Column: 'The Sports Trail': Hog sports shaping up, but hospitality room top attraction

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

by David McNeal

Another Green Forest Holiday Tournament is in the book, another Razorback football coach is in the house, and another UofA basketball team is beginning to make some waves. Must be Christmas time.

The Holiday tournament in Green Forest went smoothly this year with lots of close and exciting games -- and the hospitality room was better every night.

Well, actually it was the best every night, and somehow managed to exceed itself the next night. Peggy James and others got with the Tiger Booster Club and made it a great place to be on the cold and rainy nights.

The tables groaned with hot food, both temperature and spice-wise, and the dessert table was a hungry coach's delight after busing several teams of kids through the bad weather.

It was first class, as always, and something to look forward to as the tournament ran from Saturday to the next Friday. Thanks, ladies. It was a life saver.

As for Razorback football, new guy Bobby Petrino hit the ground running, even if it included running away from the Atlanta Falcons. Yeah, he bolted, but don't expect it to happen at Arkansas. Where would he go?

The pros are out, for good, and others won't be seeking his services -- UNLESS he's a huge winner for several years in a row. All that leaving stuff gets forgotten in a hurry if a guy can win now.

Which means, hey, go ahead and win now. We won't mind.

Petrino is alleged to be a great recruiter and he must be. He got Greenwood quarterback Tyler Wilson (6-3, 185) to switch his commitment from Tulsa's Gus Malzahn to the Hogs.

High-powered offense is what Petrino brings to the football program. And an organized, hustling offense and defense is what Hog basketball coach John Pelphrey has brought to his program.

Man, I watched the same kids I saw lose close game after close game on the road last year keep their heads up and battle to the end. Michael Washington is amazing. He can go inside-outside without a blink. And the team seemed to effortlessly flow into an offense no matter if beating a press or off a rebound or after a fast break attempt.

No whining and finger-pointing this year from the players -- so let me point one. In Saturday's game, once again point guard Gary Ervin tried to win the game by himself.

Twice late in the game he charged into the lane as though he was superman, only to get the ball either taken or swatted away, resulting in turnovers during crucial possessions.

Give it a rest, Gary. And while I'm at it, how about taking a little more time on 3-point shots fellas. Jacking the ball at the first glimpse of daylight isn't going to work.

This bunch needs to find out who the shooters are and aren't, but boy, they're a ton better than last year's squad. Go Hogs, all of you.

And for you, valued reader, have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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