Hoops Update, 10/21

Arkansas coach Stan Heath put his cagers on display with a scrimmage Monday afternoon. Don Oglesby attended and filed a detailed report.

If the Hogs improve as much every day as they have the past two days the season has a chance of being better than we have any right to expect. Monday's practice featured a lengthy scrimmage complete with professional referees.

What could turn out to be very close to the starting lineup... Dionisio Gomez, Carl Baker, Eric Ferguson, Kendrick Davis and Larry Satchell, with Rashard Sullivan and Blake Eddins as reserves faced off against everybody else and won 31 to 12 in what was probably about a 15-minute segment. Ferguson and Davis played like veterans and the White team scorched the nets.

I didn't know there would be a scrimmage today and didn't have pen and paper with me, but this is pretty close: Ferguson and Davis had about 7 apiece, Gomez 6, Sullivan 4 (with three boards), Baker 2, Satchell 2, Eddins 3. Then they played another 15 minute segment with different lineups. I can't remember who played with whom in the second segment, but I know that Wenbos Mukubu scored 8 points for one team and Baker 6 for the other and Satchell had 6 big boards. They split up Davis and Ferguson with each playing the point, so the score was closer... about 19 to 16 as I recall.

A few observations:

Ferguson's on-the-ball defense is very disruptive to the opponent's offense. Fans are going to get a kick watching him grow into, I believe, one of the series of fine point guards that Hog fans have had the privilege of watching ... Brewer, Mayberry, Beck, Reid. The coaches were also happy with Kendrick Davis' work. Kendrick has struggled a bit trying to run the point in a totally new system. But since beginning to play the 2 guard, his natural position, several days ago, he is really coming on offensively. Still not a great defender, but working hard and getting better. In addition to rebounding and shooting pretty well, Sullivan is awesome when he gets out on the break. He is really quick and has powerful legs. Had one eye-popping fast break and a throw-down rebound dunk.

Coach Stan Heath said after practice that the team had made a lot of progress in the past few days and he was satisfied with where they are at this point. He quickly went on to say that they still have a long way to go, but he is pleased with the work ethic and they are beginning to show signs of understanding and getting familiar with his system. He was complimentary of both freshmen guards. Also, Heath noted that he thought Jonathan Modica has made perhaps the most progress from the first day of practice until now. They have to slow his racing motor down just a bit and especially get him to pull up for a 10-foot jumper on his powerful drives toward the hoop instead of continuing on and picking up charges. But they feel he has a terrific up side when he begins to get it all down. He continues to get a lot of garbage around the hoop. Also, Heath said they are working hard with Mukubu to make up for the time he lost because they will need to get him ready to play.

Coach Stan Heath says it will be a while before they get everything in ... that he is shooting for the start of the conference season to have the full system in and the players familiar with all of it. Saw a couple more offensive wrinkles today before the scrimmage began.

In anwer too a reporter's question about whether it will be difficult to get Ferguson and Davis minutes together as point and 2 guard because of the need for Davis to play the point when Ferguson needs a breather or is in foul trouble Heath replied that he has used a three guard rotation , is very comfortable with it, and sees no problem with using Ferguson and Davis together. If I had to guess at this point I would say that Mukubu is the player most likely to get the most minutes as the third guard. Blake would have to start knocking down his shots to be in that picture. He is shooting better than last year, but still not consistent enough to nail down a spot in the guard rotation. Modica will probably spell Baker at the 3. They're hoping that Alonzo Lane will come on and give them some scoring from the post, but so far I don't think he would be in the top eight. There's still plenty of time for much of this to change, but it's beginning to come into a bit sharper focus.

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