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 get brief break for Christmas
FAYETTEVILLE -- Mike Anderson sent his Arkansas Razorbacks home Saturday night with a merry Christmas wish and a reminder to be ready to start running the Christmas stuffing out of themselves Christmas night.
Anderson advised a little less stuffing to work in some running this time off from their 72-60 victory over South Alabama Saturday night in North Little Rock before regrouping Wednesday night at Walton Arena to start practicing for Saturday night's game at Walton against High Point.
"This group, hopefully when they go home, they will do something to keep the old cardio going a little bit," Anderson said after Saturday's triumph. "Sometimes when they get home to visit the family, they are there for about 15 minutes and then everywhere else. So we hope they get in the gym a little bit and that they do spend some quality time with their parents and family and we will come back and practice Christmas night for the ballgame coming up. We have to get ready for High Point."
The Christmas night practice is 7 sharp, Anderson said.
"I told them don't be late or they'll have to play the consequences," Anderson said.
The 9-2 Hogs can expect plenty of conditioning drills and hard practices the next week with the UA still on break and no game after Saturday night until the Jan. 4 nonconference finale at Walton against Texas-San Antonio.
The Southeastern Conference grind begins Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Texas A&M then Florida on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Walton.
Arkansas women's coach Tom Collen takes a bigger holiday-layoff risk than Anderson.
The 12-0 women have been off since defeating Tennessee Tech 79-53 Friday night at Walton and have their first scheduled practice Thursday for their 2 p.m. Saturday game in Walton against Mississippi Valley State.
Collen no doubt wanted to give his freshman-dominated team, starters Jessica Jackson and McKenzie Adams, top reserve Kelsey Brooks and fellow reserve Bria Pitts and Khadijah West, extra time home for their Christmas as collegians.
So far it's been a confidence climb for the rookies with Jackson, Adams and Brooks starring throughout on an undefeated team with veteran leadership on hand from point guard Calli Berna and center Jhasmin Bowen, both juniors, and senior forward Keira Peak.
"It's really upbeat," Adams said after the trouncing of Tennessee Tech. "Everybody loves winning and it helps us our confidence. We haven't experienced a loss yet and hopefully that won't come very soon. I think our chemistry and stuff builds which is good because we need that going into tougher teams."
The competition gets tougher fast. South Carolina, 11-1 and ranked 13th in The Associated Press poll, opens Arkansas' SEC season on Jan. 2 at Walton followed by a Jan. 5 trip to Missouri in Columbia.
In the meantime, Saturday's doubleheader offers a good basketball venue for a couple of 9-2 and 12-0 teams that so far have been exciting to watch.
The women's Arkansas vs. Mississippi Valley State tipoff is 2 p.m.
The men's Arkansas vs. High Point tilt tips at 7 and will be televised by the Razorback Sports Network (Resort Channel 7).
Sports on 12/24/2013