The Arkansas Razorbacks: All aboard the Muss Bus

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by hogfan6494, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. THF

    THF BITE THE NUTS, THUMB IN THE ASS!
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    24 days or so.

     
  2. Gallant Knight

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    the hogs selling out the bud walton via season tickets is insane
     
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  3. Gallant Knight

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    i will be at the game in college station in my hog hat

    the last time i went there were approximately 60 reed rowdies at their game.
     
  4. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    any take aways from Sunday's red white game?
     
  5. Gallant Knight

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    read that umude looks like a player and that devo, jaylin and JD all looked very good.

    sounds like lykes, the 5'7 miami transfer isn't picking up the playbook so his minutes might be limited

    closing games with JD, Devo, Umude, Jaylin and X will be fun to watch.
     
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  6. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    Notae, Umude, Jaylin, Devo, and KK are all really fucking good. Interested to see how Wade looks when he’s finally cleared, he’s getting close.

    Vanover still sucks and Lykes will be boom or bust. Jaxon Robinson is very intriguing and I think carves out a decent role on this team

    need to see more of Au’Diese Toney and Kamani Johnson
     
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  7. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    Yeah I’m not buying this

     
    blind dog likes this.
  8. Gambler

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    I think when Lykes gets settled in, he's going to be really good.
     
  9. bturns

    bturns a better poster than Bertwing
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    FYI, Drew Smyly is pitching for the Braves right now.
     
  10. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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  11. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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  12. infected donkey

    infected donkey Arkansas Razorbacks
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  13. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Didn't have TV this weekend at deer camp.
    Did we get out of the game injury free?
     
  14. blind dog

    blind dog wps
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    7FAF8951-8D57-4AD6-B451-3F45B413D8CE.jpeg
     
  15. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Hello? Anyone?
     
  16. blind dog

    blind dog wps
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    I was at game and didn’t see any injuries but haven’t read anything post game. I asked bertwing same question and he said no, but he also made up a play that didn’t happen
     
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  17. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    ARKANSAS INJURY REPORT

    Did Not Participate: TE Erin Outley, DL Dorian Gerald, OL Dalton Wagner, DT Markell Utsey, DB Jalen Catalon, DB Chase Lowery, WR Jaedon Wilson, DB Keuan Parker, RB Javion Hunt, RB Josh Oglesby, OL Cole Carson, OL Terry Wells, OL Devon Manuel, OL Ray Curry, TE Collin Sutherland, WR Darin Turner, DL Jalen Williams, OL Jalen St. John

    n
    o in game injuries
     
  18. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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  19. infected donkey

    infected donkey Arkansas Razorbacks
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    Unfortunately we’re at the show.
     
    Prospector likes this.
  20. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Did you bring any popcorn?
     
  21. infected donkey

    infected donkey Arkansas Razorbacks
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    No made cotton candy instead.
     
  22. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Damnit
    I mean cotton candy is fine, but I wanted popcorn
     
    infected donkey likes this.
  23. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    infected donkey likes this.
  24. infected donkey

    infected donkey Arkansas Razorbacks
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    Yep.
     
  25. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    Sounds like he just sucks at running a business
     
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  26. blind dog

    blind dog wps
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    please god don't let hermans ever close down

    to keep more people out of the good restaurants so i don't have to wait as long
     
  27. Hogview

    Hogview Fan of the Green board, Razorbacks
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    Is that the same owners of Wrights BBQ?
     
  28. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    No. Jordan Wright is the owner of that
     
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  29. Prospector

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    Gallant Knight likes this.
  30. Hoss Bonaventure

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    Dump, infected donkey and blind dog like this.
  31. infected donkey

    infected donkey Arkansas Razorbacks
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    It was good when the original owner had it before he was shot and killed by the police.
     
  32. Hoss Bonaventure

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    I don’t remember that. I’ve only eaten there once and wasn’t a fan.
     
  33. infected donkey

    infected donkey Arkansas Razorbacks
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    It was like 05-06 he was killed in his front yard by the cops "accidentally"
     
    Hoss Bonaventure likes this.
  34. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Um why and how
     
  35. Hoss Bonaventure

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    Yeah I was living in Fayetteville then but I wasn’t watching the news or anything so I wouldn’t have ever heard about that.
     
    infected donkey likes this.
  36. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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  37. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Good because he won't get hurt before college?
    I'm Mr. Positive today
     
  38. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    The AAA is an absolute dumpster fire and I hope the uproar from this ruins that pile of shit organization. The two HS’s involved in this shit can get fucked too. This is such a black eye for HS athletics in Arkansas and we wonder why big time kids try to get out of the state so much when they enter their HS career.
     
