I talked with Mike Neighbors for a while this morning about Arkansas’ trip to Italy in August. When he found out the trip was a go, he asked his girls how many had been out of the country before. Only 2 of 14 had. Should be a great trip for them.
Also gave me some great tidbits on guards Chelsea Dungee and A’Tyanna Gaulden, the transfers from Oklahoma and Florida State who sat out last season. He’s thrilled to have both on board. Believes Gaulden will be able to take pressure off Malica Monk and play faster as a whole next season. “She fits us about as well as any guard we could ask for.”
If the newcomers are as good as advertised, there’s a chance next year’s team will be middle of the pack in the SEC, which would be a huge leap. The idea that they may play faster as a team is great, considering how fast Malica Monk plays.
Neighbors thinks he can play faster than he did in 2017-18. “We can” was his quote.
His thinking offensively is if opponents don’t put their fastest player on Monk, she’ll blow by. Put the second fastest on Gaulden, then good luck. He likes her strength a lot. Then, potentially, the No. 3 and 4 defenders are stuck with Dungee and Jailyn Mason. Puts a lot of pressure on the defense, for sure.
I think the big thing for them on this trip, kind of like I wrote in the story, is the transfers meshing with the returning pieces. Monk is used to having the ball in her hands a lot. How does she adjust to Gaulden and others handling it a bit now? Neighbors said there was a healthy amount of mixing the transfers in in practice last season, and what he saw was pretty dynamic. The SID told me mid-season those two were arguably the best players on the floor a lot of the time.