Recruiting without basketball practice facility is like playing golf without irons

A rendering shows what a basketball practice facility would look like across from Bud Walton Arena on Leroy Pond Drive in Fayetteville.


Would you play a round of golf without a 7-iron?

If you’re like me, you probably would. It’s not like going out to the course without a putter. You can still play the game, you know, work around it. You might even play pretty good on certain days, against lesser competition.

But you arrive at the course knowing you’re at a disadvantage. You know you could play better if that trusty 7-iron was in your bag, just like it is for everyone else in the field.

You’re at a disadvantage. You know it, but you push it to the back of your mind and keep on playing.

Hey, you’re a competitor. You’re not going to let this one thing stop you. You know at some point in the future that you’re going pick up another 7-iron.

That doesn’t help today, but there’s no reason not to go ahead and compete. But again it nags at you. You’re at a disadvantage.

It nips at you a bit on the driving range, when the guys to the left and right of you are working with their 7-irons. It’s worse, though, when a competitor points out to others in the clubhouse that you don’t have a 7-iron.

Then the questions and talk come:

“Who is this guy, playing without a 7-iron?”

“Can’t he afford one? Doesn’t he know everyone has a 7-iron?”

“Man, golf must not be very important to him, if he doesn’t have a 7-iron?”

“Who would try to play a serious round of golf without a 7-iron?”

“Every little kid has a 7-iron in his bag.”

O.K., now imagine you’re Mike Anderson and you’re going into your third season as the Arkansas Razorbacks’ head basketball coach. You’re in the process of rebuilding a once proud program you dearly love.

Good. Now, think about the above narrative, but instead of talking about golf, let’s switch the subject to recruiting, and everywhere the word “7-iron” is mentioned, substitute “basketball practice facility.”

That’s the situation Anderson is facing in attempting to rebuild the Razorbacks hoops program without a basketball practice facility.

Actually, a more apt comparison would be trying to play golf without any irons at all, just woods and a putter. That’s how important practice facilities have become in recruiting.

Anderson and his staff can still recruit without a practice facility, just like any of us could play a round of golf without irons, but think how much more effective we could be on the golf course if we were outfitted with the gear everyone agrees is necessary to play the game.

A basketball practice facility is no longer a luxury for a top-40 program. It’s a necessity, and I don’t know any Razorback basketball fan that would be happy with just a top-40 program. The Hogs should be a top-10 program, and all involved should be dedicated to making that so.

Just two weeks ago, Walton Arena’s basketball court was flooded, likely because of the combination of heavy rain and construction going on in the area. Currently, the UA has not released the extent of damage or how much repairs will be, but what we do know is that both the men’s and women’s teams had to move their offseason workouts elsewhere.

Think if that flooding had happened this week when both squads are scheduled to begin practices for the approaching season, or worse still, what if it was the week of the Kentucky game when the limelight that the Wildcats’ top-tier program always draws were shining on Fayetteville.

No doubt in such a situation, Arkansas’ lack of proper basketball facilities for an SEC institution would be a talking point for analysts on ESPN’s national broadcast of the game. Just think about how that would play with recruits, particularly the type needed to lift a program.

What should have been constructed 10 years ago needs to be put on the fastest track it can be. Arkansas needs a basketball practice facility.

Give Mike Anderson some irons, so the Hogs can compete with the big boys once again.