Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Hogs know Colonials have a shot
NWA Media/ANTHONY REYES -- Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson calls a defensive formation against Oklahoma in the second half Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks won 81-78.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas hopes to cool off Robert Morris University when the Northeast Conference team from suburban Pittsburgh visits Walton Arena tonight.
The Colonials (8-4) have won five consecutive games while shooting 43.9 percent from three-point range(54 of 123). They hit 13 of 27 threepointers Tuesday night in a 66-61 victory at Louisiana-Lafayette.
“They’re an explosive team, a team that shoots the three-point shot really, really well,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “They have plenty of players that can really step out and shoot the basketball.”
Robert Morris’ top threepoint shooters are junior guards Karvel Anderson (31 of 70) andCoron Williams (27 of 63) and senior guard Velton Williams (16 of 43). The three are a combined 43 of 81 (53.1 percent)during the five-game winning streak. Anderson hit 8 of 8 three-pointers against Ohio.
“Anderson and Williams can really shoot it, and we’ve had some other guys make them, too,” Robert Morris Coach Andrew Toole said. “We’ve been taking high-percentage threes. It’s a weapon we’ve utilized to our advantage the last few games, because that’s what the defense gave us.”
The Razorbacks’ trapping defense figures to give the Colonials some scoring opportunities if they can hit open three-pointers.
“On paper I feel good about it now,” Toole said. “It will be a little different when the ball goes up, because that’s a big ‘if ’ you’re talking about. That’s something Arkansas does every day, is practicetheir ability to make you uncomfortable and speed you up, try and turn you over.”
Toole said the Colonials, who return four starters from last season’s 26-11 team, must be strong with the ball and make good decisions.
“The thing that comes through my mind is, are those going to be rushed looks?” Toole said. “Maybe we get worn down a little bit and don’t shoot as high a percentage because the pace is frantic.”
Robert Morris is 126-60 since the 2007-2008 season with NCAA Tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010. Toole has been with the program throughout that span and is in his third season as head coach after being promoted from assistant.
Jones, a four-year starter at point guard, and senior forward Russell Johnson were both key members on the Colonials’ 23-12 team that lost to Villanova 73-70 in overtime in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
“You’re talking about a school that has a pretty good name in terms of basketball,” Anderson said. “They’re probably a force to be in theNCAA Tournament this year. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”
Robert Morris, which lost at Xavier 61-59 earlier this season, is playing Arkansas for the first time. Over the past five seasons the Colonials have played road games against Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia, Arizona, Rutgers, Miami and Penn State.
“Some of our guys have experience playing high-major teams, and I hope they have some poise about them, because I know one of the biggest keys to the game is going to be how well we’re able to handle Arkansas’ pressure,” Toole said. “One of the things you try and do is give your guys the opportunity to play against some of the best programs and best players in thecountry, put them in a tough environment like Bud Walton Arena.
“I think it will be something our guys hopefully enjoy and something they’ll remember for a while.”
Sports, Pages 17 on 12/20/2012