Can Arkansas Basketball Rebound?

Razorback ExpatsSenior Analyst IJanuary 22, 2009

With the Hogs off to a 0-3 start in conference play, Arkansas fans could use a little morale boost. In an effort to provide one, I recently reviewed the past decade of Razorback hoops to see if any team during that period had rallied from such a horrible record to have a decent season.

In the 10 seasons prior to 2009, three Arkansas teams—the 2001, 2003 and 2004 squads—opened conference play with three straight losses. The 2004 Razorbacks finished with a 4-12 conference record and a 12-16 record overall. The 2003 team also had a 4-12 record in the SEC and ended the year 9-19 overall.

So far, not so good—fan morale is sinking.

But the 2001 Hogs—a team consisting of Joe Johnson, Jannero Pargo, Teddy Gipson and Brandon Dean—may make you feel a little better.

That squad recovered from a horrible start to post a 10-6 mark in the conference—the second time a team won 10 games in SEC play in the past decade— and finished the season 20-11 overall. They made it to the NCAA Tournament where they lost in the first round to Georgetown, 63-61, on a heart-breaking last-second shot.

The 2001 Razorbacks finished the regular season with five straight wins. They won seven out of eight home conference games and went 3-5 in SEC road games. The season also marked—believe it or not—the last Arkansas victory over Kentucky and the last time Nolan Richardson took an Arkansas team deep in the hunt.

At the time, the 2001 season felt like a fairly ho-hum season, especially by the standards of the Richardson era. Now, however, I’d settle for a replay of it in a heartbeat.