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 four times.
Hogs wait for word about Joe
Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe (1) runs the ball down the court during the second half of the Razorbacks' 72-68 win over Valparaiso on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, at Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock.
FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe posted a video on his Twitter account on Saturday that showed him sitting on a chair in the lane on the court of the team's practice facility and putting up a shot.
It's part of the rehabilitation process for Joe after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last Tuesday.
"Ready to go to war with my brothers," Joe tweeted with a fingers-crossed symbol and #bounce back.
Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said he still doesn't have a timetable for when Joe will resume playing.
"[Trainer] Mark [O'Neal] said it's still too early," Musselman said. "He said he should know more on Thursday."
Joe, who is averaging 16.0 points per game, didn't travel with the Razorbacks to Knoxville, Tenn., where they're playing Tennessee tonight.
"We're trying to do everything we can to eliminate any swelling by flying, and for him to be able to get as much rehab as he can by staying at home," Musselman said. "His attitude's been really good. He's doing everything he can.
"He's been in the training room a lot. Having said that, we've just got to continue through the rehab and see where it takes us."
Tennessee's starting lineup includes three foreign players -- 6-6 junior forward Yves Pon from Fuveau, France; 6-3 freshman point guard Santiago Vescovi from Montevideo, Uruguay; and 7-0 redshirt freshman center Uros Plavsic from Ivanjica, Serbia.
Vescovi and Plavsic -- a transfer from Arizona State -- both joined the Vols after the fall semester.
Plavsic initially had his waiver for immediate eligibility at Tennessee denied by the NCAA before the season. But after an appeal, the NCAA Committee for Legislative Relief ruled that Plavsic was eligible to compete immediately. He missed the first 15 games.
Arkansas had hoped Connor Vanover, a 7-3 transfer from California, would be ruled immediately eligible, but the NCAA denied his waiver and subsequent appeal.
"They did a great job of continuing to pursue his eligibility, and somehow he got eligible at a unique time," Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. "Then the guard from Uruguay [Vescovi], I mean he's an incredible pickup. A great job recruiting him.
"They found a freshman who's having a huge impact. I give their staff a ton of credit for finding him. To get a mid-year kid who's a freshman and is that talented, hat's off to [Tennessee] Coach [Rick] Barnes."
Vesconi is averaging 10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists and has hit 24 of 66 three-pointers (36.4%) for the highest percentage on the team.
"A lot of things have adjusted for him I think," Barnes said of Vescovi. "For one, he has gotten himself into better shape. That's where it started.
"There's no doubt he can shoot the ball, he has a great feel for the game, he's competitive, he sees everything really well. He knows he's going to have to get better defensively.
"I think some of his breakdowns [against Kentucky last Saturday] were because of fatigue. But he's going to have to improve there, and he will.
"I don't think there's any part of what he is doing that hasn't gotten better. I also don't think there's any question that he will continue to get better because he loves the game. He works at it and he truly wants to be as good as he can be."
With 6-5 guard Isaiah Joe recovering from knee surgery, Arkansas has gone with two forwards -- 6-8 Reggie Chaney and 6-6 Adrio Bailey -- with three guards in 6-5 Mason Jones, 6-3 Jimmy Whitt and 6-1 Desi Sills.
"We're not as cosmetically pleasing when they're both in there," Coach Eric Musselman said last week playing both forwards at the same time.
With the Razorbacks going 0-2 last week with overtime losses Auburn and Missouri, Musselman didn't rule out the possibility of making a lineup change.
The most logical move, if Musselman decided to make one, would be to start 6-2 guard Jalen Harris for Bailey. It seems unlikely Chaney would come out of the lineup after he had a career-high 17 points at Missouri and matched his career high with 11 rebounds.
Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes said he hopes the Vols will pick up their pace.
"No question we want to play faster," Barnes said. "It goes back to our point guards pushing the temp. And not just our point guards, but just our guards in general.
"We have told them all that if they get a rebound that they can go with it."
Sports on 02/11/2020
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