The fellow walked into the restaurant at lunch time with a sarcastic smile and angry eyes.
“I watched the Lakers on television last night and started cussing,” he said to a friend. “Then, I turned the television to the Razorback game and cussed some more. I went back and forth and got madder and madder.”
“I don’t know about the Lakers but something has got to be changed with the Razorbacks,” said his companion. “I like (coach) Mike Anderson but something is missing.”
This came after a so-so Texas A&M team, with only eight scholarship players, gave the Hogs a basketball beatdown close to the level of what they did in football. And the Hogs appeared in a funk and not even lukewarm.
As is their custom, the Razorbacks can be road kill at any venue.
“It’s just a different team that I saw the other night,” moaned the fellow at the lunch table.
From casual observation, it seems that the honeymoon for UA coach Mike Anderson is hitting a snag. The Nolan Richardson Era 2.0 is a ways away.
There are no quick fixes or miracle plans.
It seems to relate to both attitude and execution.
The Razorbacks appear lacking in strong leadership, both in fervor and court sense, when taken out of their comfort zone — which appears to be anywhere on the road.
Marshawn Powell and BJ Young, experienced possibly the UA’s most talented players, are not supposed to disappear in foreign territory. They are supposed to set the tone.
The Hogs have plenty of slashers. They need shooters. Their outside shooting percentage against the good teams they have played, which have been few, is mediocre to abysmal. Therefore, their offense cannot light any fire to their defense.
And their free-throw shooting against A&M was awful.
Away from Bud Walton Arena, these Hogs have been nothing special. And that’s not good this year since the Southeastern Conference seems to be nothing special — very average really — outside of Missouri, Florida and a Kentucky team that is not near the ominous group as last year.
Already this season, Mississippi State has lost to Alabama A&M, Georgia has lost at home to Iona and Alabama was defeated by Mercer.
According to RealTimeRPI.com, the SEC entered league play ranked ninth in conference RPI, behind the Mountain West, Missouri Valley and Atlantic 10 conferences.
Even with a few pieces short in Anderson’s system, the Hogs have a chance to make some inroads in a medicore league. However, it’s appearing like the SEC may get a limited number of postseason bids.
Two things had Razorback fans in a funk Thursday, spoiling lunch for a few of them: The effort against a vulnerable A&M team was not there and they were embarrassed and most were so hoping that a basketball season high would bring them out of the lows of the past football season.
There are still salvage opportunities although it appears unlikely they will become a top-tier team this year.
Already UA officials are promoting football signing day. And fans are marking the spring game as one of the next big dates on their calendars.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)