Fans get sneak peak of Hoop Hogs today
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas Razorbacks fans come to Fayetteville for today’s 3 p.m. Arkansas vs. Mississippi State football game at Reynolds Razorbacks can get another preview of new Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks basketball team before their official season-opener.
Musselman opens Saturday’s 11:15 a.m. practice at Walton Arena leading into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. season-opener at Walton against the Rice Owls.
“The first thing on Saturday is hopefully we have a great football crowd,” Musselman said Thursday. “We just kind of felt like with foot traffic, people come to football games early and they’re walking around campus, hey, our doors are open if somebody wants to come in and take a peek at our team. If you want to check us out, come and we’re going to practice like we always do.”
The Razorbacks, winning both their exhibition games, 79-64 and 78-51 over the University of Arkansaslittle Rock Trojans and Southwestern Oklahoma State University, have been all practice since beating SWOSU on Oct. 25.
It may seem a long, ordinary grind without a game to the players except Musselman’s methods for some practices have been anything but ordinary.
Because he felt the Razorbacks fouled too frequently and turned it over too frequently in the exhibitions, Musselman for short periods in some practices had them don gloves forcing them to concentrate on ball handling. On defense literally had them on a string to synchronize movement and drills holding towels forcing them to rely on moving their feet.
And for conditioning he used weighted vests.
Senior graduate transfer point guard Jimmy Whitt called it “fun stuff” and more importantly valuable.
“We like to say you and your teammate should be on a string on defense,” Whitt said. “When one person moves the other person should move. We’ve brought out gloves to help us, like take care of the ball a little bit better when it’s hard to catch a ball with gardening gloves. I think with everything Coach Muss brings, you’re gonna learn something. You’re gonna find some value in it.”
“As much as you may not think it’ll translate, it really does,” Whitt said. “I know after we brought out the gloves, we had the least amount of turnovers in one of our practices that we recently just had. So I think it’s pretty cool how you can do these sort of fun things. They’re sort of out of the box different, but they really do translate.”
During his Thursday press conference Morris said he had another uniquely invoked point of emphasis for Thursday’s practice.
“We’re probably going to pull out a bubble and put it on the rim and work on our rebounding,” Musselman said. “Chasing rebounds at different angles. Again, just little short themes that you might only do for five minutes and then move on to the next thing.”
From the first exhibition game to the second, no Razorback improved like junior guard Mason Jones.
After fouling out against Little Rock shooting 1 for 6 scoring four points with three rebounds and two assists vs. three turnovers, Jones against SWOSU scored a game-high 22 points in 28 minutes, including 4 of 7 treys, grabbed six rebounds and matched two turnovers with two assists.
The momentum Jones established has not waned, Musselman said.
“He’s had another good week of practice,” Musselman said. “Much better than the week prior to him not starting in the exhibition game. He’s been very focused and brought the same energy and enthusiasm that he had the prior week.”
As the official seasonopener nears, Musselman was asked if there was anything new with Connor Vanover, the 7-3 Little Rock native transferred from the University of California and appealing to the NCAA for immediate sophomore eligi
“Nothing new,” Musselman replied. “If you hear anything, let me know. We’ll probably find out at 6:59 p.m. on Tuesday.”
Non-graduate transfers from one Division I school
to another by traditional rules must redshirt and resume their active eligibility the following season, but can appeal with special circumstances for immediate eligibility.
Vanover is appealing both to be closer to his ill grandmother in Arkansas and because the head coach recruiting him to California was fired after last season.