I really hate to admit how much interest I’ve lost in Razorback basketball. Back in the olden days (pre-1999 or so) I watched just about every game on TV, made sure to turn on Sportscenter to catch the highlights of the game that I had just watched, even had a box of videotapes of big games that I’d drag out every now and then to watch.
Now, if you showed me pictures of the last five guys off the bench, I probably couldn’t even tell you their names. I’ve watched maybe five complete games in the last few years. Time and time again I’d simply check the game thread on the board just to see what the final was. Lots of times I’d forget we were even playing.
Things are going to be different now. I’m excited about Hog basketball again. Sure…I was excited when Stan Heath was named head coach as he had just taken Kent State deep into the NCAA tournament. I was very excited when Pelphrey was named head coach as well. Energy…fire…it seemed we had the coach we needed. Suiting up for Midnight Madness was awesome. But now, years later, I realize it was all just window dressing.
So why is Mike Anderson different, for me?
He knows what Hog basketball can and should be. We all know Mike’s history with the program…seventeen years on the bench during the best of times (and some of the worst). He understands the need for Razorback fans to be jacked about basketball. During the press conference this morning, he talked about how his kids grew up in Fayetteville and it really sunk in that without rehiring Nolan, we couldn’t have gotten anyone more familiar with the program.
Heath, Altman (ugh), and Pelphrey were just coaches. Anderson is a Razorback.
His brand of basketball is a familiar one…like putting on an old pair of comfortable slippers that still kick ass. We’re going to see hard nosed defense, up tempo offense, and hard work. There will still be things to gripe about…most likely the same things we griped about during Nolan’s tenure (rebounding). But hopefully we’ll be winning way more than we have been and those complaints will only come up in tough losses.
Anderson said this morning “no one will work harder” than him and his staff. I truly believe that. He doesn’t just want to make Arkansas relevant again because it’s his job…but because he has pride in the program like no one else we could have hired.
Anderson spent almost two decades recruiting to Fayetteville. He’s not going to have to try to figure it out. He’s maintained relationships in the region…and I suspect most of those relationships are going to be happy about him being the head Hog.
I think we’re finally going to close the door on the Nolan ugliness. That has been needed for a long time. Everyone seems to be welcome back into the fold. Jeff Long has done a great job establishing a link to the greatest era of Razorback basketball. Nolan is around and not abrasive. Former players are excited about the hire…with some consulted about it beforehand. All seems right with the world.
I guess the biggest thing for me is a lack of unknowns. We know Mike. We know his style. We know his demeanor. We know his successes. We don’t really have to wonder about anything. All we have to do…is be excited.