A Defense Of Rotnei Clarke

I used to write more often about Razorback sports; I’m not entirely sure why I quit doing that, maybe because I thought most of my half dozen readers didn’t care. Nevertheless, ultimately I write about things that interest me, regardless of whether or not others care. Anyway, I wrote this the other day on a message board, so I thought I might as well re-post it.

I can't believe this is even necessary, but after reading some recent posts on a message board, I think it is. Certain Arkansas Razorback fans never cease to amaze me (and not in a good way).

Despite the fact that Rotnei Clarke has been the best and most consistent player on the Razorback basketball team this year, some people seem intent on criticizing him. Let’s tackle some of the ridiculous things people say about Rot one by one, shall we?

(1) Rotnei Clarke is not an SEC caliber player.

Admittedly, this is not the criticism that you see most often, but people have said it more than once. But let's be clear, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

I guarantee that there are 11 head coaches in the SEC besides John Pelphrey who think that Rotnei is good enough for this league and would love to have him on their team. That doesn’t mean that he would be their go-to guy or necessarily even start, but any team in the league would love to have him and would give him lots of minutes.

You can hear the ways that guys like Jimmy Dykes and Mark Gottfried (guys who know SEC talent when they see it) talk about him when they cover games. He’s not the greatest player in the world and he has limitations, but he absolutely is good enough to play in the SEC.

(2) Rotnei Clarke is overrated.

You hear this a lot more often, although it’s related to the first. But here’s the basic flaw: in order to be overrated, you pretty much either have to be rated very highly, or you have to be terrible. The problem is, Rotnei is neither of these things. He’s certainly not terrible, but at the same time, even if you look at people who support Clarke, no one is claiming that he’s a remarkable player!

I haven’t seen anyone make the claim that Rotnei is a sure lottery pick or that he’s an All-American. I really haven’t seen anyone say that he’s the type of player you build your team around. What people tend to say is that Clarke is a player of limited athletic ability who is a good shooter and who isn’t utilized very well by our current coach.

But none of that makes him overrated, because no one is claiming that he’s the next Michael Jordan (or even J.J. Redick!).

(3) Rotnei Clarke is one-dimensional.

The knock here is that, supposedly, all Rotnei can do is shoot, and even that he can’t do if you stick and even decent defender on him.

The thing is, if you’ve really watched Rot play, you know that, while not exactly LeBron James, he actually possesses a solid all-around skill set. Not only is he the best shooter on the team, he’s also the best passer, and unfortunately, he’s one of our better rebounders despite being 6’0” (if that).

Also, we tend to forget this, but coming out of high school, Rotnei was not primarily touted as a shooter; he was hailed as a great scorer. And you can see that when he’s on his game—Clarke is capable of putting the ball on the floor and scoring in a variety of ways. The problem is that Pelphrey’s offense the past 3 seasons has relegated him into being a guy than runs literally miles each game trying to get open for 3s. Rotnei is a great three point shooter, one of the best in Arkansas history, but he’s at his most effective when he’s not just a three point shooter.

Sometimes, posters on here will compare Rotnei to Pat Bradley or Lee Humphrey in an effort to describe his skill set (and usually do so to pay Clarke a compliment). No offense to Bradley or Humphrey, who were very good players, but if you’ve actually watched all three play, you know that Clarke is a significantly better all-around player. You think for a second that if Rot got to play four years next to Kareem Reid, the UA’s all-time leader in assists, or had Humphrey’s luxury of being the fifth option on his team that he wouldn’t get more quality looks or shoot for a higher percentage?

Instead, consider Rotnei’s circumstances. Last year, once Courtney Fortson returned from suspsension, Clarke was surrounded by 3 fairly legitimate scoring threats: Fortson, Marshawn Powell and Mike Washington (in that order). Now Fortson and Washington are gone and Powell 2.0 has, for whatever reason, been a pale imitation of his former self. You don’t think Rotnei’s job is harder this year?

Despite that, Rotnei is our leading scorer and is shooting a career best 44% from behind the arc.

(4) Rotnei Clarke is a terrible defensive player.

This is may be the most popular criticism, but it still isn’t quite valid.

Let’s be clear: Rotnei is small and not particularly quick, and he is never going to be a great defender. But if you actually watch him closely, you see that he is a fundamentally sound defender. If he gets the task of guarding a bigger or quicker player he’s going to struggle, but if you give him someone of even remotely comparable athleticism, Clarke does a fine job because he has quick hands, plays hard, and blocks out.


The knocks that you constantly hear about Rotnei are all pretty much bogus and I, for one, am tired of reading the same tired nonsense over and over.

Furthermore, before knocking Rotnei, stop to think about this: in what is arguably the lowest and worst three year period in Hogs Hoops history, Rotnei has been a consistent bright spot. Despite the fact that his talents seem to be largely mismanaged by the coaching staff, he still puts up numbers and is the one player that opposing teams consistently have to game plan for.

