The Basketball Hogs Will Be More Athletic at All Positions
It’s no secret that the Razorback defense’s inability to keep quality opponents from going 15-0 or 20-2 type runs has kept a Mike Anderson-led Hogs team from breaking through to the top of the SEC. Or from getting past the first round in March Madness, for that matter.
Mike Anderson naysayers believe the Hogs have simply reached their ceiling, that it won’t get any better than it’s already been these last seven years. They feel he and his staff can’t plan and execute a scheme that will consistently squelch the perimeter shooting of top-tier programs. For strong evidence, they point to the rain of three-point fire which Tennessee and Butler unleashed on Arkansas in the last two games of the 2017-18 season.
The critics will also cite if an Arkansas team with three senior guards (including two All-SECers in Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford) couldn’t buckle down and defend when it counted most, how can the inexperienced guards replacing them next year do any better?
According to Bill Ingram, president of the Arkansas Hawks basketball organization, the defense should improve because the new players will be much more athletic than the outgoing ones. “I think their defensive problems will be fixed from the standpoint that they’ll be able to execute the kind of defense Coach Anderson wants, Ingram recently told Bart Pohlman on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. “As they get older and learn what they’re doing throughout the season, they’ll probably be better.”
He continued: “Athletically, there won’t be an issue. You’re replacing [Arlando] Cook and the other young man [Trey Thompson] with Ethan Henderson. Compared to those two guys, he walking on air. Isaiah Joe, Keyshawn Embery and Reggie Chaney are very athletic. Desi Sills is very athletic — you’re talking about a bigger, stronger, faster Anton Beard. ”
Ingram has seen plenty of these players throughout the years. Ethan Henderson, Desi Sills, Isaiah Joe and Justice Hill (who will start playing in early 2019) have all played in his Hawks program for years. To see their athleticism for yourself, check the videos below:
It also helps Arkansas will keep four of its most athletic players from this year’s squad—Daniel Gafford, Darius Hall (its best and most versatile defender), Gabe Osabuohien and Adria Bailey. The Hogs also may get the services of highly touted freshman Khalil Garland, who redshirted 2017-2018 apparently because of a heart condition . All four players stand in the 6’5″-6’8″ range, which will be a big upgrade on the perimeter in terms sheer length over the Anthlon Bells, Kikko Hayers, Manny Watkins, Dusty Hannahs, Daryl Macons, Anton Beards and Jaylen Barfords of the last few years.
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This longer 2018-19 team with a more dominant sophomore version of Gafford—who averaged 2.2 blocks a game this past season, an Arkansas freshman record— could set an overall team record for most blocks in program history. Its overall length and quickness should produce more deflections and steals.
Want to read more about Ingram’s insight into next season, including how Arkansas stacks up in SEC’s talent arms race and why Mike Anderson has a recruiting advantage over Nolan Richardson? Stay tuned for an upcoming post…