I caught up with former Razorback legends Lee Mayberry and
Scotty Thurman to discuss the big upset and how Arkansas will fare
moving forward in the rest of the NCAA Tournament.
Etan: Mr. Lee Mayberry, how did it feel to see
your team take down the No. 1-seeded and highly favored Gonzaga
Bulldogs on Thursday night?
Mayberry: "It felt great. We were in those
kids' shoes years ago ourselves, where you feel like it’s Arkansas
against the world. Gonzaga was the No. 1 seed like you said; they
were projected to win it all in most brackets, and most people
counted Arkansas out. If you are from Arkansas or Tulsa or
surrounding areas, you understand how those kids feel that they are
always doubted and counted out, so they have to believe in
themselves. And we have a great fanbase who are right in that same
boat and have that same feeling and mentality along with us."
Etan: I saw some similarities in the style of
this team with your teams in your years at Arkansas in terms of
lighting it up from the three, pushing the ball, the erratic
offense. Would you agree?
Mayberry: "I definitely see similarities. Our
style was chaotic with Coach [Nolan] Richardson. It was difficult
to run an offense against our defense, we just wouldn’t allow it.
With these guys now, you see the length, the toughness, the
relentless effort. Musselman really has those guys playing hard and
at a high level. I love watching them."
Etan: I see a lot of the chatter today is about
the refs. I saw Skip Bayless talking about a call in particular on
Chet [Holmgren] that he thought was a foul. And I’m looking at the
game and I’m thinking... all the calls Gonzaga got against Memphis
and y’all are complaining about the refs?
Mayberry: "Yeah that’s a good point, they did
get a lot of calls. It was a great game, but they definitely had a
lot of calls go their way."
Etan: The call in particular Skip is talking
about with Chet, J.D. Notae from Arkansas made a great play. He
took to right to him like he was supposed to. If Chet stepped up
and took a charge maybe, but he didn’t. He clearly fouled him.
That’s what I saw.
Mayberry: "Of course I’m biased, but I felt
like Gonzaga definitely got their share of calls. You listen to
Grant Hill and the commentators, and it was more than apparent that
everyone was against us. If it’s a 50/50 call, (it) seemed like
they wanted those to go to Gonzaga too. Look, the referees aren’t
going to be perfect, but I thought the game was officiated just
fine. In fact, I feel Gonzaga got a lot of calls themselves."
Etan: It’s crazy, I’m looking at Skip Bayless’
tweet now, and he said in all caps for some reason:
I'M SORRY, NCAA BASKETBALL WITH ITS ONLY
FIVE FOULS AND AMATEURISH REFS IS A JOKE. SO IF CHET HOLMGREN JUMPS
BACKWARD AND THE ARKANSAS PLAYER DRIVES THE BALL UP INTO HIS CHEST,
THAT'S A FOUL ON HOLMGREN??? CLOWN COLLEGE CALL - AS WERE 3 OTHERS
ON FOULED-OUT HOLMGREN.
Mayberry: "I thought Drew Timme fouled about 10
times throughout the game. Last night, the better team won period.
We were better."
Etan: I agree, so I gotta ask you before I let
you go about Nolan Richardson. I always had a lot of respect for
him, how is he doing these days? Do you still keep in touch with
Mayberry: "Coach is doing well. I keep in touch
with him. He’s taking care of his wife, Rose. He’s still living in
Northwest Arkansas. He still has his farm. He’s just enjoying life.
He isn’t getting around as much as he used to, but he still loves
the game, watches the game and roots on the Arkansas
Etan: That’s great to hear. So what do they
have to do to keep this going against Duke In the Elite
Mayberry: "Stay with the game plan, being that
tough team with a chip on your shoulder. I love and respect Coach K
for what he has done for NCAA basketball as a whole, but I would
love to see that be his last game. So we just gotta do what got us
here, that grind and grit and that chip. Keep all of that going
Etan: Mr. Scotty Thurman, what were your
thoughts watching your team beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Thursday
Thurman: "I thought we responded very well. I
was worried about us being able to get back on transition, but
thought we did a great job of getting back early and not letting
Gonzaga really get into an offensive rhythm. And I thought the
physicality of us was something that really gave Gonzaga
Etan: It’s interesting because all throughout
the game, Grant Hill... and I love Grant Hill, he’s just a great
human being all around, but he was really acting like Gonzaga
wasn’t getting any calls. And I saw a lot of chatter on social
media about the refs, did you see all that?
Thurman: "Well, it was definitely obvious that
Grant was favoring Gonzaga with his commentary. I know in that
position you’re supposed to be unbiased, and he definitely didn’t
sound that way last night. And I saw the same commentary on Twitter
you saw, but it’s all to be expected. I’m glad the team didn’t get
caught up in any of that, but they stuck to their game plan and
came out on top as they should’ve."
Etan: I don’t wanna bring up old stuff, but I
grew up a big fan of y’all. Clint McDaniel, your teammate, went to
my high school, Booker T. So in 1994, I remember being in high
school in the cafeteria and all of us were rooting for y’all. And
watching you hit that big shot against Duke in the Finals and
winning the championship, that’s the first thing I thought of when
I heard Grant’s commentary.
Thurman: "It wasn’t just you. I was thinking it
too. Then, I saw someone tweet it. So I responded on Twitter and
said, 'I thought it was just me.' After that, it just started to
rain down on Twitter with comments saying he was still salty, and
people kept posting the shot, my Razorback faithful, so it brought
back great memories for me. But it’s all in good fun like you said.
Nothing but respect for Grant Hill. But yeah, I did think that
Etan: So let’s talk a little bit about the shot
since it was brought back up. Walk me through it. It really was
like one of those "One Shining Moment" NCAA commercials that will
always be a part of the advertising, you know? It’s etched in March
Madness history forever.
Thurman: (Laughing) "Well thanks, I appreciate
that. Well since you asked, we can talk about it. I don’t wanna be
like I’m Al Bundy over here. (Laughing) So it wasn’t a drawn play,
it was a broken play.
"Corey Beck had the basketball at the top of the key. He was
looking for Corliss [Williamson], as he should have because I had
just missed a couple of shots. Corey dribbled around, and passed
the ball up top to Dwight [Stewart], who would’ve drained the shot
himself had he not fumbled the pass. And it’s amazing that he had
the wherewithal to not take a bad shot, but to still be willing to
make an unselfish play which is something Coach Richardson was
always adamant about — us playing unselfishly. Most kids would’ve
panicked and taken a bad shot. But he didn’t. I popped out once I
saw that Antonio Lang lost sight of me, like Coach Richardson
drilled in my head over and over again to do if that ever happened,
and [Dwight] hit me with the perfect pass. And the rest was
Etan: That’s great, so last question: What are
the keys to Arkansas winning this next game against Duke in the
Thurman: "I think the main key is to remain
physical. which is something that really bothered Gonzaga. They
have to obviously make shots. I don’t worry about Duke beating us
in transition because I don’t think they push the ball as fast as
Gonzaga did. Their help-the-helper defense has really been great,
so they need to continue that. And really bring the same energy and
toughness that they had against Gonzaga, and we should be
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