Shooting Cures the Ills
In the second half of Arkanas' 94-92 overtime victory, the Hogs shot 48.3 percent, and in the overtime 71.4 percent. You make shots you win. It would be nice to get better shots, but they did finish better in the last 45 minutes.
JanneroPargo, who scored a career-high 35 points, went 7 of 8 on threes. I think he didn't get any better looks than what he's been getting ... maybe not as good. I give Florida credit for great defense. But, when you hit 7 of 8 three and all 8 free throws en route to 35 points, then your team is going to have a chance.
Mike Jones had 15 points, J. J. Sullinger had 11 points, and we haven't been getting that from them. And, if you look you get 7 from Carl Baker and Dionisio Gomez, 8 from Charles Tatum. That's the difference.
The energy that Mike Jones played with was huge. I'm not talking about just on offense, but all over the floor.
Larry Satchell, Alonzo Lane and Blake Eddins combined for 4 minutes ... all by Lane.
Billy D Knew What to Expect
Despite Arkansas' attempt at playing a power game against Georgia, Billy Donovan said he knew what Arkansas was going to do Saturday.
"I said it Thursday morning ... they were going back to the press and quickness," Donovan said. "We worked against six guys to simulate their press.
"If there is one team I love to watch play, it's Arkansas ... the way they played today. Nolan is one of my favorite guys in the league. I hate losing and unfortunately we came up on the wrong end. I thought it was a great college basketball game. They made some buckets late when it was a four-point game. I think we missed some free throws over that time period which allowed them to come back.
"To me, your defense has got to be constant. It wasn't so much our defense playing bad, but Arkansas made some big plays. They shot 71 percent in overtime. You have got to get some stops. Paro stepped up and made some big-time plays down the stretch. His shot in the corner reminded me of Nelson's shot against Tennessee. Now I've been on both end and I know what it feels like."
Stripping Like a Soccer Player
Several players ... mostly Blake Eddins ... were giving Dionisio Gomez a difficult time afterwards for his little display of ripping off his jersey in the post-game celebration with fans.
"That's a soccer deal," Edins said. "Nichy has got to learn that basketball players leave their shirts on. That's what Brandy Chastain does, or those European soccer nuts. I guess soccer is big where he's from."
Others laughed about it.
Gomez responded, "Well, I was very excited, and I loved the fans coming out. They did that my freshman year when I think we beat Auburn with Chris Porter. I just wasn't thinking about it and took my shirt off and twirled it around."
The Starting Lineup
The Hogs started quickness and defense to try to set the tempo. The opening lineup was Dean, Cleveland, Tatum, Gomez and Baker.
"That's quickness at every spot," Richardson said. "I wanted a lineup that would get after you. And, by not starting Pargo, I thought he would come in when everyone was tired, and they might not can shadow him quite as well. He's offense, and we wanted defense to set the tone, and I thought that happened. Tatum got three steals early. But, that was it for Tatum. He's like the Tazmanian devil. He hasn't played much, so he wasn't in shape to do much more. He got tired."
Storming the Court Not a Good Thing
Nolan Richardson loved the atmosphere at the game ... until the students came on the floor afterwards.
"I was very disappointed after the game," Richardson said. "That tells me something. We haven't won enough. I want our fans used to winning, and that's our fault. I had a problem with the fans coming out on the floor, because someone can really get hurt. I saw that at a high school game. I know our fans are suffering and we need to do a better job of winning more games. I will say they cheered and provided a great atmosphere, especially for a team that had lost four in a row."
Ed Beshara Honored in Tulsa on Friday Night
This writer is up late Saturday morning after getting in extremely late last night. My wife and I had a wonderful evening in Tulsa at Ed Beshara's 60th wedding annivesary. He's been a special friend for 25 years, and it was fun to see he and Laura honored last night by his children at a grand party at Southern Hills Country Club. Among the attendees was Nolan Richardson, who joined us at our table. Nolan and Ed are very close. Ed makes all of Nolan's clothes ... the silk suits, etc. Ed insists he has nothing to do with his choice of foot wear!
It was also Ed's 86th birthday ... the anniversary was actually Thursday. So, it was a double party for Ed.
Ed was the man who encouraged me the most to leave the Tulsa World and start Hawgs Illustrated. I didn't know if it would fly, and hedged a couple of times. Finally, Ed told me, I've got a job for you in my clothing store if Hawgs Illustrated doesn't make it. You gotta do it. You gotta try. If you don't try, you are not worth a thing. My dad got on a boat and came here from Lebanon. He came to Haskell, Okla., in 1901, and was willing to give it a try. You gotta at least try. He's always offerred encouragement (and much advice) through the years, and I was happy to honor him at his party.
