Hog calls:

Hogs dealing with injuries

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Anton Beard, Arkansas guard, gives directions to his teammates in the first half against Fresno State Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Anton Beard, Arkansas guard, gives directions to his teammates in the first half against Fresno State Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Mike Anderson's preseason premise he would coach a deeper Razorbacks basketball team than last season drains from a shallower pool.

The respective ankle and hamstring injuries afflicting starting guard Anton Beard and top alternating big man Trey Thompson became the latest drain on Arkansas' depth.

Ironically, just two nights before Beard and Thompson limped off during Wednesday night's 88-73 SEC loss at Florida, Anderson discussed counting upon renewed leadership from the only two 4-year lettermen among six seniors.

With both currently "questionable," who knows when and what Anderson can ask of his two wounded warriors?

He would like to ask much with Ole Miss looming in today's 2:30 p.m. SEC game at Walton Arena and these 0-4 in true road games Hogs traveling Tuesday night to Athens, Ga. vs. the Georgia Bulldogs.

Thompson, a large 6-9, has been essential as the experienced, gifted passer alternate to extremely talented but foul-prone 6-11 freshman starter Daniel Gafford.

Anderson even had plans of sometimes employing the two simultaneously which he briefly did during Arkansas' 65-63 victory last Saturday over Missouri at Walton.

Though not extraordinary passers like Thompson, Anderson does have alternating 6-8 senior forwards Dustin Thomas and Arlando Cook and athletic 6-7 sophomore Adrio Bailey tall and 6-8 freshman project Gabe Osabuohien tall enough to give Gafford brief breaks inside.

As one of the senior starting guard triumvirate with second-year junior college transfer stars Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, a lengthy Beard absence would be the most devastating.

Arkansas began the season already down a guard. Khalil Garland's physical exam detected a condition forbidding the freshman from playing. Garland redshirts hoping the condition clears by next season.

At Little Rock Parkview last season, Garland was rated only behind El Dorado's Gafford as the state's top recruit.

Sophomore offense first/defense second shooting guard C.J. Jones shot well in nonconference games but abysmally in the SEC. Jones does provide hope of hitting stride hitting two threes against Florida.

Though foul-prone like Gafford, 6-6 athletic freshman guard Darious Hall of Little Rock Mills from the SEC opening victory over Tennessee, when he looked lost, through the most recent Missouri and Florida games, seems Arkansas' most improved player. He must excel even faster if the Hogs are to play the pressure defense they want but too often lack. Especially on the road.

The preseason promise Anderson saw in these Hogs manifested in a 10-2 run through a rugged nonconference schedule.

But strong nonconference runs can prove fools' gold. Arkansas fans ruefully remember John Pelphrey's 2008-2009 Razorbacks exciting the populace defeating ranked Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners teams closing nonconference then falling 2-14 flat in the SEC.

No doubt these 2-4 in the SEC Hogs are in better hands than 2009. And even within this unforgiving SEC, a foundation based on Macon, Barford and Gafford is respected.

So these Razorbacks yet could prove themselves SEC successful though their chances don't run as deep.

Sports on 01/20/2018

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