What about his attitude? Marshawn Powell, who everyone loved last year, has caught a lot of flack this year for seeming to play with a lack of fire at times. Most don’t think that Powell is a bad guy, but that problems with Pelphrey have worn down his attitude.

What about Rotnei? Amidst constant season-ending rumors that he’s considering a transfer and a questionable suspension at the beginning of this season, it seems safe to say that Rotnei hasn’t always been incredibly happy here. Has any of that ever affected his attitude in any visible way? Have you ever seen Rotnei not give his best on the court?

If you’re fair at all, you really have to look hard at Rotnei Clarke to find something to complain about. Sure he messes up and deserves some blame sometimes (like at the end of the Alabama game when he forced some shots), but on the whole, it’s stupid to point fingers at him.

Over the last three years, there's been an awful lot that was wrong with our basketball team/program; Rotnei Clarke has been the one consistent thing that has been right.
I posted this on Tuesday; somewhat satisfyingly, Rotnei scored 26 points Wednesday night to lead the Razorbacks to victory against Kentucky for the first time in 10 seasons.


Reading in 2010

Continuing the trend I started a couple of years ago, I kept track of the books I read in 2010.

Unfortunately, I lost my reading list when my hard drive failed, which is part of the reason why it’s the middle of February and I’m just now getting around to posting the list. Also, I can’t completely guarantee the accuracy of my list, because I had to reconstruct it with the help of my awesome wife (it’s pretty close though).

Here’s my reading list for 2010:
  1. Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History, by Art Spiegelman
  2. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, by Art Spiegelman
  3. The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S Lewis
  4. Men at Work, by George F. Will
  5. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, by Helmut Thielicke
  6. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, by Kate L. Turabian
  7. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White
  8. The Oxford Guide to Library Research, by Thomas Mann
  9. The Black Duck, by Janet Taylor Lisle
  10. Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews, edited by Herbert W. Bateman IV
  11. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard
  12. The Bridge of Sighs, by Olen Steinhauer
  13. Call for the Dead, by John le Carré
  14. The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller
  15. The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller
  16. While the Clock Ticked, by Franklin W. Dickson
  17. The Gospel and Letters of John, by R. Alan Culpepper
  18. John the Maverick Gospel, by Robert Kysar
  19. The God of the Gospel of John, by Marianne Meye Thompson
  20. The Gospel According to John, by D. A. Carson
  21. The Door of No Return, by Sarah Mussi
  22. Heat, by Mike Lupica
  23. The Giver, by Lois Lowery
  24. The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
  25. The Return of the Indian, by Lynne Reid Banks
  26. The Secret of the Indian, by Lynne Reid Banks
  27. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  28. The Mystery of the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks
  29. The Key to the Indian, by Lynne Reid Banks
  30. Blockade Billy/Morality, by Stephen King
  31. The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
  32. Sitting With Job: Selected Studies on the Book of Job, edited by Roy B. Zuck
  33. Character in Crisis: A Fresh Approach to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testement, by William P. Brown
  34. Theology for the Community of God, by Stanley J. Grenz
  35. The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature, by Roland E. Murphy
  36. Theology in the Context of World Christianity, by Timothy C. Tennent
  37. How to Read Proverbs, by Tremper Longman III
  38. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon
  39. Band of Brothers, by Stephen E. Ambrose
  40. Summer of ’49, by David Halberstan
  41. The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke
I like to do brief reviews of books that I read on The Doc File, especially ones that I really like, but I did a poor job of that this past year. Not surprisingly, I found some books that I really liked (The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, Of Mice and Men, How to Read Proverbs, Band of Brothers) and others that I was less than impressed with (Blockade Billy/Morality, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, The Thief Lord).

Once again, I increased my book total for the year (up from 34 in 2009 to 41 in 2010). Considering that I had to do a lot of reading for grad school, maybe that isn’t surprising, but at the same time, considering that some of those books were several hundred page textbooks, maybe it is.

One thing I discovered that I thought was interesting was that all of my required reading actually increased my desire to read other books for fun; I was afraid that the opposite would happen.

I already have a shelf of books waiting for me in 2011, but I’m always open to suggestions. Got any recommendations?

(For comparison’s sake, here are the books I read in 2009 and 2008.)



Writing about hard times is supposed to be a cathartic experience; here’s hoping it is.

Typically, winter is not the season that people look forward to. Winter is cold, dark and bleak. Trees are bare, grass turns brown, birds don’t sing. The sun rarely seems to shine, and even when it does, it’s a sun that usually provides glare without giving warmth.

This has been an especially cold winter in my corner of the world, with record amounts of snowfall and multiple days of temperatures below zero (which is a big deal in Arkansas). But for reasons more than the bad weather, this has seemed like an especially long and bleak winter to me, as frustrations and disappointments have seemed to pile up around me even more quickly than the falling snow.

Back at the beginning of November (maybe that doesn’t even really count as part of winter), my car was hit in a parking lot and totaled. I’ve never been one who cared too much about cars, but I was a big fan of this car. In addition to being a nice car and being crammed full of features I enjoyed, it was also paid off years in advance and still had a warranty on it, so it carried with it a sense of my own responsibility that I was proud of.

