Anderson, Hogs quieting the critics
FAYETTEVILLE — A few weeks ago, when things weren’t going so good, the chatter surrounding this Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team was starting to sound a lot like it did during the early days of Nolan Richardson.
From 1985-87, you could swear that most everybody in Arkansas knew more about basketball than Richardson, Arkansas’s new basketball coach.
Self-proclaimed experts proclaimed that Richardson didn’t coach fundamentals and didn’t have an organized strategy.
It got old fast. And silly. And ultimately proved just plain wrong.
Turns out, not even the great Eddie Sutton who built what Richardson called the “monster” to feed at Arkansas, could feed it like Richardson.
Folks quit fretting about Richardson when he went 200-43 during his 1989-95 Arkansas peak, including the program’s lone basketball national championship and national runner-up.
As an Arkansas assistant who had played for Richardson at Tulsa, Mike Anderson was part of a glorious past and returned as Arkansas’ head coach to a hero’s welcome in 2011.
Welcomes wear out quickly during these impatient days of social media.
Two seasons removed from a 27-9 season that was Arkansas’ best since the 32-7 1995 national runner-up, stories similar to those told during Richardson’s early years at Arkansas, plus one that Nolan assuredly never heard, abounded as Anderson’s Hogs struggled earlier this season.
Anderson and his staff aren’t tough enough, loud enough and just too nice, was overheard repeatedly.
It’s essentially the same Anderson staff that went 111-57 with a trip to the Elite Eight in five seasons at Missouri.
But toughness comes in many forms and at many volumes.
Anderson’s quiet resolve of focusing on the next practice and next game steadied the listing ship after losses that many speculated would keep Arkansas out of the NCAA Tournament.
That same focus seems to be keeping these now surging 22-7 Hogs from going overboard about themselves even as “bracketologists” etch them into the Big Dance with two SEC games and the SEC Tournament left to play.
“The big picture will take care of itself if we do the things we are supposed to do with the little things,” Anderson said after Saturday night’s 79-68 victory at Auburn. “The little things add up to big things. One of the little things is get better in practice each and every day and taking it one game at a time. Just staying dialed in and not getting too high or getting too low but just having that even keel.”
It might sound trite, but with Anderson it’s true. And contagious.
“Coach makes sure every day and every practice that we are just staying focused on the task at hand,” Arkansas junior forward Trey Thompson said. “We’re not worried about the tournament. The biggest game on our schedule is Florida coming up next. That’s all we’re thinking about. Next game, next practice.”
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Coach Mike Anderson said a lot of little things add up to a big one.