Elite Eight Post Mortem, DVH’s Bus Ride Presser & an Unforgettable Hog Fan From the 60’s


Q. Our first question is from J. Roddy who wants to know: Do you think we ran out of gas playing Gonzaga and then Duke? That’s a tough back-to-back challenge.

A. That’s they way it goes as you get deeper into the tournament. I don’t think they ran out of gas physically, but mentally and emotionally maybe. If you think about it, Every time The Hogs knocked off a big name opponent they had trouble getting back up for the next game. Beat Auburn, lost to Alabama. Beat LSU, lost to Tennessee. Beat LSU in the SEC tournament, lost to Texas A&M.

In San Francisco they they basically faced two very similar teams. Really good guards with balanced scoring and lots of ball sharing along with a one-two combo of bigs inside who could score, rebound and play defense. The difference is, Duke played a lot better than Gonzaga.

Duke was relentless. Arkansas would have a couple of good possessions and Duke would come right back and hit one of those short jumpers in the lane or score on a layup.

They broke Arkansas defense down on too many possession and when you basically win games with your defense and that defense is not what it usually is, you will lose.

Two key stats in this game were points in the paint and shooting percentage on layups. Duke dominated those stats. Arkansas had trouble getting its layups to fall.

Q. STL Hawg thinks there was a reason for those missed layups. He says: I really hate Duke. It really stinks when we aren’t allowed to play defense and the other team can play as aggressive as they want. All I wanted was an evenly called game so the players could decide, but you rarely ever get that when playing Duke (unless you are an old-school blue blood).

A. Overall I thought the officiating was good but I agree with you that at key points of the game the officiating under the basket was suspect. Jaylin Williams and Trey Wade missed some layups because of fouls that weren’t called and Williams was called for fouls on missed Duke Layup that weren’t fouls. Had the game been more evenly called inside would Arkansas have won? Probably not but it have been a much closer game. I will be interested in watching Duke in the Final Four to see if the officiating goes the Blue Devils way at key points in the game or games.

Q. Pigsfeat asks: Is the game too fast for the officials or are they being influenced by wanting to be a part of an upset.

A. This comment was sent to us in reference to Arkansas’ first two games where the opponent was the underdog. Look there’s no question in my mind that in general fans blame losses on referees no matter what. If the underdog team gets some favorable calls, they get accused of trying to create an upset. If the calls go for a big name favored team then they are biased against the underdog. Refs don’t live in a vacuum. They aren’t robots. They probably are influenced by factors that they may not be aware of at times. They also just plain make mistakes. I know one thing, I’ve never wanted to be a ref and I wouldn’t do it under any circumstances.

Q. teamOTIS asks: Is Musselman leading the team to a championship or is he just good at making the tournament? Will Arkansas win a championship under Musselman?

A. So is he Mark Few or Nolan Richardson? That’s what you’re asking. The answer is, I don’t know. Here’s what I do know. The pressure to keep going ramps up and the competition gets tougher with each step forward in the NCAA tournament.

Twice Muss has gotten Arkansas to within three wins of a national championship. But those last three games are tough. A lot of really good coaches have never made it to a final four. I like Muss’ approach though. You take those last three steps with better recruiting and that’s what he’s in the process of doing.

Q: sGiles asks: What do you think about the comments by our fans on social media after the loss to Duke? I thought it was inspiring. Almost none of the negative piling on that you get from fans of most schools. Just lots of support. #WPS

A. I agree. You never know what to expect on Facebook, Twitter and message boards. But I’ve seen almost nothing derogatory. Here’s just a few examples from our Pig Trail Nation Facebook site:

Jan Bratton Jewell posted:
Thanks for another amazing season! It’s been so much fun to be a Hog fan! So proud of this team!

Bradley Townzen says:
Thank you coach Musselman for a great season. We will get a national championship soon enough. You are the man to get us one. Keep up the great work. Great job this year.

Tracy Sherbert Richardson offered this:
Proud of this team and where I see the program going. Razorback sports are all looking good and making me proud. Thanks to this wonderful team of fighting Razorbacks and their coaches on a great season. Never count them out. Woo Pig!

There were dozens and dozens of comments just like those, all coming after we posted coach Musselman’s post game press conference.

Q. Dr. Starcs asks: Do you know how Coach Muss is viewed by the other SEC coaches? He seems to be complimentary of every coach he goes up against but I haven’t seen the same respect reciprocated. Is that because they don’t like that the Hogs have become nationally relevant again and that scares them?

A. I’ve heard that some of it is his aggressive use of social media. A lot of those coaches are old school and don’t like it. I was told that one SEC coach complained in the presence of some reporters that Muss was too much about self promotion. Of course that’s crazy. Nobody promotes the Razorback brand and Arkansas fans, especially the students, better than he does. The bottom line, who really cares if some of those coaches don’t like him? He’s out to beat them not make friends with them.

Q. schmoov1 wants to know: What happened to Connor Vanover? When he decided to transfer to the Hogs, his California highlights were great. He ran the floor pretty well and was deadly from the perimeter. His regression is just confusing.

A. They tried to turn him into an inside player and it didn’t work. His shots around the basket didn’t fall and he wasn’t a good defensive player. He lacked foot quickness and was pretty easy to manuever around. He also started off as a decent shot blocker but regressed. Maybe the biggest thing was, he lost confidence in his three point shot. I think he’s a 7-3 perimeter player. Maybe he’ll go somewhere where they accept him in that role.

