Native Arkansans Lead Hogs Back To The Dance
It also includes a roster with half of it’s talent from in state.
That delights Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson, whose No. 21 and fifth-seeded Razorbacks (26-8) and 12th-seeded Wofford (28-6) Thursday night at 8:50 p.m. CST in a second-round game.
“For the state to produce that kind of talent, that speaks volumes for what has taken place here,” Anderson said. “Because it wasn't like that when I was here with (former Arkansas head) Coach (Nolan) Richardson. It was like one player maybe every four or five years.
“And so four of the guys that start for us I think are from Arkansas,” Anderson added. “So that tells me the great job that the coaches have done in this state. The high school coaches, some of the AAU programs.
“And I just look at the impact Coach Richardson had on some of those coaches. That's what normally happens. A lot of those teams, they take something from this program and emulate it, and guess what? All of a sudden players start developing. But that's a great statement. And so it makes sense when our guys go out there, they play with a tremendous, tremendous pride.”
There are at least five Division I prospects in Arkansas in the 2016 list - a group headed up by Bentonville’s Malik Monk and Van Buren’s Mitchell Smith (6-10, 210), both of whom Arkansas has offered.
“And we want to continue to keep the home-grown talent here,” Anderson said. “We've got some players here in this state, and these guys have done an unbelievable job.”
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Arkansas’ basketball team landed here on Tuesday and immediately hit the pool - but it was about business and not pleasure.
The Razorbacks are striving to recover physically from playing three games in three days as they did at the SEC Tournament and thus the pool workout.
“As you get to this time of year it's a one-game at a time mentality and that's what we have had all year long,” Anderson said. “Our guys just want to go out and continue to play basketball and continue with this season.”
Arkansas is one of eight teams that will practice Wednesday at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, the home of the Jacksonville Dolphins college team.
The multi-purpose arena was built in 2003 and seats 15,000 fans and has hosted concerts, exhibition games for the U.S. Olympic Basketball National Team, WWE events and is also home to Jacksonville’s Arena Football League team.
Those teams will begin press conferences at 11 a.m. CST with the Razorbacks set to talk with the media at 3:30 p.m. and practice from 4:10 to 4:50 p.m in what will be their second workout of the day.
Third-seeded Baylor and 14th-seeded Georgia State will get the day’s games going on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. CST and will be followed around 3:10 by sixth-seeded Xavier facing Ole Miss.
Fourth-seeded North Carolina will then face 13th-seeded Harvard at 6:20 with the Arkansas-Wofford game being the nightcap.
There have been several 12th seeds take down 5 seeds over the years, but that is not something that Anderson worries about.
“We don't talk about that,” Anderson said. “We just talk about the next opponent coming up."
“…You throw the records out it's a one-game shot,” Anderson said. “A lot of things have taken place but I don't look at the 12/5 seed. They are two good teams from different conferences playing in the NCAA Tournament.”
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Arkansas sophomore forward Bobby Portis added the AP SEC Player of the Year award earlier this week to the one that he had already received from the SEC coaches.
Anderson talked about how mad Portis was after No. 1 Kentucky downed Arkansas 78-63 in Sunday’s SEC Tournament championship game.
“After the Kentucky game, he was probably the angriest guy around, because we lost the game,” Anderson said. “That’s how much he embodies winning. You couldn't ask to have a great representative of your team than a guy like Bobby Portis.”