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.
UA men ready for lights, action
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JASON IVESTER --07/30/12-- Head coach Mike Anderson speaks to members of the media before men's basketball practice inside Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Monday, July 30, 2012.
FAYETTEVILLE The Arkansas men’s basketball players have been playing against each other for weeks, going back to summer workouts, practices before touring Italy and more practices as regular-season games grow closer.
“I’m definitely ready to play somebody else other than our team,” junior guard Rickey Scott said after Tuesday night’s Red-White intrasquad game. “It gets boring sometimes just going against these guys.
“We finally can put the40 minutes of hell against somebody else.”
The Razorbacks will give fans a glimpse of what their full roster looks like in tonight’s exhibition opener against Southwest Baptist, an NCAA Division II team from Bolivar, Mo. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Walton Arena.
“When we put this team all together, I think you’re going to see some nice pieces,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “Depthwise, I think we’re going to be a lot better than we were last year.”
Tonight’s game will help Anderson determine the playing rotation. He said he expects to go with a core group of eight to nine players getting most of the minutes this season, but there also will be times when the Razorbacks may need to use more.
“I’m looking for the guys that can bring it when we turn the lights on and put officials out there, when you’re playing somebody other than yourself,” Anderson said. “You want to see how they perform, and how they perform as a group, what they bring to the table.
“Especially when they come off that bench, which guys give us the energy that we’re going to need? The hustle? And the guys starting out, can they set the pace? Who are those guys going to be?
“We want to be a much better team defensively than we were last year. Which guys will pick up on the defensive schemes that we’re talking about? Who’s going to be the guy that’s going to go get us 10 boards a game? Do we have a guy like that? I want to see those things.”
The sophomore class of guards BJ Young (28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) and Ky Madden (8 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists) and forward Hunter Mickelson (20 points, 10 rebounds, 7 blocked shots) stood out in the Red-White game.
Scott and fellow juniors Marshawn Powell, Mardracus Wade and Coty Clarke, a transfer from Lawson State (Ala.) Community College, also figure to be in the rotation, which leaves freshmen Anthlon Bell, Michael Qualls, Dee Wagner and Jacorey Williams competing for playing time. Junior guard Fred Gulley, a transfer from Oklahoma State, will be eligible to play in early December after the first semester ends.
While Bell hit 5 of 8 three-pointers in the Red-White game and scored 19 points, Qualls, Wagner and Williams shot a combined 1 of 20 from the field.
“You saw the classic case of lights, cameras and action for some of these guys,” Anderson said. “It’s one thing to do it in practice, but then when you start getting officials and fans, you can see some of their eyes were a little glassy. I thought they were a little tight.
“It’s a process. All those guys have to go through it in terms of playing at this level.”
Arkansas men vs. SW Baptist WHAT Exhibition opener WHEN 7 tonight WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville TICKETS $25 RADIO Razorbacks Sports Network
Sports, Pages 19 on 11/02/2012