Similar to what happened at the end of the 2016 and 2017 football seasons, Arkansas basketball is looking the same. Arkansas got off to a quality 5-2 start in football in 2016 only to finish 7-6 with blown leads in their season finale and bowl game. The Razorback basketball team had a quality start to the season but finished 23-12 with the final two losses in blowout fashion in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.
What does Arkansas need to do to get back on track? Well, start by winning your home games. Arkansas has lost four games at home before the month of January is half over. That is the worst rate since the 2009-2010 basketball team lost five home games. The Hogs were not being blown out in their first five losses though. They have lost to Texas by two, Western Kentucky by one, Georgia Tech by four and to Florida and LSU by six a piece. A lot of the close losses can be fixed mostly by remembering their ABC’s (Always. Be. Closing). Arkansas has not done a lot of that lately. Especially on their two recent road trips to Tennessee and Ole Miss this weekend. Both of them have ended in blowout losses. The Volunteers by 19 and the Rebels by 17.
That is basically how the nosedive in football started. An accumulation of close losses leads to doubt. A rise in doubt leads to a lack of confidence in the players ability. When players lack confidence they begin to fall apart in a flurry. The Hogs have not only been blown out the last two games but they have been out-hustled, out-energized, out-executed and out-coached. No adjustments are being made, your best players look uninterested at best and no one player wants to take over and say, “This is my team. We will not back down!” Where are your men at coach? Where are your guys that want to get there’s?
You have role players making better contributions and giving more effort than your stars did today, Coach. Similar to the football team under Bret Bielema, the less talented guys are playing inspired while your better or more talented ones stay in your dog house or do not respect you. They do not want to be coached up, Mike. Too many Indians but no chiefs, either.
Like I said, there are similarities between the football and basketball programs. Unless Arkansas can fix their problems fast, there is no way they win but 5-6 more games. The nosedive will continue and for the first time under new Athletic Director, Hunter Yurachek, he will decide the future for one of the big three sports in Fayetteville.