Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hogs Fans Say "Farewell" To Seniors

For the last four years, I've covered the college basketball careeer of Steven Hill at the University of Arkansas. We got acquainted with Steven his senior year at Branson, when he came to our studio for his senior portraits.
I was photographing a basketball game at Branson the year after Steven graduated. While visiting with the sports editor from the Branson Daily Independent, I asked, "Would you guys like to have some photos of Steven Hill playing at Fayetteville, to run in your paper?" If so, I told him I'd be glad to shoot them, if he'd get me a press pass. I did some research to find out what I'd need to do, and we were set! That was near the end of the season, so I only shot two games that year.
The next 3 seasons, I was a regular at home games at Bud Walton Arena. It has been a blast! What more could a guy ask for? #1, I got in free, #2 I got the best seat in the house, and #3, free food in the media room!
I met many wonderful people at games. Thank you Steven, for four memorable years at the UofA!

Here's the story:

Six senior Arkansas Razorbacks were honored in pre-game ceremonies on March 8, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Those honored were Gary Ervin, Sonny Weems, Darian Townes, Vincent Hunter, Charles Thomas, and former Branson Pirate Steven Hill. The senior team members and their parents were introduced to the fans. First year coach John Pelphrey congratulated each senior and their family at center court and presented them with a framed jersey. Steven Hill closes out his career as the #2 all-time shot blocker at Arkansas. After Saturday’s game, his total was 311 rejections. The Arkansas record is held by Oliver Miller, who had 345 block during the years of 1989-92. Hill is the only Razorback to record 90 or more blocked shots in more than one season. In SEC play, Hill is #4 on the all-time shot block record list. SEC leader is Shaquille O’Neal (412 blocks) who played for LSU from 1990-92. Hill has played in 127 games with 96 starts as a Razorback and scored 527 points (4.2 per game).

The Hogs closed out the regular season with a 77-64 victory over the Auburn Tigers. Sophomore Patrick Beverly led the Hogs with 27 points, including 6 for 6 on 3-point attempts. Steven Hill was 2 for 2 on field goals and had 3 blocks. Hill gave the hogs a 2-0 lead with a slam-dunk on an ally-oop pass from Sonny Weems. Saturday’s win was first-year coach John Pelphrey’s 100th career win as a coach. It was also Arkansas’ 20 victory of the season, the most every for a first-year coach. Arkansas finishes the regular season with a 20-10 record, with 9-7 in SEC play. There record was Bud Walton Arena was 15-1 for the year.
Coach Pelphrey posed at center court with each senior Razorback, and their family. Pictured above is Steven with his father, Troy, and brother Mark.
A proud Troy Hill looks on as coach Pelphrey congratulates Steven.
The six senior Razorbacks pose for a photo at the end of pre-game ceremonies.
Steven began the scoring with this dunk on an ally-oop pass.
If you can't beat them, grab a hold of them.
Coach Pelphrey got a little frustrated at one point during the game, and kicked this sign and broke it.
Steven at center court while free-throws were being shot.
If you can't beat them, grab a hold of them, part 2.

Sometimes the action is just a few feet away from me. Luckily, I was never hurt during a game. I did fall over backwards once in the stadium seat that I set in, as the action got too close. And once a player stepped on my foot. Had a player or two jump over me. And I got to deflect a ball or two. Oh, almost forgot. . . . . Boss Hog kicked me once. That's the big inflated mascot that's about 9' tall.
Time out.
Steven's lasts. I think the first shot was his last block (doesn't look like a block, but I think he touched it), then his last point scored, and his last free throw.
A smiling Steven Hill leaves the court for a final time, to a standing ovation.
High-fives from the coach and players, as Steven leaves the game.
Ok, hope you don't think I'm being vain on this one. This game was on ESPN. We set the Tivo at home, as I like to watch games that I photograph. At the end of the first half, the camera followed Coach Pelphrey as he headed off the floor. Coach walked right by me, and there I was in the background in my b/w striped shirt. Now I guess I can advertise, "As seen on ESPN". . lol Yes, I had to set up my camera and take a photo of the tv screen.

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