It’s obvious the “will he even come back….does he even want to be a Razorback” debate are is officially over. And, any question about how much he might mean to the team is also gone after last night’s performance…which will now resonate.
Until now, Nick Smith was great by reputation. And his reputation alone could be seen in the way GA defenders hedged towards him and quickly helped whenever he was a threat to shoot or penetrate. From the jump. But now that he has gone off for 26, his presence will REALLY open things up. For everyone else.
I was prepared to articulate just how I saw his presence impacting the offense, but Muss summed it up perfectly in the presser. They are literally a different offense with Nick on the floor. Spacing is better. The defense will have to extend more. Importantly, our future NBA all-star point guard AB now will have at LEAST one future NBA wing scorer alongside him to whom he can distribute. Sometimes two, when Nick and Ricky are in together. Also, look for Graham to really benefit, as there will be more room to operate. Walsh also got some really open looks last night.
Overall, the offense is suddenly much more fluid. Lethal. We can push it with an additional elite ball handler, and our half court sets will run better.
And the great thing is, Nick plays defense. Is he Devo level? No. But Muss made a point of praising his defense. That, to me, is big.
What does this mean regarding the rest of the season? I think we win one out of two on the road. Then beat Kentucky. Tenner is reeling. I wouldn’t be stunned if we beat Bama. Nick and Ricky will both have to be “on” from the field to beat Bama at their place. But, we have the talent now to stand up to the Tide. I see your superstar with one of our own.
I think we can make it to Sunday in the Sec Tourney and maybe wind up with a 6 or 5 seed. And if we make it to the finals, let’s win the thing. For some reason many on this board don’t care about the conference tourney. Maybe I’m old school ( check that, I AM old school), but I was always super proud when our Hogs went to Dallas and owned the SWC tourney. Then we came to the SEC and owned that tourney. For awhile. Then we quit winning that tourney. I say let’s win the thing again. It’s hardware mates.
As for the NCAA, With Nick, we are at least as good as last season. IMO. Maybe better. And that team went to the elite 8.
Yes. I am as usual being optimistic. Why not.
Nick, thank you for returning. Can you imagine if we had had him and TB all year. Might as well not even think about it. Sigh.