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Don’t judge Razorbacks this year by how season crashed

Don’t be too quick to judge an entire season by how it ended because Arkansas accomplished a lot, but weren’t ready for postseason run.

For those wanting someone to be responsible for Arkansas’ surprising loss to Wright State on Monday afternoon, relax.

It’s taken care of.

Mike Neighbors did it immediately after a game where the Razorbacks just didn’t look comfortable all game long and he admitted later they weren’t.

“We peaked too early,” he said right after the game. “I asked so, so much of these kids in the middle part of the year trying to get to this point that I forgot to focus on the finish line.”

A lot of fans wanted to just write off the poor shooting against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament as one of those things that happens. The 66-62 loss Monday was almost as bad.

For whatever reason this team couldn’t hit water falling out of a boat in the middle of a lake. Don’t ask me why because I’m not technically savvy enough to have an answer.

Neighbors didn’t really have an answer, either.

“I did a really poor job the last two weeks and probably the last three weeks of getting us to peak at the right time,” he said.

Maybe this team was just flat worn out at the end of the season. Neighbors thought it might be because of his decision to travel to road games the day of the game all yI ear.

Ole Miss and Wright State were also really ready and pumped for those matchups.

Looking back, the Hogs got down by as much as 14 in the first half and were near-panic mode trying to catch up the rest of the game.

And it seemed at critical times, nobody could hit a basket.

“We rushed a few (shots),” Neighbors said. “When we got down, we all wanted to kind of help our team get back into this thing.

“They wanted to help us win so badly that I think we took some shots that maybe we haven’t practiced enough, so that’s what I attribute it to.”

In a season with monumental wins over Baylor and UConn combined with near-misses against Texas A&M (twice), fans were excited about this women’s program and if covid hadn’t caused such a panic the crowds likely would have been huge.

The fact fans care enough to be letdown after the loss is a sign the program is advancing.

Older folks will remember the sign we had in March of 1977 the men’s basketball program had achieved relevance under Eddie Sutton.

That year, the Hogs had a one-loss season going into the NCAA Tournament where most of the media people were already booking hotels and locking down travel plans for the Final Four in St. Louis.

It came crashing down in the first round against Wake Forest. That was Sutton’s third year and Neighbors is in his fourth.

The point of all that is sometimes, well, these things happen.

Don’t overlook what this team accomplished in a season with distractions and first-ever obstacles there wasn’t any guidelines on how to handle it.

“I just don’t want us to be judged by how we finished,” Neighbors said. “I know that’s the nature of the game when we sign up for this, that you get judged by how you finish, and this year we didn’t do too good of a job of that.”

 

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