But the main reason for Arkansas's failure was that the Minutemen—come on, let's give 'em some respect now—are an outstanding team. Roe attached himself to Williamson and did not let go until he had limited college basketball's top strongman to an insignificant 15 points and seven boards. And whatever Roe didn't do, forward Donta Bright (24 points) and center Marcus Camby (13 points and 12 rebounds in 17 minutes) did.
In all phases of the game the Minute-men out-Hogged the Hogs, even in celebratory chest-bumping. Late in the first half Roe did the bump so forcefully with so many teammates that it's a wonder he didn't come away with a bruised sternum. (Mark this down: Somewhere, somehow, someone will miss a game this season because of a chest-bumping injury.) In effect, the game was over with 13:02 to go when with Arkansas trailing 64-40, Williamson blew a wide-open layup and then compounded the error by committing an over-the-top foul. That was around the time that Thompson, watching the game at home in D.C., turned it off in dismay. "I knew then we'd have no chance of sneaking up on them," he said of the Razorbacks. "They were going to be fired up."
Williamson had no explanation for his desultory play, but it represented the big guy's most crushing defeat since Richardson vetoed the dreadlocks Williamson showed up with at practice a few weeks ago. After the UMass game, Beck munched on a bilious combination of fast-food burgers and rueful analysis. Among the words and phrases he used to describe his team's performance: "Terrible. Awful. Stunk out the joint. Couldn't have been worse. A disgrace. A big embarrassment." Was there a bright side? "None," he said. "Only dark."
It wasn't a loss, for heaven's sake, it was a Camus novel. "I know this," Beck said. "If we're any kind of team, we're going to take it seriously."
They did. After arriving in Memphis at 3 a.m. on Saturday, Richardson had his players working hard at the Pyramid that afternoon. "We shouldn't have been tired," Richardson said later. "We didn't play against UMass."
From a technical standpoint the main thing the Hogs talked about was showing patience on both offense (making the extra pass rather than letting fly quickly) and defense (not rushing pell-mell and getting into foul trouble). From a mental standpoint they talked, as guard Clint McDaniel said, about "showing up as the NCAA champs instead of what showed up against UMass."
Beck made a brief refueling stop at his home in Memphis for turkey, greens and spaghetti ("Spaghetti's a vegetable in Memphis," he said) but returned to the hotel by nightfall to be with the team. The Razorbacks had a players-only meeting on Sunday morning, and it had a single theme: taking care of business.
Richardson, meanwhile, had all kinds of other business. He and Thompson, along with Temple coach John Chaney and former Southern Cal coach George Raveling—who is still recovering from injuries suffered in a serious car accident two months ago and could not attend—had come up with the idea of a doubleheader that would increase awareness of the Black Coaches Association. (Temple beat USC 65-54 in Sunday's all-but-ignored nightcap.) It was promoter Russ Potts's idea to name the event after Martin Luther King Jr. and stage it in Memphis, in part because that is where King was murdered in 1968. Consider what confronted Richardson and Thompson at Saturday night's banquet for the BCA. They had to make speeches, present any number of awards (including one to Michael Jordan), digest the rubber chicken and try to get Jesse Jackson to stop talking by sunrise.
"If Jesse can say 'thank you' in one minute," joked Thompson before presenting the rainbow reverend with a BCA award, "I'm going to make him a donation."
Thompson was as unsuccessful in that attempt as he was in stopping the charged-up Hogs the following afternoon. Oh, the Hoyas hung around for the first 10 minutes, during which Iverson canned three brassy three-pointers and missed another. In fact, the Hoyas attempted 18 treys in the first half alone (they made seven), which may explain why center Othella Harrington got only three shots before intermission and finished with seven points. "I was saying, 'Look at them lettin' 'em fly!' " said Thompson, who will no doubt be less giddy if the Hoyas are practicing such long-range masonry in February.