Nevertheless, it was just a car; no one was injured in the accident, insurance covered it, and I’m now driving another vehicle (albeit, one I don’t like quite as much). I just took the incident as a reminder that I should care less about material possessions.

I got over being upset about the car.

Then in early December, I received my grades for the graduate courses I took in the fall semester and discovered that I had been given an 89.3 (B) in one course. I was dismayed when I saw the breakdown of my grades and realized that, from my perspective, I had lost a semester letter grade because of the way one of my papers was formatted (incorrect spacing). I talked to my professor and pleaded my case, but he disagreed with my point of view and gave me a B for the course.

I do believe the professor did what he thought was right, but ultimately, I don’t think he gave me the grade I deserved. Considering that I had worked hard in the class and have always taken some degree of pride in my ability to get good grades, I was very upset.

Nevertheless, I realized that in a world filled with injustice, getting an unfair grade in a class isn’t really a big deal. Furthermore, it occurred to me that I always teach my teens that God wants our best, and that as long as we give our best, He’s pleased with us. To take my own teachings to heart, in this case, God was pleased with my 89.3 because it was the best I could do.

I mostly got over being upset about the grade.

About the same time, the hard drive on my laptop failed. This was unfortunate because I didn’t have my hard drive backed up, and this meant that countless hours of work had been lost. Data recovery services are very expensive (potentially thousands of dollars), and so after calling several companies, I chose a place that guaranteed a free evaluation and offered cheaper rates.

To cut a long story short, it turned out that the company I sent my laptop to was only semi-legitimate, and they regularly scammed people. I spent several frantic days afraid that I would never see my laptop again, until, thankfully, my rock-star attorney sister intervened and, with a phone call, managed to frighten the company into sending my laptop back.

It took almost a month, and I still don’t have my hard drive data, but thankfully my laptop was returned to me (Incidentally, this was part of the reason for my blog hiatus: some posts I had been working on were lost when my hard drive failed, and rather than trying to re-write them, I decided to wait for my data to be recovered). This experience taught me the importance of backing up my valuable data, the necessity of extending trust carefully in a world unfortunately filled with dishonest people, and reminded me, once again, that my sister is awesome.

I got over being upset about the hard drive.

All of these experiences—the totaled car, the bad grade, the failed hard drive and the fraudulent company—were frustrating and disappointing, and although they seemed important at the time, with a little perspective, they weren’t really that big of a deal.

Unfortunately, the perspective that helped me see that clearly was soon to come.

The New Year started with an exciting indication that things were changing for the better, as my wife discovered that we were expecting our first child. It wasn’t exactly something that had been planned, but my initial nervousness quickly began to be replaced by excitement as we joyously informed a small number of people and I thought about plans for the future and becoming a father.

But this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

It was just over a month ago now that it happened, but I remember it all very clearly, and know that I will for a long time. I remember what the sermon at church was about that morning, I remember talking on the way home and noticing a quiet apprehension in my wife’s responses, and I remember that I was changing my clothes when she came into the bedroom and told me something was terribly wrong. I remember trying to stay calm as I called the doctor, nervously waiting for a return call, and I remember the look on my wife’s face when, after receiving the call, she told me that she had suffered a miscarriage.

And then I remember the dark, suffocating sense of black despair that came upon us and refused to leave. I remember the helplessness I felt as I held my wife and knew there was absolutely nothing I could do to make it any better.

The next several days was a blur of doctor visits, tears, welcomed distractions, and forced smiles. It was a time filled with waking up over and over again and hoping it was all a bad dream, only to realize that it wasn't. It was absolutely the worst time of my life.

In light of my recent tragedy, my earlier winter disappointments seemed trivial, but that wasn’t much comfort.

I haven’t gotten over being upset about this, and don’t ever expect to.

But, even in the coldest of winters, there are occasional rays of sunshine, and for these I am thankful, and because of them, I am doing some better. Words of kindness and acts of caring from loved ones have been incredibly meaningful. Lessons learned from a class on the Book of Job just last semester have been providentially appropriate. Even winter itself has helped, as repeated bouts of snowstorms have canceled school and given us precious days to spend together at home; I feel like we are closer now than ever before.

I face the future with uncertainty, and I know there is a wound inside me that will never quite heal. But regardless of that, I confidently echo the words of the prophet Jeremiah as he mourned the destruction of Jerusalem in Lamentations 3:
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I will hope in Him.’”
In the meantime, I eagerly await the coming of spring.


For a variety of reasons, I’ve taken an unplanned hiatus from blogging for a while (yikes, has it really been over 2 months?!).

Right now is a particularly busy time for me with school and work, so my posting might remain infrequent for a while, but hopefully I’ll now once again be posting from time to time, as I do have several things I’d like to write about.

So, at least on a tentative basis, The Doc File is back.

The Doc File © 2006-2012 by Luke Dockery

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP