Q. Our first question is from HotlantaHog who wants to know: What’s wrong with the basketball team? Even allowing for the loss of two key players, they don’t seem to be playing well at all.
A. It’s a combination of things. A lack of offense due to poor outside shooting hurt them in losses to LSU and Auburn. Against Vandy the offense was fine but poor defense, especially on-ball defense, just killed Arkansas in the second half. But something else was as work in that game. Three technical fouls on Vandy, just before halftime, backfired against Arkansas. Vandy’s players came out mad and ready to go. Arkansas never matched their intensity. The commodores, who were a 32% shooting team from three point range, hit 66% in the second half. Even if you are wide open those numbers are extremely rare.
A version of the same thing happened at Auburn. The Tigers played their best game of the season.
No question Arkansas is getting everybody’s best shot. The bottom line, Muss and his coaches have a huge challenge ahead. They’ve gotta get more offensive production and better defense out of their players. However, the law of averages suggests that teams won’t keep playing out of their minds against the. LSU looked great against Arkansas and has been awful ever since.
Q. H.L. Mc Camish asks: Could you analyze the sequence in the Vanderbilt game where the refs hit the Commodores with three technical fouls? That ended up hurting Arkansas. Did the refs overreact?
A. I think they did. Looking at the video I see one flagrant technical. That, on the kid who pushed Anthony Black after Black had stood over his teammate in an “and one” situation.
The Vandy player got two flagrant technicals which got him tossed from the game. That made Vandy Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse mad and he got a technical. So Arkansas ended up shooting seven free throws on one possession. Made five of them. But guess what? Arkansas didn’t get another call the rest of the game. There were several missed Vandy layups in the second half that were all called fouls. That hurt Arkansas big time.
If the refs had called one flagrant T and left it at that think Arkansas would have been a lot better off because the crowd and the Vandy players ended up being out for blood in the second half.
Q. Mark J. Thrift says: Code: don’t antagonize the home fans or show up the refs.
A. That was the other issue. Before he shot his “and one” free throw Black appeared to taunt somebody with a crybaby gesture, not one but twice. He also said something to them. To me, unless you can back it up, don’t do stuff like that. Oliver Miller used taunt the Longhorns and then he’d go out and smoke them. The fans loved that.
he situation with Black appeared to fire the Vandy players up. To me it was a mistake.
Q. Hogdogger says: I think Muss should have sat some players down Saturday. There’s room for a little trash talk but the behavior of Black pretending crying in front of Vandy bench was inexcusable. Too little emotion will lose games but too much emotion will get you a loss or ejected.
A. Both teams were doing it. I don’t think he should have sat anybody but I’m guessing he had a talk with them afterward and told them, let’s start playing basketball.
Q. ms_hog wants to know: Has anyone asked Muss why the team and coaches walked off the court without shaking hands? We were at the game and was unsure if it was shown on TV. The Hogs looked like sore losers.
A. I think that had to do with the way the court is set up at Vanderbilt. It’s a slightly elevated floor and rather than have the players constantly having to step up to go on of come off the floor, they put the team benches behind the baselines. So they are on opposites ends of the floor from each other. With all that went on in that game I don’t think Muss wanted his players to mix with Vanderbilt’s players on the court or possibly with some fans. He wanted them into the locker-room as quickly as possible.
Q.OKINAWAHOG says: I can’t wait to have Nick Smith Jr. back with the team. Hopefully it will be in February. Then maybe we will see the real potential of this team. Do you see any 1 and done at this time on the team? Not seeing it at this time.
A. I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about the NBA draft. I don’t study draft projections because I don’t care. I’ve been told that Nick Smith Jr is still likely a lottery pick but I have to believe how he plays when he comes back could affect his draft status either way.
I’m told by others that Anthony Black is no longer projected as a lottery pick but is still a first round projection. I have no clue about Jordan Walsh but he clearly needs another year to improve on his game.
Q. Rzback asks: Why do you think we’ve had such an exodus of players into the transfer portal this year especially with our defensive backs?
A. Sam Pittman announced to the team after the Missouri game that he was going to make heavy use of the transfer portal to bring in players who could make an immediate difference next season. With no cap on the number of transfers coaches can bring in, current players who thought they would be giving up playing time, decided to leave. They also lost a few who just wanted a change. That’s happening everywhere. As I said last week, keep an eye on the players coming in. When it’s all over in the spring of this year I believe this will be a better team than in was in December.
Q. Edwardclutch asks: Will the remaining transfer portal spots we have left all go for defense? I must admit that I was expecting to get more defensive players considering how bad that area was. Instead it seems the main focus has been on offense.
A. A lot of fans are saying that, probably because of the flood of receivers coming in lately. It’s actually five offensive to four defensive players right now. There’s a linebacker they could get a commitment from on Monday. So that would be five and five. If you take into consideration that during a big part of early to mid December Arkansas did not have a defensive coordinator and were essentially losing a secondary coach and a linebackers coach, I don’t know how they’ve done as well as they have.
