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 a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
Razorbacks basketball report:
Hogs wait on answer to waiver
California guard Matt Bradley (20) celebrates with center Connor Vanover (23) during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, March 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said Thursday that he's still waiting for an NCAA ruling on whether 7-3 Connor Vanover will be eligible to play for the Razorbacks as a sophomore this season after transferring from California.
Arkansas officials have submitted a waiver request for Vanover, a Little Rock native, to be eligible to play immediately because he transferred for family reasons to be closer to his ailing grandmother.
"There has been no update yet one way or the other," Musselman said. "We'll just continue to wait. We're practicing as if he'll have to sit out, but we're hopeful that we'll get a different word.
"Right now it's about practicing. It's about Connor getting better. Whether he was eligible to play or whether he was sitting out, we'd still have the same approach from a player development standpoint right now."
Arkansas opens the season against Rice on Nov. 5.
"We don't really need a decision [on Vanover] until about a week before," Musselman said. "We're going to practice a certain way and not really do our game prep until a week before we play Rice."
Vanover averaged 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots in 17.5 minutes per game last season.
Arkansas' schedule includes nonconference road games at Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky and Indiana before the Razorbacks open SEC play.
Arkansas' home nonconference games include TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and some tough mid-major teams that will compete for their conference championship, Coach Eric Musselman said, notably Northern Kentucky, which shared the Horizon League title with Wright State last season, won the conference tournament and lost to Texas Tech 72-57 in the NCAA Tournament.
"We really don't want to play anybody that's not a top team in their own conference when you talk about teams outside of Power 5," said Musselman, who led Nevada to NCAA Tournament appearances the previous three seasons with victory totals of 28, 29 and 29. "We're trying to play people that will challenge us for SEC play.
"Our philosophy is not to pile up wins. Our philosophy is how do we become better as the season progresses? And we understand conference play is overly challenging in this league right now.
"We want to challenge ourselves. I've been part of a staff where they just tried to figure out a way to get to 22 wins, and that program didn't make it to the tournament."
Musselman didn't mention the program by name, but when he was an assistant coach at Arizona State during the 2012-13 season, the Sun Devils were 22-13 and played in the NIT. His other two seasons as a college assistant, at Arizona State in 2013-14 and at LSU in 2014-15, the teams made the NCAA Tournament.
"The goal is not to try to pile up wins for the media guide," he said. "The goal is to try to challenge our players and try to give our fans really quality games whether we're playing on the road or at home."
The basketball players trained with the Arkansas track and field team Monday.
"It went great," Coach Eric Musselman said. "Our guys really liked it."
Musselman said changing up the preseason workout routine is a plus.
"I just think from a basketball standpoint things can get stale," he said. "We always try to get them a little out of their comfort zone to where they're also having fun.
"The neatest thing about college athletics is that it doesn't matter what sport you're coaching on a campus, it's really a family."
Musselman said he lives in the same neighborhood as some of the track and field coaches and they have become friends.
"We were just talking one night about basketball players and how they run, to be honest," Musselman said of how his players wound up training with the track and field team. "I think that our guys learned something technique-wise even just running ... It was good for camaraderie and now our guys know the track group a little bit better and vice versa. That is the neatest thing about being on a college campus."
All times Central
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Nov. 5 Rice TBA
Nov. 12 North Texas TBA
Nov. 16 Montana+ TBA
Nov. 19 Texas Southern+ TBA
Nov. 22 South Dakota+ TBA
Nov. 25 at Georgia Tech TBA
Nov. 30 Northern Kentucky TBA
Dec. 3 Austin Peay TBA
Dec. 7 at Western Kentucky TBA
Dec. 14 Tulsa TBA
Dec. 21 Valparaiso# TBA
Dec. 29 at Indiana TBA
Jan. 4 Texas A&M* 6 p.m.
Jan. 8 at LSU* 8 p.m.
Jan. 11 at Mississippi* 5 p.m.
Jan. 15 Vanderbilt* 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 Kentucky* 3 p.m.
Jan. 22 at Mississippi State* 6 p.m.
Jan. 25 TCU^ TBA
Jan. 29 South Carolina* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 at Alabama* 5 p.m.
Feb. 4 Auburn* 6 p.m.
Feb. 8 at Missouri* 2:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 at Tennessee* 6 p.m.
Feb. 15 Mississippi State* noon
Feb. 18 at Florida* 6 p.m.
Feb. 22 Missouri* noon
Feb. 26 Tennessee* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 29 at Georgia* 5 p.m.
March 4 LSU* 6 p.m.
March 7 at Texas A&M* 3:30 p.m.
SEC Tournament at Nashville, Tenn.
+Collegiate Hoops Roadshow
#Verizon Arena, North Little Rock
^Big 12/SEC Challenge
Sports on 09/13/2019
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