Ready For Action

Arkansas' basketball program opens its two-game exhibition slate Friday night when it welcomes Texas A&M-Commerce to Bud Walton Arena for a 7 p.m. game.

It may not be a "real" game, but don't be surprised if it seems to be that way for the Arkansas basketball team on Friday.

The Razorbacks host Division II Texas A&M-Commerce in an exhibition game Friday night at 7 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.

"Texas A&M-Commerce now gives us an opportunity to play someone other than ourselves," Anderson said. "We've been going at it pretty steady and pretty hard…We want to see how these guys respond to playing somebody other than themselves, someone that does not know who (Razorback freshman guard) B.J. Young is? They are going to get after our guys so I'm anxious to see how our guys perform.

"It's one of those tests," Anderson added. "We're going to have a lot of tests throughout the year. This is the exhibition season. These are the games that are kind of free for the most part. From a coach's standpoint, you always want to play to win and you also want to find out what these guys have retained and some of the things they are going to bring to the table."

Anderson does not have a starting line-up yet for Friday night's game, which will be followed by another Tuesday with Christian Brothers before opening the season with USC-Upstate next Friday – which is 11-11-11.

"We'll put five out there in the first half and probably platoon," Anderson said. "We only have 11 players for the most part. Probably platoon them in the first half and then mix-and-match them in the second half. That will probably take place even in the first half. With the nervous energy going and playing a game – someone other than ourselves – some guys are going to tired real quick and we make that adjustment as we go."

He is anxious to see how freshmen big men Hunter Mickelson and DeVonta Abron play with junior forward Marshawn Powell.

Powell had 33 points and 9 rebounds in the Red-White game and senior forward Marvell Waithe 31 points and a game.

"The mindset is get these guys out on the floor and play different combinations and see how freshmen play with a guy like Marshawn, how Hunter plays with him, how DeVonta plays with him as well as a guy like Waithe."

"We will see maybe a four-guard lineup, maybe a three-guard line-up," Anderson continued. "We will have various combinations and see how these guys perform and how they play with each other."

"I am really anxious to see our defense because that is something that we really have been trying to do lately – pick up our defensive intensity, our pressure defense," Anderson said. "It will be a work in progress."

Junior Julysess Nobles and sophomore Rickey Scott ran the point most of the time for the two teams in the Red-White game.

Nobles had 12 assists and Scott 8 in the game.

"I think you have a couple of guys that are capable of doing it," Anderson said. "I think you are seeing Rickey in a different light than last year. He is really fast with the basketball and a lot of times you want to push it up the floor. He pushes it up and is effective with it when he does. That puts a lot of pressure on the defense.

"Ju, he is a guy that is experienced playing in the SEC and he can distribute the basketball," Anderson added. "He is one of those guys that can create for others and he has worked on his outside shot and can knock shots down. He is also explosive getting past people.

"That is a good problem to have – a couple of guys that can handle the basketball and I think they are not the only ones," Anderson continued. "I think when you talk about the guards on our team, the true point guard, I am still trying to figure out who is the truest on we got."

Senior forward Michael Sanchez – who had back surgery in October – returned to practice on Monday.

After an off day Tuesday, he was slated to practice the next two days and then get a few minutes of playing time in the first exhibition game.

"He held up pretty good on Monday," Anderson said. "…He has got to pick up on a lot of things we have been doing. It is one thing to sit there and watch us work out and another thing to be out there on the floor and actively going through plays and sets and defensive assignments and of course you don't get the conditioning in just sitting there."

Anderson admittedly has been worrying about his team and does not know much about his Friday opponent other than TA&M-Commerce returns the Lone Star Conference's preseason player of the year in 6-7 senior forward Desmond King.

King averaged 16 points and 7 assists last season and is one of three starters back from an 18-9 team that finished second in its league last season.

They have also added 7-foot center Mouhamadou N'Doye, who was at New Mexico State for two seasons.

"They are obviously a Division II team, but with our team here we obviously have a lot of question marks about our team," Anderson said. "It just gives us an opportunity to play someone else.

"Arizona got clipped the other night and had a tough one last night with a Division II team," Anderson said. "Sometimes you don't look at that Division I, Division II because we all got basketball players."

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