Arkansas has two very good defensive backs coming in from Baylor. They’ve added a linebacker and a defensive end. Keep in mind that there’s a third period this spring where they can also bring in portal transfers. With the defensive staff in place they’re have plenty of time to evaluate what they need this spring and check the portal. I’d be very surprised if we don’t see four or five more defensive transfers in by the time it’s all over.
Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy wants to know: With the changes regarding transferring in college sports, can you see a shift where more emphasis is placed on recruiting players who are experienced and a little older, as opposed to high school players ?
A: Sam Pittman mentioned that as a distinct possibility back in early December but what I’m seeing with the portal is players coming in as replacements for those who leave through the portal.
I still think coaches are going to need a strong class of high school seniors each year because they know what they’re getting. In each recruiting cycle they don’t know who is in the portal until later in the season. At that point coaches will say, Okay let’s go after certain players because they can really help us.
You can get them as long as you have scholarships available and again that will come from players exiting through the portal.
Q. Pigsfeat asks: Do you really believe Arkansas follows the NCAA recruiting rules concerning NIL like we claim? If we are, are we getting left behind because the NCAA doesn’t seem strong enough to go after those who do? I don’t condone cheating but am a frustrated college fan!
A. Yes, I think they are and it doesn’t look like it’s hurting them. Their recruiting class is right around 20th and so far their portal class is top 10. I keep saying this because I’m hearing it, NIL is going to change because if something isn’t done, the 12 team playoff every year is going to be the 12 teams who are offering the most money to buy players.
Even the NFL has a salary cap. Let every football season boil down to a few schools with money and the audience is going to dry up.
Q. RazorAlex88 wants to know: What are your thoughts on Pete Golding (former Bama DC) moving over to Ole Miss as LB coach? I’m a little nervous about Ole Miss’ defense but then again he was no Kirby Smart.
A. Common sense dictates that you don’t leave Alabama as the defensive coordinator to take the same job at Ole Miss. Golding was under pressure. Nick Saban was not happy with the way Bama’s defense played this past season. Anytime ‘Bama doesn’t make the college football playoff there are some coaches who are probably told, look for another job so we don’t have to fire you. So I would not worry about it. I think Kiffin is on thin ice considering his big new contract combined with Ole Miss losing five of its last six games.
Q. Space Hog says: Back when Danny Ford was the coach, I remember Frank forcing Ford to accept Kay Stephenson as his offensive coordinator. That did not seem to work out. Did Ford and Stephenson get along personally? Were they too stylistically different? What was the deal there?
A. Frank was getting lots of complaints about Danny’s run-oriented Veer offense. Fans considered it old school. Frank originally tried to force BYU offensive coordinator Norm Chow on Ford. Ford told Chow flat out that it would be a bad deal for both of them and Chow turned the job down. With Stephenson, out of the Canadian Football league, Frank didn’t give Danny a choice. Hire the guy or else. But it was a bad mix from the beginning. Defensive coordinator Miles Aldridge butted heads with Stephenson the entire time. Arkansas ended up losing to 19-3 to SMU in a neutral site game in Shreveport early in the season. Anybody with a brain could see where things were headed. Danny was fired after 4-7 season. Just another example of how pointless it is to tell a head coach who to hire.
Let him hire his own people. If he doesn’t win, fire him but don’t tell him what offense or what defense to run. It won’t work.
Q. Dr. Strangepork says: ESPN’s documentary on SMU Eric Dickerson implies that ALL the SWC teams made cash offers. Not saying Arkansas did or didn’t offer but with Broyles as AD and Lou famous for his do-right rule – it is hard to imagine AR made such offers. What do recall from that time?
Q. I talked to a lot of fans and boosters in those days trying to see if Arkansas was cheating too. What I got was this. Yes, there were certain boosters who would slip a player a couple of hundred dollars after a game when no coaches were around. There was one booster who supposedly would work on players cars for free if they were to broke. But I was told that there were no outright cash payments to get players to come to Arkansas and most of the money they got after they were on campus was chump change to what was going on at SMU, Texas and A&M.
There was a running back in the late 90s who told me that a Texas booster left a brand new Porsche in his driveway with the title to the car on the passenger seat. He told me that he took the car, signed with Arkansas and there was nothing the booster could do.
Q. Mousetown wants to know: How big is it that a U of A golfer just won the South American Amateur? I know you don’t get many golf questions but I’m curious since it seemed like a big deal on ESPN.
A. Actually it was the Latin America Amateur Championship. The Arkansas golfer is Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira. He’s a senior from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Transferred to Arkansas from TCU two years ago. By winning this tournament he automatically qualifies for the Masters, the US Open, The British Open, the British Amateur and the US Amateur. That’s the biggest deal for Razorback Golf since John Daly won two majors. This spring should be fun for those who follow U of A. Golf.