A Plain Man from Arkansas

Glen Rose, who produces winning basketball at Arkansas without fuss or fancy stuff, has a team as blunt as the Ozark countryside which may be best in the Southwest
February 24, 1958

Woooooo Pig Sooie!"—easily the oddest and possibly the most bloodcurdling college yell in the nation when delivered by 5,000 undergraduate throats—is the cheer that greets rival basketball teams when they invade the fine new fieldhouse of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. It is, of course, the traditional chant of the hog-caller, and may appear somewhat out of place these days, since the raising of chickens has largely replaced pig farming in this northwest corner of the state, and the wild razorback hog has been hunted nearly to extinction. At the same time, the cheer is particularly apt for Arkansas's Southwest Conference foes. The conference is made up of seven teams in the state of Texas—and the University of Arkansas. "Woooooo Pig Sooie" serves as a sharp reminder to visiting Texans that they are on foreign soil and to Razorback teams that they are upholding the honor of the state against successive waves of invaders.

Just as Arkansas-apt are the personnel of the Razorback basketball teams and the style that they play. The young men—well-muscled, rough and ready as the Ozark countryside that surrounds Fayetteville—reflect the invigorating, largely outdoor living of the small towns from which most of them spring. The basketball is a direct reflection of their coach, as typical an Arkansan as could be deliberately concocted.

Glen Rose is a plain man: 52, a spare, erect 6-foot-5 and without a scintilla of frill or fake in personality or manner. The face is well-lined, the eyes deep blue and steady, the infrequent speech is a flat drawl of careful, lean prose that is always to the point and to the question. One story—the barest shade off the truth, but hardly apocryphal—tells the man. In the All-College tournament at Oklahoma City a few years ago, Rose's boys were playing well, somewhat over their heads as they often do, and the score was tied up at the half. At intermission the opposing team trooped off to the dressing room—normal procedure, of course. The Arkansas players put on sweat clothes and sat down on the bench. They sat and Rose sat, resting, saying nothing. The other team came back on the floor and began to loosen up. Arkansas sat. A referee raised one finger, signaling to Rose that one minute of intermission remained. Arkansas sat. The referee blew his whistle for play to resume. Rose leaned forward, looked down the line of his bench and said two words: "Same five."

ROSE PHILOSOPHY

Rose's philosophy regarding pre-game, half-time or even practice-session talk is simple: "If you can think of something worthwhile to say, fine. But I don't believe in haranguing boys or exhorting them." Arkansas players know what's expected of them; Rose tells them in uncomplicated language. And they know also that if they try and still fail to execute their coach's plans, they will not be humiliated publicly or chewed out like dimwits or delinquents. At practice, Rose stands around in old white T shirt, dark trousers and tennis shoes, arms folded on his chest, eyes following every move. He stops a scrimmage by blowing through his teeth. Then he will say to a player who has made a mistake: "Jim, why don't you try it this way next time?" or, to one who has thrown the ball away: "Bill, a bounce pass would have been better." It is a manner which, admittedly, might not be completely successful with boys of other backgrounds, but it is wholly comprehensible and familiar to Rose's Arkansans.

During a game Rose sits silently on the bench, occasionally crossing or uncrossing his legs, his mouth working a wad of chewing gum. Arkansas fans cannot recall an instance in Rose's 15 years as coach when he has come off the bench to dispute a referee's decision. Only once, indeed, has he come off the bench at all. A few years ago, after what he obviously considered a particularly bad call, Rose suddenly stood up. As thousands watched in startled silence, he stood, immobile, for long seconds, perhaps equally surprised at his behavior. Then he slowly raised a hand, scratched his head and sat down.

The style of play Rose teaches is honest, straightforward basketball; no fancy stuff, practically no set plays. It has met with remarkable success in the Southwest, though Rose is the first to admit that conference play is only now beginning to rise to the level maintained by many other areas. Arkansas has won or shared in more Southwest titles (13) than any other school (Rose, as a player, helped win three championships in 1926, '27 and '28) and is the only school that has won more games against every opponent than it has lost since it began to participate in 1924.

