With a nod toward basketball and spring, here’s a fresh batch of David’s Appetizers, assorted musings and observations from the sports scene:
IS IT APRIL?
Now that spring break has ended for most people, we enter a busy time for school seasons in a variety of ways.
High school athletic teams are now getting into the heart of their spring schedules and have about a month to get various teams tournament-ready and to complete conference races. Complicating that is that April is also a month for testing, proms, senior gatherings, projects and graduation details. It’s a full plate for everyone in the school system.
The University of Central Arkansas is in the midst of spring football, the heart of the spring schedules and basketball recruiting. Added to all that is making sure academic work is safely in APR safety range and athletes are on their way to maintaining eligibility.
When you start to see a lot of daffodils, the pace picks up.
THE KEMPER HIRE
University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bear coach Matt Daniel made a wise move, at least from this perspective, in hiring former men’s assistant Tony Kemper as his associate head coach.
Many in the community I’ve visited with have hoped that Kemper and Austin Twembly, two extremely hard-working and capable assistants on Rand Chappell’s staff who were collateral victims of the men’s overhaul and both with new additions to the family, would have the chance to remain in Conway if they chose. Twenbly, if there’s a fit with what new men’s coach Corliss Williamson is looking for, would give his new staff continuity and a person with good insight into Southland Conference competition and operations.
Kemper gives Daniel a solid individual as far as being able to delegate some elements as a head coach and a more experienced, mature presence on the bench.
It’s a win-win situation from this perspective.
I’ve talked to several people in the Little Rock area who say they are going to take another look at UCA basketball and attend some games simply because of the hiring of Corliss Williamson, who is extremely popular in multiple circles in this area.
Of course, to maintain the potential new fan base, the Bears have to win over the long term — and show promise and be exciting in the short term.
With the NCAA tourney at its height, many people are talking negatively about Arkansas basketball or not at all, which is a problem sign.
Notice how UA officials are hyping spring football and are stirring new excitement in that area.
And people are wondering, even from the women’s standpoint when out-of-state teams such as Baylor, Oklahoma and Tennessee are having a lot of success with Arkansas products.
I can’t really gauge the state of UA basketball except it is in a state.
A NOTE ABOUT BAYLOR
Several callers to talk shows, particularly after the pointless rumor began that the University of Texas might leave the Big 12 for the Big 10/11/12, mentioned naively that Arkansas might replace Baylor.
Arkansas is not going anywhere, and neither is Baylor.
In the last five years, various Baylor sports teams have accumulated 26 championships, including national titles in tennis and women’s basketball. In the Big 12, only Texas has won more sports championships. And Baylor entered the week with both men’s and women’s basketball teams in the Elite Eight with young team and a women’s team has made the Final Four. Baylor has done it with football being mediocre at best and producing the highest graduation rates and APR in the Big 12.
The fact is the Big 12 needs Baylor, both on and off the field, as much as it needs Texas. Those are your two best overall sports programs in the conference.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)