Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Gulley’s experience pays off quickly
Fred Gulley produced 2 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 1 steal and 1 assist with no turnovers during his 18 minutes against Robert Morris at Walton Arena
FAYETTEVILLE Though the new wears off, Fred Gulley’s story line doesn’t get old.
Just more relevant.
The Arkansas Razorbacks’ newest hand is among their oldest heads. A 6-2 fourth-year junior transfer guard from Oklahoma State, Gulley showed his age at crunch time Thursday night while steadying the young Hogs against upstart Robert Morris University.
Gulley didn’t score any points during his 18 minutes against Robert Morris at Walton Arena, but he scored big points with Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson for his part in Arkansas prevailing 79-74.
The old newcomer produced 2 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 1 steal and 1 assist with no turnovers. Most importantly, he played with poise those final 11 minutes of a game teetering on the brink. Gulley played the long-armed, well-positioned defense required against a capable three-point-shooting team.
He also played an understated - yet pivotal - offensive role functioning within the assembly line to complete the job.
“I thought he did a good job,” Anderson said. “Our guys trusted him with the ball and he got the ball to the right people, and that’s what you want. Everybody has a role, and I think he understands that. That goes back to the basketball IQ.”
Gulley’s IQ goes back to before any of his Razorbacks teammates arrived in Fayetteville, other than Kikko Haydar, a fellow Fayetteville High School graduate in his third season with the Razorbacks.
Haydar, the Razorbacks’ walk-on guard who is on academic scholarship, was a key supporting player for Fayetteville’s state championship team. Gulley was the star.
It was big news when Gulley crossed the Arkansas border to go to Stillwater, Okla., and he lived up to it right off the bat as a true freshman at Oklahoma State in 2009-2010.
A shoulder injury that curtailed his 2010-2011 season, coupled the next season with Arkansas’ hiring of Anderson, prompted Gulley to come home last season after one semester. He transferred in January to the UA.
A spate of Arkansas media coverage ensued, NCAA transfer rules required Gulley to redshirt the last two semesters.
Another round of publicity ensued when the fall semester concluded last week and Gulley became eligible to debut Dec. 15 against Alcorn State. Gulley mopped up a 97-59 rout with nice numbers - 5 points, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot - in 13 minutes.
Those were better numbers than Gulley posted Thursday, but his numbers weren’t a true reflection of his importance against a far better opponent in a far bigger game at a far bigger time.
“Fred Gulley in his second game had some impact on the defensive side, because they had some guards that can shoot the basketball off the dribble,” Anderson said.
For his part, Gulley obviously welcomes evolving from Arkansas’ newest novelty into one of its oldest trusted hands.
“It felt good to be back out there and just try and steadily get back into the flow of things,” Gulley said. “It’s been awhile, but I tried to go out there and help my team any way I could.”
Sports, Pages 22 on 12/22/2012