Malik Monk goes for 50 points, owns dunk contest at Bass Pro Tournament of Champions

Evin Demirel:

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 10.19.21 PM

I don’t think there’s a more enjoyable “new-school” player – in age and style of play – whom I enjoy watching more than
Bentonville High’s Malik Monk. And his exploits fit so well with Hoop Mix Tape’s molten tracks..

And, to think – someone dared give this a negative vote. In all likelihood it was a half-sober Charles Barkley, jealous his alma mater has no shot at him.

Originally posted on CollegeBasketballTalk:

Five-star junior guard Malik Monk is having an outstanding stretch of recent play as he threw down a huge dunk late this week and also had a big weekend in Missouri at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

Monk had a 50-point performance in one game and also won the dunk contest at the annual event.

(H/T: HoopMixtape)

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Little Rock Look Back: Basketball at Robinson Auditorium

Evin Demirel:

I love this kind of history. Johnny Greenwood, Houston Nutt’s Little Rock Central High basketball coach in the 1970s, told me that he remembered that Scipio Jones High (NLR’s all-black school) also played games at Robinson Auditorium in the 1940s.

Originally posted on Little Rock Culture Vulture:

Former entrance to Robinson off Garland Street. Used to attend basketball games. Former entrance to Robinson off Garland Street. Used to attend basketball games.

While Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium is known today as a performance and meeting venue, in its early days it was also the home to sports. Seventy-five years ago tonight the first basketball game was played at Robinson.

One of the first regular activities which took place in the lower level exhibition hall was a series of boxing and wrestling matches.  Building on the success of this, basketball came to the convention hall in January 1940.

A series of games featuring Little Rock High School and North Little Rock High School were announced by Coach Earl Quigley to take place from January 11 through February 16, the official opening day for the facility.

At that time, neither high school had a gymnasium; therefore both schools played their basketball games on their school auditorium stages with fans seated in the…

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Top 50 (ish) Major College Football Rivalry Trophies: Part 2

The Egg Bowl, as a concept, is dull.

The Egg Bowl, as a concept, is dull.

This is the last chapter of the my three-part series ranking the nation’s 60+ FBS trophies based on how sweet the trophy looks, and how cool its background is. I broke down and scored each trophy according to Originality, Tradition and Sheer Awesomeness (L-R below).

The far right number represents the Trophy Sweetness score, which I incorporated into a far more absurdly complicated meta-ranking formula (involving the rival programs’ NFL draft picks, competitiveness and all-time Top 10 finishes) for SB Nation.

24.

Golden Egg Ole Miss-Mississippi State 1927 3 5 2 10

Catchy name, but the actual thing – a golden football on a pedastal – is so ho-hum. Lots of creative folks in Oxford. Surely Ole Miss’ Sigma Iota could have come up with some more imaginative.

23.

The Saddle TCU-Texas Tech 1961 4 3 3 10

Good idea. Just wish it had been the schools – not local newspapers looking to generate publicity – which came up with it.

22.

Victory Bell Miami (Ohio)-Cincinnati 1899* 2 5 3 10

Such a now-cliched trophy idea can be excused if it was fresh back in the day, as the 19th century inter-campus shenanigans involved here lead me to believe it was.

21.

Keg of Nails Louisville-Cincinnati 1929 4 3 3 10

Basing your trophy on the saying “tough as nails” is a thumbs down. Making it into a keg full of nails is thumbs up.

shillelagh

20.

Jewelled Shillelagh USC-Notre Dame 1952 3 4 3 10

A Shillelagh is a war club made of oak or blackthorn saplings from Ireland. It’s said those are the only woods because they are the only ones tougher than an Irish skull.

19.

Old Brass Spittoon Michigan State-Indiana 1950 5 3 3 11

Conflicting reports on whether players do or don’t spit into it during celebration.

18.

Golden Boot Arkansas-LSU 1992 4 3 4 11

It cost $10,000 to make. That ties Fremont Cannon for land’s most expensive.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why LSU & Arkansas Players Mock the Notion of a True Rivalry Between Them

http://www.hogdb.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/1910-Arkansas-LSU-Program-Edited.jpg

Despite the presence of seed, LSU-Arkansas could never really take root. via HogDB.com

Twenty two years after leaving the Southwest Conference for the SEC, Arkansas still doesn’t have a true conference rival. On paper, it should have been LSU, a perennial conference title contender (like Texas) bordering Arkansas (like Texas) that like Texas once prevented Arkansas from winning a national championship.

