Ok. We’re 11-2, which looks good, but most of the wins were against not great teams, and the two losses were beat downs from pretty good teams that nonetheless we should be able to be more competitive with. This week we’ll be underdogs in both games, so could be looking at an 0-3 SEC start. What happened to this season’s high hopes? Well, somehow Kingsley went backwards on offense. He’s still a force blocking shots and rebounding, but throwing it to him in the post is most likely going to be a turnover or missed shot. Something is different from last year, but I don’t know what it is. Is he trying too hard? Did Durham get him the ball in spots nearer the basket where he could be more effective? Is he trying for too much finesse? I don’t know, but he has disappointed. He won’t be getting many, if any, votes for SEC player of the year as things stand now. Second, I had expected Barford to be a force, but he looks completely lost out there. You can tell he’s a great athlete, but he’s just not in sync with the rest of the team. Had those two players lived up to expectations, I think we’d be competing with Florida for second place, but, as it is, I think it might be a struggle to finish above .500 in conference. On the bright side, Macon looks great, a real gem. Beard has improved, too. Arlando Cook has looked pretty good, plays hard and has a decent shot, much better free throw shooter than expected, which tells me he’ll eventually be hitting the mid-range jumper consistently. Finally, the next two recruiting classes, taken together, look like the best back-to-back recruiting classes in this century. So, there is hope that things will get better. Oh, one other thing. Hannahs has been in a three point shooting slump all year. He was so deadly last year, well over 40% from three, many of them in clutch situations. This year, he’s well under 40%, and some of those threes this year have been in garbage time when they really didn’t matter.
Kingsley has never really been an offensive machine even though he improved a lot last year. I think more teams are aware of him and guarding him more closely. Dust’y shooting slump was apparent all year, but even more so in the Florida game. Barford, Jones, and Baily needs to step up their game if this team wants to make the Tournament. Fortunately, we still have most of the SEC schedule for the above players to work things out. I must say that I really like Baily and Jones. That have a ton of untapped talent and with effort could become real assets to the program. Anderson has two very good classes coming in over the next couple of years. If these players are as good as advertised, Arkansas could once again compete with Florida and Kentucky for SEC Titles and become nationally relevant again.