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  39. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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  40. blind dog

    blind dog wps
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    Here you go you poor

    Profits of rage: Arkansas looking to build off Elite Eight showing

    Brian Hamilton 3h ago[​IMG] 2 [​IMG]
    One night in September, the extended Arkansas men’s basketball family came together for an alumni dinner. There was much to celebrate. An Elite Eight run to end the previous season. An arena on its way to selling out for the forthcoming year. A future, as evidenced by early recruiting returns, that looked very promising. So when former guard Corey Beck stood to address the room, as a member of the one and only Razorbacks crew to bring a national championship to Fayetteville, you might have expected his words to reflect the optimism filling the space.

    Instead, the word he used was rage.

    Beck declared that the current lot of players should feel not a contentment, at all, but an outright rage. Rage at the way things ended in March, one step short of a Final Four. Rage at not finishing the job. Rage to be channeled, all season long, to ensure this wouldn’t happen again. “We should be mad we didn’t go all the way last year, and we have an opportunity to do something we didn’t last year,” forward Stanley Umude says, recalling Beck’s message about a month later. “We have to make sure every day we’re doing what we can to reach that goal.”

    Shocking no one familiar with Eric Musselman, it wasn’t the last time Arkansas has heard the word since. “Rage” has been played on repeat by a head coach who’s never met a motivational device he didn’t like, whose primary job this fall was convincing a reshaped roster that it hadn’t accomplished anything itself just yet.

    To be clear: Musselman is stoked by the good stuff. “There’s not a lot of people that sell a building out before Halloween,” he says of the all-seats-claimed status of Bud Walton Arena for 2021-22. He appreciates the program momentum. But he also has no idea who his starters are when he picks up the phone less than three weeks before the season opener. And he has returnees who can address the group after a particularly hard practice and, having been through it, credibly remind everyone that it’s how Arkansas got its edge in the first place. That a run cut short only by the eventual national champions was earned, and not an accident.

    So there’s a lot to be happy about in Fayetteville, sure. Forgetting about it may be the operating premise this season. “I get a kick out of reading coaches all over the country that think their teams are great,” Musselman says. “And we actually thought the opposite: ‘Hey, here’s our holes. Here’s where we have to get better.’ There’s an angst with me, in a lot of different areas. And we talk to our team about them every day.”

    The big question
    Can a point-guard-by-committee plan work? Is Arkansas actually going to use a point-guard-by-committee plan?

    It’s complicated. This is why Musselman and his staff have some stuff to sort out before the season opener. As the Razorbacks closed out their 2020-21 season, their most frequently used lineups had Jalen Tate or JD Notae at the point, 36.3 and 20.7 percent, respectively. Notae is back. Chris Lykes, at 5-foot-7, very much cuts the profile of a point guard. Davonte Davis didn’t play the point at all as a freshman, but Musselman says he’s converting to that spot for 2021-22, and it might be Davis’ most natural position anyway. He might end up as the ultimate solution there. All of them have pretty strong scoring instincts, too, creating a tricky balance between running the show and playing to their strengths.

    Fortunately, Arkansas assistant coach Clay Moser somehow unearthed old Golden State Warriors game film from Musselman’s time with the franchise. That has enabled the staff to show film of Gilbert Arenas striking that very balance as a primary ball-handler with a strong scoring aptitude, while also giving the Razorbacks coaches some ideas of how to deploy their own guards. Musselman says he’s pulled plays drawn up for Arenas at Golden State, and for Mike Bibby with the Sacramento Kings — “secondary actions and quick-hitters,” as he puts it — that took advantage of both players’ particular talents.

    How well Arkansas’ trio of potential point guards adjusts clearly will be key, particularly with established scorers like Notae and Lykes. Notae has averaged 18 shots per 40 minutes over his career, and Lykes has averaged 15.6 attempts per 40. “Obviously, with all three of them, the real positive is they can all go get a shot whenever they want,” Musselman says. “That’s a great thing. When plays break down, they can go create for themselves or their teammates. And then the evolving piece is understanding that early in games, and maybe early in shot clocks, there’s got to be times when you’re a set-the-table guy for the other four players on the floor.”

