Observations from Arkansas basketball practice

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017
Mike Anderson, Arkansas head coach, works with Daryl Macon Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, during Arkansas men's baskebtall media day at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Mike Anderson, Arkansas head coach, works with Daryl Macon Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, during Arkansas men's baskebtall media day at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

— Tidbits and takeaways from the 45-minute open period of the Razorbacks' Thursday practice. As always, keep in mind that this is one practice in mid-October.

— Mike Anderson met with the media beforehand. Arlando Cook is allowed to practice again, but isn't cleared to play in games yet. Waiting on the legal process.

— Khalil Garland not fully cleared.

— Anderson said Adrio Bailey and C.J. Jones have continued to impress and Darious Hall is someone who's really stood out the last few weeks. Said Anton Beard has been really consistent.

— Dustin Thomas is rocking cornrows.

— Hall has a wrap on his right hand. Didn't appear to affect him at all. Was dunking and handling with it with no apparent issues.

— Garland has a high release point on his jumper. Shot the mid-range jumper well in drills.

— Daryl Macon is very confident and generally hilarious. During a guards and wings' drive-and-kick 3-point shooting drill, he went up to long-time trainer Dave England and told him he was going to make his next shot. Nothing but net. The group had to make 10 3s on each wing. Next time he was up, he told England he was going to get another one. Missed that time, but hit the third. He was driving and kicking to Garland: "We know Khalil ain't making this." Beard hit the final shot, on a kick from Hall. Hall: "He told me that!"

— Another drill gave each player 2 spot-up 3s per turn. They had to make 1 to be out. Macon drilled two in a row from about 25 feet, nothing but net. Turned to England, did the Carmelo Anthony 3-point head bang and goes "I'm not playing with you, Dave!"

— When they worked 5 on 0, the first group was Macon, Jones, Jaylen Barford, Bailey and Daniel Gafford. The various groups went through some sets, including some floppy, double high-ball screen and double stack stuff, then worked on pushing in semi-transition.

— The teams went fullcourt 5-on-5 for the rest of the open portion. Groups rotated, with each mini matchup going down and back twice. Garland did everything up until this point.

— Barford drilled a contested 3 over Beard. I expect him to shoot better from 3 with a year of experience and hopefully not having to take as many late-clock bail-out shots.

— Hall talks a lot on defense. Very communicative. That shouldn't be overlooked.

— Bailey didn't look quite as confident and natural operating on the perimeter in the halfcourt. At one point, caught a pass on the baseline about 20 feet out and had an open look, but hesitated and jab stepped, which allowed Thompson to close out and strip him when he finally did rise up. Obviously he's still getting acclimated to the role. Natural to expect growing pains.

— Gabe Osabouhien looked comfortable as a catch-and-shoot guy from the wing. Had a good-looking 3 rim in and out.

— On one possession, Gafford iso'd against Cook and turned over a pass to the corner after driving baseline and getting walled off. Macon got onto him for holding the ball too long. Will be interesting to see how many post-up touches this team uses. There isn't a true back-to-basket scorer on the roster, which isn't necessarily bad. Plenty of other good parts of the offense.

— Thomas still typically fades on his jumpers in live action. Think that is a big reason for his inconsistent shooting. He's much more accurate when he's on balance, but that hasn't really carried over. Did have a few nice dishes. His vision is probably top 3-4 on the team.

— Cook beat guys downcourt for buckets a few times. Nice motor. That's the stuff you've got to do to make up for lost time.

— Some nice motion action with Hall setting a back screen for Jones, then popping to the corner and swishing a 3. His form is solid and his release point is plenty high given his length.

— Gafford caught and took a 20-footer without hesitation. It didn't go and he still doesn't get a lot of lift on his shot, making it a bit flat as a result, but him looking comfortable taking it was an encouraging sign.

— Offense ran a nice Horns set that morphed into an elevator screen for Jones at the top of the key. Defense closed out well, so Jones quickly transitioned into entering the ball for a post-up for Gafford, guarded by Thompson. Gafford was quick, assertive and went power dribble into a nice righty jump hook over his left shoulder, which he made. Both teams really pushed the pace, so the other squad scored less than 5 seconds later on an alley-oop from Macon to Thompson.

— Hall isn't the most natural ballhandler in the halfcourt yet and was a bit clunky coming off a ball screen in one instance, but salvaged it by making a nice crosscourt pass to a wide-open Jones, who missed a 3. Good vision.

— Macon hit a 3 over Hall and told him "you better stop leaving me" next trip down the court. He has looked like the best player on the floor.

— Macon fed Barford for a layup off a nice cut. Some nice synergy between the two.

— Teams are probably going to try to run Jones off the line. When that happens, he's really comfortable taking a one-dribble pullup.

— Osabouhien's length and activity on defense is really intriguing.

— Some final thoughts: Macon was really, really impressive. Hall does a lot of little things. Jones looks very comfortable and has reportedly been a standout in other practices. Don't think it's a stretch for him to average double figures or close to it. Cook's energy stood out. Thompson makes a lot of stuff flow with his IQ and passing. Gafford flashed some. Him using his athleticism on a regular basis will be key to impacting the team. Said it last time, but this team is very athletic and long. Anderson loves his deflections. This group should be able to get plenty, if today is any indication.

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