Team's versatility enthuses Anderson

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson directs his players against Southwest Baptist Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, during the second half of their exhibition game in Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson directs his players against Southwest Baptist Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, during the second half of their exhibition game in Bud Walton Arena.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks' basketball rotation figures to be fluid, especially early in the season with nine newcomers.

But based on the University of Arkansas' two exhibition games, Coach Mike Anderson will go with a nine-man rotation for Friday night's opener against Texas in the Armed Forces Classic at Fort Bliss at El Paso, Texas.

Nine Razorbacks averaged between 16.0 and 27.5 minutes in Arkansas' exhibition victories over Tusculum (96-47) and Southwest Baptist (100-63).

The starting five in both games were preseason All-SEC sophomore forward Daniel Gafford (20.5 minutes), freshman guard Isaiah Joe (27.5), sophomore guards Jalen Harris (24.0) and Mason Jones (21.5), and junior forward Adrio Bailey (19.5).

Gafford and Bailey are two of Arkansas' three returning scholarship players along with sophomore forward Gabe Osabuohien, who averaged 16.0 minutes in the exhibition games.

Harris and Jones are among the newcomers with Harris redshirting last season after transferring from New Mexico and Jones transferring from Connors (Okla.) State Junior College.

"I think it's still a moving rotation," Anderson said. "We'll probably end up having six, seven, maybe eight starters. I don't know.

"But we'll see what takes place in the game setting. I think that's where you find out a little bit more about your basketball team and the players that you put in those positions."

Other Razorbacks in the rotation for the exhibition games were freshman guards Desi Sills (23.0 minutes) and Keyshawn Embery-Simpson (19.5) and freshman forward Reggie Chaney (18.0).

"It's all going good," Gafford said. "The young guys are starting to get into the flow of actual Hog basketball.

"All the jitters are out basically now. We're getting ready for a big season. So we all have to be on the same page."

Anderson used multiple combinations in the exhibition games.

"That's the beauty of this team, the versatility of the different parts," Anderson said. "But they have to be able to be cohesive no matter who I put out there."

Jones said that after five weeks of practice the Razorbacks are getting used to each other.

"It's just getting repetition," Jones said. "Getting ready for Texas, making sure we know everybody's games and know where everybody is going to be and know how Coach Anderson wants us to play.

"We should be ready for Texas."

Anderson said both Arkansas and Texas want to play an uptempo game, so he figures to use several newcomers for key minutes.

"I know there's going to be some nervous mistakes," Anderson said. "But as long as we learn from it, I think we're going to be OK."

Joe averaged 18.5 points in the exhibition games to lead the Razorbacks followed by Gafford (15.0), Jones (12.5), Embery-Simpson (12.0), Harris (10.0), Bailey (8.5) and Chaney (8.5). Harris averaged a team-high 6.0 assists and Sills 4.5.

"I liked the rotation," Gafford said. "The people that come in and give us a good amount of minutes -- that can actually come in and produce with the minutes Coach gives them. That's nothing but a good deal."

Up next

ARKANSAS VS. TEXAS

WHEN Friday, 6 p.m. Central

WHERE Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas

TV ESPN

Sports on 11/07/2018

The SEC released its preseason all-conference men’s teams on Tuesday as voted on by the coaches. Arkansas sophomore forward Daniel Gafford of El Dorado, made the first team. Florida senior guard KeVaughn Allen of North Little Rock made the second team. Here are the full teams:

FIRST TEAM ALL-SEC

Daniel Gafford, Arkansas

Reid Travis, Kentucky

PJ Washington, Kentucky

Tremont Waters, LSU

Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State

Chris Silva, South Carolina

Admiral Schofield, Tennessee

Grant Williams, Tennessee

SECOND TEAM ALL-SEC

Donta Hall, Alabama

Herbert Jones, Alabama

Bryce Brown, Auburn

Jared Harper, Auburn

KeVaughn Allen, Florida

Jalen Hudson, Florida

Terence Davis, Ole Miss

Aric Holman, Mississippi State

TJ Starks, Texas A&M

Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

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