What Was His Name? Arkansas Edition
Whenever somebody brings up Arkansas basketball it is impossible for them to go two sentences without mentioning Nolan Richardson, Bill Clinton and 40 Minutes of Hell. Nobody is exactly sure what the latter means but it sounds intimidating and is a fun way to describe a basketball team. Some might argue it’s a better description of the 2014-15 Wake Forest Demon Deacons basketball team but I guess it works for a national champion squad as well.
The Razorback teams of the mid-90s were an imposing bunch — big, physical, fast and talented. Arkansas reached back-to-back national title games, defeating Duke in Charlotte in 1994 for the program’s lone championship and losing to UCLA a year later in Seattle. The face of the team was Corliss Williamson. “Big Nasty” does not get as much credit as he deserves in terms of being one of the greats to ever lace them up in college basketball, but North Carolina fans remember him well.
The Tar Heels made it to the Final Four in 1995 as a 2-seed after taking down top seeded Kentucky in the regional final. Defending national champ Arkansas awaited them in the national semis. Williamson dominated the game, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while limiting Rasheed Wallace to just 10 points and six shot attempts.
Williamson was ahead of his time in that he was a versatile big man that could pass, shoot and bang down low. This skill set contributed to a 12-year NBA career in which he won a title and was named Sixth Man of the Year. Williamson was a two-time second team All American, back-to-back SEC Player of the Year, and Most Outstanding Player in the 1994 Final Four.
Carolina fans surely hope they don’t see shades of “Big Nasty” tonight when the Razorbacks roll out another versatile big man in Bobby Portis, the first SEC Player of the Year from Arkansas since… yep.
feature image via SI