Arkansas basketball is having a hard time getting off the ground to start the 2009-2010 season. The Razorbacks are 2-3 coming off of losses to Morgan State and East Tennessee State. There are no excuses or positive spins to make following these losses to two teams that many Arkansas fans may mistake for exhibition teams.
As one who always works to rally the troops and show the glass as half-full I have to admit one thing; Hogs you are making my job almost impossible.
I have worked to put the spotlight on the newcomers playing well on this struggling team. I have written stories on the great newly signed 2010 recruiting class , and the great prospects of the 2011 class , and I will continue to do this very same thing because I do believe there are many signs that things are heading in the right direction.
But lets make no mistake this current Hog team is in a bad place, and the only people that can change anything is themselves, and unfortunately the Hogs are doing more than just losing games-they are losing fans, and fast.
John Pelphrey has worked very hard since arriving on campus and he has faced difficult odds since the day he took the job, but on a regular basis so far this season his team has been out-rebounded, outsmarted, and all around out-played. They have shown great effort, but more times than not they have been out-hustled by the opposing team.
The Hogs seem less prepared and less comfortable than they did to begin the season, and they look to be far worse than they were a year ago. Last season was already one of the worst in the history of Arkansas basketball when the Hogs only won two conference games.
So the question everyone is asking: is this the darkest hour or Arkansas basketball?
The answer is not simple. It may be, or it may not be. The Hogs have only played five games, but things do appear to be heading down a very dark and lonely road for John Pelphrey and this team if they keep it up the way they are playing and losing right now.
Pelphrey needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat or some sort of magic to get things going this season with his team. There is still hope that something will click and the Hogs will get it going. A lot of time remains in the season and this is a talented very young team that will be getting players back from suspension. When the Hogs get these players it will mark the first time all year they have been full strength.
However, when the Razorbacks lose back to back games to two teams easily mistaken for exhibitions people want to get down to the dirty truth. They do not want to hear how things may get better, or why to hope they get better.
So here it is...this is a very bad Arkansas basketball team, and this has the potential to be one very long and painful season. Understand it is early in the season, and there have been extraordinary struggles with suspensions and injuries, but right now excuses are just that to Arkansas fans. Excuses.
Like everyone else these losses and struggles by the Hogs makes me sick. I want to see them win, and I can see effort and talent in the youth on the Razorback team. Odds are against this team and they are short-handed, but the Hogs need to win and they need to do it now. It does not take a rocket-scientist to see that much.
Razorback fans attendance to the Arkansas games are at their lowest and will continue to drop if the Hogs lose games like these to inferior opponents. Recruiting has been looking great, but losing never helps strengthen your case or close a recruit. Losing also can instill bad habits in current players, and foster an environment of acceptance.
This team needs to show the determination and pride to win games and get people back in the stands, and more checks in the win column and turn this negative feeling across the Razorback Nation towards the basketball team around.
Yeah, I know it can be easier said than done, but it is as simple as that right now. The players and coaches need to light a fire among one another that enough is enough, and at least show that they are going to put up a fight for this season not to be a total waste.
It is possible that the team can catch fire and make some resemblance of a successful or improved season over last years awful season. It also is a possibility that the Hogs could continue their downward spiral and continue to have what could be one of the worst seasons in both recent and all-time program history.
Look I know this all seems harsh, especially coming from me, but it is the reality of the current moment. Arkansas basketball is not what the fans expect of Arkansas basketball right now, and it needs to be not what the Razorback players expect.
Many of my old-school family and friends talk about how the old Eddie-Sutton teams won games with less talent than their opponents on a regular basis all the time with fundamentals. It is about time that John Pelphrey finds a way to get the same thing done with his current team.
Better effort, fundamentals, focus, and preparation and this can happen. It has been done before and would not be the first time a team with their backs against the wall achieved what seemed impossible.
For the Razorbacks in 2009-2010 it appears it has come to either they achieve the impossible or this very well could be the programs darkest hour.
Image Courtesy of ESPN.com
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