Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson knows the issue with turning around a 2-5 SEC start. Finishing is still the key. Identifying those who can finish is the key in practice right now.
But, he does not want to "go crazy" changing things because of how close this team is to winning. Those were some of the take away points from Thursday's media session.
If there are going to be any lineup changes, Anderson said it would probably center on bringing "more energy" to the floor.
"One of the big things is to have short term memory," Anderson said. "We have to forget the Missouri game."
Instead, he wants players to focus on some of the good things they accomplished in the last two road trips, an overtime loss at Georgia and a near miss at Tennessee. In both cases, the Hogs put the home team on the foul line too much.
"We may not be able to extend our defense quite as much," Anderson said. "We have to learn from those games and finish better. In both of those games, we were right there. We have to identify some guys who can make a play.
"That's what it is, making a play on defense. We have to make a play on offense.
"Obviously, we have to rebound better. We played great defense in the key possession with the game tied at 64 in the final minute and a half, but we didn't finish defense by getting the rebound."
That was in regards to Earnest Ross rebounding above Fred Gulley just ahead of the tie breaking shot Ross hit at 1:06 to give the Tigers the lead to good.
Arkansas plays at LSU at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Hogs are 2-5 in the SEC after losing to Florida and Missouri at home and road losses at Texas A&M, Georgia and Tennessee. The lone victories are Kentucky and Auburn.
Is there concern with three road games in the next four? Can the Hogs maintain a positive approach after a 2-5 start?
"For the most part, we have," Anderson said. "I think we've responded in a positive way. You go back to the last road game. I think that's something for us to build on. The Tennessee game, it's a two-point game with three minutes to go. We're right where we need to be.
"We're rebounding with them, we're defending, we're moving the basketball, we're sharing it. We've just got to get to the point where we finish the win. That's the bottom line.
"So, I think if we continue to build on that and just get a play here, and play there, that goes in our in our favor ... And then I think you'll see our guys confidence skyrocket even higher. I think they're competing. They're battling. And I think we're closer than ... Almost like you can put your finger on it. But we've got to be able to finish. We've got to make plays. The last game with Missouri, it came down to a stop, 64-all. We stopped it, didn't come up with the rebound. It's been that kind during this stretch here."
Has Anderson seen his team struggle at the finish line before? What's the answer?
"Players making plays," Anderson said. "I think that's going to be the biggest key. Players taking plays, taking on the initiative, the ownership. I think just the leadership. That's what's got to take place. Where we get to the free throw line to make a play, where we're stopping on defense.
"We've got to, at that moment, we've got to accelerate and finish the game out. I think want-to and doing are two different things. And so, it's an experience factor. We're getting a lot of experience, let me put it that way. So, it's time for us to cash in on that."
There was no practice Wednesday, but by early Thursday afternoon, Anderson had seen most of the players filter through the gym or offices. He thinks the attitude is good.
"(I've seen) some of them, they'll bounce back," Anderson said. "I mean, the were disappointed, and I think they were kind of somber after the game, but for the most part, they're ready to get back in the gym and go to work. They're ready to go and play."
Anderson said there are things that can be gained from looking at the past few games, some things to build on.
"Well, that's what I said, we'll build on that," he said. "We'll build on that. I thought we came out at Tennessee, that was a game I thought, our guys, we were going to win that game. Our guys were focused, engaged. They took the game plan, and we just didn't quite finish it. So, we'll have a game plan going to LSU. Let's see if we can go and execute it. That's the key. Stay to the script and finish it out and just go and compete and battle."
The road woes are well documented. Giving up too many free throws has been critical.
"Well, that's the been the problem and, like I said, the last game we played, I think Tennessee ended up shooting 30 free throws and that was the big difference in the game," Anderson said. "They made 30, they shot 38. If you look in all the kind of statistical categories, we outplayed them for the most part. But the one big one that they got to the free throw line, we only, I think ... They outscored us from the free throw line.
"So, we've got to learn from that and not put them on the free throw line. So, we won't extend as much and just, and just really guard and make sure we get to the finishing part of defense, which is rebound the basketball."
Anderson: Hogs Must Finish
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