USC FACES A PACK OF AGITATED 'HOGS ARKANSAS OUT TO PROVE IT BELONGS IN NCAAS.Byline: MATTHEW KREDELL
Arkansas players were on a plane on the way back from the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta on Sunday when the pilot told them they had made the NCAA Tournament NCAA Tournament can mean:
A hog call broke out in the sky.
By the time the players landed, the celebration was tempered when they saw what the rest of the world thought about their selection.
"An outrage," ESPN ESPN Entertainment and Sports Programming Network college basketball College basketball most often refers to the American basketball competitive governance structure established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA. History
"Arkansas is one of those teams I took strong exception to," his colleague, Fran Frischilla, added.
Gary Walters Gary D. Walters is an American athlete, coach, and administrator, best known for being a former point guard for Princeton in NCAA basketball and Director of Athletics at Princeton University. Education
Gary D. , chairman of the NCAA NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association selection committee, was forced to defend the Razorbacks' inclusion.
So the good news for USC An abbreviation for U.S. Code. is the team it faces Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was perhaps the final at-large team chosen. On the other hand, Arkansas is a team hungry to prove it belongs.
"I think they're tired of hearing from Syracuse, Kansas State and Drexel that they should be in and Arkansas shouldn't be," USC coach Tim Floyd Tim Floyd (born February 25, 1954) is the current head coach of the University of Southern California men's college basketball team. Floyd is also a former head coach of several teams in both the NCAA and the NBA. said. "They're going to come to play because of that."
The Razorbacks (21-13, 7-9) were the only team to make the tournament with a losing record in conference play. However, Arkansas had a better RPI RPI - Rockwell Protocol Interface than USC (No. 35 to No. 40 for the Trojans). The Razorbacks had four victories over top-25 teams, including an 88-61 pounding of then-No. 8 Alabama on Jan. 6.
Arkansas got in by winning five of its final six games, advancing to the SEC Tournament final before falling to No. 6 Florida.
"We do have a little chip on our shoulder," Arkansas coach Stan Heath Stanley Heath III (born December 17 1964) is the head men's basketball coach at the University of South Florida Bulls (located in Tampa, Florida). Heath is the former head basketball coach of the University of Arkansas (also known as the Arkansas Razorbacks) in Fayetteville, said. "We'll use that to our advantage. I haven't seen any of the kids whining or crying. We're focused on USC. We can't get caught up in that."
The Razorbacks remind USC of a Pacific-10 Conference The Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) is a college athletic conference which operates in the western United States. It participates in the NCAA's Division I. Membership
Full members team it faced three times this season.
"They remind me a lot of Stanford," Floyd said. "They have the ability to score. They make it difficult for you to get second-chance points off offensive rebounds because they are a great defensive rebounding team. It's difficult to keep them off the offensive glass. They are tremendous in that area."
Like the Cardinal, Arkansas has a 7-foot shot-blocker patrolling the middle in junior Steven Hill. Hill averages 2.9 blocks per game but isn't much of an offensive threat, averaging 6.2 points.
The Razorbacks have an abundance of size in addition to Hill. Three 6-10 players split time in Darian Townes, Michael Washington and Vincent Hunter. Charles Thomas Charles Thomas is the name of:
"They usually have two big guys in there at all times and they're a good defensive rebounding team, so we'll have to find a way to combat that," USC forward Keith Wilkinson said.
USC lost to Stanford 65-50 in Palo Alto, a game in which the Trojans had 19 shots blocked against the Cardinal's 7-foot Lopez twins.
However, the Trojans made adjustments to deal with the size difference and beat Stanford 69-65 at Galen Center and 83-79 in overtime at the Pac-10 Tournament.
"Playing against the Lopez twins, who are really good shot-blockers, now we know how to play against guys like that," USC guard Gabe Pruitt said. "That should help us out."
Arkansas gets better guard play than Stanford. Freshman Patrick Beverly and junior Gary Ervin are both small, quick guards. Beverly leads the team with 13.8 points per game, and Wilkinson compares him to Aaron Brooks, the Pac-10's leading scorer at Oregon.
Sonny Weems, a junior-college transfer who is averaging 11.7 points in his first year at Arkansas, was recruited to USC and offered a scholarship by Floyd.
Floyd said he had two coaches and two NBA scouts tell him that Arkansas is the second-most talented team in the SEC behind Florida.
"I had one NBA scout tell us they're as talented as Kansas," Floyd said. "They have enough talent to make a long run in this tournament."
Floyd said that Arkansas' inconsistency can be explained by youth, and that the improvement of first-year players such as Beverly, Weems and Washington is what led the Razorbacks to finish the season strong.
"They have really been the X-factor in our games," Heath said of his freshmen. "Their jump up a notch has helped our team."
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