McCollum's Column: Basketball excitement and anticipation

During crazy time with basketball and the weather, here’s a fresh batch of “David Appetizers,” assorted musings on the sports scene:



Excitement No. 1

The hiring of Russ Pennell had already injected new excitement into the University of Central Arkansas men’s basketball program, which had flatlined and going flatter.

One of the greatest signs about Pennell, who, as an interim coach led Arizona to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2009, was that the Phoenix Mercury hired him as a WNBA coach immediately after he was removed at Grand Canyon State.

He’s got the pedigree. He knows Arkansas and knows basketball.


Excitement No. 2

Several friends, who witnessed the University of Arkansas’ bulldozing of Ole Miss, Wednesday night noted they haven’t seen or witnessed such a solid performance in 20 years.

UA coach Mike Anderson still likes to tactfully refer to it as the “Fastest 40 Minutes.” This was really vintage Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell.”

For Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, it was the “Slowest 40 Minutes.”

The Razorbacks almost could do nothing wrong Wednesday.

Now, some folks are wondering about the antithesis of that game.

The Hogs have bought into Mike Anderson’s system, have good chemistry and are probably the second-best team in the Southeastern Conference.


The NCAA talk

I think the Hogs have done enough the last couple of weeks to get in the NCAA tournament.

But too many people are assuming that the SEC will get four bids. Depending on what happens in the conference tournaments, it may be a three-bid league, particularly with Kentucky crashing.

The Big 12, which had seven 20-win teams earlier in the week, and Pac-12 could get seven bids each. And the seventh-place team in each those leagues, solid from top to bottom, could challenge seriously for at least third in the SEC.

The SEC’s fate could depend on how many bids the Big 10 receives.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)