ESPNU / SEC Storied
While I understand both sides of the issue, I have to say that I’m very happy that Arkansas chancellor Joe Steinmetz and athletics director Hunter Yurachek took the first steps in getting the Walton Arena basketball court named after former head basketball coach Nolan Richardson.
They requested the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees do so, and the board is going to consider it during their March 27-28 meeting at Hot Springs.
If the board is wise, the vote will be like a Daniel Gafford chin-up, slam dunk, quick and authoritative.
Yes, there are some that still harbor hard feelings about what Richardson said in his meltdown back in 2002 and in the lawsuit that followed. It was ugly for the UA as an entity, and it was ugly for some on a personal level.
However, time has passed. Those wounds should be healed, and there is no constructive reasons to pick at any scars that are left on either side. This really isn’t the type of hot potato the board needs to debate.
Just pass it and move on. Those with hurt feelings will get over it.
However, if the board wants to make a debate out of the issue, all the old stuff will be brought up again, and as ugly as it appeared nearly two decades ago, it will look even worse today.
No use in digging something up that’s been buried, over pride in the pejorative sense.
However, if executed swiftly, naming the court after Richardson could produce pride in the positive sense.
Richardson truly is a legend. He accomplished great things at Arkansas as the Razorbacks’ coach for 17 seasons. The 1994 national title was one shining moment among many, and naming the court after him celebrates all of the good, and that should allow all involved to move past the bad.
In a sense, naming the court after Richardson also honors Frank Broyles, a legend in his own right as the Razorbacks’ greatest football coach and visionary athletics director.
Broyles is the man that hired Richardson and made him the first black head coach at a Division I school in a major sport in the South. Broyles saw a great coach in Richardson and hired him. Richardson’s success at Arkansas knocked down doors that had been locked shut before.
Besides, holding a grudge of any sort just creates an obstacle for the program that makes it that much tougher to succeed.
So, yes, I’m happy that Steinmetz and Yurachek got this effort in motion not only because Richardson’s coaching accomplishments merit it, but also because it’s an issue that doesn’t need to be left hanging in the breeze any longer.
Hoop Hogs Regular Season Finale
Speaking of basketball, Mike Anderson’s Hogs look to be coming together late in the year after playing well at Kentucky, and winning two in a row against Ole Miss (74-73) and Vanderbilt (84-48).
It’s too late for the Hogs to earn a NCAA Tournament bid, unless they run the table next week at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, but if the Razorbacks (16-14, 7-10) beat the Alabama Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-9) at 5 p.m. Saturday, the Razorbacks are guaranteed a winning season.
A victory over Bama would also give them a bit better seed going into the SEC Tournament, which could assist them in winning a game or maybe two in the tourney. If the Hogs win Saturday, they will be the ninth seed in the tournament instead of the 10th.
A win Saturday coupled with one or two next week in Nashville would get the Hogs back in contention for an NIT bid, which this freshman-and-sophomore dominated team could use.
Generally the final game of the season is senior night, but the Razorbacks have no seniors this year. Of course, the elephant in the room — besides Bama — is Daniel Gafford, who is expected to enter this summer’s NBA Draft. Unless the Razorbacks do earn a home game in the NIT, this will likely be his final game in Walton Arena.
Gafford served up a nasty, windmill dunk last Wednesday in the blowout of Vanderbilt. My hope is for him to serve one up for the Walton Arena crowd Saturday for old time’s sake.
The fan in me would like to see what type of player he would be for the Hogs if he finished his eligibility at Arkansas. Gafford has the talent to rank among the best five or so to ever suit up for the Razorbacks. That’s saying a lot. But the realist in me knows that it’s time for him to go get paid. It’s been fun to watch his high-flying act the past two years.
Diamond Hogs to play 3 against LA. Tech
The No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks (10-1) play their biggest series of the season thus far against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-3) at Baum-Walker Stadium.
It’s the final weekend series before the Hogs open their SEC slate at home next weekend against Missouri, and it’s head coach Dave Van Horn’s last chance to have a look at his weekend starting pitching rotation before SEC play.
Isaiah Campbell (3-0, 3.12 ERA, 23 K) gets the ball at 6 p.m. in the opening game of the series, after striking out 13 in his last appearance against Stony Brook.
Freshman Connor Noland (0-0, 3.86 ERA, 10 K) is schedule for Saturday 1 p.m. game, and Cody Scroggins (0-0, 7.88 ERA, 15 K) gets the ball for Sunday’s 1 p.m. finale.
“This might be the best team we’ve played all year,” Van Horn said. “When you look at their team, picked to win their league by one poll, second behind Southern Miss in another. They’ll probably be one of the older teams we play. They’re not scared. This will be a big challenge for us, it’s a big challenge for them and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I see it as an SEC-type series.”