Jim's Notebook: Tip Off Club Takes Its Swings With Van Horn; Hogs Need a Little of UALR's Road Magic

by Jim Harris  on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 2:31 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

North Little Rock's Downtown Tip Off Club teased its membership with a touch of baseball last week, including UALR baseball coach Scott Norwood included with UALR basketball coaches Steve Shields and Joe Foley in a round table discussion with the club at the Wyndham Riverfront.

The event filled the ballroom at the Wyndham. The coaches are slowly beginning to see their games better attended as well. Last year UALR was one of only a handful of universities that saw its men's and women's basketball teams and its baseball team earn NCAA Tournament appearances.

In May, Norwood's Trojans, who play in an updated Gary Hogan Field (the old Curran Conway Field) with newly installed Field Turf on the infield, will reprise last year's appearance at the Arkansas Travelers' Dickey-Stephens Park. Norwood noted that some people last year tended to make light of UALR's game drawing only a couple thousand for its one appearance at Dickey-Stephens.

"When your program was drawing 50 or 60 when you first arrived, pulling in a couple of thousand fans is relative, and it's pretty good," he said.

This coming Monday at the Wyndham, it's all baseball for the Tip Off Club. Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn, who has made the NCAA postseason a yearly habit while playing out of the toughest conference in the land, will address the club at noon. The luncheon buffet starts at 11:15. Admission is $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers. The Hogs open the baseball season Feb. 17 against Villanova. They have enough pitching, if the arms stay healthy, to make a deep run this season, the forecasters say.

The Razorbacks will play at Dickey-Stephens Park on May 15 against Louisiana Tech in the program's third straight appearance in Central Arkansas. In previous years games against La. Tech and Memphis have filled the place.

THE OTHER FOUR: As everyone familiar with Razorbacks athletics knows, Arkansas won't play any of the state's other colleges in any sport — even baseball.

The longer this policy is enforced by the UA administration, at least concerning basketball and the "lesser" sports, the sillier it seems.

UALR's Scott Norwood, whose team beat No. 2 Oklahoma in the regular season last year, was hoping the Trojans would be sent to Fayetteville for the NCAA Regional and be matched against Arkansas. Instead, they were shipped out west. NCAA postseason play is, for now, the only time Arkansas might play one of the state schools.

The other four Division I baseball programs in Arkansas will tangle in the first State Farm Insurance Classic at Dickey-Stephens on May 8. Arkansas State will play UAPB and UALR will tangle with UCA. Then the Hogs come to town two days later. Tickets for the Classic are on sale at the Travelers' box office, (501) 664-1555.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: How does a team lose by 19 points and play its absolute worst on its home court, then turn around three weeks later and take a crucial two-point overtime victory against the same team, on the road?

Whatever Steve Shields' trick is, Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson no doubt would love to know it.



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