Some former Razorbacks think Mike Anderson is just the jump-start the Arkansas hoops program has been needing and it seems some of the current ones feel that way as well.
Former Razorback Pat Bradley, who played for the Razorbacks when Anderson was an assistant, said Wednesday night that he is in somewhat of a euphoric dream state.
"It's kind of surreal – that's the word I have been using," Bradley said of the hiring. "As former players we got together and we would talk about how special it would be if Coach Anderson could one day come back and be the coach here and lead us back to being the program that we once were.
"But you kind of never really thought it was going to happen," Bradley said. "Now, all of a sudden, it's happening and it's just like a dream. A really, really great dream that you don't ever want to wake up from. It's almost too good to be true."
Bradley pointed out one simplistic thing he thought about when it comes to the hiring of Anderson, who signed a 7-year, $2.2 million contract on Wednesday.
"Now myself and all of our old players can quit checking multiple scores and we can just put all our energy and time into our school," Bradley said. "Our coach is home."
Fellow former Razorback Charles Balentine was among the former players that Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long met with last week.
"I really have to give Jeff Long a lot of credit and respect for seeking out the input of the former players and really listening to what we had to say," Balentine said. "He wasn't just doing it for show. He really listened to what we had to say and wanted to get a feel for the tradition and what helped the program have success back then.
"I have a lot of admiration for him and how he went about the whole process," Balentine said. "We now have the right coach at the right time and I think the program will just take back off."
Bradley and Balentine were also quick to praise departed coach John Pelphrey, who was not retained after four seasons at the helm of the Razorbacks.
"Coach Pelphrey did so much on and off the court to get us back into position to turn the corner and get back to being one of the elite teams in the country," Bradley said. "Now Coach A will come in and make sure that happens."
Ironically, Arkansas' 1994 National Championship game win over Duke was replayed on ESPN Classic on Wednesday night.
Anderson was an assistant on that team to head coach Nolan Richardson.
There has been some speculation that current sophomore Razorback forward Marshawn Powell might be looking to transfer.
He seemed to end that speculation with a tweet soon after it became clear that Anderson was taking the Razorback offer.
RT @MarshawnPowell: Well im back... Who dont wanna play for Mike Anderson!!
Razorback senior center Delvon Johnson joked about going to see Long to see if he could get one more year of eligibility.
@Delvon_21: Im bout to go to the AD and see if I can stay here another year hahaha I feel like im missin out"
Former Razorback and Dionisio Gomez, now a technician at a research institute in Zagreb, Croatia, is all in.
RT @DionisioGomez: Welcome back mike Anderson! The beginning of the new era of real hog ball!! Woo pig sooie!!
Blake Eddins, another former Razorback, sent out the following tweet:
RT @_BlakeEddins: Welcome Home Coach A! Truly, one of the best MEN i have ever known & one helluva COACH too! Great day to be a Hawg...WPS!
There was one story that came out Wednesday that threatens to rain on the parade.
Kelly Clarke, the uncle of Razorback leading scorer Rotnei Clarke, picked Wednesday as a strange time to talk to the Tulsa World about his nephew.
Kelly Clarke claims that his nephew is frustrated by the Razorbacks' "lack of discipline and lack of structure."
The article said a source indicated that Rotnei submitted a request to be released subsequently – as in after the firing of John Pelphrey - but was told to wait until after a new head coach was hired.
Kelly Clarke said he has only attended a few Arkansas games because of his frustration with the situation.
"I just can't bear to watch it," Kelly Clarke said. "It just breaks my heart."
The Right Man
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