Whitt providing big boost for Razorbacks
FAYETTEVILLE - Given he’s a 6-3 point guard leading all Razorbacks rebounders with a 6.2 average, ties for second on the team blocking five shots, ranks third in scoring averaging 14.9 points while three games out of nine the team’s scoring leader and deals 20 assists vs. 11 turnovers, it may seem unfathomable that Jimmy Whitt be asked to “pick up the pace.”
Yet on his Monday night Eric Musselman Live radio show at Sassy’s Barbecue, that’s what Coach Eric Musselman requested of his senior graduate transfer.
“We want him to push the ball up the floor a little quicker,” Musselman said. “We want to play faster. Jimmy plays at a more methodical pace. That’s more his game. When Jalen (Harris) is at the point we seem to play a little bit faster. Desi (Sills, the sophomore guard scoring a career high against Western Kentucky) has done a great job of attacking in transition.”
That said, Musselman certainly appreciates transfer Whitt via SMU generally guarding the team’s best offensive player and being a force on the boards for a very short team and consistently scoring double digits without attempting a three.
“Jimmy does a great job,” Musselman said. “He takes on a tough defensive assignment every night. He’s got a great pull-up jumper. He’s done a great job in every facet of the game. Defensively, rebounding, pull-up jumper. He’s probably giving us a little more scoring than we envisioned when he committed here.”
Following last Saturday night’s 86-79 overtime loss at Western Kentucky, the remainder of the 8-1 Razorbacks’ December nonconference schedule has no midweek games and one game each weekend.
The Hogs host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU at Walton Arena, host Valparaiso at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at Verizon Arena in North
Little Rock and visit the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday, Dec. 29 on the Big Ten Network in Bloomington, Indiana.
Musselman said he devotes the early portions of these remaining December practices working on the Hogs’ game then shifts emphasis to working against their opponents.
Other than some introduction of Tulsa’s personnel, Monday’s practice was all about Arkansas and Tuesday’s practice “about 90 percent,” on Arkansas, Musselman said Monday night.
By (yesterday), Musselman said, “It will be 90 percent Tulsa and Friday will be 100 percent preparation for them.”
Tulsa stands at 8-2 after defeating Boise State 69-56 in Tulsa.
“Tulsa’s good,” Musselman said. “They already won one game at an SEC school. They beat Vanderbilt (67-58 at Vandy’s Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tennessee). We’ve got to have a good week of practice. We’ve got to get better in some areas that we’ve been struggling.”
WAY BEYOND THAT Coaching in the NBA, mostly with the Los Angeles Lakers and other professional leagues, Arkansas assistant coach Clay Moser noted considerable change in recruiting since he last coached on the collegiate level as a 1987-89 North Carolina State assistant for the late Jim Valvano.
“When I worked with Jim Valvano at NC State, you dealt with parents and the high school coach,” Moser said on Monday’s radio show. “Now it’s way beyond that.”
AAU summer ball has added a layer of those influencing today’s basketball prospects.
Moser was asked how likes living in Arkansas.
“Love it,” Moser said. “Love the people. Nice, easy people to be around and they are very welcoming.”
“I noticed they care for their Razorbacks a little bit,” Moser said. “It’s really been awesome.”