In front of a crowded Barnhill Arena for the first time since 1993, the Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team opened the season with their annual Red-White game. This year, in the spirit of throwing it back to an era of bygone glory, the teams had a pair of “honorary coaches” in legends Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton. Before the game, the two were recognized at mid-court. The ovation from the crowd was enthusiastic and warm.
The game itself opened with Team Eddie (in red) winning the tip-off. On the opening possession, Cal transfer and Little Rock native Connor Vanover hit a three point basket from the wing. Seeing a 7’3” statue put it in from deep is wild and hopefully something we’ll see more of, because weird things are fun and good. He’s still developing, and the Hogs still haven’t heard if he’ll be eligible this season.
A few possessions later, Jimmy Whitt Jr., also playing for Team Eddie, weaved through the defense, gliding down the paint for a game’s first dunk. Whitt returned to play for the Razorbacks this year, after transferring to and back from SMU. As far as I remember, Sunday Adebayo’s circuitous trip between Memphis and the Hogs shares a similar ride.
When the first time-out occurred, the Barnhill crowd was treated to some retro jams, opening with Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks.” Get it? As an old, I found it to be the dopest.
Some of the best news for Hog fans was seeing Isaiah Joe back. The next likely Hog entrant into the NBA draft, Joe’s shot continues to be smooth. He knocked down several treys during the scrimmage and early on, made a keen pass to Vanover for the big fella’s dunk.
Adrio Bailey is back for the Hogs, and during the scrimmage, he showed up doing the little things, coming down a boatload of offensive rebounds and cutting inside for several makes around the basket. Now, if he can pass up those longer shots that Coach Musselman described as “not his wheelhouse.”
Team Nolan didn’t have a ton of highlights in the first half, but Mason Jones’s behind-the-shoulder dish to Reggie Chaney trailing behind for the dunk was pretty sweet.
After the first half of the game, Team Eddie had the advantage over Team Nolan, 44-21. Showing just how unimportant the final score of a Red-White game is, the count was reset, and the teams switched jerseys. The reasoning behind this was that the players would all be playing for both of the coaching legends.
Concentration seemed to lag a bit in the second half for everyone, players and fans alike. As fouls became more frequent and the game slowed down considerably, fans began making their way out. A few of the highlights they may missed: Jalen Harris stealing the ball and quickly getting up the court for an uncontested dunk, newcomer JD Notae’s alley oop served up to Jimmy Whitt, and Adrio Bailey’s driving dunk.
Team Eddie won the second half as well, 33-18. But the real winners? Everyone who’s ready for a change in the sports season.