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Hogs’ A.D. Talks Football With Booster Club, Eyes A Coaching Decision By Mid-December

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long met with a number of rabid Razorback fans at the Little Rock Touchdown Club yesterday.  Naturally, the state of his coaching search was a hot topic.

Asked what “phase” his coaching search is in, Long said: “Just research at this point.”  Just a few weeks ago he told another booster group that he’s had no contact with coaches or their representatives.  Here’s hoping he’s lying his rear end off, ’cause if he’s spent the time from April til October simply looking at resumes, he’s wasted a lot of valuable time.  (For that reason, we suspect he is lying his rear end off and has talked to representatives for coaches and perhaps a few out of work ones like Butch Davis and Jon Gruden one-on-one.)

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Hogs’ Anderson Says Mizzou’s Just Another Game

Ask an Arkansas fan and you’ll learn that their coach, Mike Anderson, left Missouri with a Top 10 caliber team.  Ask a Missouri fan and you’ll be told that Anderson fled town out a back door without taking questions and that he’d recruited so poorly that new coach Frank Haith has had to build his new squad with transfers.

Needless to say, there might be some bad blood when Anderson and Arkansas face Missouri twice in hoops this season.  Just don’t suggest that to Anderson:

 

“It’s going to be another conference game.  It just got a little more interesting because me and my staff coached there, and we still have some players over there as well.”

 

Actually, those games will be a lot more interesting due to Anderson’s departure from Columbia for Fayetteville.  No spin can change that.

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Hogs’ Nobles To Leave Hoops Squad

Arkansas guard Julysses Nobles won’t be back in Fayetteville for his senior year of basketball next year.  Mike Anderson and the school announced Noble’s plans to transfer yesterday:


“I appreciate everything that Julysses did for the Razorback program during his three years.  He is a good young man who will continue to grow and mature.  I wish him the best as he pursues another opportunity to play basketball and earn his degree.”


Nobles started 28 of 32 games last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.1 assists per game.  His high school coach, Wayne Brent, told ArkansasNews.com that Nobles would transfer to another Division I school to play his senior season after being told that he would be the backup — not starting — point guard next season.

He is the fourth players to transfer out of Arkansas since Anderson’s arrival from Missouri a year ago.

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MSU’s Ray: “I Don’t Know How To Lose”

New Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Ray explained his background and rang the traditional cowbell at an introductory presser in Starkville yesterday.  As expected, after hearing him speak, State fans are feeling better about the hire (more in a minute).

Ray — who’s drawn positive reviews from those who’ve worked with him — opened with the usual “here’s what we’re gonna be” comments that all coaches use at their introductions:

“The program that I’m going to run is going to be a situation where guys are going to flourish.”

“All I ask you to do this whole time is, throw away your doubts, throw away your fears and get two feet into Mississippi State basketball.  Then see what happens.  If it doesn’t happen they you can start being judgmental, but don’t be judgmental right now.”

“I’m telling you this: We will be successful.  I don’t know how to lose.  The only thing I’ve ever done is win ballgames.  I don’t care if you’re an assistant coach or associate head coach — if you come from a winning program, you know how to win.”

“The system we will run is based on integrity.  I believe you win by doing things the right way.  I want to make sure we put a team on this court that you guys are proud of.”

“I’ve got to get our players believing this is the right way to play basketball, making them better as a basketball player.  Rest assured that all those things will happen.  It will take some patience, but it will happen.”

Ray also explained that he believes in a motion offense with a lot of “screens, moving, popping and cutting.”  He spoke of trying to keep Rodney Hood and the rest of his six scholarship players in Starkville.  He credited predecessor Rick Stansbury for giving him a program to build on and yet he also said the off-court shenanigans would have to stop.

It was a Day One win for Ray.  Of course, all but about 1% of opening pressers are wins.  “He has a commanding presence,” MSU president Mark Keenum said yesterday.  “He’s going to bring a high level of intellect and knowledge to the game.”

As noted above, State fans are gradually getting onboard with the hire.  Especially that, “The only thing I’ve ever done is win ballgames” line.  That’s quite a statement.

The Bulldog fansite ForWhomTheCowbellTolls.com — great name, by the way — now gives a thumbs-up to the man they’d likely never heard of a week ago:

“… I think Rick Ray will be a great fit at State.  He isn’t who was most wanted, but in the end none of the candidates, wanted or unknown, were guaranteed to come in and be successful… The sky is the limit (with Ray), he’s sitting at 0-0 right now.”

True enough.  Ray may turn out to be an A-1 head basketball coach.  But for now he’s a lifetime assistant who’s never run his own program.  He steps into a 14-team league that features coaches like Billy Donovan, John Calipari, Mike Anderson, and Frank Martin.  Oh, and Frank Haith, the reigning National Coach of the Year is coming in, too.  Ray’s taking over a program that will have serious depth issues next year and he’ll have to replace a guy who — even though he was the winningest coach in school history — was forced into very early retirement.

That won’t be easy.  Now, that doesn’t mean State fans shouldn’t be hopeful and supportive.  But buying in hook, line and sinker?  Everybody does it right after a coach is introduced.  But, boy, there sure are a lot of coaches introduced each year, aren’t there?  Not every guy who wins the presser by telling the fans exactly what they want to hear goes on to win enough games to keep his job.

So the jury is still very much out on Rick Ray, the only SEC coach who’s never run a program before.  We wish him well.

His deal: four years, $1 million per year plus incentives.  He also announced that he will retain at least one Stansbury assistant.

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Bitter Much? Big 12 Coaches Snub Media Coach Of The Year Haith At Mizzou

Frank Haith was not exactly the first choice of Missouri fans when he took over the program from Mike Anderson.  Now he’s not the first — or even second choice — of the Big 12′s coaches for Coach of the Year honors.

