Corey Beck - Sports Illustrated Vault |
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Corey Beck

JUNIOR POINT guard Corey Beck has been variously described as the
Razorbacks' head, heart and soul. But it seems that the guy who would
top Dick Vitale's all-anatomy team, baby, is also his team's voice.
Before each game Beck sits at his locker pounding his fist into his
palm, repeating aloud a four-word mantra: ''I'm on a mission. I'm on
a mission.'' And who was that guy in short pants out on the court
before the NCAA final against Duke, joining the Arkansas cheerleaders
as they led the crowd in shouting and pantomiming the letters
Beck, you see, can't find enough ways to ensure a win. Once he had
gotten himself and the crowd focused on the task at hand against the
Blue Devils, he turned his attention to his team. Seeing a glitch in
the Arkansas offense late in the second half, Beck instructed Darnell
Robinson to come out to the high post to prevent Duke's Grant Hill
from doubling down on Corliss Williamson. With that adjustment made,
Robinson found Williamson open down low and lobbed a perfect pass to
him over the Blue Devil defense. Williamson laid in a deuce that put
the Hogs up 67-65.
What else could Beck do to make sure the Razorbacks beat Duke?
Hmmmm, were they getting enough rebounds? Beck, who led the Hogs this
season in assists and steals and who had been up all night drinking
fluids to combat a sinus infection that complicated his asthma,
switched into his heart-of-the-team mode and grabbed a team-high 10
What was this scrubby pine amidst a stand of redwoods doing with
all those rebounds? ''When I see the ball, I just go get it,'' says
Beck, who, by the way, is convinced he's one of the biggest guys on
the team. When asked after the Duke game if he had tried to take
advantage of the Blue Devils' freshman point guard, Jeff Capel, Beck
said, ''I knew he was young, so I tried to take advantage of my
size.'' When informed that Capel is three inches taller than he is,
the 6 ft. 2 in. Beck added, ''Well, I mean my heart. I may be a small
guy, but I have a big heart.''
That heart is what caught the eye of Nolan Richardson, who first
saw Beck in a high school game in Memphis in which he was diving all
over the floor for loose balls as his Fairley High team went down in
defeat. When Richardson saw tears in Beck's eyes after the game, he
knew he wanted Beck, a player who was lightly regarded by other
colleges. Says Richardson, ''This was a kid who wouldn't accept
Heart, soul, brain, voice. Strangely enough, for all the roles
Beck plays for the Hogs, he does not put up especially big numbers,
except in categories that take guts. For instance, because he wanted
to assume a major role on defense and wasn't big enough to block many
shots, Beck long ago learned how to take charges. This season he took
a bruising 36; last season he took an almost suicidal 52. ''I tell
the team we need more Becks, players who will give up their bodies
for the team,'' says Richardson. ''The guys look at Corey like he's
Maybe he is. After all, he was the first guy on the team to get a
snake, an 8 ft. 6 in. python called The Truth. The Truth made such an
impression on the rest of the Razorbacks that four other players now
have snakes as well. Perhaps, on top of everything else, Beck is also
the guy on the team with the most nerve. -- K.A.