Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
Can anyone on this Arkansas team just be a rebounder, or a lock-down defender, or a floor general? Do the players not named BJ or Marshawn know their role on the team?
Identities. These players need identities. Not everyone needs to score in double digits each night, but there are other columns in the box score that can be filled up.
This is an excerpt of a column published on Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in it's entirety here.
Not everyone can be a star, but fans love role players. It’s an American sports tradition to praise the guys who are really good at doing one or two things that help the team win. These are the players who might not get much attention from the rest of the country, but become local legends.
Remember how fullback Keiro Small became one of the most popular players on the 2011 Razorback football team? Counting the number of face masks broken by Small was a message board staple. Brandon Burlsworth and his thick-framed glasses were fan favorites during Arkansas’ 1998 run.
Even on the legendary 1994 Razorback basketball team, the team to which every ensuing Arkansas basketball team has been unfairly compared, was stocked full of those types of players. As much as fans love Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman, you’re as likely to find fans tell you their favorite player from that team was Corey Beck or Al Dillard or Dwight Stewart.
If the rest of the current basketball team is unable to fill these types of roles, this team will simply go as far as Powell and Young can take them. That’s what we saw in this first week of SEC play. Young’s stat lines in the Texas A&M and Vanderbilt games were astonishingly similar, but the difference in the two games was the play of Powell. The game against the Aggies may have been the worst of Powell’s career, and it resulted in easily the team’s most disappointing game of the season*, but he turned around and provided one of the best games of his career against Vanderbilt, and Arkansas won easily.
*Yes, since A&M went to Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky a few days later, perhaps basketball fans weren’t giving A&M enough credit (in fact, Arkansas’ RPI ranking has gone up simply because A&M won in Lexington), but it was still a putrid performance.
But even though the Razorbacks blew out the Commodores, the team still only scored 56 points. Hunter Mickelson was the next-highest scorer with six points. No one else even had five.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of all of it is that fans know what some of those guys are capable of doing.