    Roster analysis
    Guards: The most salient question about Chris Lykes does not involve the whole scoring-guard-versus-point-guard dynamic, though that is significant. More important: Is a guy who played two games last season, and zero after Dec. 4, 2020, in fully functional basketball shape to impact a potential SEC contender?

    To begin with, Lykes was healthy from Day 1, per Musselman. There were no lingering issues with the ankle injury that submarined last season at Miami. But keeping pace in practice was a different matter. At first, the data gleaned from Catapult devices during workouts had Lykes at the lower end of energy spent relative to his new teammates. Gradually, his work rate climbed into the middle of the pack. According to the head coach, on Oct. 20, for the first time, Lykes expended more energy than anyone else in the gym. So that’s a long way to get to yes, the transfer guard is up to speed, which will be essential to the entire operation. “We even told him after the Red-White scrimmage, ‘You went through a seven-minute spurt when you pushed the ball up the floor as fast as any guy that we’ve seen, but you got to do that the entire game,’” Musselman says. “When he’s in, we want to play at a lot faster pace. We probably won’t run as many sets with him. We’ll play more out of our opportunity break, quick-strike offense.”

    JD Notae started one game out of 32 a year ago but nevertheless did enough to earn SEC Sixth Man of the Year honors. He’s theoretically in position for the organic elevation to a starting role. The 6-2 guard, on one end, evolved into a tone-setter for the Razorbacks a year ago. “Defensively, I thought he was very average to start the year,” Musselman says. “I thought by midyear, he became a very good defender. And I thought in the NCAA Tournament, he became an elite defender.”

    The other side of it is Notae’s 42.6 percent shooting on two-point attempts and 33.5 percent on 3s, neither of which are enviable rates. He’s a plus in pick-and-roll offense, having spent more than a quarter of his possessions last season in those scenarios and rating in the 75th percentile nationally with 0.863 PPP, per Synergy. So if experience makes him even better there, and he adds a more discerning eye for his shots, Notae gives Arkansas a much more balanced option in the backcourt. “We talked about shot selection with him,” Musselman says. “That’s going to be really, really important in his development. I think he can get a shot up whenever he wants, but (the issue) becomes the quality of the shot.”



    [​IMG]

    JD Notae was the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year last season. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)


    Davonte Davis is arguably the biggest variable for the Razorbacks in 2021-22. He was a standout in the NCAA Tournament run as a freshman, with 57 points in four games … and the full-season look shows Davis was average or below average in nearly every offensive scenario. We’ll dive into the potential for a very consequential breakout in the Spotlight section below.

    Plucking Au’Diese Toney out of the portal was a matter of fit and need coalescing. The 6-6 Pittsburgh transfer’s size and length and ability to guard multiple positions — strong enough to front the post, with enough lateral quickness to switch on to a point guard — reminds Musselman of the Martin twins, from the head coach’s days at Nevada. The departures of Moses Moody, Justin Smith and Jalen Tate put a premium on finding a like-for-like replacement, or at least close enough. Still, Arkansas probably has to refine what it requires of him on the offensive end; Toney needed 10.4 shots per game to average 14.4 points as a junior. He isn’t the guy you want running pick-and-rolls (a measly 0.379 PPP in those scenarios, per Synergy), but he works well off screens and will hit the open jump shot (57.1 percent on unguarded jumpers versus 22.7 percent on guarded looks). As long as Toney guards and rebounds — he averages 7.3 boards per 40 minutes for his career so far — he’ll be a rotation cog at minimum.

    Recruiting Jaxson Robinson — again — might pay off for Arkansas. The 6-6 sophomore reclassified into the Class of 2021 and headed to Texas A&M, with the Razorbacks coming in second in that race. Now, by the grace of the transfer portal, Robinson is in Fayetteville, after all. He logged 137 minutes as a freshman and, as such, the Arkansas staff wasn’t certain how swiftly he’d evolve into a useful piece. Color them pleasantly surprised. “He’s earned the right to be in our rotation, and he’s one of our best shooters for sure,” Musselman says. “And he’s had incredible buy-in and a really great attitude. With all the newcomers, he bought in as quickly as anybody into what we want.”

    Chance Moore is the lone true freshman newcomer on the roster, which is unfortunate timing if the four-star top 100 guard wanted a clear path to immediate minutes. Moore has the size (6-5, 195 pounds) to fit the system as a multi-position tool, but patience might be a virtue, like it or not. “It’s going to come down to, how quickly will he understand the intensity that we want to play and practice with?” Musselman says. Sophomore Khalen Robinson, meanwhile, has missed most of the offseason battling a foot injury that continues to flare up, per Musselman. For Robinson, getting healthy and available comes before getting any playing time in 2021-22.

