PTN’s “Ask Mike” for March 2nd

Pig Trail Nation

Our first question is from PorkSoda who says: Looks like the baseball team’s bats are starting off hot. Who do you think the first real test will be…. that will give us an idea of the Hog’s post season potential?

We got the answer to that over the weekend. Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor threw about 10 really good pitchers against the Hogs and the bats cooled off…a lot. Arkansas batters struck out 41 times in those three games and the team batting average dropped from .316 to .296.

BloodRedHog with a follow up on that: Based on Dave Van Horn’s comments over the weekend, are Casey Martin’s days as a starter over? Will Moore be moved to SS or someone else? Also, after the losses over the weekend, how do you view this team? Are we still a top 5 team?

No I don’t think Martin’s days as a starter are over. All we jnow is he was benched for the Baylor game. But I do think there is more in play than just Martin not hitting well, striking out too much and making careless errors. I know Dave Van Horn well enough to know that when he calls a player out like he did Martin and the kid is a pre-season All-american…there’s an issue that needs to be resolved and hopefully it will be.

As for losing all three games in Houston, two of them were by one run and Arkansas missed a home run in both games that would tied things up. So let’s examine the real issue. It wasn’t pitching. It was errors that cost Arkansas the Oklahoma and Texas games. Unearned runs killed the Hogs. Now… after Van Horn shifted his lineup defensively for Baylor there was just one error and it did not lead to an unearned run. The problem in that game was Baylor’s pitchers. All four of them had good stuff. They also got lucky in that Arkansas did hit the ball at times but right at people and again… there was that Kerjstad double that missed being a home run by a foot. Also after losing two of three to Oral Roberts the previous weekend Baylor won all three of its games in Houston and Arkansas played them closer than Mizzou and OU did. Baseball’s a crazy sport.

The bottom line… Arkansas has six games to get ready for SEC play. A game against Illinios State onTuesday. They’re 3-7 on the season. The Redbirds lost three straight to Oklahoma before beating the Sooners in game four. This weekend it’s a series against South Alabama. They are 7-6. The Jaguars lost two to Vanderbilt but took two of three from Gonzaga…a team that Arkansas swept. Finally there’s Grand Canyon University. They took two of three from Oklahoma State and beat Oregon in a single game early on but they are only 6-5 on the season. They’re also one of those teams that seems to be a lot more competitive against Power Five teams. We’ll learn a lot more about Arkansas before SEC play starts on the road at Mississippi State a week from this Friday .

hobhog says:Seems to be bowl game level interest in the game vs. Notre Dame in South Bend. Any idea how many tickets will be allotted to Razorback fans and the price range thru the Razorback ticket office?

5,000 tickets will be made available to mid level and high level Arkansas donors. I don’t have a price but I’m sure whatever is… it won’t be an issue for those folks. If you don’t fall into that category and you want to be a part of history….the two teams have never met…be prepared to shell out some big bucks to a ticket outlet like stub hub. Notre Dame has never been a big deal to me but I can certainly undertand the interest.

CowHog32 asks: W/ low numbers at TE this coming season is there someone on the roster that could split time there? Like maybe an Olinemen playing in more of a blocking TE role or even KJ Jefferson seeing some time as a pass catching TE? He seems to have the body for it..

Actually a couple of defensive ends would seem to be more likely. Eli Hale and David Porter aren’t getting playing time. Hale was a good tight end in high school. Also some have suggested that Treylon Burks might jump in at tight end occassionally because of his size. Coach Pittman has said nothing about that but he has said he will address the low numbers at that position.

Justifiable Hogicide wants to know: What did the UA do with all of Chad Morris’s infamous and rarely used “Club Dub” equipment, sound system, boogie lights, neon signage, etc.?

Pork soda answers that question with this: After a small adjustment, it was shipped to auburn, so they could reopen as “club dud”

That is funny. But more than likely that stuff ended up where a lot of discarded equipment goes. In a closet somewhere. They have a lot of closets over at the athletic department and you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve seen in some of those closets. Speaking of which we have a new Hogville member posting his first question and it has to do with closets.

