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.
Anderson lets players run practice
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson speaks to members of the white squad during the first half of play in the Red-White game Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Coach K got to help direct Arkansas’ basketball team in practice Wednesday.
Not Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, but the Razorbacks’ Kikko Haydar.
Haydar, a senior guard and team captain, and sophomore guard Dee Wagner coached their teammates in a scrimmage that was officiated by assistant coaches T.J. Cleveland and Matt Zimmerman.
“They did a great job,” Haydar said with a laugh when asked about the officials. “I didn’t get any technicals.
“It was just another way to get a scrimmage in. I played, too, so it wasn’t just coaching.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said last week that with the team having two full weeks of practice sandwiched around an 89-48 victory over High Point (N.C.) University last Saturday night, he’d have to be “a little crafty” when it came to creating some game-like situations for the players.
Having Haydar and Wagner serve as coaches helped break up the monotony of practice.
“We came in thinking we were going to have a real long, hard practice, and then we got to play in a game-like setting,” sophomore guard Anthlon Bell said. “It was fun, and it was good for us, too.”
Anderson let the players do most of the talking during the scrimmages, leaving strategic moves up to his player-coaches.
“I think that shows Coach has a lot of trust in us, to set aside a whole day of practice and not really say anything and let the players do the talking,” sophomore forward Michael Qualls said.
When the Razorbacks (10-2) play Texas-San Antonio (4-8) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Walton Arena, it will be just their third game since Dec. 21.
“Before the season we were ready to show what we had worked on during the year, and it’s sort of like that right now,” Qualls said. “It kind of gets a little edgy in practice, but I like that. That shows me everybody’s ready to play. We’re all ready to get after somebody else.”
Texas-San Antonio is Arkansas’ final nonconference game before the Razorbacks open SEC play at Texas A&M next Wednesday.
“I think we’re playing at a level with a lot of confidence right now,” Anderson said. “As we all know, once you get to this time of year, the intensity goes up 10 to 20 notches.”
Anderson said a coach is always concerned whether his players will look ahead to the conference schedule, but the Razorbacks’ depth is a plus.
“We’ve got enough guys here that if we’ve got some that want to look ahead, we’ll take the ones that are looking straight at who we’re getting ready to play,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this basketball team. Focus and stay in the now.”
Players said the team has been having quality practices.
“Coach is never going to let us come out here and just go through the motions in practice,” Qualls said. “We’re going to get done what we need to get done.”
Up next ARKANSAS VS. TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO WHEN 7 p.m. Saturday WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville RADIO Razorback Sports Network TV Razorback Sports Network, which includes KATV, Channel 7, in Little Rock; KFTA, Channel 24, in Fayetteville and KAIT, Channel 8, in Jonesboro.
THURSDAY’S GAME Miss. State 77, Md.-Eastern Shore 63 TODAY’S GAMES All times Central Georgia at George Washington, 6 p.m.
So. Carolina St. at South Carolina, 6 p.m.
SATURDAY’S GAMES Tusculum at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Richmond at Florida, 2 p.m.
Texas-Pan American at Texas A&M, 3 p.m.
Long Beach State at Missouri, 4 p.m.
Robert Morris at Alabama, 4:30 p.m.
Northeastern at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m.
Florida A&M at Auburn, 6 p.m.
Texas-San Antonio at Arkansas, 7 p.m.
Dayton at Mississippi, 7 p.m.
Rhode Island at LSU, 7 p.m.
Sports, Pages 20 on 01/03/2014