Arkansas Hoopsters Embracing Summer Workouts

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson, who was on hand Friday to honor former head coach and athletic director Frank Broyles, is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Razorbacks and believes that his team is on the verge of big things as it currently goes through summer workouts.

Arkansas is one of the buzz picks in way-to-early projections on rising college basketball teams and Razorback head coach Mike Anderson understands why.

"We have got a core coming back and we had a good year last year," Anderson said Friday at a golf tournament honoring former Razorback football coach and athletic director Frank Broyles. "Having that core coming back is something to build on. We think we have added some pieces that are going to help our basketball team and will help us climb that next level."

Arkansas finished 22-12 last season, winning seven of nine to put it squarely in the NCAA Tournament field before losing three of four down the stretch ending up in the NIT while playing in and winning the program's first postseason game in five years.

With early road games at SMU, Clemson and Iowa State as well as a home game against Dayton highlight the non-conference slate next season, the Razorbacks will need to come out of the gate ready.

"That is what we want to be as a team – one that comes out the gate from the start, in the middle and finishes," Anderson added. " Our schedule is going to be such that it demands that. We have got to come out strong.

"We have the opportunity now to take the show on the road and we want to take it even more and have more success on the road," Anderson added. "That is going to be a big key for this team – being consistent."

One of the reasons that Arkansas didn't make the Big Dance last season was because of questions about its lack of schedule strength.

Anderson has never bought that and believes it was proved out by the end of the season.

"The funny thing about it is, is that some of those questions were answered on how they finished – SMU, Clemson," Anderson said. "Those were answered and then of course in our league. Now the challenge as you move up the next level is you get a chance to play some teams return games that will be good – Clemson, Iowa State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge and that's going to be a big game, got Dayton on our schedule now and we are finalizing and trying to get some things finished up here. Hopefully we will have our schedule done in the next two to three weeks."

For the second straight year, the NCAA is allowing summer workouts of two hours per week for eight weeks.

All of the current Razorbacks have been on campus with the exception of Nick Babb, who just finished up high school on Friday. That means newcomers Anton Beard, Trey Thompson, Jabril Durham and Texas Tech transfer Dusty Hannahs have been able to get used to playing with the returning Razorbacks.

"The thing that I am proud of right now is that our guys are all here on campus right now, working, hitting the weight room and going through the individual workouts that we perform and they play their pick-up games," Anderson said. "They all are just getting into tune with one another. I think that is so big. I thought it was big last year and it will be even bigger this year.

"This is the second year we have had the summer workouts where you can actually have eight weeks of working out with your team for two hours a week," Anderson added. "You can pick and choose the weeks you want. We have had a pretty steady diet this month, but with recruiting taking place in July we will have a couple of days where we do it where we will hit the road.

"It has been good," Anderson continued. "It has given us a chance to get familiar with our kids."

Anderson feels like this is going to be his breakthrough team at Arkansas.

"I think people are going to like this team," Anderson said. "I really, really do. I just think we are getting the right kind of guys in to push one another, really get after one another and challenge each other off the floor as well."

Anderson said that he plans to announce very soon a new strength close to replace David Deets, who left to go into private business.

"We are very, very close to announcing that and hopefully any day now you guys will be getting a press release on the guy we have hired," Anderson said.

He also noted that Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls are expected to attend some elite camps this summer.

"We have a couple of guys that we feel have a chance and will feel be going," Anderson said. "Bobby will participate in one of the big camps as will Michael Qualls be participating in a camp."

Anderson also took time to talk about what Broyles has meant to Arkansas during his 55 years of service to the school.

"When you talk about the Arkansas Razorbacks and what has been created, Coach Broyles had a lot to do with that," Anderson said. "You just look at the list of coaches that have been through. But more importantly, it's about where the university is right now. It has moved from the Southwest Conference to the SEC Conference and it has been a tremendous boost – not only for the university, but for the state of Arkansas as well from a visibility standpoint.

"You are talking about someone who has given his heart and his soul to this university for 55 years," Anderson added. "I always said that if you cut him, little Razorbacks would come out of him. He's strong, man. The word is strong to continue and do it in the capacity that he has done for so long."

Bobby Portis blocks a shot against Kentucky's James Young last season.

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