Just when we finally used up all of the bottled water, ramen noodles and batteries that we bought in anticipation of the Y2K crisis, the Aughts have come to an end. (Scolds, save your e-mails: we know that, technically, the decade does not end until Dec. 31, 2010. However, we are in dire need of material.)
Over the coming days, we'll take a look back at the past 10 years in Razorback football and basketball. The best players, the exhilarating victories, the crushing defeats, the evolution of Rick Schaeffer's haircut - we'll have it all. (Well, except for the stuff about Rick Schaeffer's haircut.) In this post, we discuss our pick for the Hog hoops player of the decade.
Ronnie Brewer might not be on anybody's short list of the all-time great Hogs, but the Fort Smith native and current member of the Utah Jazz was one of the basketball program's few bright spots during the Aughts. And after weeks of around-the-clock, amphetamine-fueled research and statistical analysis, we have named him the winner of our highly prestigious Razorback Basketball Player of the Decade Award.
Over the course of his three seasons in Fayetteville, Brewer scored 1,416 points. That total places at No. 16 on the school's all-time scoring list. Only Jonathon Modica scored more points (1,589) during the decade - and it took him four seasons to do so. Brewer led the team in scoring during his sophomore and junior seasons, and averaged 15.7 points and five rebounds a game during his Arkansas career. He was named first-team All-SEC in 2006.
He also led the Hogs in steals during each of his three seasons and finished with 216 career steals, the eighth-highest total in Arkansas history. But Brewer not only took away, he gave as well: he dished out 299 career assists; only 10 Razorbacks have handed out more.
Furthermore, Ronnie helped lead the Hogs out of the sub-.500 wilderness. During his freshman year, the team's record was 12-16. In his junior and final season, in 2006, the Razorbacks went 22-10 and snagged the program's first NCAA bid in five years. (Let's try not to remember the fact that they got bounced in the first round by mighty Bucknell.)
For various reasons, Brewer doesn't inspire in us the same kind of affection that many older Hog stars do. For starters, despite the climbing victory totals and the return to March Madness, the Hogs weren't much fun to watch during his career; Stan Heath's style of play was as dull as dirt. And for all of his impressive stats and obvious talent, Ronnie rarely (never?) took over a game the way Corliss, Day, Mayberry, Moncrief or his father so often did. We'd characterize him as a very good, but not great, college player.
In the end, though, whether he was "very good" or "great," he's the Hog player of this decade.
* Here at Arkansas Expats, we believe everyone should get a trophy (or at least the top three finishers in our Player of the Decade award contest). Therefore:
First Runner-Up: Jonathon Modica. As mentioned above, no Hog player scored more points this decade than Modica. The Smackover native averaged 13.5 points a game during his Razorback career and teamed with Brewer to lead Arkansas to the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Second Runner-Up: Joe Johnson. The Little Rock Central graduate only played two years in Fayetteville and often left fans with the sense that he could use an aggression transplant, but probably no Razorback this decade had a better overall game. Led the Hogs to a shocking SEC Tournament championship in 2000 and, one season later, to the final NCAA Tournament appearance of the Nolan Richardson era.
Enough from us. What are your thoughts?