Rose fashions his offense to suit the talents of his players and seldom varies it throughout a given season. "I don't believe in special, trick offenses," he says. "The other teams scout you, they prepare for you and then if your trick stuff doesn't work, where are you?" Since Arkansas talent has been pretty much the same for years now, the Rose offense has tended to fall into a pattern too. Critics have described it bluntly as "shoot and follow," which is not the whole truth. The Razorbacks do shoot a lot—they tried nearly 400 more field goals than their opponents last season—and they do follow, grabbing close to 200 more rebounds than opponents in that same period. Rose's comment on ball-control style of play, as opposed to his, is as blunt as that of his critics. "At some of those control schools, a kid can get to be a junior before he takes his first shot at the basket. The object of this game is to put the ball through the hoop, not to see how long you can hold it before you try. You play a game, you take risks. That's what playing games is all about."

Arkansas plays a double post and screens well to set up a shooter, but when he lets fly, his four teammates all charge the boards. They have to. Arkansas has been consistently out-sized by most of its opponents for several years now. Yet their rebound record is excellent. That and the tenacious man-for-man defense which Rose uses almost exclusively account for Razorback success.

SURPRISE LEADERS

This year's squad could hardly be more typical. All 12 range between 6 feet and 6 feet 6, and between 180 and 210 pounds. In SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S preseason survey, the consensus opinion of Southwest coaches held that this squad would finish sixth in an eight-team conference. Instead, Arkansas has led much of the way and last weekend was first with a 7-3 record. Rice, the unanimous favorite, and Texas Tech, new to the conference this year, are tied for second with 6-3.

Last week SMU came to Fayetteville for a game that Arkansas had to win to stay ahead of Rice. The SMU team that Coach Doc Hayes brought up from Dallas was largely composed of sophomores, led by senior Guard Rick Herrscher, a steady performer and a dead shot from outside. Opposing them, Rose started the same five men who have played through most of every game thus far: Fred Grim, Wayne Dunn, Larry Grisham, Jay Carpenter and Harry Thompson. Grim, a bare 6 feet tall, was as lightly regarded in preseason estimates by rival coaches as his team, and, like his team, has led the conference practically all season—in scoring. He has an 18-points-per-game scoring average and is 80%-plus from the free-throw line. After a series of ear-splitting "Woooooo Pig Sooies," Grim showed why he is the top scorer on possibly the best team in the Southwest. He repeatedly brought the ball upcourt on a half-speed fast break; only a few steps past the center line he took his shot, with a minimum of room from his guard. It is a two-hand set, seldom seen these days, which he gets off quickly and, much more important, with no hint that he is even considering shooting. Until this season, this was nearly the whole of Grim's offensive talent and it was not enough. In the game with SMU, however, he showed that he has now mastered other moves. When his guard tried to pick him up at the center line, Grim went by him like a shot—either dribbling all the way on a driving layup, or setting up a teammate by drawing another defender to him. It was precisely two such moves that won the game for Arkansas. With four minutes to go, the score was tied. SMU's Herrscher had pulled his sophomore teammates up by their bootstraps, bringing them back from 13-and 11-point deficits with superb outside shooting. At this juncture, Grim got the ball after a characteristic three-man Arkansas rebound. He brought it up, was a stride past the center line when the SMU guard decided to concede that long a shot. Grim took the concession, flipped the ball off his chest with a clean shot that just disturbed the lower fringe of the cords. Seconds later, in the identical situation, the SMU guard played Grim tight at the center line. Grim was around him and under the basket before three other SMU men could converge on him. In the remaining time, both teams scored again, Grim sinking two free throws for the final two points, but it was his squirrel-eye shooting and sudden drives that unbalanced SMU. Through all the tension of this "must" game for Arkansas, Glen Rose had not left the bench.

Taking Arkansas basketball out of its Southwest context and comparing it with the nation's best has to be a matter of guesswork for which the team's losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma offer only a slight hint. It is the opinion here that any eventual Southwest Conference winner will lose its first-round NCAA game, which will likely be against Hank Iba's Oklahoma Staters. This is a Razorback crew of which the whole state of Arkansas may well be proud, but it is not in a class with the ranking powers. And Glen Rose, the odds are, would agree.

PHOTOROSE: LACONIC, WITHOUT FRILL OR FAKE PHOTODRIVING LAYUP by Grim (white uniform) helped clinch a close victory over SMU.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)