Manny Watkins: ‘We have national championship on our minds’
With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points. There is no place like it on the Web.
Arkansas players and coach Mike Anderson met with the assembled media Tuesday for the final time before they left for Greenville, South Carolina, and the NCAA Tournament.
The eighth-seeded Razorbacks play ninth-seeded Seton Hall on Friday at 12:30 p.m. Technically, the game is at 12:37 p.m. That’s the precise scheduled tip time. Tuesday wasn’t just the last time they all spoke before leaving, it was also the first time any one of them spoke since Anderson went on the Paul Finebaum Show on Monday to defend his players.
None of the four people who took part in the news conference – Anderson, Manny Watkins, Dusty Hannahs, Daryl Macon – were interested in dwelling on that stuff. Watkins and Macon acknowledged it, but mostly, they wanted to talk about the future.
Watkins, especially, isn’t just thinking about Seton Hall. Not in the sense of a grand plan, anyway. He and his teammates have bigger aims. Putting the game Sunday and Anderson’s comments Monday behind them isn’t hard, he said.
“It’s really easy. If we were in the NIT or something it’d be a little bit harder. But we’re going for a national championship,” Watkins said. “We have national championship on our minds, so it was easy to let go of that game on Sunday.”
The winner of Friday’s game will almost definitely get top-seeded North Carolina on Sunday at a time to-be-determined. The Tar Heels have knocked Arkansas out of the NCAA Tournament each of the Razorbacks’ last two appearances. If the Razorbacks could beat North Carolina, that national championship dream might not be all that far-fetched.
So, what’s up in Jersey?
Of all the 8- and 9-seeds Arkansas could have matched up with, it’s hard to imagine one could be more foreign to most Arkansans. Northwestern, maybe, is the only other one that would draw a “Huh?”
But what are they talking about up in New Jersey, where Seton Hall is located? Do they know what Arkansas basketball is? Is it just “that southern school”? Or is the focus more on the Pirates and what they can do?
Jason Kersey and I were joined by Jeremy Schneider of NJ.com, the Seton Hall beat writer for New Jersey’s largest exclusive news organization and he talked a bit about that on the Borderline Erotic Podcast on Tuesday.
More specifically: Around the horn with Seton Hall
- Seton Hall leading scorer Khadeen Harrington will be the most dynamic scorer on the court Friday. He’s been the primary scorer for the Pirates all season, writes Jerry Carino at the Asbury Park Press.
- Arkansas may be carrying a chip after the Kentucky game, but Seton Hall is still feeling the burn of being upset last year in the first round. They’re not planning on it happening again, Schneider writes.
- The big storm in the northeast part of the country changed things for teams located up there. Schneider wrote about what it did for the Pirates.
Survive and advance? More escape and exhale
The Arkansas baseball team nearly lost to a SWAC team Tuesday, needing a bottom-of-the-ninth-walk-off to get by Alcorn State.
Those things happen, those weird, close midweek games. But it wouldn’t have been too cool for the Diamond Hogs to lose such a game ahead of SEC opening weekend. Mississippi State comes to visit starting Friday. By the way, Arkansas pitching coach Wes Johnson, in his first year with the Razorbacks, was the Bulldogs pitching coach last year. Something to play for, definitely.
It was one of Johnson’s pitchers who was the “hero” against Alcorn State, too. But not for pitching so much. Cannon Chadwick was forced to bat in the ninth inning (read the story to find out why) and he coaxed a walk before coming around to score the game-winning run from second base on Jake Arledge’s single.
Chadwick, by the way, hit on purpose. He had 30 RBIs his last year in junior college a few seasons ago. I’ve written it before, I’ll write it again: Dave Van Horn knows what he’s doing, man.
- Child of 1990s who loved football? Then you know the name Byron Hanspard. Well, Byron Hanspard Jr., the son of the Texas Tech running back, has Arkansas at the top of his recruiting list, writes our Trent Shadid.
- The Razorbacks will get their second-round matchup against North Carolina…if a few things happen. Not all of these are “musts” but these are the keys to Arkansas beating Seton Hall on Friday.
- Van Horn’s team did beat Alcorn State on Tuesday but infielder Hunter Wilson looks like he’s going to miss a bit of time after he was hurt during the game. WholeHogSports has the story.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
Ever been short on cash, had just your card and find out the place you’re at just takes actual monies? Annoying.
Well, fear not, degenerate gamblers of Arkansas. The state legislature is seeking to make sure you never run into such a problem when purchasing your lottery tickets. Because, you know, they want to tell poor people what they can and can’t buy with food stamps, but let’s go ahead and make it easier for people to play a game they have almost no chance of winning. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has the story.
Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.