Midweek games put me in a bit of a predicament. I file this column Tuesday morning, and, like all Razorback fans, I can think of little but Wednesday night. A print edition on Thursday leaves little room for wishful thinking. Since modern science is such an obvious, howling failure (seen any hoverboards lately, let alone flux capacitors?), I'm forced to walk the treacherous line between streak-busting optimism and nay-saying pessimism.
I could hearken back to Saturday to emphasize our sinking average from the charity stripe and our decreased production from beyond the arc, but that will look pretty silly if those were just bumps in the road before a rout in Knoxville. I could instead emphasize how our hands went stone cold in the last five minutes of the first half before we recovered like a mature team for the win, but that would really sting on a Thursday morning following a tough loss. See? Rock and a hard place.
Either way, I can safely say Sonny Weems will put in another all-conference performance. And I can remind you that only the Rebels' monstrous Dwayne Curtis has been able to out-rebound Patrick Beverly lately. The Hogs don't have anything to prove to Arkansawyers, even if they remain unranked. (Meanwhile, Tennessee rises in the Coaches Poll for barely beating the hapless LSU.) The best the Razorbacks can do is use that trusty old persecution complex to our benefit — get out on the floor and show the world what we think of rankings in the SEC.
Our big men are really going to have to throw their weight around Saturday against MSU's Jamont Gordon, who's been muscling his way to some high-scoring games. Gordon scored 24 points on us in Bud Walton, and he's bound to be even more of a threat with center Charles Rhodes pulling his own weight of late. Both are benefiting from the return of Ben Hansbrough, a three-point threat who's stretching defenses and opening up the center. He sat out our last meeting with a fractured middle finger, but his shooting hand looks to be just fine.
In her latest online column, ESPN's ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber, finally got around to addressing the network's bizarre coverage of the Petrino hire. The verdict: “I understand that overwrought opinion is a time-honored form of sports entertainment, but I can't help wonder who is served by this climate of escalating insult? Judging from my mail, vitriol from ESPN simply begets vitriol toward ESPN.”
I'll admit to shooting off a couple teary, indignant e-mails to Schreiber in the last month or so, and I'll concede her point that all this coverage was adequately framed as opinion. (Funny how I've managed not to cast about such insults in my own “opinion” column.) But I think the network's real comeuppance is our stellar, last-minute recruiting class. Make no mistake: Joe Adams is just icing on the cake. The best revenge is living well.