There is a generation of Arkansas basketball fans that hadn’t seen what transpired at Bud Walton Arena Wednesday night. The three-pointers, the fast breaking, the pressure defense and ultimately a decisive 110-80 blowout of Ole Miss. Arkansas coach Mike Anderson had his red-hot Hogs playing more like his mentor Nolan Richardson did during the peak of the program’s success in the 1990s.
It isn’t new to me. I saw Hawg Ball. It wasn’t at it’s best, but the brand was much better than the sub-par, drab years that included the Stan Heath and John Pelphrey coaching tenures.
Wednesday’s packed-house blowout took me back to Feb. 28 1999. Just like Wednesday, it was senior night. The Hogs faithful said goodbye to three stars — Pat Bradley, Kareem Reid and Derek Hood — along with walk-on Lance Keeling.
Arkansas had just beaten No. 5 Kentucky 74-70 in front of a national television audience. Auburn rolled into Fayetteville Ranked No. 2 and featured star forward Chris Porter. The Tigers ran into a firestorm that night. Arkansas knew it needed to beat Kentucky and Auburn solidify its NCAA Tournament hopes.
It was a combination of that sense of urgency, the dramatic UK win and … Read more >
Kikko Haydar was milling around the University of Arkansas basketball offices on a summer day when he was approached with a favor. An Arkansas alum, who worked on the Arkansas Traveler sports staff when he was a student, was in town and wanted to visit with UA coach Mike Anderson, who he covered when the coach was an assistant in the late 80s.
Upon entering Anderson’s office reception area, he bumped into Haydar. He asked the Razorbacks guard if he would surprise his 14-year-0ld daughter and 12-year-old son who were looking around the Bud Walton museum.
Haydar asked the kids’ names and agreed to visit with them.
When the father left Anderson’s office after a brief conversation, Haydar was still talking to the kids. The daughter was on campus for a softball camp — both kids claimed the former walk-on as their favorite player. They were surprised by the goodwill gesture.
When asked about
the encounter a couple of months later while being interviewed for an Arkansas Life article, Haydar flashed a huge smile.
“The kids are important to me. I want to be a good role model for them and give them someone to look up to. I take … Read more >
One of the things I love most about Arkansas is its small towns. You know the ones. A couple of stoplights, a gas station, tasty freeze and a country cookin’ diner. The high schoool football stadium is packed on Friday night and so are all of the churches on Sunday.
One of my favorites is Star City. Located between Pine Bluff and Monticello, it is a quaint, little Southeast Arkansas town.
I became very acquainted with it and the high school football program the five years I worked at the Pine Bluff Commercial. I covered at least two or three games there every year. The parking attendant recognized my car and sent me through a side gate to a spot right near the press box every time. The press box crew was nice and friendly, and called me by name after my first couple of visits.
I usually stopped and grabbed a bite to eat before the game or got gas on the way out of town. I always felt a friendly vibe. It reminded me a lot of my home area in Iowa. Many agricultural, down home folks. I even joked to my wife, Sheena, I would like … Read more >
Plenty of bitterness and hard feelings have come out of the Farmington/Prairie Grove rivalry dubbed — the Battle of Highway 62. The towns, which are located just seven miles a part outside of Fayetteville, engage in a fierce battle, whatever the sport.
However, Jeremy Mueller extended an olive branch. Instead of celebrating Farmington’s sure road win against its bitter rival in the final seconds, he made Tigers senior McKay Gregson’s dream come true.
With Prairie Grove trailing 64-55
with just 10 seconds left in the game, Gregson, who has special needs and is the team’s manager, checked into the game. Since it was senior night, Gregson, who has served as manager since seventh grade, suited up for the first time.
Prairie Grove brought the ball up the floor and Gregson launched a three-pointer. It missed, and the game appeared to be over. However, Mueller grabbed the rebound and kicked the ball back out to Gregson, who drilled a long triple at the buzzer, making the score 64-58.
Even in the rivalry defeat, the home crowd cheered wildly for Gregson, who was all smiles.
And it wouldn’t have happened without Mueller, who had the presence of mind to do the right … Read more >
David Bazzel got a text late Thursday afternoon. A perplexed friend inquired about social media posts he’d seen about Lou Holtz, who coached Bazzel at Arkansas, allegedly being spotted walking on Chenal Parkway in Little Rock. Other reports had the Hall of Fame coach spotted at the Walmart store at the corner of Bowman and Chenal Parkway.
Holtz, who was the keynote speaker at Thursday’s Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet, realized he hadn’t packed a dress shirt. Instead of asking his limo driver to take him to the nearest men’s store, the 77-year-old former Arkansas coach hiked up the hill and bought a shirt a shirt a white shirt and walked back to the Embassy Suites hotel.
“My dad always told me, don’t ask someone to do something you can do yourself,” he told the crowd Thursday night. “There are a lot of things in life I can’t do, butI can walk to a store and buy a shirt.”
That anecdote got the night off to a comedic start and it just got better from there.
Also before he took the mic,
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette promotions director Tabitha Cunningham related the story of attending an Arkansas/Texas A&M game in … Read more >