Moncrief Enjoys Banner Day

Former Arkansas All-American Sidney Moncrief had his number retired in the 1980s at Barnhill Arena, but got a banner ceremony inside Bud Walton Arena on Saturday as the Razorbacks remember one of its legends.

Former Arkansas basketball All-American Sidney Moncrief was a Rock Star back in the day and it appears he is still one today when it comes to the Razorback hoops program.

Moncrief - Arkansas’ leading rebounder (1,015) and second-leading scorer of all-time (2,066) behind Todd Day - was honored by raising his banner to the rafters at halftime of the Razorbacks’ 61-41 win over Mississippi State.

“Great day for Sidney, too, guys,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “Great, great day. Great to see that banner up there.”

Moncrief - whose number 32 was retired in the 1980s - was the first one of five Razorbacks or Lady Razorback players or coaches that will be so honored this season.

He hailed from Little Rock Hall and was one of “The Triplets” - along with Conway’s Marvin Delph and Fort Smith Northside’s Ron Brewer - that brought the program to the state’s awareness back in the mid-to-late 1970s.

“This is not a me thing, it’s a we thing,” Moncrief said. “…I know one thing, my banner is Marvin's and Ron's banner. I'm sure over time everyone will get their due recognition.

“Certainly I could not have, not being modest, being real, I could not have accomplished what I did in the NBA or college without my teammates,” Moncrief said. “So this is special day not only for me, not only for me, but for them.”

Moncrief, who would go on to an NBA All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks and now is a television color analyst for that Bucks, said Saturday was at the top of his honors.

“No. 1,” Moncrief said. “I couldn’t imagine going to the Basketball Hall of Fame being a greater accomplishment. Because these are people that know you, people you grew up around.”

Arkansas is also set to honor Corliss Williamson against Missouri on Feb. 18 and Nolan Richardson on Feb. 25 while the Lady Razorbacks will do the same with Bettye Ficus and Delmonica DeHorney.

Moncrief was joined on the floor at halftime by his mom - who had not been to an Arkansas game since 1979 - Delph and Brewer as well as former teammates Jim Counce and Eugene Nash and other former Razorbacks such as Charles Balentine.

Moncrief praised former Arkansas head coach Eddie Sutton, who led the team to the 1978 Final Four and the 1979 Elite Eight.

“Coach Sutton has been like the rock,” Moncrief said. “He has been like the person that when you look at our team - not what we have done on the court, forget about on the court because life is about more than basketball - he is the person that set the tone for teaching us how to respect authority and be responsible, how to go to class, how to be great teammates, to be good people.

“He wanted us to make an impact outside of basketball,” Moncrief added. “And he wanted us to play our butts off on the court and we certainly accomplished that.

“He is a tremendous man and certainly a part of this process of me having my banner retired today,” Moncrief continued.

Moncrief remembered the love shown for the players back in the day by the fans.

“I can recall we would come in from games occasionally and there would be fans,” Moncrief said. “Hundreds of fans just greeting the airplane like we were rock stars. We thought it was really neat.

“The key was it never went to our heads,” Moncrief added. “We stayed focused on doing the right thing, playing the right way, being a great team. And we didn't have the dissension that normally comes with notoriety.

“I think that was, to me, that's the most special part of that team,” Moncrief added. “It wasn't about egos. It was about us winning as a team and making an impact.”

Moncrief is amazed that he still gets recognized.

“It blows me away, just blows me away that when I travel across the country that people remember a certain game in 1975 or 1976,” Moncrief said. “And they still remember the Arkansas Razorbacks. I get questions when people see my name and they say ‘oh, you played with those three guys’ or ‘you played with those two guys and you are from the state of Arkansas.’

“Certainly it continues to amaze me and shows how much of an impact, not that I had, but that we had as a basketball team,” Moncrief added.

He joked about shooting the same shots in practice that he did in a game.

“That came from not being able to shoot,” Moncrief said. “If Marvin was making a 20-footer, I at least had to be able to make a lay-up. Certainly it was part of the discipline that Coach Sutton had that if couldn’t make a shot then you couldn’t take that shot.

“We spent a lot of time working on lay ups while Marvin was working on 25-footers,” Moncrief added.

Moncrief’s career ended in a loss to Indiana State and Larry Bird - something he said he and Bird never talked about.

“No, but I tell you one thing - somebody else talked about it too much because the first time we played against Boston, he torched me,” Moncrief said.

“…After that ballgame, every time we played Boston, he was like unbelievable,” Moncrief added. “He was tough on me and I was tough on him also. We had some good match-ups.”

Moncrief likes what he is seeing from the current Razorback squad, now 18-5 overall and 7-3 in SEC play with the win on Saturday.

“I like the team,” Moncrief said. “I do. I broadcast NBA teams so I'm kind of, 82 NBA games and so many per night, I don't get a chance to watch a lot of college basketball because of that. I have to scout NBA teams.

“But I like the energy that they generate on the basketball court,” Moncrief said. “Here's what I really love - when you walk up to the arena now, it's rocking and rolling again. Fans are excited about the Razorbacks and the turnaround, it's a real turnaround.

“It's a process, though,” Moncrief said. “I think coach Anderson realizes, over the course of time, they'll be like us.”

The current Razorback team is led by former Little Rock Hall standout in Bobby Portis.

“I love him,” Moncrief said. “I love his game. When he was a freshman I saw him play and I was like - can I say this? - 'that's an NBA talent right there.' I love his instincts. He doesn't play outside of his skill set. He's a competitor. And he's a Hall High School graduate. Yay. I like all those things about him.”

Portis admitted that he did not get to meet Moncrief until he became a Razorback, but had stared at his name as a record holder at Hall during his playing career.

“I didn’t know Sidney until I got to the Hogs really,” Portis said. “He is a great player, (was) in high school and college. At my high school, he has like every record.

“I was trying to beat his records, but I couldn’t catch him,” Portis added. “He had so many points and so many rebounds. It was hard to try to catch him and I was nowhere close to him.”

Photos by Jason Ivester

Ron Brewer, Marvin Delph, Sidney Moncrief and Charles Balentine get ready to Call the Hogs on Saturday.

It was the first time that Moncrief's mom had been to a Razorback game since 1979.

Delph and Brewer present Moncrief with a framed copy of his banner.

Moncrief had a lot of friends, family and teammates out on the floor with him at halftime.

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