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.
Hogs must dial down aggressiveness
Mike Anderson's style of play led to the Razorbacks committing 26 fouls against Northwestern State on Saturday.
FAYETTEVILLE To make his Razorbacks play in-your-face pressure defense like they played against the Northwestern State Demons on Saturday night, Mike Anderson seldom whistles fouls in practice.
But some whistles might resonate throughout this long week of practices at Walton Arena before Arkansas wraps up its nonconference campaign hosting Delaware State Saturday night.
Arkansas’ defense played superbly. The Hogs bedeviled the Demons, No. 2 nationally in scoring, holding them 25 points below their average in a 79-61 victory.
Yet, Arkansas committing 26 fouls and enabling 42 Northwestern State free throws isn’t likely to cut it when SEC play opens Jan. 9 on the road at Texas A&M.
It didn’t cut it at Ann Arbor, Mich., on Dec. 8, Arkansas’ only true road game to date, a 80-67 loss to then No. 3 Michigan.
Arkansas committed 19 fouls to the Wolverines’ eight and was outscored from the line 15 to 3.
Foul play also didn’t cut it in neutral site losses to Arizona State and Wisconsin in Las Vegas.
Arizona State’s 83-68 victory included 20 of 36 free throws to Arkansas’ 14 of 21, while Razorbacks star forward Marshawn Powell fouled out in 18 minutes.
Wisconsin won the next night, 77-70 with 25 of 38 free throws to Arkansas’ 17 of 25. Powell fouled out in 19 minutes.
Forwards Powell, Coty Clarke and Jacorey Williams, all with four fouls by early in the second half, played 17, 7 and 11 minutes, respectively, against Northwestern State.
All that, Anderson knows, could make his Razorbacks victims of foul play on the SEC road.
“That’s the negative I am going to take away from this game,” Anderson said. “We put them on the line too much.”
It’s an indelicately delicate balancing act, playing aggressive defense against attacking teams yet not fouling it up with too many free throws for your opponent and too few minutes for some of your key players.
“It’s going to be important because on the road you cannot put your opponent more on the line than you,” Anderson said. “So we have got some work to do in that area. But I can’t say enough about our defense.”
The Hogs blocked out on the boards (holding a 57-41 advantage, including 41 defensive rebounds), forcing the Demons to shoot more jumpers though obviously fouling along the way.
Some fouls, though, Anderson said were more silly than physical, reminding him of the Arizona State and Wisconsin games.
“Against Arizona State and Wisconsin some of the fouls we were getting, unnecessary fouls,” Anderson said. “You look at some of the fouls ... a guy catching the ball in the high post and we are reaching in, but we can clean that up.”
Anderson says Powell, his leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, must foot the bill defensively or hand himself over to continued foul trouble.
“He has to play a lot smarter,” Anderson said. “Play defense with your feet and not with your hands. That is what he has been guilty of, playing with his hands.”
PRAYERS FOR PATSY
Razorbacks fans recalling the Eddie Sutton era should extend prayers to Patsy Sutton, who suffered a massive stroke Friday night.
Patsy Sutton is the wife of Hall of Fame basketball coach Eddie Sutton, who described Patsy as “my No. 1 assistant” during his stay in Arkansas from 1974-1985.
The Suttons have lived in Tulsa since the time of Eddie’s tenure at Oklahoma State (1990-2006).
Sports, Pages 16 on 12/31/2012