Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Mike, like Nolan, will win ... give him time
Mike Anderson (left), Nolan Richardson (center) and University of Arkansas chancellor David Gearhart speak during a 2011 event in Fayetteville.
LITTLE ROCK Nolan Richardson was always more crafty as a coach than he let on.
He was fond of calling his system “40 minutes of hell” and saying “fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
He loved to make people think all he did was coach defense. “D ’em up,” his voice would boom during games, but it was never that simple. There were two- and three-man traps that were executed precisely all over the court.
Once during an NCAA Tournament run, he said during his news conference, “I’m not a video coach. Let them prepare for us.”
Arkansas (10-5, 1-1 SEC) vs. Auburn (8-7, 2-0)
WHEN: 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Bud Walton Arena
TV: SEC Network
Then he would go out and have the Arkansas Razorbacks take apart the opponent’s offense with surgical precision or destroy the other team’s defense.
Monday he spoke to the Downtown Tip-Off Club and mentioned that every team needs a guy who can put it in the hole.
And that the best guy to do that for Mike Anderson is now playing at Butler.
Before Rotnei Clarke jumped the Razorbacks ship, Anderson had been excited about the prospects of what the shooting guard could do in his offense, as well as on fast breaks after a steal where any open man has the green light.
Richardson always had a shooter. Lee Mayberry and Todd Day, Scotty Thurman and Alex Dillard, who seemed to be able to make it from the time he stepped off the bus, and others like Blake Eddins and Pat Bradley, a deadly three-point shooter.
Richardson was never just about defense.
His 1994 national championship team ran a classic inside-out offense.
Corliss Williamson had a touch on almost every possession, unless Dillard was open from 30 feet of course.
In a lot of ways, Richardson educated the Razorbacks Nation.
Before Richardson there was Eddie Sutton and his defense, dedication and discipline, but there was no shot clock and a 39-38 victory was considered a classic.
Richardson introduced a new era of basketball with his running, gunning and stunning, and if the shot clock ever went off during his days at Arkansas, it isn’t remembered.
It was a style of basketball that Jerry Tarkanian, Billy Tubbs, Tommy Penders and others had preferred, and in the old Southwest Conference and Arkansas’ early days in the SEC, no team was more difficult to guard than the ones coached by Richardson.
It took Richardson four years to really get it going at Arkansas. But as he educated the fans and brought in his own players, the Razorbacks outgrew Barnhill Arena. So, Walton Arena — still one of the finest on-campus basketball gyms in America — was built.
It was said the waiting list for tickets was forever.
An NCAA investigation slowed the program, and it might have been about to finally recover when a tired, frustrated Richardson said give him his money and the UA could have his job.
He said it after a game at Kentucky — not once, but twice. He told Tubby Smith something similar before the game.
Then came the lawsuit, and it was a no-holds-barred month of dueling attorneys and testimonies.
The national publicity over the discrimination suit hurt the Hogs’ recruiting in basketball, and it sure didn’t help football.
Richardson lost the suit and the appeal and, like it should, the memory has almost died after almost 11 years.
What hasn’t, and shouldn’t, is the excitement Richardson brought with his style of basketball once he got his players on campus.
Anderson deserves the same amount of time.
Right now the Razorbacks are better than last season, and the process is in place to be more improved next year.
It works. Richardson proved that, and so will Anderson.
Sports, Pages 17 on 01/16/2013