Posted: 9:54 a.m. Monday, March 4, 2013
By Graham Reaves
I am too young to remember the good ole days with much clarity. I remember watching Arkansas beat Duke and my parents going wild to see Arkansas basketball on top in 1994. I remember when my old man got his official '94 championship shirt and wore it proudly as many alums did. I remember sitting on the floor in my grandmother's living room as the Hogs dropped a game to UCLA that would have sent them to their second national title game in 1995. I was too young to understand the gravitas of those moments and how they only come only a few times in a lifetime.
I have never had the opportunity to watch a game inside The Bud and have only been to one football game in Fayetteville in my 25 years because only my first three were spent in The Natural State; I still call it home. Yet, I can recall some of the rowdiness and have since watched moments like these from inside The Bud on old VHSs.
My mind brings back the noise of nearly 20,000 fans cheering on their "Forty Minutes of Hell" led by Nolan Richardson. I recall Sunday afternoons bypassing the normal stop at the local catfish joint on Sunday after church to get home to watch Arkansas play Kentucky in SEC Championships, and observing a true disdain that arose from my parents towards the Wildcats.
On Saturday, as the same four of us who gathered around in the mid-90s to watch Nolan's boys watched a battle between Red and Blue in the living room, I was reminded again of how The Bud used to sound. It was a step back in time. I watched fans, and a particular guard (B.J. Young), who let a former native son (Archie Goodwin) know he was not welcome in Fayetteville, I watched as a rowdy bunch created a hostile, suffocating environment.
Sure there have been other games for which I have gotten more excited to watch and games that ended in a more thrilling fashion. Dismantling No. 2-ranked Florida was fantastic and even Missouri a couple of weeks ago was a nail-biter in front of a packed house of Razorback fans, but there was something special on Saturday.
This Wildcat team looked as sloppy as their non-tie-wearing coach, a sin Mike Anderson would never commit on a nationally-televised game.
Having Nerlens Noel out for the season helped the Hogs, who only shot 35% compared to Kentucky's 46%, get rebounds, put up twice as many shots, and avoid devastating blocks. And when your walk-on point guard (Kikki Haydar) puts up as many points as a five-star signee (Rashad Madden) it doesn't hurt the cause either.
The Razorbacks' road struggles are well documented, but this team, in that building, is starting something special. It is a quick, unrelentless—though sometimes painfully young and learning—team who has put together winning streaks of 19 and 13 games in the past two seasons
There was no better way to explain it than it just sounded different. And while my Arkansas alumni parents will contest that nothing compares to the sound of Barnhill Arena, it was refreshing to see—and hear—Arkansas sending a once top-ranked Kentucky team to the NIT at The Bud.
A native of Arkansas now calling the Hogs from yonder in Georgia, you can follow Graham on Twitter @grahamreaves.