Nolan Richardson spoke about Ed, and gave a wonderful testimony about the way Ed called him when he came to Tulsa and promised to be "my guardian angel" when a group of Tulsa businessmen tried to get a major gift together to persuade the University of Tulsa to decide against hiring a black coach. Ed campaigned against that, and made sure that the movement was squelched before it would get started and that Nolan was hired. Interesting stuff, and I know it's true. I had never heard Nolan speak on that, but I had heard it from others during the time it was taking place. One of the men who was spearheading that movement later became one of Nolan's biggest fans and supporters in Tulsa, and cried when Nolan left for Arkansas.
Nolan and I both love Ed Besahara, and we've played many rounds of golf with the old clothier.
I was in the group for the "last" round of golf Ed played. I used to play with Beshara in the member guest at Cedar Ridge. The last time we played, he got a little sick and he couldn't finish the tournament. Of course, he was 77 at the time.
But, there was a hilarious moment. He hit one in a creek on No. 3 at Cedar Ridge ... an awful hole. A forecaddie, perhaps 12, found his ball and was going to get it for Ed, out of the mud. Ed said he would play it, then slipped into the creek while trying to hit it. After we pulled Ed out of the creek, Ed was trying to get the mud off his white slacks, and just kinda went off on himself.
"I'm the worst player in this club," Ed said.
The youngster interjected, "No, sir, my dad is a member here and he said that would be Mr. Beshara."
We all were rolling on the ground. I fell out of the cart. Ed laughed, too, and then gave the youngster a nice tip. I think Ed actually liked it. But, the next day, when he got sick (in 101 degree weather) we both decided that it would do no good to finish the tournament and that it was dangerous for him to play in heat any more.
One year, Ed fell on a fishing trip, and broke three ribs, so he couldn't play in the member guest. So, he inserted his son-in-law, another Cedar Ridge member, into his slot with me. We won the touranment. We love to remind him of that. Of course, Ed bought us in the Calcutta and made about $8,500 on our team. He did give me a small part of that, although he almost made us choke by driving out in a cart during the last 9 holes to remind us how much was at stake. Heck, I could choke for a lot less than that! I think I was -1 under when he got there, and made about 5 straight bogeys. Nothing like a good choke job.
Beshara's Favorite Player: Alex Dillard
Ed Beshara, a devout Catholic, once told Nolan that Alex Dillard was his favorite player. So, Nolan asked why.
"Well, before Dillard shoots a free throw, he always does the sign of the cross," Ed said. "I like that."
So, Nolan said, "I doubt he's Catholic." And, Nolan proceded to ask Dillard about it.
"Alex, why do you do that," Nolan said, not mentioning what it was called.
"Well, coach, I was watching a guy on TV, and he always did that and he always made his free throws, he got net every time," Dillard said. "And, when I do it, I get net everytime, too. So, I keep doing it."
Nolan asked if he was Catholic, and Dillard explained that he was Baptist. Nolan then told Dillard that it was a Catholic ritual that was called "sign of the cross."
Dillard said, "Oh no, have I offended someone? Should I stop."
Nolan said, "Naw, just keep doing it."
So, Alex Dillard continued to cross himself, and remains as Ed Beshara's favorite Razorback.
Great story, and we all laughed, especially Father Casey, the Preist who is one of Ed's best friends at the Parrish near Ed's home.
Yvonne's Towel Given to Nolan
This week was the 17-year anniversary of the death of Nolan's daughter Yvonne. Rose, his wife, was gone for most of the week to attend a memorial service for Yvonne held in El Paso by members of their extended family. Rose was back for the game.
Bob Carver, a good friend of Nolan, presented Nolan with the towel that was given to the coach by Yvonne during her last few weeks of her life. Bob had it framed and it was given to Nolan while KATV was taping Nolan's TV show after the game. It was a very touching moment. Rose had tears in her eyes.
The towel was part of a set of red and black towels that were in Yvonne's bath room. She gave one to Nolan, but asked him to bring it back because it was a matched set. They still have some of the towels in that set, but this was the towel that Nolan used to bring to the bench with him. He finally retired it to the bath room wall because it disappeared after one game.
Rose recalled, "We were on the road, and it was a trip I made. I remember Nolan coming out of the locker room to tell me the towel was missing. He went back, got everyone together and said he was going to leave for a few minutes and that the towel needed to be put back in his gear. A few minutes later Nolan came back out smiling. The towel was back and we could go home. I was afraid we weren't going to get to leave the arena. I know Nolan would have stayed there until it was found."
--Clay Henry, HI.com Publisher