After THREE NCAA Tournament appearance over the span of TWELVE years, Mike Anderson has taken the Hogs to the Big Dance in THREE of the past FOUR years. We have advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament TWO of those THREE appearances.
In SEC play, only ONE time has Arkansas finished below .500 (in MA's first year at the helm). In fact, we are 71-54 in SEC play during MA's first seven years - remarkable for any program not named Kentucky. Overall, our record with MA as head coach is 151-85. We've gone 6-4 in the SEC Tournament and made the SEC Tournament Finals twice in four years (made the semis a third time in that stretch). Check out the attached graphic to see where we rank over the past four seasons among SEC teams - far better than many of you are acting like we have been.
We've had Bobby Portis leave as a junior in 2015 and be drafted in the first round, then Daniel Gafford (sophomore) this year will undoubtedly be a first round pick, should he go to the NBA. We've had a plethora of other players who left early only to not be drafted where they had hoped, but caused us to reset the roster yet again.
In 2018-19, we have ZERO seniors. We have ONE junior who has seen marginal time (Adrio Bailey). Other than that, we've got two returning sophomores (Daniel Gafford and Gabe Osabuohien) who actually saw minutes last season.
What I'm saying is, don't be too quick to throw back what we've got. There are now 353 teams in D1 College Basketball and the SEC has become one of the toughest basketball conference top to bottom. We've got a team that is playing hard, learning how to play together, and will eventually return to the success that we're all used to having in basketball in recent seasons.
It's not easy to sustain success like we've had, but pulling the plug on an accomplished coach with a young team is ridiculous. You aren't going to find a coach who is better than MA on the market. Arkansas is not an appealing destination for coaches. We have a small state who thrives on in-state talent and is expected to face off in the best conference in the nation every single game.
This fan base has to learn to stop getting unrealistic expectations or we'll never have anything sustainable. Building a top-tier program takes years and we're well on our way to that, but we're going to have years like this of full reload that takes patience to get through. Sure, red flags can go up if they're not playing hard or not getting better, but the LSU team we just took to OT is a damn good team. That Florida team last Wednesday, another solid team. Sorry to burst your bubble, but in a conference like the SEC, you're not going to keep your throne EVERY SINGLE YEAR, like Kentucky used to do with their one-and-done recruits.