The University of Arkansas will honor a former coach today who brought big-time college basketball to the state back in the mid-1970s.
Eddie Sutton – who was 260-75 as the Arkansas coach from 1974-1985 and 806-326 in his overall coaching career – will be on hand at Bud Walton Arena to see a banner raised in his honor at halftime of tonight’s 6:30 p.m. game with Missouri.
A reception for Sutton and his former players, coaches, managers and staff will be held at the new Basketball Performance Center two hours before tip-off.
Current Razorback head coach Mike Anderson took time at his Thursday press conference to laud the legacy of Sutton, one of 14 finalists this year for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. New inductees will be named on April 4 during the Final Four.
“Without Coach Sutton, I wouldn't be sitting in this seat today,” Anderson said. “What he did for this program. You think about his years, the players that went through here, the lives he's touched.
“He put Arkansas basketball on the national map. The Final Four. Great players. The brand of Razorback basketball, hard-nosed, tenacious defensively, get after you. He established all that.
“When you talk about the players that he had, the tradition that has taken place, being in this facility, Bud Walton Arena from Barnhill. It was sellout after sellout. There was a passion. He created that passion for basketball in the state of Arkansas and I guess pretty much put the name of Arkansas basketball out in the world.
“The coaches that followed can appreciate that. I'm certainly excited for him to be honored in that way. He's a great man, great coach and a very good person.”
Sutton led Arkansas to five Southwest Conference championships, nine NCAA Tournament appearances and the 1978 Final Four with his legendary Triplets of Ron Brewer, Marvin Delph and Sidney Moncrief.
The program took off to new heights when the first Razorback basketball game was regionally televised by KATV and Sutton’s Arkansas squad routed Houston 92-47 at Barnhill Arena in its SWC opener.
Moncrief – then a freshman – had 17 points, Daryll Saulsberry 16, Robert Birden 15, Delph 14 and Charles Terry 10.
During Sutton’s time as head coach at Arkansas, Barnhill Arena expanded from 5,200 to 9,000 seats was routinely sold out.
He also coached at Southern Idaho, Creighton, Kentucky and Oklahoma State before finishing his career at San Francisco, where took over for Jesse Evans as the interim coach.
That stint – where he went 6-13 - allowed him to get over 800 wins in his career. He is one of only eight college head coaches to have ever accomplished that feat.
Charles Balentine, Eddie Sutton and Dudley Dawson