LifetimeHogFan says: Several weeks ago, you mentioned that several photos of players from the past had been removed and even a portrait of Coach Broyles had been found on the floor of a janitors room. What can we do to get these restored to their previous places of honor?

Pencil type drawings of all-conference and all-American players from the 30’s through the 70’s were taken down and put into storage. I don’t know of any specific plans to put them back up but a possibility might be in the hallway that goes from the north endzone addition over to the west side. There has been talk that that hallway might get dressed up in the future. I’ve also heard that when the west side of the stadium is eventually renovated there might be a museum included. Items that are currently being stored might end up there. As far as the painting of coach Broyles and the national championship trophy I personally saw it and even took a photo of it in a janitor’s closet at Bud Walton Arena four or five years ago. I don’t know how it got there or what’s happened to it since. It is a painting of a photo that was taken at the ’64 trophy presentation. I’m told that the photo is on display in the North End Zone addition.

oldhawg says: Relationships among college coaching staffs, high school coaching staffs, and high school players take a while to develop. Do you think that Pittman will be able to keep this current staff intact for two or three years?

It’s all about success. If Arkansas has really good success in the first two years…three years…I could see Barry Odom getting another shot at being a head coach. Kendal Briles…he’s going into his 12th year as a college assistant… he’ll be a head coach. Just a matter of time as to when and where. But that would be a good thing. If you’re winning you can find quality replacements. If you don’t win nobody wants your assistants. Sam Pittman has already shown he can hire good coaches. When a staff member leaves he’ll just replace him. I wouldn’t worry about it.

YellCountyHog21 wants to know: What metrics do the NCAAT Selection Committee consider most valuable? Arkansas is higher than most bubble teams in NET ranking currently. Do you think that gives Arkansas an edge come Selection Sunday?

Arkansas net comes from it’s outstanding non confefrence record and road wins at Indiana and Georgia Tech. Unfortunately its conference record is bad. 6-10. 8-10 is the best they can do. Some say that if they win four straight games. the last two of the regular season and two in the SEC Tournament…. they can in. I think they have to win the SEC tournament to make it. but maybe I’m wrong. I did have a a friend ask me if he thinks Musselman would turn down and NIT bid. I don’t think so but… as he pointed out… knowing the NIT they would probably send Arkansas to St. Johns and that would be strange for the players and Arkansas fans.

Swine American says: Against Tennessee, the SEC cameras caught Rick Barnes having a friendly conversation with Mason Jones as if Mason were a player on his team. Problem is Mason plays for us. Did you see that back and forth? And, did anyone ask Mason or Barnes about what was said?

It was no big deal. Barns said some really good things about Mason Jones after the game. I thought it was a class move by Barnes. The only way something like that is negative is if the opposing coach is going off on an opposing player and that almost never happens. Honestly it’s a good way to get fired and coaches know that.

Tejano Jawg says: On a lighter note— Certain coaches have become known for certain “catch phrases” and the potential danger of having them when expectations aren’t met (i.e., Chad Morris’ and John L Smith) Do you know other memorable lines from any of our past coaches, good or bad?

Well Sam Pittman has that “Yesssir” thing but that’s a reaction to something that’s already happened…. not a prediction so I don’t see that as a problem. No coincidence, in my opinion, that the two coaches that had those prediction-type slogans are the two worst Arkansas coaches I’ve ever seen. I think most Hog fans would be happy to never hear another hyped up slogan. Just play the game.

Hawgphat asks: At what point into our next football season would you reasonably expect to have surmised a pretty accurate insight into how the balance of the season is likely to play out?

The season opener should tell us a lot. Nevada is a decent mid major. The kind of team that Arkansas has lost to and even been embarrassed by over the past two seasons. Take care of business in that game….go to south Bend and play well against Notre Dame and I think we’ll already

know al ot about this team. Come back and beat Mississippi State on the road and Hog fans will be jumping for joy. Beat the Aggies in Jerryworld and they’ll be going crazy. Maybe it’ll happen. But I think we’ll learn a lot about this staff and how the players are performing under them… in spring football and that’s what… two weeks away? I’m looking forward to it.

