Question Hoops Mediocrity

Seems like for the last 20+ years Hog hoops has been mired in mediocrity. We have had several coaches, some who have had solid success elsewhere. Fans go into most seasons optimistic that it will be the one when we become a major player in college hoops again, a perennial top 20 team, consistently in the Dance with reasonable expectations for occasional Sweet 16s and beyond. Often we have solid non conference seasons and then, once SEC play starts we are smacked in the face with the reality that we will have to just keep waiting for that return to relevance. Why? What are we missing? Is the SEC that good that we can’t get over the hump? Are we hiring the wrong guys? Is everyone else cheating and we aren’t so we just don’t have the players? I’m searching for answers because I’m tired of being an ok program. I want to be a great program again. I’m tired of conference play bursting my hope bubble every year. Anyone have any thoughts as to what is holding this program back?

Tonight, like Mizzou, was just a horribly off night for Arkansas. I wouldn’t put stock that this is a pattern yet.

Sounds like you have made your mind up already on the team, Coach, program.

Without smith, Williams is only player with some bulk. Skinny guys that got pushed around tonight. Hate to say it but Wade schooled coach muss tonight

It has been a pattern for 20 years. This is not just about tonight. We have seen this pattern since the end of the Nolan era. My question is what is standing in the way of us before top 20 program again?

I’m just asking what is preventing us from being a top 20 program again. We have seen this same thing play out year after year for over 20 years. This is not a small sample size and it’s not just about this year’s team. They are just doing what we seem to always do.

Tonight was terrible…I thought their zone really bothered us and exposed we are not a great 3pt shooting team. We are also not a really physically strong team and they killed us on the boards. All that being said, I think Coach Muss will get us to where we’d like to be.

Some things just take time.

Good points. We’re only into season 2 with Muss. Let’s see where we’re at by the end of season 4. I’m thinking we’ll all be pretty happy. Like you said, it takes time to build a program, especially when your 2 best players (Joe and Jones) leave early for the NBA…

Nothing is standing in our way. but Nolan did come on the back of Sutton’s success, and both are HOF coaches. We made 2 bad hires after Nolan and that has eliminated an entire generation with knowledge of the hogs. Thus, you have to start over with instated and local talent that will hopefully remember. You also need two back to back HOF coaches, potentially. Mike steered us in the right directions. Can CEM take it to the next step? I don’t know. But if CEM can get us going back to the dance regularly with consecutive sweet 16 appearances, maybe a final four, then maybe the NEXT coach gets us over that hump. If you want to compare us to the past, then understand the past and what is was. a decade of bad hires removed all of that.

As far as Musselman, season one was marred by the Isaiah Joe injury. Could have had a good ending, too. We just don’t know. Season two is marred by covid and the wipe out of the non-conference schedule to toughen the team. Then, you add in the injury to Justin Smith.

You fix the issues with recruiting. I think Musselman is recruiting well. Gotta have more data to either say he can or can’t do it.

I agree. But last nights performance was neither the result of COVID nor Smith’s injury. Smith certainly could have helped the team, and maybe we could have even won, but only 2 players on that team did anything worthy of being called basketball. So either the coach hasn’t recruited well or hasn’t motivated well. What do you think Nolan would have done after that performance last night?

I know what he would have done, but it can’t be repeated on a family website.

While it is not an excuse, if one cannot see the increased emphasis and especially the increased talent in the SEC, I think one is not looking very closely. The days of waltzing through the conference with ease have passed. There has been Kentucky and other programs stepping up from time to time, but not many easy outs in the league now. Makes for an interesting season and coaching job insecurity.

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Very true.

Lets not forget that Nolan’s first season SUCKED and his second season, while better, was anything but great. I will never forget losing the Tulsa in season 3 (early in the year) and thinking, “Nolan isn’t going to work out, got to fire him at the end of the year and try again.” Of course I was WAY wrong and it was clear that I was wrong by the end of that season (2nd round of NCAAT if I recall correctly).

Lets see where we are at the end of next year. And that is hard for me to say! I have been waiting on “next year” for a long time now!

Right now we’ve got one freshman with size and some bulk (Williams) who shows a lot of early signs of being quite a presence as he gets older and stronger. The other available guy with a power forward’s body-Jackson-is not a physical player.

We’ve got three other forwards on the roster with either a proven physical presence inside or a potential physical presence. Smith is hurt, but coming back. Iyoila tore up in a knee during the summer and might be back in February. Johnson is not eligible yet. So the roster make-up is much better this year for size/power, most of it just isn’t available in the next couple of weeks.

The guard play last night was a bit discouraging, more for the defensive lapses and offensive mistakes than the missed shots. I think KK would have played a lot in this game if healthy, given the way LSU’s guards play.

I think Devo will end up being a really good player, but his game savvy and strength need to catch up with the athleticism and the motor. As with Williams, you just have to accept that talented freshmen generally are up and down in conference play.

Tate needs Sills, Notae and Devo to be better for his complementary game to work. He does most of his best work on offense when the other team is focusing on someone else. Moody is learning what it’s like to be featured in an SEC team’s scouting report-I feel pretty good about him finding ways to overcome that challenge as the year goes along, but we’ll see.

Notae in the second half gave a glimpse or two of being able to play defense, but right now its hard to keep him in and accept the mental errors while you wait for the usual hot scoring streak. My guess is that Muss will be coaching him even harder than the rest the next couple of weeks-he has to be better overall-especially passing the ball-if we are going to finish the year strong.

Actually Nolan didnt come in after Sutton’s success. The program was on the decline with Sutton. Nolan had very little talent to work with those first couple of years.

I like Muss and think he will be successful, but I do think he is too guard happy. We need bulk on the inside. I keep seeing on the recruiting board that we are looking at transfers and they are mostly guards…

This year’s freshman class will be a great foundation for Muss ’ future teams. I think that the grad transfer use can be an asset for our program. I don’t think that approach can be one that consistently leads to SEC titles, but grad transfers can certainly help fill weak spots on the team.

Long term excellence require a yearly infusion of 5* and high 4* star freshman. I doubt that we will ever have the numbers of 5* recruits like Kentucky, but our National Championship team had 2 5* players. Corliss and Tank Robinson. It also had a huge number of very good players. That team had it all. Size, quickness, outside shooting, power inside players, depth at all positions, and most importantly, toughness. Beck and Corliss were the leaders and they refused to lose. That team was not fragile. And their record made that perfectly clear.

That’s the model of what we want and need right now. It will take another year or two to get close to what we all want. If they break out of their slump, we will be just fine this year. But it’s going to take better players and more coaching to achieve top tier status.

Grad transfers need to be already accustomed to big time P-5 level of play like Smith was for immediate impact. No time for development in one season. Hopefully that should happen soon when Muss gets established and his recruits (that stay) gain experience.

The short answer is simple: it’s all about the coaching. Especially at a program like Arkansas–that is not a traditional Blue Blood–you HAVE to have the right coach in order to be consistently relevant on the national scene. I think huntinhog summed it up very well.

From 1974-2002 we had 2 HOF coaches with lifetime winning percentages of .710 (Eddie) and .711 (Nolan). From 2003-2019 We had 3 coaches with lifetime winning percentages of .504 (Stan), .516 (Pel) and .639 (Mike). The corresponding results are not really surprising. Mike certainly deserves credit for cleaning up the program and getting us back on the road to respectability. But the damage from back-to-back disastrous hires and the fallout from Nolan’s departure is not easily undone. In fact I’d say we’re still recovering. Jury’s still out on Muss, but I still think given time that he is capable of getting us back to where we all want to be.

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