It was the same song different verse. The Razorbacks were out rebounded by 16, including 15 offensive rebounds for the Gamecocks. It's a product of the system that will not change. Nolan's teams weren't great rebounders and neither are Mike's. Kentucky out rebounded the Hogs by nine in Lexington and the Hogs still won.
The offense was stagnant far too often. Once again, you aren't going to see any set plays from the Hogs in the future. The same philosophy that won at Kentucky, lost today in Atlanta. After Arkansas won at Kentucky, Willie Cauley-Stein said that the hardest thing about guarding the Hogs is that Arkansas' coaches just "let them go out and ball."
There are some days that things are clicking on all cylinders. Today just wasn't that day.
I for one have absolutely no problem with Arkansas' final offensive possession (not including the 35-foot prayer Madden chucked up as time expired). Bobby Portis was in front of the basket posting up a guard. He just missed the shot. I bet that McDonald's All-American makes nine out of 10 of those in practice. This was the one time it didn't fall. My heart hurts for that kid. He'll hit a huge shot at Arkansas before his college career is over.
I do have a problem with Arkansas' second to last full possession. Madden dribbled with no idea of what he really wanted to do. I think I heard every one of you screaming at the TV, "what are you doing!?!?"
When Mike Anderson sees that is when I wish he would call a timeout to draw something up. He had that nice play for Portis, so I'm sure he has something in his back pocket for Coty Clarke. I know it is easy to be a coach on the couch, but we all saw that drive into a quadruple team coming.
I've written this several times, but I'm starting to see a trend. The Hogs have more flow when Anderson cuts his rotation to 10 players. Today the tandem of Jacorey Williams, Kikko Haydar, and Rickey Scott combined for 12 minutes of nothing. Okay, they combined for one rebound and four personal fouls, so not exactly nothing. That's not to pick on those guys, but every basketball player I've talked to in my life has said no one can get in a flow and be productive in four minutes of playing time. In a two point decision, those 12 minutes clearly matter.
As much as it hurts right now, the season isn't a waste. Was a NIT bid the goal? No, but clearly progress has been made. These seniors who worked so hard through tough times deserve a post season reward. They will get one more senior night either Tuesday or Wednesday when Bud Walton hosts an NIT game. Nothing will be official until Sunday.
I do think the Razorbacks' résumé will be brought up with the selection committee. But, like a lot of people looking for their first job, the committee will say, "sorry, we are going to go in a different direction."
It hurts to be so close, but yet so far away.
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- Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of 1994: A Quick Stop At The SEC Tournament
- Arkansas Razorbacks vs South Carolina Gamecocks II: The Preview
- This Arkansas Basketball Team Doesn't Do Anything The Easy Way
- Bobby Portis Named The Only All-SEC Razorback