    Wings: Stanley Umude can be none more up-transfer, to borrow a phrase from “Spinal Tap.” A three-time all-conference performer … in the Summit League. A monster 21.6 points and seven rebounds per game … in the Summit League. Now he’ll be relied upon as a consistent points producer in one of the better conferences in the country. College basketball history is littered with examples of mid-major production translating not at all to the big leagues. Will what happened in South Dakota stay in South Dakota? “His body of work in practice will tell you that he’s a guy that we’re going to rely on to score,” Musselman says. “He’s a guy that can really, really score the ball in the mid-post. What he’s done better than we thought is being a facilitator and a passer.”

    Umude may be a small forward at the next level, but Musselman has the 6-6 transfer pegged as a four and even a five for Arkansas. It makes sense. On 90 post-ups for South Dakota last season, Umude averaged 1.178 PPP — good for the 96th percentile nationally. His next-best offensive scenario was transition scoring, and from that, we have a picture of a small-ball big who can exploit matchups and/or outrace more traditional power forwards. “It’s not like I’m going to be down there just banging in the post all day,” Umude says. “It’s going to be obvious that I’m versatile that way, where I can play on the wing and the mid-post. It’s going to be good for the team.” Still, Umude is also here to demonstrate more efficiency stretching the floor (he’s a career 34.2 percent 3-point shooter). So balances must be struck. Umude expects the surrounding talent to create more catch-and-shoot chances, and he’s viewing the unlimited availability of Arkansas’ practice gym — as opposed to floor-sharing issues at his previous stop — as perhaps the biggest plus.

    “The reps are what will help my mechanics,” Umude says. “I don’t think I was getting as many shots up, with as much access, as I am now. I’m shooting the ball better than I ever have in my life, and that’s just a tribute to the amount of resources we have here.”

    Kamani Johnson is a dude. That is the applicable label for 6-7, 235-pound forwards in their fourth year of college hoops, who are that rare breed of transfer who actually sat out a year. He joined the Razorbacks last December after two years at Little Rock, and serving as a scout-team guy and going through a full cycle of strength and conditioning no doubt should benefit Johnson’s ability to execute the system reliably against SEC competition. “Kind of a lunch-pail guy, gets loose balls, runs the floor hard, offensive rebounder, extremely high-volume free-throw attempt player,” Musselman says.

    How the skill set evolves could be intriguing. As a sophomore, Johnson was a definitive Sun Belt big. A full 73 percent of his possessions comprised post-ups, offensive putbacks, cuts and transition opportunities, per Synergy. He registered only 20 possessions in pick-and-roll actions and was decent as a finisher … but not outstanding. The Razorbacks probably will be satisfied if Johnson provides a physical presence and rebounds and finishes and gets to the line, as Musselman outlined. But it wouldn’t hurt if the time spent in the program so far has allowed Johnson to develop other talents.

    How swiftly Trey Wade figures into the mix depends on how well he plays catch-up. The 6-6 transfer has missed the last several weeks with a knee injury and, per Musselman, should be back in the fold for practice on Nov. 5. Four days later, of course, the Razorbacks start playing games for real. A guy who’s averaged 7.1 points per game between stops at UTEP and Wichita State might not seem to be an absolutely indispensable element, but Musselman likes Wade’s leadership and ability to guard one through five. Wade could be a “defensive stopper,” in the Razorbacks coach’s estimation, but getting up to speed on the other end is paramount. “We’re not worried about his conditioning because he takes great pride in being in great shape,” Musselman says. “But because we have a lot of offensive quick hitters, we’re concerned (about him) understanding the offense, baseline out of bounds, all of that stuff. It’s a little bit harder to learn when you can play four different spots on the floor.”

    Bigs: It’s interesting to hear Musselman talk about Jaylin Williams, because it is not the way you’d expect to hear a coach talk about a guy who averaged 3.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in his first college season. The 6-10 sophomore did get three NCAA Tournament starts, posting 10 rebounds in the second round against Texas Tech and then making a nice eight-point contribution in the Elite Eight loss to Baylor; the timing of that awakening certainly might spark some thoughts of a possible breakthrough to come. But Musselman doesn’t appear to be stopping at might or possible.

