Young basketball teams — we’ll routinely exclude those at Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and the like, which feature top-tier talent at every position — really struggle to find cohesiveness. Arkansas’s 2018-19 men’s squad is often described as the “youngest team in America” because there are no seniors and only a single scholarship upperclassman (junior forward Adrio Bailey) on the roster.
That complete lack of seasoning was plainly evident in the Hogs’ first two SEC games of the season, which could hardly be depicted as imposing ones. First, the Razorbacks had to start out on the road, where they’ve actually reversed the longstanding woes of the Stan Heath and John Pelphrey eras by being pretty salty away from home in recent years, with a trip to College Station for a duel with a rebuilding Texas A&M team.
It was, as many of these games so far have been, a maddening exercise. The Aggies have a couple of prolific talents in point guard T.J. Starks and swingman Savion Flagg, but they too have struggled to secure wins for coach Billy Kennedy, whose ’17-18 team largely underperformed all year and then stormed to the Sweet 16 after routing North Carolina in March. The game was accordingly a sloppy, back-and-forth affair in which neither squad distinguished itself: Arkansas popped home four early threes in six attempts, which of course led the Razorbacks to just keep firing at will.
For much of the game, the Hogs were terrible. They shot a woeful 37
That, in theory, should’ve set the table for a nice SEC home opener on Wednesday night against a Florida team that has really struggled to score. But the Gators play an admirable and disciplined brand of defensive basketball, and these Hogs have suddenly become inept in Bud Walton Arena, which is a little frightening for the long haul. Daniel Gafford scored two quick baskets to start the game and it appeared the Razorbacks were going to lean on their 6’11” wunderkind and that it would yield positive results.
Instead, and inexplicably, the Hogs reverted to what we’ll call a “slow-motion
I’ll go ahead and step out on a limb here and describe it as one of the worst exhibitions of basketball I’ve seen from a Razorback team in the quarter-century since they won the school’s only national title. Florida managed to win the game despite shooting only 31
The Razorback bench, which had been such a catalyst in the A&M win, rang up a total goose egg: zero points from the four reserves who played, which in itself is an oddity and a potential harbinger. If this team gets nothing from its reserves, all of whom are newcomers, and the starting five isn’t terribly productive, it doesn’t take a master logician to figure out where this season is headed. I’ve long felt that Mike Anderson has underperformed in his now-lengthy stay on the sidelines, but this team has some considerable talent and needs to make major adjustments, and