Crystal Clear:

Dave Van Horn recalls game details with ease

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn glances into the stands prior to the Razorbacks' 11-7 win over Missouri State at Baum Stadium  on April 17, 2018.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn glances into the stands prior to the Razorbacks' 11-7 win over Missouri State at Baum Stadium on April 17, 2018.

FAYETTEVILLE — In his postgame press conference following Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Boston on Sunday, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James again showed why he is one of the most intelligent players the NBA has ever seen.

And he did it in ultra-rare fashion.

James, when asked what happened early in the fourth quarter as the Celtics ballooned a 14-point lead to 21 with a quick 7-0 run and put the game well out of reach, rattled off a 4-5 possession sequence with near-perfect detail.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn can recall details within a game with crystal-clear memory as well, and he did it - as he has many other times before - this weekend in his postgame press conferences as the Razorbacks swept then-No. 20 Texas A&M.

Starting pitcher Kacey Murphy had to escape a number of jams in Saturday’s 6-3 win, and when asked how Murphy continually gets out of innings with minimal damage and got progressively better as the game went on, the wheels started turning in Van Horn’s mind.

“In the first inning he got out of that jam. I think it was bases loaded and one out, and he also got out of another jam that I think was runner on third and one out,” he said. “ … He gave up the leadoff double, (the next batter) moved him to third on a bunt and he got out of it.

“There was a base open one of the times, maybe two of the times (when Murphy escaped jams). … The fifth and sixth inning, especially the sixth, he looked great.”

When asked about reliever Barrett Loseke’s ninth-inning performance, he again dished out nearly every detail with precision.

“His stuff wasn’t bad,” Van Horn said. “He threw a couple of good breaking balls. Obviously the four-pitch walk was a little frustrating to start the inning off with a three-run lead, but the 0-2 breaking ball he left up in the zone that the leadoff man hit in the hole for a infield hit was frustrating.

“But he did a tremendous job striking out the two-hole hitter with basically fastballs on the outside corner. So, not bad. He got a save, and we got a win.”

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, around the same time as James’ memorable answer, Van Horn described Luke Bonfield’s towering three-run home run into the Hog Pen in left field that pushed Arkansas’ lead to four runs.

He also added more insight into another of Bonfield’s at-bats, including elements as to how the ball reacted off the bat and approached a Texas A&M infielder.

“Really good at-bat on the home run,” he said. “He worked the count, laid off a couple of borderline pitches, then got the 3-1 fastball and just did what we hoped he’d do with it. It went from a one-run lead to a four-run lead real quick. … He might have also drawn a walk and he also hit that ball in the hole that was scored an error.

“It was a tough hop because it was hit hard and had some over-spin on it, hit that dirt and jumped over the kid’s glove.”

Left fielder Heston Kjerstad, who fancies himself a fan of James’ game, watched the video following Cleveland’s Game 1 loss in amazement. As for Kjerstad, he said he can remember a majority of his at-bats and bits and pieces of games.

The freshman added that Van Horn does very similar things in postgame speeches with the team and is routinely taken aback by the attention to detail and how sharp his coach’s mind is at all times.

“He’ll be talking about three innings and go play-by-play,” Kjerstad said. “The hitter did this, the position player did this and the pitcher came back with this pitch and then this happened to the hitter. He’ll go on and on. It’s amazing to be able to sit there and listen to that. He’s sitting there (in the game) and he’s focused up remembering every moment.

“And I bet when he’s watching the game he’s sitting there thinking, ‘OK, I’m going to point that out, that out and we need to talk about this situation after the game.’ Every once in a while he’ll have a little piece of paper with some stuff on it, but most of the time it’s just all up in his head. It’s impressive. That’s totally the difference (in Van Horn and other coaches). He knows all the little things add up in the big picture.”

Murphy simply said Van Horn has a memory bank in which he stores all of the fine details of a game, and doesn’t forget them. And it isn’t just with the game on that particular day. He can go back to the beginning of the season or past seasons and pull back minuscule details.

Van Horn is largely reserved when asked about his tremendous memory — which borders photographic — of games and it’s finer specifics.

“I don’t do a lot of other things real good, and sometimes I don’t do this very good,” Van Horn said with a grin. “I can go back and pretty much remember everything. I don’t have to write a whole lot of stuff down when it comes to baseball, or at least our team.

“I don’t know. That’s what I do.”


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