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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas assistant basketball coach David Patrick is shown during a July 2020 workout in Fayetteville. - Photo by Walt Beazley, Arkansas Razorbacks

FAYETTEVILLE -- VHS tapes of college basketball games that were mailed in packages to Melbourne, Australia, from the United States in the early 1990s introduced David Patrick to University of Arkansas basketball.

At the time, Patrick was playing for the Melbourne Tigers junior club team, whose alums included Andrew Gaze.

Gaze went to the United States for college and became a standout player for Seton Hall, a small Catholic school in South Orange, N.J., that played in the Big East. During his senior season, Seton Hall advanced to the 1989 Final Four, where the Pirates lost to Michigan 80-79 in overtime in the NCAA Tournament championship game.

The father of one of Patrick's teammates on the Melbourne Tigers subscribed to a service that provided tapes of U.S. college basketball teams so the players could watch Gaze.

After Gaze completed his eligibility at Seton Hall, the tapes continued to be sent to Melbourne.

"Once a month, we got an influx of tapes with all these college basketball games," Patrick said. "At that time, the best teams were Arkansas, Michigan, Duke, UNLV."

Patrick said he took a particular interest in Arkansas because of the Razorbacks' style of play under Coach Nolan Richardson featuring guards Todd Day and Lee Mayberry, and center Oliver Miller.

"Arkansas was the program that really stood out to me being so far away on the other side of the world in Australia,"Patrick said. "I loved watching the Razorbacks."

Arkansas advanced to the 1990 Final Four when Day, Mayberry and Miller were sophomores. During their four-year careers, Arkansas combined for a 117-24 record from the 1988-89 through 1991-92 seasons.

"I was fascinated by how Arkansas played under Coach Richardson, how they ran and pressed," said Patrick, who was hired as a Razorbacks assistant coach July 1. "I loved their style.

"Todd Day and Lee Mayberry, the way they ran the floor together and played off each other, I remember that so vividly.

"Then Oliver Miller, we'd never seen a big man play like him. How good he was, first of all, and then the way he could move and pass the ball."

Patrick said he also was captivated by watching the Razorbacks' home games in Barnhill Arena, which included a matchup of No. 1 UNLV beating No. 2 Arkansas 112-105 during the 1990-91 season.

"Watching Arkansas play games in Barnhill Arena was so much fun. They had such raucous crowds," Patrick said. "I remember thinking, 'Man, I wish I could play in that setting.' "

Patrick continued to follow the Razorbacks closely after they moved from Barnhill Arena to Walton Arena, and won the 1994 national championship and finished runner-up to UCLA at the 1995 Final Four. Those teams were led by Corliss Williamson, Scotty Thurman and Corey Beck.

"I loved the long shorts teams like Arkansas and Michigan were wearing at that time," Patrick said. "That was a style that stood out to me. I remember trying to wear my shorts like that."

Patrick recalled Al Dillard hitting a three-pointer for Arkansas in the final seconds of regulation to help the Razorbacks win at LSU 108-105 in overtime in 1994. Thurman scored 27 points, including the game-winning three-pointer in overtime, to lead Arkansas. Williamson scored 20 points, and Dillard had 16 off the bench.

Fifteen years later, Patrick was on the LSU bench in Walton Arena -- as a Tigers assistant coach along with current Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman -- when Jalyn Patterson hit 6 of 8 three-pointers and scored 20 points in LSU's 81-78 victory over the Razorbacks.

"We were calling Jalyn 'Al Dillard' after the game," Patrick said.

Patrick was in the Maravich Assembly Center on Feb. 22, 1995, as a high school senior at Baton Rouge Chapel Trafton when he watched Arkansas in person for the first time. The Razorbacks beat LSU 92-90 as Williamson scored 29 points, and Clint McDaniel scored 17.

After Patrick's 11th-grade year in Australia, he made the decision to become a foreign exchange student in the U.S. so he could give himself a shot to play basketball at a major program and earn a college degree.

"A lot of kids my age in Australia began playing pro basketball there," Patrick said. "But it was really important to my mother that I got a college education."

Patrick, a 5-10 guard who was born in Bermuda before moving to Australia, played well enough at Chapel Trafton to be district MVP.

Among the colleges that recruited Patrick were LSU, Syracuse, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Temple and Wake Forest.

Arkansas indirectly had an impact on Patrick's decision to play for Syracuse when the Razorbacks beat the Orange 96-94 in overtime in the second round of the 1995 NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas.

The day after the game, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim and assistant coach Bernie Fine were in Baton Rouge to visit Patrick.

"For the coaches from Syracuse to come to my gym, it meant a lot," Patrick said. "That really made an impression on me."

Patrick laughed when asked whether he talked about the Arkansas game with Boeheim and Fine.

"No," he said. "I didn't bring up that game -- and neither did they."

What if the Orange had beaten Arkansas? Boehiem and Fine would have been busy getting ready for their next NCAA Tournament game instead of visiting Patrick.

"I probably wouldn't have gone to Syracuse if they hadn't come to Baton Rouge to see me when they did," Patrick said. "I might have ended up someplace else. I think Coach Richardson and the Razorbacks helped me get to Syracuse."

Patrick was a freshman on the Syracuse team that advanced to the 1996 Final Four and lost to Kentucky 76-67 in the national championship game, but he transferred after the season to Southwestern Louisiana, which is now Louisiana-Lafayette.

Leaving Syracuse, Patrick said, was a combination of too much snow and not enough playing time.

"I took my recruiting visit to Syracuse in April and the weather was pretty nice," he said. "Then my freshman year, it started snowing in September. With a background of living in Bermuda, Australia and Louisiana, the only snow I'd ever seen before was in a snow cone.

"So the fall and winter weather in Syracuse came as a shock. You hear about the snow in Syracuse, but you don't really know what it's about until you go through it.

"I'd also never played off the bench before, and I didn't get to play much my freshman year. In Australia and then in high school, I'd always started. I didn't handle the limited playing time very well.

"Being so far away from home, being cold, not starting, it all impacted me leaving Syracuse and going back to Louisiana, which by that time I considered to be home."

Patrick played three seasons at Southwestern Louisiana; played professionally in Australia, England and Spain; then broke into college coaching at Nicholls State.

Before coming to Arkansas, Patrick also was an assistant coach at Saint Mary's, TCU and LSU, and the head coach at California-Riverside.

"With some of the other schools I've been at, you have to explain what Nicholls State is, what Saint Mary's is, what TCU is," Patrick said. "When you say 'Arkansas,' everybody knows who you're talking about.

"I've talked to my friends in Europe and Australia and obviously around the country, and they all associate Arkansas with basketball. To me, that's been awesome just in my short span here."

Patrick had been to Fayetteville previously during his time coaching at LSU, but said he didn't really know about the area until being hired by Arkansas.

"When you come in here for a game with LSU, you just charter, go to the hotel , go the game and go home," he said. "You don't really know anything about the campus or the surrounding area.

"From everything that I've seen in the short time I've been here, I'm blown away by the restaurants and the shopping. I'm also blown away by how much all the fans here are so into basketball. Some of the other schools I've been at, they don't even talk about basketball until January.

"In that respect, it's really fun to be here. When you get on the phone to kids in Arkansas or nationally or even internationally, they know what this program's about and the rich history."

It's a history Patrick began learning about 30 years ago thanks to VHS tapes that arrived once a month in Melbourne during the college basketball season.

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