It’s time for the second part of our Q&A with former Razorback basketball player Greg Skulman (here’s part 1). In today’s installment, Greg discusses his relationship with Eddie Sutton, the best players he played with and against, and the most exciting victory that he participated in. On with the show …
You’ve already kind of touched on this, but what was Sutton like to play for? What kind of a relationship did you and the players have with him?
Like I said earlier, I was just in awe to be there. I didn’t have any ego whatsoever about my playing ability or anything really. I just wanted to fit in and be the best team player I could. It never crossed my mind to consider any type of individual of goals, like many others were doing. I have to say I was very naïve about the whole process.
I would not describe Coach Sutton as a player’s coach. Back in those days he didn’t want you to be real comfortable knocking on his office door, coming in, sitting down and just shooting the bull with him. I guess he felt like there needed to be some amount of uneasiness or separation between him and the players in order to coach effectively.
Unless you were Sidney, Hastings or Darrell Walker, maybe. I guess it’s not that unusual for a head coach to be that way.
Darrell actually lived with the Suttons for a while. That was a little unusual, a player living in the home of the head coach, but it was definitely the right thing for him.
They treated him like their son, especially coach’s wife Patsy. I think she played a really big, important role for him. He needed the nurturing of a family. I think what they did for him was instrumental to his success. He really did mature, had a great basketball career and at one time was a head coach in the NBA.
Towards most of us Coach Sutton had an aloofness which at first I thought was kind of impressive or cool. But as I’ve gotten older, looking back, I wish I could have gotten to know him better. Every coach has their style, I guess.
Do you keep in touch with him at all?
Over the last – gosh, holy smokes – 27 years, I have seen him a few times, and I’ve seen his wife Patsy at a wedding, but other than that, no — no talking on the phone or anything like that.
I actually saw coach at Joe Kleine’s wedding, which was in Dallas. I was in dental school at the time. That was a long time ago.
I know he does care about all his players and is proud and happy when they have success in life. I really have a lot of respect for him and all he has accomplished. He gave me a scholarship, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
I definitely don’t have any sour grapes. I pretty much accomplished all my goals – I never set any beyond playing at Arkansas for Eddie Sutton.
Now if I had not played post my entire high school career it might have been a different story – that’s why I won’t let my 13-year-old daughter, who is the tallest player on her team right now, get stuck playing post.
Who was the best Hog player that you played with?
As far as a professional career goes, I would probably say Alvin Robertson. Darrell Walker was right there also. I guess you could Google their stats to see for sure.
Alvin didn’t have a long career – he had lots of personal issues, and he could have done a lot better — but he was with San Antonio and had some steal records. I know he was in at least one All-Star Game.
Alvin was an interesting story. He wasn’t that great a player when he first got there, but he was one of the hardest-working guys. Alvin worked tremendously hard in practice, and he improved dramatically right before our eyes. And that’s how he ended up in the NBA.
Alvin was not a good shooter at first. He was an average ball handler — he was decent. But he worked hard, and he was quick, super-duper quick. Great, great instincts and timing.
He just practiced really hard. His shooting eventually got good, his ball handling even better and, man, could he play “D”. That’s why he made it to the next level.
Darrell and Alvin were similar in many ways. Darrell had tremendously quick hands, great defensive player.
So those two probably were the best as far as their careers.
Scott Hastings was in the NBA for a long time, over 10 years, I think. I don’t think he played that much but who cares? He made a lot of money, and I’m sure he had a blast doing it.
Who was the best player that you played against?
That’s a no-brainer for me. We had some really good players in what was the Southwest Conference at that time, guys like Ricky Pierce, Terry Teagle.
But that being said, the best guys I played against were Sam Perkins and James Worthy. We played against North Carolina in the Great Alaskan Shootout.
That Worthy — that’s the first time that it really, really sunk in or dawned on me that there are guys that are way, way, way on another level from me. Not that I didn’t know it already, but we’re warming up, and I’m seeing these guys jumping — and I’m like, “Whoa.” You know how Worthy used to dunk the ball — he’d take a step and hold it way up high with one hand and just fly through the air.
We’re playing them. Hastings is 6’10”. He’s guarding Worthy. Worthy does some sort of little fake one way, and he just steps in the lane and holds up the ball real high and just slams it. Just in an instant.
I’d never seen a dunk like that before — ever. And I could dunk the heck out of a ball. Any kind of dunk you wanted, I could do. But I couldn’t do anything like that. Unbelievable.
I thought, “Holy cow — that guy is incredible. That guy is unbelievable.” Of course, he went on to have one of the better careers of anybody. Perkins was awesome also.
When you played against Hakeem Olajuwon, he was still fairly raw at that point, wasn’t he?
Yeah, that’s right. Man, how could I forget about those guys — Olajuwon, Drexler.
Drexler was a hell of player, obviously. But Olajuwon was incredible. I played against him two years. The difference between his first year and second year was unbelievable. Actually, he might have been the best player overall. He wasn’t the best at the time, but he went on to be just incredible in the NBA.
What was the most exciting victory that you experienced at Arkansas?
I guess the most exciting would have to be when U.S. Reed made that half-court shot against Louisville to put us into the Sweet 16. That was really, really exciting. That was the coolest deal in the world.
We had really played better than Louisville, but they just kind of clawed their way back and got the lead. It was so disappointing, so disappointing that we were going to get beat. And then he nails that thing to win by one point. That was incredible. That had to be it.
And depressing defeats, what’s at the top of your list?
Boy, I don’t know. Maybe the loss in the very next game we played against LSU. We were riding pretty high. We played them in the Superdome. We were kind of out of our element, really, playing in this huge, huge place in front of 33,000 people. There was this huge thunderous roar coming down on you. It was kind of weird.
I think we got down by 16 or 18 points in the first half. And we played with them in the second half, but we could never catch up.
I don’t know. That’s probably it, but I haven’t thought about some of this stuff in so long. It’s hard to remember.
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