By Tommy Foltz
Well, kids, it appears that we have a real basketball coach and a real basketball team. With five wins and zero losses, we’re looking good. Already, the new head coach of the basketball Hogs has eclipsed the number of wins earned by Chad Morris in nearly two seasons. And the biggest reason?
DEFENSE, DISCIPLE, DESIRE:
Remember when we had those three words on our practice uniforms? There was a good reason. Because that’s what it takes to hold the No. 1 three-point field goal shooting team in the country to just 25% (3 of 12) when they came to the Bud shooting 51.1%.
Not only did South Dakota have the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the country, they had the top three-point shooter. How’d he do? A big fat O-fer.
We’ve shut down the other guys to just 13.6% on threes through five games. That’s No. 1 in the nation.
—Jimmy Whitt: “It comes down to effort. It come down to how hard you’re going to play.”
These guys are giving the effort and they’re being coached:
—Jimmy Whitt: “You’ve got to close the air space as coach likes to say.”
Eric Musselman, where have you been all our lives? You scout other teams and change your defense to shut down their offense. What a novel idea to adjust to take away the opponent’s strengths….
Isaiah Joe had 33 in the last game. He had 5 last night. Sure, you can call that inconsistency, which it is, but “I, I’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness…..” (obscure reference from Raising Arizona).
Joe’s showing didn’t matter because our candle was Jimmy Whitt, who had 24 in an almost throw-back performance. He attempted exactly zero 3-pointers, but made 11 of 14 twos. When’s the last time you heard of a guard scoring 24 without even attempting a 3?
And, yes, that is a Razorback record.
With 24 points vs. USD, Jimmy Whitt sets the @RazorbackMBB record for most points scored by a guard in the 3-point era (1986-87 and on) without attempting a 3.— HogStats.com (@HogStats) November 23, 2019
11-14 from 2
0-0 from 3
2-3 from the FT line
Previous record was Corey Beck's 23 vs. Jackson St. on 12/18/1993. pic.twitter.com/Y3meKtPy9t
Then, when you have seven guys chip in:
—Mason Jones: 14 points and 7 rebounds
—Jalen Harris: 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals (36 FTs in a row, 27 of 27 this season)
—Adrio Bailey: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
—Jeantal Cylla: 7 points
—Reggie Chaney: 6 points
—Desi Sills: 6 points
—Isaiah Joe: 5 points
MAKE NO MISTAKE:
I’ve got no problem with shooting a 3. If you have the time to square up, it’s not that hard of a shot to make — even with the extended arc this season. Still you should always go with the hot hand which on Friday night was Whitt. However, if you’re scoring twos, you have to make sure the other team is not scoring threes at the same pace.
That’s exactly what we did. So, we win by 21.
With 6:48 left in the second half, the Hogs turned on the juice and outscored South Dakota 15-4 to close the game out for the final 77-56 margin. Throughout, we were only on the line 12 times, but we made 11. We put them on the line 14 times and they made 9. We just took control and never looked back.
Of course, all of this was aided by holding our fifth opponent in a row to under 25 in the first half. That’s ridiculously good in this era of college basketball.
Kids, we have a coach who knows his X’s and O’s, but who has also figured out a way to get his players to go all out for him and themselves. The Razorback basketball team is only five games in and it’s a long season, but we haven’t won by less than 18 yet. I don’t know how much more solid you can get than that. And, after the debacles of the 2018 and ’19 football seasons, it’s much needed for the Razorback Nation.
Whatever Kool-Aid Eric Musselman’s serving them is working so far.
Watch Jimmy Whitt get absolutely surgical with his mid-range jumper starting at 6:11 below: