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It was great news, and it was terrible news.

The official announcement of the newest inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is Saturday, but those nominated already were notified this week.

Sidney "Super Sid" Moncrief was chosen. That's the great news.

Eddie Sutton, for the sixth consecutive time, was not.

What a moment those 24 secret voters missed. They could have had two cornerstones of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball program go in at the same time. Instead, it seems the voters were biased.

Maybe it has something to do with those four years he spent at Kentucky, before he got help for his drinking and resurrected a great career.

Maybe to get into the Naismith -- Sutton already has been inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame -- you have to win a national championship or coach on the East Coast.

Sutton won 806 games. He's the only coach to win more than 800 games who is not in the Naismith Hall of Fame, and he was the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament. He also has the rare distinction of taking two schools to the Final Four -- Arkansas in 1978, and Oklahoma State in 1995 and 2004.

Here's a few coaches already inducted: Lou Carnesecca, 526 wins and one Final Four; Pete Carril, 525 wins and never got past second game of NCAA Tournament; John Chaney, 741 wins and zero Final Fours; Frank McGuire, 549 wins and two Final Fours; and Lefty Driesell, 786 wins with no Final Fours.

That's a sampling of guys who deserved to be honored but have one thing in common: the East Coast.

Before Sutton came to Arkansas, the Razorbacks had two winning seasons in the previous 10 years and were 90-160. In 11 seasons, he never had a losing record. They were in the NCAA Tournament by his third year and every year after that. He was 260-75 (.776 winning percentage).

Sutton took the Kentucky job, which is a more prestigious basketball school. He won 32 games his first season and set the bar too high. He was battling the bottle and resigned after four seasons. His program was embroiled in an NCAA investigation that eventually led to three years of probation.

He sat out one season, received treatment for alcohol abuse, and took the Oklahoma State job. In the 20 years prior to him taking the job, the Cowboys were 238-313.

In 16 seasons, he was 368-151 and took the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament 13 times, including the two Final Fours.

No one knows for sure when he started fighting alcoholism again, but in 2001 one of the Oklahoma State team planes crashed after a game at Colorado and 10 people, including two players, were killed.

Sutton stayed at the airport until confirmation that every person misssing was dead, and he personally called every parent or spouse. Sutton again got help, spent one season with San Francisco and retired.

If that body of work isn't good enough for the Naismith Hall of Fame, then it doesn't deserve Eddie Sutton.

***

One of the biggest weekends in Arkansas basketball starts today when Real Deal in the Rock tips off at 6 p.m. with the Mike Conley Rising Stars girls and boys games at P.A.R.K. in Little Rock.

The tournament also gets going at P.A.R.K. and other local gyms.

This tournament is where local basketball fans have seen the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and many others who ended up in the NBA. Zion Williamson, who is projected to be the first pick in this year's NBA Draft, also attended.

Sports on 04/05/2019

Print Headline: WALLY HALL: Naismith voters again get it wrong on Eddie Sutton

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