Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
After an embarrassing performance at South Carolina, some Razorback fans are beginning to wonder if Mike Anderson will ever have any success on the road - and that's a problem.
This is an excerpt from a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in it's entirety here.
It's about the painful frustrations of patience and why we may be seeing the beginnings of cracks in Anderson's fans support.
...there are some fans (not what I would call a large number but when these cracks begin, it’s significant) writing that they’re done waiting for Anderson to turn the program around and withdrawing support. It should be understood that anybody hoping for a regime change will likely be waiting for a pretty long time. Jeff Long has put a ton of effort into reconnecting with Nolan Richardson and former Arkansas players, all of whom seem to love Anderson, so it’s hard to imagine a coaching change coming anytime in the near future.
Probably one of Anderson’s biggest issues in selling the program is that this team doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s better than last season’s team. Even though the team thus far has improved in nearly every statistical per-game category (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers committed), it’s hard to figure out exactly what has been accomplished. Some players (Powell, Haydar) have been better than advertised while other players seem to have regressed. By this point last year, the Hogs had knocked off three ranked teams at home and appeared to be prepping for a February run to the tournament. Since then, the team collapsed in February and still hasn’t won a game outside the state of Arkansas this season. Since the road game problem is clearly the team’s single biggest issue, and two of the three conference road games have been unmitigated disasters, it’s hard to really feel any significant improvement.
It’s gotten to the point that no matter who Arkansas beats in Bud Walton Arena, those victories feel like half-victories as long as this road problem persists. After the Hogs played well and beat Auburn and Mississippi State, fans thought, "hopefully they can carry this momentum on the road." So far, they haven’t. The extent to which this is happening is impossible to understand.
The post-season is the goal, and to get to the postseason you have to have a winning conference record, and to have a winning conference record you have to win road games. As a result, the Razorbacks can win all the home games they want but there needs to be progress on the road, and quickly. The good news is that Arkansas still has 12 conference games to play before the SEC tournament, and Arkansas is in sole possession of 6th place in the conference standings, not actually a terrible place.