Jason Ivester

State of the Hogs: Josh Liddell Wins Shooting Contest, but What About a Dunkathon?

Josh Liddell wins three-point shooting contest as Hogs have a little fun before Liberty Bowl trip. Brandon Allen was the finalist. But the real question might be who would win a dunk contest among the football players?

I thought Moses Kingsley delivered a dunkathon Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena. No, Arkansas basketball assistant Matt Zimmerman said close to midnight. The real dunkathon came earlier in the day when the Arkansas football team got a tour of the new basketball practice facility.

"The football guys came over and got their first look at the new practice facility," Zimmerman told me as we discussed among other things Dudley Dawson.

Most all of the coaches wanted to know about Dudley, the Hawgs Illustrated basketball reporter and recruiting guru grieving with the death of this mother and brother last week.

After they inquired at length about Dudley, the conversation seemed over when I mentioned that there was a shooting contest during the first half of the basketball game between football starters Josh Liddell (free safety) and Brandon Allen (quarterback). Yes, Zimmerman noticed that as the Hogs were coming out of a timeout.

"Those two can shoot a little," Zimmerman said, asking who won the contest. He knew that it was for all the marbles, so to speak in what had gone on earlier at the practice facility.

Yes, it was Liddell, nipping Allen, 5-3, on three-pointers in the finale before fans at Bud Walton. It had been those two emerging from a 3-point shooting tournament at the performance center.

Zimmerman had noticed some of that from the viewing room on the second floor of the practice facility. Were there any prospects in that competition?

"No, almost all of them just push the ball out of their hands," he said. "Liddell has a little bit of a shot. So does Allen. Those were the best of the bunch.

"But what I really saw -- and heard -- was the dunk contest. Those big guys were bringing the thunder. They snapped that rim free time after time. They dunked and dunked. Those big guys are terrible as far as ability to play basketball. But they can dunk.

"They called to ask if they could come by for their contests. I don't think any of them had been in the building before. They loved it, but they loved to dunk more than anything else."

Who would win a dunk contest? Zimmerman wasn't sure, but the footballers were given an A for effort. The energy they put into snapping those rims free was amazing to watch.

Basketball seems to be the topic that most of the football players enjoy talking about. Dominique Reed revealed recently that his preferred nickname on his Facebook page is Mr. Basketball. Reed, like many of the better athletes on the football team, was a good basketball player. Jeremy Sprinkle had basketball offers as well as football scholarships. He overheard Reed talk about his nickname.

"He can't use that nickname," Sprinkle said. "I can handle him in basketball. He's not Mr. Basketball. I'd take him."

For the moment, Mr. Basketball is Liddell. His shooting earned him a spot against a Kansas State player in a 3-point shooting contest at halftime of a Memphis Grizzlies game when the two teams arrive for the Liberty Bowl next week.

Maybe a dunk contest should be held, too. Someone make sure Hjalte Froholdt gets a shot at that. The Great Dane, as he's called by defensive coordinator Robb Smith, might have some thunder to bring down at the Fedex Forum. Or how about 6-10 Dan Skipper? No, Sprinkle interjects, how about the big tight end? It might be worth the price of a ticket. Don't rule out Mr. Basketball. The man with a outrageous vertical jump might rule the night.


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