i know its gridiron season, and im cautiously optimistic for them, but its hard to hide my excitement for the basketball season. after seeing the pairings for the Phil Knight soiree in Oregon i couldnt help but be giddy after seeing the Heels as possible second round matchup. granted we must get by the Sooners to get to UNC, but its more than feasible for that to happen. a few wins in this tourney could really put the hogs on fast track for the season. im excited more about this team because we’re not only more talented than we’ve been in ages, we’re more experienced also. if the upcoming sophomore class, notably CJ Jones and Adrio Bailey both make a major jump in play we could contend for SEC title. im more concerned about their improvement than what to expect from our heralded freshman class, only because id prefer not to have to depend on freshman, but any one of Gafford, Garland or Hall could be an impact player from get-go. i think many of us fans hope/expect Gafford to make most impact because his best assets are what this team needs to replace most. all 3 appear to have elite athleticism, i reserve judgment on their skill level, even though ive seen all 3 play in h.s. ive not seen them in an SEC battle.
here’s hoping for the best season since 95, go hogs, wps
Whoa bigbob, I too am optimistically looking forward to next season. However, we just lost Moses and Dusty whom we relied on for defense in the paint and clutch scoring. I like Trey, but he has only played limited minutes through 3 years and has been prone to foul trouble so, he will have to take a big leap forward to solidify the post. Gafford is the X-Factor, if he can step in and play a meaningful role I will feel better, but we simply don’t know yet. The PF position will need great improvement and hopefully Thomas and Cook get stronger at both ends of the floor in order to shore up a weakness this team had most of last season.
Big win with both Barford and Macon returning for a secon season and understanding what we need from them as well as what it takes to compete at a high D1 level. I think the amount of growth from Bailey and CJ Jones could be huge to our success depending on how much they are able to gain confidence and contribute on a regular basis.
A good showing at the early season Tourney is imperative for this team to build confidence and have that belief that they can compete and beat top level programs and that’s what they will need to do in order to put together a serious run in the SEC because don’t forget UK will be loaded again with 5 star talent. I believe we get them at home this time and we have been able to beat them in Fayetteville and that’s exactly what will be required to have a legitimate shot at the conference title.
i agree Dfarris, the loss of both Moses and Dusty are cavernous. im hoping that Jones can somewhat plug into Hannahs role. the loss of Moses is harder to replace especially defensively, but im hoping it can be filled through a collaborative effort, including improved perimeter defense with more long athletes combined with the arrival of Gafford and improvement of our 3-headed big man rotation returning. Hannahs was a highly skilled offensive player but he struggled defensively, even though he hustled hard on that end. the X-factor to me is Beard, if we get the good Beard he provides a facilitator on the floor. i love Barford, who will likely be our top player, his strength is not assisting others. granted he makes some nifty passes on occasion. he is an elite scorer off the dribble. hopefully Beard can provide that from a guard spot and Thompson from the 5 spot. his skill set is so unique for a big guy, he’s eerily comfy dishing from the high post spot.
im expecting Barford and Macon to be all SEC type players, i could even see Thompson being all SEC with expanded playing time thanks to smarter defense. we all know KY and FL will b good, and i expect AL, SC. Auburn, Vanderbilt and Georgia to be on the next tier. if we can avoid a lapse or 2 like we had last year i really think a run at the conference isnt far fetched, especially if we can knock of the wildcats.
i know my outlook is a little pie in the sky, but im just glad to feel something other than apathy at this juncture.
I’m just excited for the next three to five years of elite Hawgball due to stellar recruiting by Coach Anderson. I would not be surprised of another top 3 finish in the SEC next season. Yes Mr. Manny Watkins the defensive wizard we had on the perimeter will be sorely missed. He’s one of better defenders Hogs have had in the program as he took “another” step up in his senior year in that aspect culminating into his dominance of the two premier wing players he faced in the tournament.
I see athletically gifted and already with strong defensive intincts Adrio Bailey’s improvement into that same elite defender mode as he will have as much playing time as Watkins and I believe having the same impact or more next season including starting a few games in similar fashion on the wing and also at Hawgball power forward.
Dusty’s shoes should be “very amply” filled by increased scoring opportunities for Barford and Macon as I do expect them to be the “primary scorers” on the team. I see them at or near 20 points per game and raising their stock for the NBA. They are hungry after the close loss to NCAA champs Carolina. I see their defense being even more salty next season so they should be a well rounded and superb backcourt fortified by the long and rangy CJ Jones who project to be instant offense much like Hannahs, a sturdy senior point guard Beard, and a 6-5 incoming freshman who I think also should be decent on the boards. Most of the scoring will be oriented from the guard and wing spots so I also expect decent contributions from freshman Darious Hall. And do I have to say that if the Hogs get the same Thomas from the Seton Hall game with his offensive style with a semblance of playing style of those Morris twin now in the NBA, the Hogs should be able to more than “compensate” for Kingsley’s offense altogether with Thompson. I think that overall team scoring will be higher next season IMO.
As to filling Kingsley’s defensive shoes, we know that Thompson is decent when not foul prone and as long as he takes the next step in his senior year of being smarter and “staying” on the floor along with the Kingsley type athletic gifts of Gafford, I believe the Hogs become a deeper, more athletic team overall than last season. I did not mention Cook but he should be even more of a defensive force next season down in the post as I also see improvement from him as well. It will not shock to see him due to his energy and hustle at smallball center from time to time in a line-up with addition of longer and more athletic (and improved) players now filling the 2, 3, and 4 spots. Coach Anderson experimented (or as maybe what tbe game had dictated) with Cook at center and Thomas at power forward in very brief stretches last season. Now you plug in Bailey, Hall, Gafford, and Thompson at these “Hawgball” spots. I think Bailey, Hall, and Gafford will improve rebounding stats from last season along with the 6-5 Garland. Thompson should pull a “surprise” in this area next season by staying on the floor! Shotblocking stats should also increase next season for these same reasons of the new additions to the team and the expanded minutes of Thompson, Cook, and Bailey. Overall team defense including points per game, steals, rebounds, and blocks could be better than last season.
I think due to athletic makeup of the team in the starting line-up and on the 2nd unit, the key looks to be “much” stronger defensive versatility and should be the Hogs ticket to another good run in the NCAA next season. Arkansas is surely back amongst the NCAA darlings! The preseason tournament field definitely confirms the Hogs can be among the potential top 16 to 20 teams to watch out for through the course of next season! WPS!
If Gafford is healthy and is able to play he will learn to do his part. Trey can’t do it all in the middle. Every player on the roster will have to chip in and play for our hogs to win. The hogs will go as far as Bardford and Macon lead them.