    “He’s a leader for us,” the Razorbacks coach says of Williams. “That’s the biggest thing — he’s got great leadership qualities. He’s really improved as an outside shooter. He was an underrated shooter last year. I just didn’t really let him expand that part of his game with the team we had. I think we’ll see him take more 3-point attempts, but he is also really good around the rim. He’s our best taking-charge player. And he’s a really, really good passer for a big man and for a sophomore.”

    So maybe there is a breakout of some kind in the offing? Williams hit 7 of his 23 long-range attempts last season, and he shot 74 percent from the free-throw line, auguring a decent stroke from the perimeter. He’s nevertheless a time-will-tell variable for on-floor production.



    [​IMG]

    Sophomore big man Jaylin Williams could be in line for a breakout season. (Marc Lebryk / USA Today)


    As a 7-3 center entering his fourth year of college basketball, Connor Vanover might not be a prime add-more-wrinkles candidate. Playing about half the game, rebounding well (11.3 boards per 40 minutes last season) and protecting the rim (4.3 blocks per 40) sounds like a solid package. But Musselman wants Vanover’s offense redirected, if not reinvented. The Razorbacks coach wants fewer looks from beyond the arc — 74 of Vanover’s 155 shot attempts last season were from 3-point range — and an enhanced focus on putting pressure on the rim. “We talked to him about being a dynamic roller and catching that ball above the back line and the defense,” Musselman says. “He actually was really good in the Red-White scrimmage at rolling. I think he had three dunks over the top on rolls, which we did not see last year.”

    Spotlight on: Davonte Davis
    For a while, Davonte Davis was very much a freshman. Occasional bursts of promise blended with disappearing acts for the 6-4 guard known as “Devo.” Then, in January, a highly efficient stretch graduated to a starting role. Over the last month and a half, Davis averaged 11.6 points per game. His aforementioned breakout in the NCAA Tournament capped it all, neatly positioning him on the edge of the Sophomore Leap trampoline. So is moving Davis to point guard the next evolutionary step, or tinkering with something that wasn’t broken?

    It’s neither, really. It’s merely going back to where it all began. “I’ve always played the point, so it wasn’t a big change,” the sophomore says. “But I can tell you for sure the game has slowed down for me.”

    Out of necessity and the fact that Jalen Tate was on the roster, Davis spent much of last season operating at the two and the three, and even slid into a small-ball power forward role during the NCAA Tournament. As such, he doesn’t have the bonafides of a college point guard yet. Davis logged all of 31 possessions as a pick-and-roll ball-handler last season, per Synergy. He averaged 3.6 assists per 40 minutes. Davis can’t do what he’s not asked to do, and he wasn’t asked to be a primary table-setter … but he also hasn’t been asked to be a table-setter for a power conference contender yet. For now, it’s a variable.

    Pull back a little more, though, and Davis reminds you he’s been a point guard from the time he picked up a basketball through his senior year of high school, when he averaged eight assists per game, with 17 points-assists double-doubles. That’s a somewhat reliable indicator that he has innate run-the-show instincts; Arkansas just needed him elsewhere last season. “I told them, if I needed to play the three or four, I’d do that,” Davis says. Given Davis’ aggressiveness on the other end, his addition of 10 pounds to his frame and his experience, Musselman views him as an ideal point-of-attack cog.

    “He’s definitely a leader for us,” Musselman says. “He’s a guy that is an elite defender. He’s a guy that is unselfish. He can make the spectacular wild play with both passing and scoring and is really, really competitive.”

    Davis assumed the transition was coming long before it began, too, having sussed out the roster situation post-Tate. “I figured I’d work my way there,” he says. “I already knew that spot and the plays and all that, so it wasn’t a hard transition. I was ready. (Musselman) just gave me the green light to run the offense and do what I need to do to help us in any way.”

    Playing Davis at the point puts him in his most natural spot and also consciously plays him at the position he’d play at the next level. Arkansas also has Notae and Lykes as failsafes; Davis doesn’t have to carry the entire load to begin with. Under those circumstances, and given his season-long growth as a freshman, it’s easy to envision Davis as a national 2021-22 breakout candidate — the sort of performance Arkansas would love to have, if it wants to reprise last year’s run.

    Redirecting Davis to a relatively new role adds a wrinkle. We’ll see if Arkansas’ gut feeling about “Devo” is the right one.

    Recruiting
    Arkansas recruiting: It’s going pretty well!

