Connor Vanover

Just thought I would throw this out there. When Connor was in high school in Arkansas, I hoped Coach A wouldn’t recruit him. He just seemed, to me, to be a slow, big, white kid. Those kinds of kids didn’t seem to be a fit for “the fastest 40” or “40 minutes of hell.” I thought he would slow us down. Well, I was wrong. I watched Connor, last season in Barnhill, drain 3 after 3 and barely touch the rim. It didn’t take long for me to realize how much of a matchup nightmare, and weapon, he could be for Muss. Connor doesn’t have to be fast in this offense. He can be devastating as a trailer. Seriously, who can guard him in that role? He’s going to open up the offense in the half court, and our guards should be able to drive at will. Oliver Miller wasn’t exactly fleet of foot, but he blocked a ton of shots and threw the prettiest baseball passes I have ever seen. When Oliver initiated the break, it was deadly. So, again, I was completely wrong about Connor. I am SO excited we have him. If he had played last season, I think we would have made The Dance, but since there was no dance, I am absolutely thrilled he has 3 years of eligibility left.

I agree, plus Muss will utilize him inside and out to try to keep him out of foul trouble. Especially since we will have more horses in the stable in the coming years.

If Connor put on good weight in the last year, he could be a monster.

He is a giant with soft touch. I don’t know if his height will translate into great play, but he is just so tall. When he stood in line with the team for the National Anthem at games this year, he made everybody look short. He must be the tallest player ever to play for the Razorbacks.

According to HogStats’ page that lists all of Arkansas’ 7-footers, he’s the tallest player on a roster in team history.

I will be rooting as hard as anybody for Connor. After all he is a homeboy to me, having played just a few miles from my home.

But my two cents that are as as worthless as they always are.

Connor has been able to shoot a three as long as I remember starting his sophomore year. Hitting a three when left alone has been there since that year. I bet you he can hit at a 70% clip in that scenario. And yes, it has always been amazingly a pure shot as Jeremy says.

But here is why I will be watching with great interest in what happens next.

Ron Crawford was his biggest sponsor in high school and AAU ball playing for the Wings. In his sophomore year, he was getting letters from Duke, UNC and all. Ron thought Anderson will have to fight off those schools to get him. At the end of that year, Ron got him on USA Junior team. Ron said that was a mistake because Connor got exposed big time and his stock fell dramatically. Ron said openly that he did not see Connor getting a high major offer. Ron talked about what weaknesses Connor had.

I have watched highlights of Connor at Cal and one complete game. Connor seems to have overcome some of the weaknesses. But I could still see some remaining. My remaining questions with Connor are

Can he score inside against an athletic SEC 6-9 or 6-10 forward? Don’t think he will see anyone taller than that.

Can he shoot a three with a hand in his face of that same defender?

Can he play the switching man defense that Muss likes to play? Muss’s half court defense is as taxing as Anderson’s with less gambling.

Given that, I will be looking in much anticipation with the following.

First, most players improve significantly sitting out a year. So, what progress has Connor made sitting out to answer those questions?

Muss has clearly stated that he has a plan for Connor on defense. This is the one I look forward to most because Muss seems very confident and emphatic in saying this. And questions on defense may not have to be answered.

Many of you have said that if you can’t play defense, you are not getting PT with Muss. But if Muss can fix the defense issue, look out. Because that means plenty of PT for Connor and everything Jeremy said on offense will come to fruition, regardless of what he can or cannot do inside on offense

If Muss has decided that he will play zone when Connor is on the floor, he can fix the half-court defense pretty quickly. I’m more worried about transition defense, especially against a fast paced team like Bama when he’s in the line-up. Like you, I’m looking forward to seeing how Muss is going to adjust with Connor.

I hope he gets significant minutes because he can be a difference maker when his shot is falling. He can also be a rim protector and decent rebounder.

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I think finding a way to play man defense with him on the floor is going to be a challenge. How they do it is probably going to be very opponent-specific, based on the skills and weaknesses of the other guys on offense. His minutes are probably going to fluctuate more than some of the other guys in the rotation, and may also vary how much Muss is willing to trade the defensive issues for the offensive pressure he can create if he can hit a good percentage of threes.

Just put him on the guy who totally can’t shoot the 3 and keep him around the rim - don’t go out and guard the guy.

Teams can’t fast break while taking the ball out of the net.:dart:

What happens when the guy you don’t go out and guard sets a screen for a guy who can shoot the three? You expecting the shooter’s defender to get around those screens every time?

We were quite good at it in the MayDay era. Oliver Miller would take the ball out of the basket and fire it downcourt if the other team lagged getting back on defense. But it does make it more difficult.

First time we played UK at Rupp they were terrorizing every other team with their press, we kept throwing over it down court for fast break pits after made baskets. The look on Kentucky’s players was fantastic, like “they’re not supposed to do that”

Oliver is a good one to fall back on when you envision Connor on the defensive end of the court. I don’t think Connor has the rebounding and passing skills of Big O, but I am intrigued for the possibilities.

I am not confident it is going to work well 20 minutes a game but again I am looking forward to see what happens.

Any opposing coach who doesn’t instruct his big men to sprint the floor in transition and who doesn’t pick and roll Vanover to death, needs to be fired on the spot.

Pitino was so terrified of us that he practiced 7 on 5 that week. We never did that preparing for anybody.

That is one thing I liked about Hawgball. The other teams had to do unconventional stuff before playing us. That was our identity and the entire basketball world knew that, whether it was 40 minutes of hell or Fasted 40 minutes,

I am hoping in the next year or so, we will develop an identity that everyone thinks of when they talk about Arkansas, whether it is three ball or suffocating switching man defense.

I don’t want us to be like everyone else. Any guesses what our identity will be?

Last year I would say we were drive-and-3, because that’s what Mason Jones did. But we were also a relative bunch of midgets, basically a donut team (nothing in the middle). We’ll have an inside presence this year to go along with drive-and-3. So identity to be determined.

The fastest 40 minutes was never close to 40 minutes of hell. I love me some CMA but it just wasn’t even close from a defensive intensity. CNR could get them to a frenzy.

Those were great times, and in all honesty, Coach A never had a chance when he came back to Arkansas. Coach Richardson is a tough act to follow. Almost every coach that wanted to run and press in the 90’s tried to copy him. Pitino even admitted that HE did. I’m so very proud that Coach Richardson won a National Championship at Arkansas, and that I got to go along on the ride. He revolutionized the game. Coach A is great, and I love him, but there is only one Nolan Richardson and only one 40 Minutes of Hell.