Doing what Mizzou fans will tell you Anderson couldn’t do, Haith has led the Tigers to a 27-4 record, a Top 10 finish and the most wins in school history.  That was good enough to be named the Associated Press’ Big 12 Coach of the Year.

But the vote among Big 12 coaches?  Uh, no.  Earlier this week they split their Coach of the Year award between Bill Self of Kansas and Fred Hoiberg of Iowa State.  That’s quite a snub for a man who’s had to use just a seven-player rotation all season long.  You don’t think any of that had to do with lasting bitterness over Mizzou leaving the Big 12, do you?  Surely the Big 12 wouldn’t intentionally not give its award to a man who’ll be in another league next year, would it?

Oh, well.  See you in the SEC, Coach.

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SEC Headlines – 1/27/12 Part Two

1.  Anthony Grant says his Alabama basketball team is playing with a sense of entitlement.

2.  Mike Anderson says Oklahoma State transfer Fred Gulley is now eligible to practice with the Arkansas hoops squad.

3.  Clutch free throw shooting has become an issue for the Razorbacks.

4.  LSU needs to get over its loss to Mississippi State with Kentucky coming to town.

5.  Arnett Moultrie and Dee Bost are still playing big minutes for MSU.

6.  By comparison, Ole Miss had to go deep into its bench in a 66-63 come-from-ahead loss to Florida last night.

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Hogs’ Aide – And Son of Coach – Arrested On DWI Charge

Hate to see this one.  Arkansas coach Mike Anderson’s son was arrested and charged with a DWI in Fayetteville early Sunday morning.  The 26-year-old Anderson — Michael Jr. — is the Hogs’ video coordinator.

He was pulled over by an officer who says he was driving erratically in a car with expired tags.  His boss/father released a statement yesterday:


“All of our (staff) members are expected to make the right decision on and off the floor.  I expect that.  Unfortunately some individuals don’t always make the right decision.  But as a father, I will support Mike and hopefully help him learn from this situation.

It will be addressed, the situation will be addressed through the established channels that we have here on our campus.  Our sports administration will address that situation.”


Sadly, Anderson was convicted of driving while intoxicated while playing on his father’s Missouri team in 2007.  Maybe it’s time for dad to take some of his millions and loan Junior enough for cab fare.

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SEC Goes 4 For 4 On Tuesday Night

Southeastern Conference teams were a perfect four for four on the hardwood last night, though that feat’s a bit less impressive when you consider the cupcake nature of the squads they faced.

Here’s your update…


Arkansas 71, Eastern Kentucky 57

The Razorbacks improved to 7-0 at home under Mike Anderson with last night’s victory.  Mardracus Wade scored 13 and BJ Young added 12 to lead the Hogs.


Georgia 72, Mercer 58

After struggling with their in-state visitors for a half, UGA pulled away with an early 16-3 second-half run.  Connor Nolte and Vincent Williams led the Dawgs with 11 points each.


Kentucky 82, Samford 50

Doron Lamb racked up 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting, leaving Samford coach Jimmy Tillette to joke, “I like fish better than Lamb.”  The Wildcats won in a laugher without Terrence Jones.  The sophomore All-America candidate was held out with a disclocated pinky finger.


Tennessee 72, UNC-Asheville 68

For much of the night, it looked like UT’s losing streak might be extended to five games.  But Renaldo Woolridge and Cameron Tatum came alive with 17 each to lead the Vols back from a 10-point second-half deficit.

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Big Blow: Hogs Lose Leading Scorer Powell To Knee Injury

The up-and-down career of Marshawn Powell is down again thanks to a knee injury that will serve as big blow to Mike Anderson’s first Arkansas basketball team.

Powell — the Razorbacks’ leading scorer — is out for the season with torn ligaments in his knee.  The injury occurred during practice on Thursday.  The Hogs are left with just nine scholarship players on their roster, just four in the frontcourt.

“This is a big blow to Marshawn and our basketball team,” Anderson said in a press release.  “He has been working hard on and off the court this year and was in the best shape of his career.  This is definitely a setback, but I told him that sometimes you have to have setbacks in order to have a great comeback.  He is in good spirits and looking forward to helping this team in any way that he can.”

Powell had averaged 19.5 points and 6 rebounds in Arkansas’ first two games.  Without the preseason All-SEC forward, the Hogs lost in Little Rock to Houston, 87-78.

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SEC Headlines – 10/14/11 Part Two

1.  Note to Ole Miss: Alabama’s third-down defense is pretty salty.

2.  Note to Alabama: Houston Nutt has five wins all-time against Top 5 teams.

3.  Gene Chizik and Will Mushcamp traveled the same path to land their current jobs… and that path will have them facing each other tomorrow.

4.  Auburn’s NCAA clearance has created a wave of emotion in the state of Alabama.

5.  Here’s a midseason report card for Arkansas’ football team.

6.  Mike Anderson will hold his first practice with the basketball Hogs tonight.

7.  Tennessee’s Derek Dooley — a former LSU assistant — says this year’s Tigers aren’t that much different from the 2003 national championship team.

8.  Tiger hoops coach Trent Johnson hopes experience will aid his team this season.

9.  Tomorrow, Ole Miss will face a quarterback in AJ McCarron who’s taking care of the football.

10.  Rebel left tackle Bradley Sowell says his team will come out fighting tomorrow.

11.  Dan Mullen has two good choices at quarterback, but only one can start.

12.  Neither of MSU’s signal-callers will have much success tomorrow without a lot of help from his friends.

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