    The Razorbacks, as of the day before this published, boast the No. 1 recruiting class in the SEC and the No. 2 class nationally for 2022, per 247Sports. Every single one of its commitments is a top 100 prospect. Two are five-star recruits: Nick Smith (No. 9 nationally), a 6-4 guard from North Little Rock, and Jordan Walsh (No. 27 nationally), a 6-7 swingman from Missouri. Smith is clearly an optimal get for Musselman and Co., arriving as one of the school’s most decorated recruits, ever, and a walking 6-4 statement about the sort of battles Musselman’s staff can wage and win. But two of the other pledges — four-star combo guard Derrian Ford and four-star forward Joseph Pinion are home-state players as well. The Land of Opportunity, indeed.

    We’ll believe that Musselman will de-prioritize the transfer portal when we see it. So is this five-man haul a coincidence, simply a product of a good year for Arkansas high school basketball and good sales pitches from Razorbacks coaches … or is it a decision to pursue more organic roster-building from now on? “You got to win with stars,” Musselman says. “And so whatever we recruit, whether it’s high school, whether it’s portal, we gotta get star players.”

    Schedule analysis
    Arkansas didn’t go out of its way to find backbreaking non-conference challenges, and the SEC schedule rotation happened to follow the theme. The clear-cut headline event of the non-conference slate is the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City in late November, with an opening game against Kansas State (so, basically, a road game at a neutral site) and then either Cincinnati or Illinois the next night. If Musselman and Co. want a schedule-strength boost, they’ll crave a matchup with the Illini, a top 10-ish team. Matchups with Oklahoma in December and West Virginia in January add some recognizable names to the mix. But the Sooners will still be piecing things together under Porter Moser at that point, and the Mountaineers might not finish in the top half of the Big 12.

    To be clear, nothing will be easy in the SEC. But facing Kentucky and Alabama just once apiece lightens the load -— especially with the Wildcats coming through Fayetteville for that late February showdown.

    If the roster churn and implementation of various new pieces convinced Arkansas to give itself as much uncluttered runway as possible before league play, we can see the logic. Still, a can’t-look-away schedule, it ain’t. At least not between late November and early January.

    The ceiling
    The Muss Bus is so crowded, it has stowaways in the luggage compartments, and we get it: Twenty-five wins and a run to the Elite Eight, where the loss was delivered by the eventual national champions, can have a fan base properly frothed for more. And the 2021-22 roster composition does bear some resemblance to the 2020-21 group, albeit with a superlative freshman element notably absent.

    Still, taking that next step to national championship contender might be difficult this season, mostly because certain programs elsewhere got their acts together and loaded up on talent something fierce. It’s not you, Arkansas. It’s them.

    But that’s fine! Under ideal circumstances, the Razorbacks develop into a group with enough options and experience to push towards the top of the SEC and make a second-weekend appearance in the NCAA Tournament. That’s a solid way to maintain overall program momentum, especially considering who arrives next summer. Expecting more probably means you’re betting on someone like Davis emerging as All-SEC revelation, or matchups breaking insanely well in March, or both. And, hey, who knows? It’s college basketball. Bewilderment is one of the default settings.

    The floor
    Star power is a concern. Arkansas has an assortment of solid players with fine track records, but are any of them a singular force capable of asserting his will upon top 25 opponents regularly? Is Lykes big enough to do that in the SEC? Does Umude’s production in the Summit League have any shot at translating to a power conference? Is there a next gear for Notae or Toney or Davis? And what does that look like, if it exists?

    A sum-of-parts approach isn’t a bad approach. You can win with that. You can win when it doesn’t have to be the same guy, every time, saving the day. But this structure has its limits, too, particularly if you don’t have one or two players capable of otherworldly moments and the opponents do. Arkansas will make the NCAA Tournament. It’s too good with too navigable a schedule. But it could be a short stay, if a couple stars don’t develop beforehand.

    Final report
    A tough act to follow is, ultimately, a really nice problem to have in college basketball. It means the first act was really good. It means the general program trajectory is auspicious, which allows coaches to work from a position of strength and authority both in-house and on the recruiting trail. That’s where Arkansas appears to be, entering the third season with Musselman at the helm.

    The Razorbacks also don’t have to look outside of their own league to see how tenuous success can be, and how even programs with the sturdiest failsafes can fall apart. Two winning seasons and one NCAA Tournament appearance does not a dynasty make.

    Arkansas is trending up, for sure, never mind some standard head0coach hand-wringing. Now comes the hard and delicate work of turning various sharp corners and taking various large steps to ensure something good turns into something great, one act leading inexorably to the next.
     
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