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.
Razorbacks want to ‘hit people’
FAYETTEVILLE Rebounding was at the top of Arkansas’ to-do list in practice the past several days after the Razorbacks were beaten on the boards by Sam Houston State in the Nov. 9 season opener.
The Razorbacks won the game 73-68, but they were out rebounded 36-23 by the Bearkats, including 13-7 on the offensive end.
“I think we just broke down,” Arkansas junior guard Rickey Scott said. “I think we were more nervous. It was all jitters.
“The other team came at us hard, and we’ve got to bring the fight to them first before they bring it to us.”
The Razorbacks (1-0) hope to take the fight to Longwood University (0-2) when the Big South Conference team from Farmville, Va., plays Arkansas at 3 p.m. today in Walton Arena.
It’s a first-round game of the Las Vegas Invitational, which for the Razorbacks also features a Tuesday night home game against Florida A&M before they go to Las Vegas to play Arizona State on Friday night and Creighton or Wisconsin on Saturday night.
“We’ve been getting after it pretty good,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of the emphasis on rebounding. “I expect to see a drastic improvement in that area, and that’s for all our guys out on the floor.”
Scott said the Razorbacks have to be more physical as rebounders because they lack size. Their only player taller than 6-8 is 6-10 sophomore Hunter Mickelson.
“We’re going to actually hit people,” Scott said. “I don’t think we hit people enough [against Sam Houston State] because we were scared or whatever.”
“Blocking them out,” Scott said. “Nothing outside of the rules.”
Arkansas should be able to rule the boards against Longwood, which has a minus-11.5 rebounding margin after losing to Marshall 81-47 and Norfolk State 78-66, but the Razorbacks can’t take anything for granted.
“It’s one of our weaknesses,” Arkansas junior guard Mardracus Wade said. “It’s one of those things you can’t just talk about, you have to go in there and do it. It’s just something you have to try to instill in our heads every day.
“I think for the most part guys are trying to do a better job at it, but we’ve still got along ways to go.”
Wade said it’s a matter of being tougher than the Razorbacks were in the opener.
“I think we were a little soft,” he said. “We just think every shot that goes up, we’re going to make it or we’re just going to get it. We’ve got to get in our minds that we have to put bodies on guys and we have to be a little more physical if we want to get the offensive and defensive rebounds.”
Junior forwards Marshawn Powell and Coty Clarke had five and four rebounds, respectively, against Sam Houston State. No other Razorback had more than two rebounds.
“It can’t just be one or two guys trying to fight to get the rebound,” Powell said. “Everybody has to do it.”
Powell said he’s confident the Razorbacks can be a good rebounding team.
“We have the pieces,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of athletic guys.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks have to be more focused today than they were in the opener, especially on rebounding.
“Sometimes you look at the front of their jerseys, and you think you’re just going to show up and play,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to be a team that’s going to rebound by committee. The effort’s got to be there.”
Sports, Pages 27 on 11/18/2012