Whitt pro­vid­ing big boost for Ra­zor­backs

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

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.”

Moser smiled.

“I no­ticed they care for their Ra­zor­backs a lit­tle bit,” Moser said. “It’s re­ally been awe­some.”

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