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Hogs’ Anderson Greeted With High Expectations

There are a whole lotta people in the Natural State who believe Mike Anderson will return Arkansas to the glory days of Nolan Richardson’s regime.

Not the build-up stage from 1985 to 1989 — when the Hogs failed to get past the NCAA tourney’s second round. 

And not the 1996 to 2002 winding-down stage — when UA went seven seasons without a Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Nope.  A lot of folks in Arkansas are eyeballing Richardson’s top-of-the-mountain stage from 1989 through 1995.  Six straight NCAA tourneys.  Three Final Fours.  One national runner-up.  One national champion.  Four 30-win seasons.

Those are pretty lofty goals, no?

Well, Brent Birch of is wisely attempting to cool the expectations just a tad.  In this piece he rattles off a number of issues facings the Hogs as Anderson takes over.  Among them:

* How many current players will return?

* Will John Pelphrey’s Top 5 signing class stay intact?

* Can the returners mesh with the newcomers?

Birch is simply being prudent.  As we pointed out last week, Anderson has reached one Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight in nine years of coaching.  His last two Missouri squads finished fifth in the Big 12.

Anderson is a smart hire and he happens to play a brand of basketball Hog fans already love.  But his track record doesn’t suggest that he’ll have Arkansas competing on equal footing with Duke, Kansas, or North Carolina anytime soon.  Someday?  Possibly.  Immediately?  Likely not.

There aren’t many schools in basketball history who can match the 1989-1995 run Richardson put together in Fayetteville.  So it’s not fair for fans to greet Anderson with such lofty expectations before he holds his first practice.



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