Orlando Hog wants to know: After losing to UGA (Georgia) on the road what do you think is a more valuable position for the men’s basketball program in terms of recruiting and progress; making the NCAA tournament and getting bounced in the first or second round by a lower level school or making the NIT and making a deep run?

Come on. You always want to go to the dance even if you can’t dance worth a flip and your date is a world class dancer. The NIT is not close to that experience and if Arkansas were to get in I think they might win a game. But again, I think they’re NIT bound.

SED76 asks: Do you think the powers that be really believed the spring game would be allowed to be in Little Rock every other year or did they pull a fast one on Central Arkansas by offering that compromise knowing full well it would most likely be denied?

That is the 64,000 dollar question and I doubt we’ll ever know for sure. What makes it suspicious is this: Two years ago when the War Memorial contract to play a game a year in Little Rock with the U of A ran out… Arkansas was in the process of replacing its turf at Reynolds Razorback Stadium with natural grass. At the time of the spring game the field was nothing but dirt. It was either not play the game at all or move it to Little Rock. There was a good reason why a waver was allowed by the SEC in that instance. But was the so called every-other-year spring game at War Memorial never gonna happen? Even if the U of A pulled a fast one…. who is going to admit it? Certainly not Arkansas or the SEC office. To me the only question that matters now is…what happens to that every-other-year game with Missouri? There are questions about certain terms of the contract. Selling the required number of tickets. Can they come up with the money for require improvements? And what happens when the contract runs out in three years? What is Sam Pittman’s position on playing Little Rock games? Wally Hall wrote last week that if playing in Little Rock goes away enrollment of students from Central Arkansas will go down. I’m not sure I agree with that. Older fans are the ones that value the tradition of playing in War Memorial. College age students probably want the games on campus no matter where they are from. To me this whole issue boils down to one thing. If you win 9 games, 10 games a year it won’t matter if Little Rock games go away. But right now, it does matter.

Lanny wants to know: What happened in the Georgia game? Arkansas had looked really good since Isaiah Joe came back but Saturday some of the same old problems popped back up.

Arkansas did a really good job of dealing with its lack of size in non conference play but it’s been a problem since early January. Basically the Hogs’ forwards vanished against Georgia. Reggie Chaney played 2 minutes. No points, No rebounds. He did have a blocked shot. Ethan Henderson played just 6 minutes and he manged to pick up 4 fouls while scoring no points with no rebounds. That left it up to Adrio Bailey who played 21 minutes. He fouled out after scoring 6 points with 4 rebounds. Mason Jones, Isaiah Joe and Desi Sills combined for 73 points. But its hard to win when you get outscored 50-30 in the paint while giving up 16 second chance points and getting killed on the boards to the tune of 40 to 29. Georgia has maybe the best player in the SEC in Anthony Simmons. A great outside shooter. He scored 26 points. But the reason Georgia has lost so many games is because their second leading scorer behind him is 6-9 forward Rayshaun Hammonds who came in averaging 12 points a game. But because Arkansas’ post defense was so bad Hammonds scored 22 points and Georgia had four other players in double figures. This loss was all about defense. It usually is when you give up 99 points. But the interior defense was as bad as it’s been this season.

Is there an answer? Yes. Recruiting. This will be a much bigger team next year with a deeper bench and much better overall talent.

Okay I want to say something about a question I answered last week. It had to do with the regression of Arkansas’ mens track program from winning national championships to not being able to win an SEC title. Timing is everything because this past weekend the men won the SEC Indoor Championship. The SEC is the best conference in track and field so it’s a big deal anytime you win it. I’m told that head coach Chris Bucknam, who some say is under fire really helped himself with that win. I was also told that rumors that women’s coach Lance Harter was about to take over both programs isn’t likely going to happen. As it was put to me, you wouldn’t have the same coach for men’s and womens basketball. Why would you do it for track?

That’s it for now. Ask Mike will return next Monday.

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