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 ready for a tougher schedule
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson yells instructions to his players Wednesday, March 13, 2014 during their SEC Tournament game against South Carolina at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said he welcomes the challenge of his basketball team's nonconference schedule for the 2014-15 season.
The Razorbacks finalized schedule won't be released for a few more weeks, Anderson said, but Arkansas has announced nonconference road games at SMU, Iowa State and Clemson. Anderson also confirmed a home game with Dayton, which previously was reported by CBSSports.com.
Arkansas is returning games to SMU and Clemson, which played in Fayetteville last season. Dayton will play at Arkansas during the 2015-16 season.
Arkansas' visit to Iowa State is part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
"As you continue to amp up your schedule, hopefully your team is ready for that," Anderson said Friday. "I feel we'll be ready. There will be challenges for us, but there will be great opportunities, too, and we'll learn from them.
"I think we learned from last year and got better as we went on the road and played. When you want to be one of the better teams in the country, that's the progression you need to make."
Anderson said he believes the Razorbacks, who return six of their top seven scorers from last season's 22-12 NIT team, will continue improving on the road.
Arkansas was 4-10 in out-of-state games last season -- including its first victory at Kentucky since 1994 and first at Mississippi State since 2000 -- after being 2-22 in out-of-state games in Anderson's first two seasons.
"We want to have more success on the road," Anderson said. "That's going to be a big key for this team -- being consistent."
Anderson said Arkansas' five SEC home-and-home series this season will be against Missouri, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Razorbacks' SEC road games will be at Kentucky, Florida, Auburn and Vanderbilt, with home games against Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Texas A&M.
"Having that core coming back is something to build on," Anderson said. "We think we've added some pieces that are going to help us climb to that next level. Our schedule is going to be such that it demands that. We've got to come out strong."
Anderson said all of the Razorbacks are on campus and going through workouts and conditioning with the exception of freshman guard Nick Babb, who will arrive in Fayetteville in July.
"They all are just getting in tune with one another," Anderson said. "I think that's so big. I thought it was big last year, and it will be even bigger this year."
This is the second year under NCAA rules that basketball teams are allowed to have up to two hours of week of practice for eight weeks in the summer.
"It's been good," Anderson said. "It's given us a chance to get familiar with our kids."
Sports on 06/08/2014