Being Ignored Shouldn't Bother Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE — No one likes to be ignored — "Excuse me, were you talking to me?" — but the Arkansas college basketball team probably doesn't mind.

And it's not begging for attention, probably because it knows it doesn't deserve it. Haven't we been down this road before? Much like last year, a lot of cynical citizens already have written off this ballclub, watched their hands of the whole mess and moved on with their bad attitudes. Nasty narratives follow these Razorbacks in many offices, coffee houses, barber shops and message boards. Much like last year. Even with a "Manimal" and "Hill-a-Monster" prowling the paint with passion, Charles Thomas and Steven Hill can't get enough ticket buyers to show up to watch them in Bud Walton Arena. Those grossly inflated home attendance records aren't fooling anybody, but that's another story? Seems strange Razorbacks fans are jumping off this potential Titanic, though it has had it's share of rough seas this season. Wasn't it about this time last year Arkansas fans started running of white flags of surrender? Guess they don't believe this team, which is 15-9 overall and 4-6 in the Southeastern Conference, can turn it around in time to make the "Big Dance" and join the madness which is March. Why? Didn't the Razorbacks win five straight to finish the regular season in 2005-2006? With six regular-season games left, that possibility still exists. Arkansas, cluttered with underclassmen and no seniors, is 1-6 on foreign soil and a lot of fickle fans are again armed with rotten eggs and apples ready to launch them in the direction of Razorbacks coach Stan Heath. Much like last year. On Saturday, in 71-67 loss against LSU, Arkansas lost yet another road game. This time to a team it had beaten by 20 points at home. That's where the rub comes. Don't know why. What SEC team has been successful on the road? Some frustrated Razorbacks fans are out pricing caskets for a fitting funeral for a dead program which could turn out to be a premature burial. Last year, Arkansas rallied and eventual wound up in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, though it took a powder in the first round. So, is it really time to hit the panic button? Don't know. Razorbacks point guard Gary Erin, who's been good at times, not so good at other times, said last week he only knows the bleeding has got to stop. "Every game is a must game," Erin said. "From here on out, we've got to win whether it's at home or on the road. "That's what we're shooting for down the stretch." JERRY L. REED IS A SENIOR SPORTSWRITER FOR THE MORNING NEWS. E-MAIL: JREED@NWAONLINE.NET

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