Q. Alex4Hogs88 says: Gonzaga is a private Jesuit university in a conference that it just dominates year after year after year. What if it joined the PAC 12 conference and becomes more battle-tested throughout. Would they possibly have more success in the Tourney?

A. Well to be fair, Gonzaga usually compensates for its conference schedule by playing a tougher non conference schedule than most SEC schools. But you do have a point. If the Pac 12 expands and I think it will, Gonzaga needs to make a pitch to be added.

However I’m not sure if they have enough of a fully funded, well rounded athletics program to be considered.

Q. @mousetown wants to know: Is DVH sending a message with some of his comments lately? Stuff like, We’re playing okay but not setting the world on fire.
Two weeks into SEC play Arkansas leads the West by two full games and has the second best overall record but he doesn’t sound happy.

A. I think he’s sending a message to some of his veterans that they need to step it up. Arkansas got a lot of help from Missouri in winning that series. Those guys made costly throwing errors and fielding errors. They gave up a run in game three on a balk. If Arkansas had come up with better bullpen pitching and more timely hitting sweeping that series would have been a walk in the park.

Sometimes stats can be deceiving. Some of the Hogs’ top hitters have been coming up empty in pressure situations. Bases loaded no outs or one out.

I’ve seen some Razorback teams where certain guys come to the plate and they’ve got that swagger like, I’m fixing to break this game open. I don’t get that vibe right now except for Braydon Webb. His batting average is a nudge over .200. He’s 5th in the lineup in RBI but lately he seems to come up big when they need him to. His two-run homer was the difference in game one against Missouri and his two RBI double provided the winning runs in game three. You could say that he won the series for them. Arkansas need more of its hitters to follow his example.

The starting pitching on this team has been okay but we haven’t seen enough situations like Jaxson Wiggins came up with on Sunday. He got rocked in the second inning with a two-run homer and then shut down Missouri for the next four innings. Arkansas needs more relievers like Brady Tygart who got two saves at Missouri. He really bailed them out in the 8th inning of game three.

There are some other players stepping up, Michael Turner comes to mind, but not enough of them are doing it on a consistent basis in critical situations.

Yes, right now Arkansas is still in the top five. They have that lead in the West. But West teams are carving each other up right now and I suspect DVH is worried about how his pitching and hitting will hold up against Mississippi St., Ole Miss, LSU, A&M and Auburn, which is off to an impressive start.

So yes, he’s letting his players know, We’ve got to get it in gear.

As for the Mizzou series, he did his post game presser from the bus. You could tell that he wanted to get the *%#* outta there.

Q. About game two of the Arkansas-Missouri baseball series, Mike Roberts says: Pitiful calling behind the plate !!

A. I did notice that, Mostly in the top of the 9th. Arkansas was down two runs with a man on first and it was like the home plate ump wanted to get out of that cold wind and get warm. His strike zone suddenly got huge. If an ump’s calls are consistent I don’t have an issue. But when you get near the end of a game and suddenly the strike zone changes dramatically, I have a problem with that. But the truth is Arkansas’ bullpen was awful in that game and the batters missed on too many RBI situations.

Q. There were a bunch of infield bobbles by the Hogs in game two. Debby says: It’s the fake grass & fake dirt messing them up. Ball doesn’t bounce right.

A. Missouri had trouble with that so if they can’t deal with I can see why Arkansas, which has one of the best fielding infields in college baseball, had trouble. Really Missouri’s facilities are pitiful. I don’t know how they recruit. That ballpark looks like something out of the 80s. It’s depressing to have to cover a game there. You’ think the school could take some of its SEC TV money and upgrade that place a bit. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the typical attendance at those games is few hundred or less. Why upgrade when nobody shows up? On the other hand, why would the fans show up when you don’t put money into the program?

Q. Terry Hilton asks: Why do batters look into the dugout at Van Halen (lol) to get their signal? I have never seen this before, they usually get it from the 3rd base coach. Thanks

A. Back when DVH WAS the 3rd base coach batters did get their signals from 3rd base. I can’t remember how long he’s had his hitting coach at 3rd base but because Van Horn is now in the dugout he relays his signals from there. It’s pretty simple really. He signals the hitters, not his hitting coach.

Q. robs4516 wants to know: You’ve obviously become a Razorback fan during your time in Arkansas, what are your thoughts on Texas Tech? Still a big fan?

A. Growing up I was a huge Texas Tech fan. Saved my lawn mowing money and bought general admission tickets to football and basketball games. My mom would take my best friend and me over to Lubbock, drop us off at games and go shopping. She’d pick us back up when the games were over.

In high school we’d take turns driving our own cars to games.

In college at North Texas State we traveled to an Arkansas-TCU game in Ft. Worth in the fall of 1968. Sitting in the visitors section we met a crazy Razorback fan who’d driven from Arkansas in his decked out RV. I’ve never forgotten the guy. He was the first Hog fan from Arkansas I’d ever met and he was one of the reasons I took a job in Fayetteville in 1975.

My buddy lives in Lubbock and over the years our interests have been reversed. He’s become more of a Texas Tech fan. I like Tech but not when they play the Hogs.

We both don’t like Duke and Coach K.

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