The early outlook for the Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team could be termed bleak.
Five suspensions have the Razorbacks working with six scholarship basketball players and working with no bench. The Razorbacks defied those odds and came out with a bang in their first game of the season against Alcorn State.
Reality hit in the the second game of the season, a 30 point loss to Rick Pitino and the Louisiville Cardinals.
The Razorbacks showed heart in their loss coming out to start the second half by cutting the 17 point lead down to three. The rest of the way was all Cardinals as the Razorbacks ran out of gas.
In the Hogs' defense, they started the game with half a tank of gas to begin with anyway.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino commented at halftime and after the game that Arkansas is a better team than the score indicated. He said that he simply had more bodies and was able to play his style of ball while wearing down the hapless Razorbacks who could do nothing but give it their best.
Arkansas coach John Pelphrey has talked about how the Razorbacks will have to give it their best for two weeks now and make do while they are short-handed. Fans never like to lose and certainly never like to lose blowouts, but Arkansas is a better team than the blowout loss would have you believe.
Coach Bobby Knight was the analyst for the game and he made observations about the Razorbacks that fans need to take to heart. He can see that this is a Razorback team that is working with a make shift line-up that will be a dangerous team as the season progresses and their numbers increase.
Knight also made some observations I disagree with as well.
He feels that when Welsh, Britt, Fortson, and Sanchez return from suspensions and injury the Hogs will have to start over.
I see it the opposite way. I believe those players will have to work their way back into the starting line-up and will give the Razorbacks the 10 plus man rotation coach Pelphrey needs to run his style of play.
Julysses Nobles, Jamal Farmer, and Marshawn Powell are all newcomers and they have all started along with returning starters Rotnei Clarke and Michael Washington. In the two games these three newcomers have impressed me beyond my expectations.
Yes, Nobles needs Fortson to play some so he is not always in the game and handling the ball, but he is very good for a true freshman.
Jamal Farmer can get to the basket and makes good passes to the interior as well.
Marshawn Powell is Mr. Double-Double, so far this season. He has been more effective than returning All-SEC player Washington.
On the bright side, now that two games are over the Razorbacks will be able to add one more player to their roster. Glen Bryant has finished his two game suspension and will give valuable help in the frontcourt. His defense and rebounding ability are something the Razorbacks will certainly need.
Pelphrey also commented on Stefan Welsh, who he says is close to finishing everything required of him to return to the basketball floor. Welsh has been doing everything right according to Pelphrey for weeks now so it was only a matter of time that his indefinite suspension ended.
There is still not an exact time table for his return but it could be in the next two games.
The Razorback basketball diehards understand what is going on with the team and praise Pelphrey for being firm in his discipline—playing the kids that are doing things right and sitting the kids that are not.
Many other Razorback fans are focusing on football still and using it to keep their attention away from the basketball team and the mess that they perceive it is in.
There is a long road ahead for these Hogs and every player with the exception of maybe Fortson should be back in time for the Razorbacks' next big game against Oklahoma.
At that point the Razorbacks will prove to be a much more better team than the start of this 2009-2010 season would suggest.
The Hogs schedule up until that Oklahoma game is relatively soft, so they should be 5-1 as they come into the game with the Sooners. The bench will be full again and not with the usual suspects. It will be full of returning starters and role players from a year ago working to get back into the rotation and out of Pelphrey's dog house.
This season the Razorbacks have the opportunity to make noise in the SEC West more than people think they will.
Mississippi State and Alabama just lost to mid-majors and have their fair share of issues. The Razorbacks will come out of their early season with a record no worse than 11-4 record and probably more like 12-3 or maybe even 13-2.
Hog fans, I know that sometimes it seems impossible to keep the faith, but things usually are never as bad as they seem.
There is a long road ahead for the Razorbacks, but expect to see them provide as many exciting moments as there is devastating losses, the glass is half full .
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