SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question of the Day: Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Explain to everyone that whines about Mike how impressive going to 3/4 NCAAT’s in the last four years is (especially compared to the last two regimes)?
— Nathan Morris (@nathanpmorris) March 14, 2018
(Just to be clear, this is Trent Shadid filling in for my colleague Eric Bolin to answer this question. Don’t worry, Bolin will be back Thursday.)
Not every Arkansas fan is going to be excited about having Mike Anderson as the Hogs basketball coach. Short of winning a national title, that’s probably always going to be the case.
But why? It can’t be anything more than having unrealistic expectations.
Nathan makes a great point with this question. What Anderson has done the last four seasons is impressive. Three NCAA Tournament berths over that time at Arkansas isn’t something just any coach could accomplish in this era.
Look at who preceded Anderson. Would you rather have Stan Heath or John Pelphrey? Sure, Anderson isn’t taking Arkansas to the heights Nolan Richardson once did. But that’s an extremely unfair expectation.
There have been no Sweet 16 appearances or SEC titles under Anderson. That’s probably where the frustration of some fans begins.
But there have been signs of promise. Arkansas has outplayed its seed in the SEC Tournament the last two seasons, making the finals in 2017 and semifinals this season. The Hogs almost snapped their Sweet 16 drought a year ago, pushing eventual champion North Carolina to the brink in the second round. Close doesn’t necessarily make fans feel good, but it beats a lot of the alternatives.
What’s most impressive about Anderson is the way his Arkansas teams have closed the regular season in recent years. The Hogs won six of their last eight regular-season games in the final month this season to go from bubble team to comfortably in the tournament. In 2017, the Razorbacks played their way off the bubble by winning six of their last seven. The same was true in 2015, when Arkansas won nine of its last 10 regular-season contests.
I’m guessing few coaches have had that sort of late-season consistency over the same time period.
The fans are hungry for a Sweet 16 appearance; that’s understandable. Maybe they’ll get it this season. Even if it doesn’t happen, Anderson has done a good job and there are plenty of reasons to appreciate him.
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