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 basketball report:
Madden hones play for point
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said Rashad "Ky" Madden (00) may have the opportunity for a breakout season.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas sophomore guard Ky Madden got a handle on the ball as this season went on.
Madden finished with 57 assists and 35 turnovers, but had 34 assists and 7 turnovers - nearly a 5-to-1 ratio - in the final 12 games.
The way Madden’s ball handling improved, Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said “brings up a great point” about whether he could become the point guard the Razorbacks have been lacking.
“You saw the things Ky can bring to the table,” Anderson said. “I think he’s a tough match-up. He’s a guy 6-5 that’s very versatile. He can handle the basketball. He can create and put people in position to score.”
Madden had his best allaround game in Arkansas’ season-ending 75-72 loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament when he had 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots without a turnover in 24 minutes.
“You put guys in situations and see how they respond, and that was certainly a positive there with Ky,” Anderson said.
Madden’s experience should put him in a stronger position to lead from the point going into his junior season if that’s the direction Anderson decides to go.
“In the ideal situation, you want somebody that takes charge,” Anderson said. “When you talk about the players that we brought in,the players that are here, it takes time for that guy [to emerge].
“To me, leadership, that’s something you earn. And I think somebody that’s been doing it quite a while, they take charge. Do we have somebody on campus to do that? We may. Will we bring in somebody that can do that?”
Arkansas has offered scholarships to two junior college guards: Jamal Jones from Lee College in Baytown, Texas, and Desmond Lee from New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, N.M.
Sophomore guard BJ Young and red shirt junior forward Marshawn Powell have announced they’re going to enter the NBA Draft, but the two remain enrolled at Arkansas according to a UA spokesman.
Assuming Young and Powell finish this spring semester in good academic standing, their early departures won’t negatively impact Arkansas Academic Progress Rate (APR). The NCAA awards two points per scholarship athlete on each team every semester, and the Razorbacks are in position to get points for eligibility and retention.
Teams don’t lose retention points for players who leave school with eligibility remaining if they move on to play professionally.
3 of 8
Arkansas played three teams which advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. The Razorbacks went 1-1 against Florida, beating the Gators 80-69 in Walton Arena and losing to them 71-64 on the road. They lost at Michigan 80-69 and lost to Syracuse 91-82 in Walton Arena.
Syracuse was the only visiting team to win in Walton Arena, where Arkansas finished 17-1.
Hunter Mickelson, the Razorbacks’ tallest player at 6-10, saw his blocked shots take a significant drop in his second season. He had 39 blocked shots while playing 530 minutes as a sophomore after setting an Arkansas freshman record with 72 in 548 minutes.
Mickelson added some weight between seasons with the goal of becoming a stronger inside presence, but it’s possible the extra pounds negatively impacted his game on defense.
“I think that’s something we’re going to really talk about,” Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderseon said. “I thought when he was a little leaner, he was really, really active. I thought he was just more athletic, just seemed a lot quicker.
“It just seemed like this year a lot of people came right at him … and he would get a lot of fouls with people taking it right at him.
Last year, he’d come from nowhere and block a shot or be in position to block shots.”
Anderson said Mickelson has to be able to make “subtle adjustments” defensively to compensate for how opponents are attacking him. Playing with aggressiveness consistently, Anderson said, also is a must for Mickelson to improve.
“One of the things I just know, when Hunter plays with the passion and plays with that aggressive mindset, he’s a really, really good player,” Anderson said. “But when he plays passive … I think people attack him and take advantage of it.”
Three not enough
The SEC had just three NCAA Tournament teams this season with Florida, Ole Miss and Missouri.
“Obviously, we’ve got to do some things from the standpoint of the SEC,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “That tells you something is not right, and so we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get it where we have six or seven teams from our league [in the NCAA Tournament].
That’s something that should take place hopefully every year.”
Anderson wasn’t specific about what the coaches, athletic director and administrators need to do, but said improving SEC basketball’s national standing has to be addressed with Commissioner Mike Slive at the conference’s spring meetings.
Banquet in Walton
Arkansas will hold its basketball banquet honoring the players April 15 on the floor of Walton Arena. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the banquet will start at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $25 for individual seating. Reserved tables of 10 are $250. Tickets may be purchased through the Razorback Ticket Center or by going on Arkannsas’ website. All tickets for theevent must be purchased in advance.
How’d they do?
Arkansas transfers Rotnei Clarke, Glenn Bryant and Devonta Abron saw significant playing time with their new teams this season.
Clarke, a fifth-year senior guard at Butler, averaged 16.9 points, 2.7 assists and 33.3 minutes for the Bulldogs, who finished 27-9 overall and 11-5 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Butler went 1-1 in the NCAA Tournament, beating Bucknell and losing to Marquette.
Bryant, a redshirt junior forward at Eastern Michigan, averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 27.1 minutes for an Eagles team which finished 16-18 overall, including 7-9 in the Mid-American Conference.
Abron, a sophomore forward granted immediate eligibility at TCU by the NCAA for family reasons, averaged 7.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 21.3 minutes for the Horned Frogs, who finished 11-21 overall and 2-16 in the Big 12.
Arkansas’ average of 11.6 turnovers per game was its lowest in year-byyear records going back to the 1976-1977 season.
The previous low was 13.0 turnovers last season and in the 1989-1990 season.
“I would still like to see us be more up-tempo, but I thought we did a good job of taking care of the basketball,” Coach Mike Anderson said.
“We didn’t shoot it great [43.5 percent], so I guess maybe we held on to it too long.”
Sports, Pages 29 on 03/31/2013