LITTLE ROCK — First things first, Megan's last name is pronounced Her-burt, like the first name of the 31st president.
LITTLE ROCK — First things first, Megan’s last name is pronounced Her-burt, like the first name of the 31st president.
Spelled H-E-R-B-E-R-T, it cannot be Ay-bear and it is not Hee-burt.
The 5-foot-11 forward from Northwest Arkansas is the main reason that the University of Central Arkansas is in position to make its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in only its second year of eligibility. If the Sugar Bears get in, they will be at least the second in-state representative in the tournament and maybe the third.
Add to that the intriguing twist that the Jack Stephens Center at Arkansas-Little Rock is the site of first- and second-round games.
Arkansas is in, with a bullet. The Razorbacks were looking at a six-seed or so prior to ending an 18-game losing streak to Tennessee on Thursday night. If they can follow up the overtime decision on the road with a victory at South Carolina on Sunday, the Razorbacks could be a No. 4 — a major step for a program that was in the WNIT a year ago.
Embarrassed to admit it, I had overlooked UCA when talking about the possibility of both Arkansas and UALR playing in Little Rock in the NCAA Tournament. A co-worker set me straight and, without taking a breath, referenced Herbert and her almost routine double-double.
UCA’s Josh Goff forwarded the info on Herbert’s 61 career double-doubles. That night, she recorded No. 62 with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Although she played at Shiloh Christian a few miles from the UA campus, UCA was the only school to offer a scholarship.
“It did not hurt my feelings at all” that Arkansas didn’t offer, she said last month.
Champion of the Southland Conference, UCA will likely have to beat McNeese State for a third time in the league tournament near Houston to grab a spot in the 64-team field. The Sugar Bears won in double overtime in Conway, then sold out, picking up McNeese’s twin gunners far from the basket, and won by double digits on the road.
If the Sugar Bears get in, they will be a No. 15 or 16 seed, and would be shipped out-of-state unless Little Rock gets a No. 1 or No. 2.
On the cusp of a division title in the Sun Belt Conference, UALR must win the conference tournament that begins next weekend in Hot Springs and that entails beating Middle Tennessee, 15-0 in conference play.
Considering the seniors on the 2011 team, UALR has accomplished a great deal. Then again, nothing UALR does under Joe Foley should be a surprise.
The first two games of the NCAA Tournament at Little Rock are March 18 and the final game is March 20. Session tickets are $40. The NCAA can boost sales by putting at least one Arkansas team in Little Rock.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.