Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson introduced his Razorbacks to an old friend of his from back in the day.
That friend's name: Cleveland Hill.
Cleveland Hill is not an old teammate of Anderson's at Tulsa, not a former Razorback and also not a Fox cartoon character.
It is a street in Fayetteville that goes straight up and was used as a conditioning measure back in the Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson eras.
"I tell you what, that brought back a lot of memories," noted Anderson, who sent his team up it six times. "I'm sure these guys are ready to get together and get things going and get to the basketball part of it."
They'll do just that beginning Friday night at 7 p.m. when the Razorbacks and Lady Razorbacks host "Primetime At The Palace" at Bud Walton Arena.
The event will feature a series of contests, introductions of the players and short workouts by both squads.
"I am excited about it," Anderson said. "I think it will give our fans a glimpse of things to come. In years past, Midnight Madness, now Primetime at the Palace, there were some exciting moments. We want to make sure…that we bring that to fruition again where we create excitement just for the practice part of it."
One player that will be introduced, but not ready to practice is oft-injured senior forward Michael Sanchez.
Anderson announced at Monday night's Northwest Arkansas Razorback Club meeting that Sanchez has had back surgery and hopes to practice by Nov. 1.
"Michael Sanchez, he continues to get better," Anderson told club members. "Right now he's injured a little bit. But we expect him to be back probably by November 1. He had some back surgery, but he'll be okay."
The Arkansas coach thinks his players are ready for practice instead of individual workouts and conditioning.
"We have been working extremely hard and I know our guys are just excited to get away from the conditioning and the individual workouts, the 6 a.m. workouts," Anderson said. "We ready to just get started putting these team together."
"It's time," Anderson said later. "We have been at it since day one."
Anderson noted when he first arrived that the returning players were shell-shocked by the condition they had to be in to get through even a mini-workout.
"We picked up conditioning about September 14th," Anderson said. "Our condition is pretty good."
Anderson is blessed with a ton of guards and just a few bigger players.
"I think guards are very important," Anderson said. "If you are going to start a team, you better start it with some guards that can handle the basketball. But I like the mix that we do have. You've got some big guards and those guards have versatility, too.
"We are not an overly sized team, but with the guys with size that we do have, the fours – Sanchez, Marvell Waithe, Marshawn Powell, Hunter (Mickelson) and Devonta (Abron) – those young guys are going to be thrown into the fire early."
With only 10 scholarship players and holdover walk on Kikko Haydar, Anderson can't go as long as he might during practice, but will still go hard when the Razorbacks are working out.
"I think you can't wear them out," Anderson said. "You've got to make some adjustments and even picking up a couple of walk ons. You've got to have someone to give those guys a breather. We will just monitor it as we go."
Anderson then trotted out a line that could be the motto of the season.
"We have to work with what we've got until we get what we want," Anderson said.
Anderson thinks that his team has a chance to be very good defensively and his teams have always hung their hats on that identity.
"I like the potential from a defensive standpoint from this basketball tam," Anderson said. "There are still a lot of question marks about this basketball team, but that's one thing I think we can depend on."
Powell has rehabbed a spring injury and appears good to go according to Anderson.
"He's been working every day," Anderson said. "He hasn't asked out of participation in anything that we have done. With that being said, he is getting ready to enter into his junior year…He's giving me everything he's got. He's working hard."
While the Razorbacks are adding in some highly celebrated freshmen in Abron, Mickelson, Rashad Madden and B.J. Young, Anderson is pointing to the Razorback returnees to lead the way.
"I think the key is going to be the core guys coming back," Anderson said. "The Ju(lyses) Nobles, Marshawn Powells, Michael Sanchez and Marvell Waithe - a young man who hasn't played as much, but I see a lot of positive things that are happening everyday with them – Mardracus Wade and Rickey Scott."
Anderson noted that he had to come in and flip the script from how it has been recently.
"The first thing you had to do was come in and change the culture and that's having guys do the right things on and off the court," Anderson said. "Then you have to make sure they understand how we are going to play and that's hard.
"That's just a given," Anderson added. "You've got to play hard. There is no other way."
Anderson confirmed Arkansas will take the APR penalty this season – a one-scholarship penalty that was assessed before he got here.
"It is our understanding that this will be the year that we will go ahead with the scholarship loss," Anderson said. "We'll go ahead and take the hit."
Anderson's team will face a few tough challenges in the non-conference slate with defending national champion UConn and Michigan among those.
"It's a challenging schedule, especially for the first year with a guy coming in and having gone through the transition of losing people," Anderson said.
"…I don't mind playing people," Anderson said. "The scary part is I don't know what I've got."
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