There are enough stats and facts articles out there about Arkansas vs North Carolina but I’d like to give my personal takeaways as a fan.
Mike Anderson and his Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team may have fallen to North Carolina but as a fan, something else happened in my eyes. Not only me but many fans came away from this game with the same feeling.
Ask yourself how most fans of most teams feel when their team loses? Most of the time its anger and a timeline on twitter of excuses and blame. When Arkansas lost to the Tar Heels I felt no anger. Yes, there were bad calls but I felt no need to make excuses. I felt pride.
My twitter timeline was a direct reflection of that pride I felt after that gut-wrenching loss, even from many who didn’t particularly like Anderson. In that moment of loss, something changed in many of us and only intensified in others. What was that thing exactly?
The Meaning Of The Four Letter Word
Love. I use this word because of all that it entails. Pride, hope, adoration and faith are just some of the things I personally think of when I use such a strong word and that’s exactly how many of us felt.
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If you read my pregame for North Carolina (found here), you know that going into it, I acknowledged there was a change making its way through this team. I called it fire, Anderson called it heart but whatever “it” is, a lot of other fans felt it.
It’s no secret that I was very publicly critical of Mike Anderson as a coach and recruiter and I am not going to try and deny that. As a coach, I just didn’t see him give his players that fight and motivation that Nolan instilled in his teams.
What Changed My Opinion
As for me and many others who felt the same way, I happily admit I was wrong. What I saw from Anderson in his defense of his player’s character on national T.V. started to make me think that maybe Anderson wasn’t as soft as I thought.
Then during the game, I watched a team of guys who were clearly outmatched in talent and athleticism not only challenge but nearly beat an extremely good North Carolina team. There was also something during the game that really got me.
During the broadcast, they showed footage of Anderson talking to his team before the game. In the clips, he talked about playing with heart and the importance of unifying to be that one beat. Towards the end of the game, they cut to Anderson on the sideline and it wasn’t him screaming or anything you might expect.
It was him, giving a gesture with his fist over his chest to remind his players to keep playing with that unified heart. That’s exactly what they did and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen from Arkansas basketball in many many years.
The Final Takeaway
The end of that game was hard to swallow but it was uplifting to see so many people take to social media and talk of their pride and love for Mike Anderson and this team. A lot of people felt that fire rekindled in Arkansas for the first time in many years and I saw a ton of people say one very powerful thing.
“Arkansas Razorback basketball is back.”
There is such history and meaning in those five words that only someone who was around for it and from Arkansas can truly understand its depth. For so many people, including the critics, to feel this way is a big change from where we were as a fanbase.
I am the type of person that doesn’t believe anything until I see it. It’s a major reason why I fell in love with and am engaged to a scientist. There has to be something I can look at and see to say that what I believe is absolutely undeniable.
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The 2017 postseason is what I look at to say that I believe in Mike Anderson and what he can do. He not only talked of heart but he showed it and for many of us, that’s all we needed.
I’ll never sugar coat anything I write. If Anderson makes a mistake, I’ll say it and if there’s something wrong with the program, I’ll acknowledge. That’s just who I am but as far as my fan oriented feelings towards Anderson, I got nothing but love. Woo pig!