It has been quite some time since basketball was the primary focus of Arkansas Razorback fans.
It seems like many Hog fans have forgotten the Jack Crowe and Danny Ford years of Razorback football and how the Arkansas basketball team carried the pride of the state for so long.
Bud Walton Arena stands as a testament to that very fact and the NCAA and conference success is evident by the banners hanging from the rafters.
Arkansas basketball has not been a reason for Hog fans to get up and "call those Hogs!" over the past decade or so, but Hog fans need to take notice of some good things going on for the Hogs basketball program. The tables have turned and Hog fans seem to only dive into the football news currently because the basketball team seems to be a black eye to many right now.
For that very reason, here is a short list of some positive things going on with the basketball program that seem to get lost in the cracks these days—including what many believe to be the newest mistake by the Hogs.
One of the most positive things going for the Hogs right now is on the recruiting trail and that goes for both 2010 and 2011 classes.
The most recent positive news is how the Hogs stand with the No. 1-rated JUCO player in the nation, Ricardo Ratliffe. Ratliffe lists the Hogs as his favorite with high interest according to Scout.com
Ricardo is listed at 6’9”, 220 lbs. and a four-star power forward recruit rated as the top JUCO player in the nation by many sources. He is one of the top scorers in JUCO basketball and is a perfect fit for the Razorbacks' up-tempo style of play.
He will be an anchor to the Arkansas 2010 recruiting class if he chooses the Hogs and join Mardracus Wade, Rickey Scott, and Marvell Waithe.
Ratliffe has offers from top programs across the nation, including Florida, Michigan State, and Kentucky just to name a few. John Pelphrey has worked his tail off to build a great relationship with Ricardo.
Pelphrey has also done the same for the 2011 class. Arkansas has nothing but five-star and top four-star players offered and interested in the program.
The three in-state players in Ky Madden, Aaron Ross (already committed), and Hunter Mickelson, all rank in the top 65 of the 2011 class nationally. It appears the Hogs have a very good chance of landing this trio, as well as a handful of other top national players, highlighted by five-star recruit Adonis Thomas of Memphis Melrose.
The next positive going on for the Hogs is the way they are performing in the classroom and this may come as a big surprise to many that have only heard how the Hogs have struggled in the classroom or are serving suspensions.
According to Coach Pelphrey, in his press conference this past week, the Hogs are exceeding expectations in the classroom as a group and doing some great things. Given that this has been one of the more negative areas surrounding the Hogs over the last year, this is a really big boost in confidence for many fans.
The annual progress report from the NCAA comes out soon and while the Hogs may be below the standard again, it is possible that if the Hogs have shown great improvement and stayed on the plan with the NCAA to get things on the up-and-up, there will be no scholarship loss.
Pelphrey has worked tirelessly over his time at Arkansas to show discipline and to get players to do right or show them the door. Many of this has garnered coach criticism, but in some eyes (including mine), he should be applauded for as the Arkansas coach. It is this area that was in shambles when he arrived on campus and why Dana Altman bolted after a short pit stop.
Pelphrey has not backed away from the challenge and while it has appeared he has had a revolving door to many observers, it has been quite the opposite.
The Razorbacks are on the right track. The 2009 season may or may not show it in the win column, but in the area of getting players right in school and off the court, Pelphrey has worked harder than or just as hard as any coach in the country.
The Hogs are on their first win streak of the season and it appears that win streak could reach four or five games.
Much of this has to do with the Hogs getting some players back from suspension, with the only exception being Courtney Fortson. Fortson is practicing and could be back as soon as the end of the week. Pelphrey has made it clear that when Court is back, he will be on the court.
It is always nice to get wins regardless of whom they are against. The Hogs look to be in for a very long season and the winning is likely to be spotty, but improvement will be seen over the season.
Hog fans need to turn out to the games and show the program support. If they do not, then not only will the team continue to suffer, but it could also hurt the great recruiting that has been taking place for both the basketball and football teams.
The Razorbacks will be a force in 2010 and on, so Hog fans just need to get on board now, ride out the good with the bad, and help the ship get back on track. Bud Walton Arena stands in its place as a testament to how great of fans the Razorback basketball fans are, and with it sitting nearly empty on game days with stretched estimated crowds of 6,000 and 7,000, it is a poor reflection on not just the current team.
Before I get into the positive, let me first say that I am very disappointed in a few Arkansas media sources and members in particular for what appeared to be them trying to dig this story up and get the Hogs in more trouble.
The editor of the magazine Celebrate Arkansas, in her released statement, lashed out at these sources and said this was a small mistake and that these sources who first broke the story (her competition) were fabricating this story.
These originating sources of the story have since said they report the news and she promotes it ,and that they are not competition, which sounds like they are saying her magazine has no editorial quality.
Maybe they do not understand that their websites and papers are full of more advertisements than editorial copy. A profitable news source is predominately 60/40 in advertising to content. Sounds like someone thinks they are on a high horse, but doesn't know their company all that well.
By now, those of you who follow the Hogs, know that the basketball team reported a secondary violation to the NCAA and SEC early this week for a misuse of players in this NW Arkansas magazine photo shoot.
Apparently, the players were modeling clothing along with Coach Pelphrey and did a Q&A in what was the featured story. The mistake was that Celebrate Arkansas then put in the story where to get the clothes. This is where the secondary violation occurred.
It does appear to me that many of the media sources in Arkansas at this time seem to like to break the negative stories over the positives. Maybe the editor of the magazine is being paranoid that her "competition" is trying to hurt her magazine's image, or maybe they were. But this was a small mistake and nothing to spend two days worth of featured stories writing about it like it was the next big strike against Arkansas basketball.
Anyway, where this is a positive is that the Hogs have gone from making big mistakes and very negative ones to this. This is just an honest itsy-bitsy mistake. The university released a statement yesterday that this will not affect player eligibility and that they see this as a closed matter now that they have self-reported.
In a world of Lane Kiffins and major violations, this is about as cream-puff as they come. The Hog's issues over the past years for some, make this just another in a line that upsets them, but it should not.
In looking into it, I found other SEC teams that appeared in similar shoots over the years, and I did not look very hard (just try Google). I am sure they either self-reported or did not have a local media source try to get a scoop on the next big story against their program, imagine that.
While these are a few of the most recent positive things going on for the ball Hawgs, there has been a list of others since the season began, most notably the solid play of the newcomers in the absence of all the suspended or injured returning starters.
Pelphrey and the Hogs hope that while fans have had plenty of negatives to talk about over the past year, Hog fans will start to take notice of many of the other positives going on with the program. Fans need to come out to the games and not solely rely on the football team for their pride in Arkansas athletics.
The Razorback basketball team and Bud Walton Arena are awaiting the real Razorback fans to stand up and "Call those Hogs!"
Continue to visit the Arkansas Razorback Basketball team page at Bleacher Report for news and updates.
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