Arkansas will open its two-game exhibition season Friday night at 7 p.m. with Division II program Central Oklahoma and senior Alandise Harris can't wait – albeit for a reason that you might not expect.
It seems Harris (6-6, 230) has had enough of Razorback head coach Mike Anderson's no-calls in practice.
“I’m excited to get after it,” Harris said. “I’m tired of playing with them every day and the way Coach A refs. I’m tired of playing like that every single day. I’m ready to play somebody for real.”
Asked to expand on Anderson's refereeing, Harris was very clear.
“Bad. Horrible. Horrible ref,” Harris said. “He’s not calling nothing.”
In fact, Harris is not keen on any of Arkansas' four coaches being in charge of calling fouls.
“They’re all on the same level,” Harris said. “Horrible. All three of them, four of them. They all ref. We have four referees and can’t get no fouls.”
On the other hand, junior college transfer point guard Jabril Durham – hoping to get playing time – is the exact opposite.
“We’ve got great refs,” Durham said. “Great refs. I’d nominate them for referee of the year. Great refs.”
Anderson says he gets what Harris is saying, but he has a clear reason for not calling much in practice.
“Well my officiating is what it is,” Anderson said. “That's just part of it. I have got the whistle so it's my judgment. Sometimes my judgment is not very good for a reason. When you are trying to get your guys to play at a certain level and get them to understand you have got to play through adversity.
“So I would rather try to put them under as much pressure as I possibly can,” Anderson added. “So it might be a relief for them to have a chance to go against some guys who get paid for it. I don't get paid for officiating. But it's been like that - no blood, no foul. So hopefully we can get some and-ones and get prepared.”
Durham, who played at NAIA Lubbock Christian as a freshman and at Seminole Junior College as a sophomore, is excited about his first game donning a Razorback jersey.
“For me, it’s my first Division-I game, period,” Durham said. “So, it’s very exciting to finally put on a Razorbacks jersey in front of however many people be there for the first time.”
Central Oklahoma, which lost an exhibition game to Oklahoma City 98-83 on Monday, is coached by former Oklahoma star Terry Evans.
Fans will get a chance to see Durham and freshman point guard Anton Beard – two newcomers - work with holdovers Rashad Madden and Anthlon Bell in the backcourt.
“I think our guard play is steadily getting better,” Anderson said. “I think guys are understanding what their roles is. A young guy like Jabril – it is like a breath of fresh air, a guy that can create for others and is one of those guys that is pass first.
“To me, he commands guys to get into position,” Anderson added. “That is what you are looking for – a guy that is going provide some leadership out there. It is early on, but I am hoping to see that continue to progress as the year goes on.
“Anton Beard, as he has gotten in shape, I think we have started to see the impact that he can have on our particular team because he is a guy that has a nose for the ball, defensively can get into people and can create and create for others,” Anderson continued.
“And of course, Ky (Madden),” Anderson said. “In the two scrimmages that we have had, Ky was responsible for 22 assists,” Anderson said. “So it shows you that he doesn't have to have the ball in his hands all the time and he can still be a guy that can make things happen for other player.”
Arkansas' big guys are reaping the rewards of more creative guards.
“Our big guys are enjoying it because now they the recipients of those passes that we talk about,” Anderson said. “The beauty of a big guy playing with good guards is they get you the ball and all you have got to do is go finish or get fouled and get to the free throw line. Hopefully we will see some of that.”
“On defense, they can be disruptive, too,” Anderson said. “There is still a lot to learn, especially with these guys here, but having guys like Anthlon coming back and Ky Madden, it helps the process a little quicker because they can get these guys to hopefully understand what they have got to bring to the table.”
Anderson is not sure who he will send out as starters, but he does plan to play all of his players in the exhibition games – including redshirting Dusty Hannahs.
“I have no idea. I have probably got 8, 9 – on this team maybe 10 guys that could start. But it's not going to be important who starts these games here. It is going to be the playing time and as you get out there, what do you do with those minutes that you get out there.
“I may mix it up and have a group start the first part of the game, the second half start another group to just see how they do come out, how they perform,” Anderson added.
Jabril Durham guards Anton Beard during the Red-White game.
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