Without a single game being played in Bud Walton Arena, Coach Eric Musselman has already brought a lot of excitement coming into this season with recruiting and the social media photos but what he did Saturday in having the Red-White game in Barnhill arena did more than bring excitement to the players and fans. It brought back memories.
In front of an announced crowd of 4,559, the Red-White game kicked of the 2019-2020 season under the lights at Barnhill Arena. The buzz leading up to the game was filled with old stories and memories of the times when Arkansas played in Barnhill. Stories like how the transition from Barnhill to Bud Walton even came about. A time when there was a waiting list of 20,000 just to get tickets to a Razorback game. Tickets were so hard to get that Mr Bud Walton himself had to get tickets from Frank Broyles himself, and Broyles moved him and his family to a makeshift table of the corner of the arena. A packed Barnhill was so loud that spectators claimed they could hear ringing in their ears days after the game was over.
Saturday’s game was a reflection of what it use to be like. Leading up to the game and hearing all the old stories from former players and members of the media you could hear the excitement on their voice as they recounted their fondest memories of the days in Barnhill. What struck me the most is each one was asked to relive their favorite moment and each person had to think and pick a favorite because they had so many good memories inside of that arena. One media member said “All of them!” They couldn’t narrow it down to just one because all the memories they had were amazing.
Coach Musselman split up his squad into two teams with Team Eddie for former Head Coach Eddie Sutton and Team Nolan for former Head Coach Nolan Richardson. The two were on hand for the game and were recognized with a pre game ceremony! This comes just fifteen days away from the 20th when the dedicate the Court and Bud Walton Arena to Nolan Richardson Court.
The players fed off the excitement from the crowd and both teams played great. They showed a lot of promise of what this years squad could be and with the uncertainty of Connor Vanover , this team could be even better. Connor Vanover stood out Saturday with his outside presence and with his 7’3 frame could definitely give them the rebounding edge they have needed. With Returning stars like Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones this pro style that Musselman like to play could suit them just fine. This team without Vanover will be one of the smallest lineups in D-1 but I have a feeling that this will be an exciting year. I’m not predicting a guaranteed NCAA berth but this could be a sleeper that sneaks up on some teams and find their way into post season play.
Eric Musselman has brought a lot of excitement to Fayetteville. The excitement that this program has needed. If he can produce on the court what he has done off the court then you can bet there is about to be some fun times in Fayetteville, Arkansas. When it comes to bringing in a new coach to Arkansas you hear a lot of rumblings of it takes someone from Arkansas to get Arkansas. Don’t tell that to Mr. Broyles, Mr. Sutton, Mr. Richardson, Mr.McDonald, Mr. Richardson, or Mr. Van Horn. I have a feeling that Coach Musselman gets Arkansas the way they other greats have.
Follow Porter Hayes on Twitter @ClemsonfaninAR and The Hawg Talk