Anderson eyes remodeling of Razorbacks program
The smell of a fresh coat of paint hung throughout Bud Walton
Arena on Wednesday.
The sprucing up was part of an offseason of work inside
Arkansas’ basketball home, though it’s only a small part of the
”remodeling” coach Mike Anderson faces in his first year.
Anderson left Missouri in March to return to where he helped
lead the Razorbacks to the 1994 national championship as an
assistant coach under Nolan Richardson. His arrival was a
homecoming of sorts, and it was treated as such – with an estimated
5,000 Arkansas fans greeting Anderson during his introduction as
former coach John Pelphrey’s replacement.
It’s a honeymoon that Anderson said has carried throughout the
offseason and to now, with the Razorbacks set to begin practices
That was then, however, and this is now. And now means the harsh
reality that Arkansas basketball isn’t the perennial power it was
during Anderson’s first go-around at the school. The Razorbacks
were 18-13 last season, missing the NCAA tournament for the third
”This is a new era,” Anderson said. ”What took place here the
last few years, that happened. Now we’re at another point in
Razorback basketball history, and my goal is to take it to the
Arkansas also saw a steady decline in attendance in Pelphrey’s
four seasons – from 17,148 his first season to 12,022 in 18 games
last season in the 19,200-seat arena.
Anderson was 111-57 in five seasons at Missouri, including an
appearance in the final eight in 2009. The Tigers were 23-11 last
season, losing to Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA
tournament. He was 89-41 in four season at Alabama-Birmingham
before that and has no doubt that the Razorbacks can return to one
of the Southeastern Conference’s elite teams.
”We’re remodeling some of the offices; we’re gonna remodel the
mindset of our players,” Anderson said. ”And at the same time,
remodel our fans and get them engaged.
”Our fans have always been a part of Razorback
Anderson’s remodeling job could have the feel of a total
makeover this season. Seven former players left Arkansas after last
season, including three who transferred to other schools.
That includes scoring leader Rotnei Clarke, who initially said
he would stay at Arkansas before transferring to Butler during the
summer. Clarke averaged 15.2 points last season and shot 44 percent
”I always say, `I don’t worry about what I don’t have,”’
Anderson said. ”We’re going to work with the players that we do
have, and we’re going to field a team that’s going to be
The Razorbacks, who have only 10 scholarship players, return
only 45 percent of last season’s scoring and are counting on
forward Marshawn Powell to help offset the roster turnover. Powell
averaged 14.9 points per game as a freshman before a foot injury
before last season limited his effectiveness.
Powell averaged 10.8 points per game last season, and his
rebounding average fell from 6.7 per game as a freshman to 4.5 last
season. The junior said he’s nearly fully recovered from another
foot injury after last season, and he’s enjoyed a fresh start under
”We appreciate coach just spending that time and working with
us and giving us time to adjust to his system,” Powell said. ”I
just can’t wait. I’m excited; I’m ready.”
A talented group of four incoming freshmen are also being
counted on for the Razorbacks, though Anderson warned, ”They’re
not gonna be the savior.” The highly recruited group includes Ky
Madden, Devonta Abron, B.J. Young and Hunter Mickelson, and Madden
said they’ve blended quickly with the upperclassmen.
”We don’t come in and think that we are the best, you know,”
Madden said. ”… We’re not Superman or (anything). We’re just
here to help. As far as I’m concerned … I’m Robin.”