  Plus, the annual LSU-Arkansas series has had perks Texas-Arkansas never did: a regular spot on national TV during Thanksgiving weekend, the Bellagio of college football trophies in the 200-pound Golden Boot and no in-state rival like Texas A&M to stir Texas fans’ deepest passions (well, no Aggies for a while, anyway).

 On top of all that, LSU-Arkansas has recently produced games every bit as competitive and entertaining to watch as the great Hog-Longhorn showdowns of the 1960s. And it’s likely this Saturday’s game in Fayetteville, for which Arkansas is a 1 point favorite according to SportsBettingAcumen.com sites, produces yet another thriller.

  “It’s a rivalry game,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema told me in an interview for SB Nation. “The boot represents more than just a victory. It’s a battle between two states, something our fans take a lot of pride in. Obviously with LSU being the last game of the year there’s been a built-up rivalry here that we will hope to continue.”

   Bielema lauds the rivalry aspect of the game in public, just as previous Arkansas and LSU coaches and players have. It’s no secret, though, that the enmity true rivals have for each other has been lacking here.

   Take it from Matt Jones, the former Razorback quarterback responsible for the “Miracle on Markham,” possibly the series’ most memorable moment – a 31-yard Hail Mary pass to DeCori Birmingham with nine seconds left in the 2002 game that sent Arkansas to the SEC Championship game. The year before, Jones was on the opposite side as Arkansas lost a 41-38 contest sending the Tigers to Atlanta. “You knew it was a big game for whatever reason but there never ever seemed like there was a connection between Arkansas and LSU,” he says. “It was almost like it was a little bit forced on you.”

Jones says many of his teammates felt the same, as did LSU foes like running back LaBrandon Toefield. After college, Jones and Toefield were NFL teammates in Jacksonville, Fla. “We always joked” about how the series was played up, Jones says. Many LSU players “didn’t see it as a rivalry at all,” he recalls Toefield saying. “It was something the media put out.”

    Carter Bryant, an Arkansas native and LSU grad, is part of the media. Now a radio host in El Dorado, Ark., he’s covered Tiger football for four years and doesn’t understand why the rivalry hasn’t caught on more. “It means a good deal to people in south Arkansas and north Louisiana because of proximity,” he says.

    “But to the people of south Louisiana, it means little compared to other rivalries with trophies. LSU has pushed the Ole Miss rivalry over the years with the Magnolia Bowl trophy. Alabama with [Nick] Saban history has created a fascinating narrative plus instant classics. Every other team in the SEC West outside of Mississippi State is probably viewed as more heavily anticipated and vitriolic matchup in the minds of LSU fans.” That includes Texas A&M, which has supplanted Arkansas as the Tigers’ season finale. Not coincidentally, annual primetime showdowns with Texas A&M will help generate more profit for the SEC most years than an Arkansas matchup would.

  For now, Arkansas fans are as likely to hate Alabama, or Ole Miss, as LSU. Or even an SEC East program.  “The team that I hated the most was Tennessee,” Jones recalls. Jones, who grew up in Van Buren, points to one experience as the reason. He recalls as a nine-year-old hunting with his father and walking onto a cabin in the woods. Inside, people were watched TV and cheered. On the screen, the unranked Razorbacks were pushing the No. 4 Volunteers to the wire on the road. He’ll never forget the euphoria that followed watching Arkansas kicker Todd Wright’s 41-yard field goal sail through the uprights with two seconds left to give Arkansas its first victory in Knoxville, Tenn.

   Tennessee, though, already had Alabama and Florida as nemeses. Another SEC border state, Mississippi, had two in-state rivals. “Everybody kind of had a rival but us, so we had to manufacture one,” former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt says.

    Enter David Bazzel, an entrepreneur who has found a niche promoting Arkansas college athletics. Bazzel loves gold, and he loves football, and from all that love sprung the idea for this:

lsu-arkansas-the-boot-2012-570x379

Bazzel’s Golden Boot trophy, which depicts the two states’ outlines, debuted in 1996. He hoped its record-setting 4-foot plus height would help the game attract national attention and produce better competition. “It’s about playing for something, whether it be a paper clip, a rubber band or empty Coke can,” he says. In this case, “it just so happens to be a 200-pound trophy.”  He adds: “I wanted it to develop into a fun trophy game, not particularly a rivalry.”

