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Nearly 20 Years Ago Hogs Basketball was in Midst of Its Own Chad Morris Moment

Just over a week ago Razorback fans thought sky was falling, but 20 years ago, an attempt to replace Nolan Richardson was so bad most blocked it out of their memories

This started out as a quick-hit piece about whatever random fact we could drag up from roughly 20 years ago. It ended in me being unsure whether I was temporarily removed from the planet for a year.

On this day 20 years ago, technically 19, but we'll round to make it look nicer, the Arkansas Razorback men's basketball team found itself stuck in the middle of its own Chad Morris moment. 

The Hogs were 5-9 under Stan Heath, a young upstart who caught lightning in a bottle for a season at Kent State the previous season. Losses to Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Troy and Illinois, two of which were in Bud Walton and another in Alltel Arena in Little Rock, got the Hogs off to a 1-4 start in the first five games of the post-Nolan Richardson era.

Arkansas had just secured a five-game losing streak that included 45 points scored against Oklahoma State and 37 against Auburn. The Razorbacks would only score 80 points twice that season. 

Shooting was so bad that the Hogs only broke 70 twice in their final 19 games.

Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Stan Heath watches from the sidelines during the second half of a quarterfinal round SEC Tournament game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Stan Heath watches from the sidelines during the second half of a quarterfinal round SEC Tournament game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

While I know I have been devoted to watching or listening to every game through thick and thin since Joe Kleine used to move from left to right on my radio dial while my dad drove me to various fishing holes across Southeast Arkansas as a child, I can't pull a single memory from my brain of that season. 

However, before I even saw the record in my research, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. The first thing I did was pull the roster. 

It was the freshman year of Jonathon Modica, a promising young sharpshooter from Smackover, one of those small South Arkansas towns that clocks in around the 1,000 mark every year that you can only get to if you truly wish to be there.

For those of you who have never heard of it, Smackover is near ElDorado and is home to the Buckaroos.

Outside of three players I have never heard of whose stats suggest little playing time, there were no other players from Arkansas on the team. There weren't even players from nearby.

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It's as if Stan Heath threw darts at a map of the United States on his first day in Fayetteville and brought in players from wherever it landed. 

There were players from Long Island, Montgomery, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Houston. The departure from Nolan Richardson's philosophy of having Arkansas-born players at the heart of a team built on players from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Memphis couldn't have been further.

It was the equivalent of Texas A&M getting rid of Jimbo Fisher and brining in a coach from Miami of Ohio who refuses to build his team around recruits from Texas and Louisiana. 

Arkansas always has, and always will be, at its best when the extreme talent that packs gyms throughout Arkansas and a couple of miles beyond the border into Memphis is hitting the floor. 

Arkansas Razorbacks former head coach Nolan Richardson smiles during a half time presentation at a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas defeated Tennessee 73-60.

Arkansas Razorbacks former head coach Nolan Richardson smiles during a half time presentation at a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas defeated Tennessee 73-60. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what sport it's in, a player native to Arkansas is going to give more than players from out of state because the Razorbacks and the passion/responsibility that comes with it is cooked into their blood. 

That's why next year is the Christmas day that never feels like it will come for Arkansas fans. It will be a team loaded with talent from within or a half-hour's drive of the state.

That's always a major key to success in Fayetteville on the basketball court.

It's a lesson Heath learned the hard way by giving Arkansas fans possibly the most forgettable season in school history. 

That team went on to finish 9-19. 

While the current Razorback team hopes fans forget the start of conference play, Musselman and his team can rest assured it will not have to hope fans forget an entire season, like was apparently happening 20 years ago on this day in Razorback history.