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.
Arkansas girds for hectic week
Madden back for 3 games in 6 days
Mike Anderson said Rashad Madden will return from a one-game suspension Thursday at Alabama.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas will have sophomore guard Ky Madden back for a stretch of three SEC games in six days that starts when the Razorbacks play at Alabama on Thursday night.
Madden missed the Razorbacks’ 75-54 loss at South Carolina last Saturday, but Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said Monday that was a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules and that Madden will play against the Crimson Tide.
Madden made his first start in eight games against Mississippi State last Wednesday night and had 6points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in the Razorbacks’ 96-70 victory.
Arkansas (12-7, 3-3 SEC) at Alabama (12-7, 4-2)
WHEN: 8 p.m. Central on Thursday
WHERE: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
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Then Madden didn’t travel to the South Carolina, where the Razorbacks fell to 0-4 on the road this season, including 0-3 in SEC games and a loss at Michigan, the new No. 1-ranked team this week.
“We have to have all the pieces,” Anderson said of Madden’s absence. “We had some adversity from the standpoint that he’s not there.
“A lot of things have to go right for this team to have a chance, especially on the road.”
Madden’s return helps give the Razorbacks (12-7, 3-3) a deeper bench at a time of the season when they need it the most.
“Three games in six days, our young bench has really got to come to play,” Anderson said. “Our young guys have been thrown into the fire at times, and now they’re really going to be thrown into it.
“The energy that you have to play with is very, very important. We can see when don’t play with that energy you can get throttled on the road, which is what took place at South Carolina.”
The Arkansas-Alabama game is an 8 p.m. tip off for an ESPN2 telecast, so the Razorbacks won’t get back to Fayetteville until after midnight. Then the Razorbacks will have one day of practice to get ready to play Tennessee at 3 p.m. Saturday in a game televised by ESPN.
Arkansas gets another ESPN game when the Razorbacks play No. 4 Florida at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Walton Arena.
“I think our guys look forward to playing games as opposed to practicing anyway,” Anderson said. “Certainly it’s going to be a challenge.
“We have to take it one game at a time, and play, then tune up and get ready for the next game because it is such a quick turnaround.”
Kentucky won 60-58 at Vanderbilt in the SEC’s first Thursday night game Jan. 10. The following Saturday, Vanderbilt lost 56-33 at Arkansas and Kentucky lost at home to Texas A&M 83-71 - the first loss at Rupp Arena in John Calipari’s four seasons as the Wildcats’ coach.
Kentucky then won its Tuesday night home game against Tennessee 75-65,while Vanderbilt lost a home to Ole Miss 89-79 in overtime.
“It’s a challenge to bounce back on that Saturday so quickly,” Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said. “Normally, Sunday might be a day off, because you’re getting ready for a Wednesday game, and you don’t have that day to sort of regroup, either.
“It’s a challenge physically, it’s a challenge mentally. The biggest challenge is because usually you’re playing really good teams.”
Calipari said playing three games in six days is especially tough for a young team.
“If you have a veteran crew, they understand they have to get rest and they’ve got to take care of themselves,” Calipari said. “You’ve got to sub yourselves in games. You can’t stay out there tired.
“But young kids just don’t get it - ‘I want to stay on the court.’ So we struggled some with it.”
SEC coaches agreed to add Tuesday and Thursday games to the conference schedule for increased television exposure on ESPN.
“We all sat in a room, myself included, and said, ‘We’ll do it,’ ” Stallings said. “So there shouldn’t be any complaints about it.
“Everybody has to do it now. That’s just the way it goes. But it is difficult.”
For the Alabama game, at least, the Razorbacks have an extra day to prepare and regroup from the South Carolina loss.
Anderson said the Razorbacks have to find a way to raise their energy level to match how they play at home, where they’re 12-1.
“How do you do that?” Anderson said. “Maybe introduce some of the young guys off our bench that can bring that energy and intensity that you’ve got to play with.
“When you play on the road, you’re going to have some adversity that takes place.And when adversity takes place, that’s the time you’ve really got to execute.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks need to continue to stress fundamentals and toughness in practice.
“You’ve got to put yourself in position by hanging in there,” he said. “We got off to a good start against South Carolina, but once they made their run back, we didn’t answer the call.
“The bleeding started, and we didn’t stop the bleeding.”
Sports, Pages 15 on 01/29/2013