Historically, most trophy games, of course, are based in rivalries. But that’s changing as power conferences create trophies for series involving program with little shared history. Usually these series involve states that don’t share borders,  like Nebraska-Wisconsin or South Carolina-Texas A&M, but the situation with Arkansas’ next SEC-sanctioned rival is different.

That would be Missouri, which replaces LSU as Arkansas’ regular season finale.


Bo Pelini on ESPN and SEC: “I don’t think that kind of relationship is good for college football”

Evin Demirel:

Nebraska’s head coach was asked about the strength of the SEC West, which has an unprecedented four teams in the Top 5 this week. “It’s hard to say because you just don’t see, unfortunately, in this day and age, a lot of crossovers,” he said. “So you don’t get a lot to make that decision on, to be able to compare and contrast.”

Apparently, Pelini forgot the four games below – all from this season. The SEC West is 4-0 against teams from the Big 10, ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12. Two of the vanquished have proven to be especially good – Big 12 leading Kansas State (which beat Oklahoma) and West Virginia (which beat Baylor) squads.

Alabama 33 West Virginia 23

LSU 28 Wisconsin 24

Arkansas 49 Texas Tech 28

Auburn 20 Kansas State 14

Originally posted on The Big Lead:

Image (1) Bo-Pelini-Nebraska.jpg for post 241347

ESPN is the major media outlet covering college football. With the SEC Network, ESPN has a clear vested interest in the SEC being perceived as the superior conference. Bo Pelini, coach of a 5-1 team outside the SEC, is not a fan of that partnership.

From his press conference.

“I don’t think that kind of relationship is good for college football. That’s just my opinion. Anytime you have a relationship with somebody, you have a partnership, you are supposed to be neutral. It’s pretty hard to stay neutral in that situation.”

To be fair, ESPN also has a clear financial interest in the ACC, the Big 12, the Pac 12 and the Big Ten being perceived as awesome (or at least notable) too. The WWL has regular season deals with those conferences, not to mention the playoff and miscellaneous bowl games to promote.

We’ll see what happens should the…

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Matt Stinchcomb: Arkansas’ 2014 Offense is a Gridiron “Valhalla”

References to Norse mythology’s Great Hall of the Slain, Residence of the Supreme God Odin, do not every day percolate the chatter of the Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly afternoon radio show based in Northwest Arkansas.

But not every day does Matt Stinchcomb, a former All-American tackle at Georgia who analyzes college football for the SEC Network, chime in with Bo about the way Arkansas’ offense is grounded in its historically massive offensive line.

“That offense is like Valhalla,” Stinchcomb told Bo earlier this week. “When we all get off this mortal coil, anybody who was ever unathletic enough to have [had to play] offensive line, that’s what we would spend eternity doing – is just running double-team blocks and just cramming tailbacks down a defense’s throat. It’s an incredibly explosive offense.”

Stichcomb was speaking to Bo about Saturday afternoon’s Georgia-Arkansas game in Little Rock. “Arkansas, I’m convinced, is a very good team and may better than any team in the SEC East. That’s what I think we’ll find out this Saturday.”


Promising time for Arkansas, from ground (game) level to 36,000 feet

Evin Demirel:

Nice quick preview below for the Arkansas-Texas A&M by Little Rock native George Schroeder. For a much more technical, detailed preview (from the Aggies’ perspective) see the following: http://tamu.247sports.com/Article/Texas-AM-Arkansas-Myles-Garrett-Kenny-Hill-Trey-Williams-31403224

Originally posted on USA TODAY Sports:

Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema celebrates after a score with offensive lineman Denver Kirkland. (Nelson Chenault / USA TODAY Sports) Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema celebrates after a score with offensive lineman Denver Kirkland. (Nelson Chenault / USA TODAY Sports)

At Arkansas, the offensive linemen always fly first class. Literally. It’s Bret Bielema’s way of recognizing the efforts of the guys who power his smashmouth attack by giving them the best seats – and the biggest, too – right up front, on team charters.

“It’s huge,” says Brey Cook, the Razorbacks’ senior right tackle, and he means it literally, too. “Those airplanes are tiny. Road trips can be miserable. First class is great. You get to spread out and relax.”

In other words, it’s Hog heaven.

But the best reward for the biggest guys might have come in the past few weeks. After hammering away for a long time with little to show for it, the Razorbacks have finally broken though, ending a 10-game losing streak – the longest…

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