The Arkansas basketball team has two key factors that will help them be successful this season: balance and depth.
After the loss of last season’s two leading scorers, BJ Young and Marshawn Powell, the Razorbacks were unsure who was going to step up and make plays. Young and Powell averaged 15.2 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. The next leading scorer was returner Coty Clarke with 7.6 points per game.
This season there hasn’t been one player that the Hogs can rely on to be high scorer every single game. They are well balanced in the scoring column.
Arkansas is shooting very well this season. They are shooting 49.1 percent from the field and they rank 13th in the NCAA and lead the SEC in points per game at 85.5.
Clarke was expected to be this season’s leading scorer, but that isn’t the case at all. There are four players averaging double figures and Clarke is not one of them. Michael Qualls, Bobby Portis, Alandise Harris and Rashad Madden all average over 10 points per game. Qualls leads the way with 14.1 points per game.
Balance can either benefit or hurt a team. In Arkansas’ case it benefits them more than anything. They don’t have a go-to guy like BJ Young or Marshawn Powell anymore. None of these players are ready to have the role of leading scorer every game, not just yet. But their balance allows them to score without relying on one player.
The balance between the backcourt and the frontcourt is also a key factor. Head coach Mike Anderson has many options: he can go with a small lineup, a big lineup, or a balanced lineup.
The guards are getting it done on the perimeter. Arkansas is shooting 38.8 percent from behind the line and averaging 16 assists and seven steals per game.
This is one of the best frontcourts Arkansas has seen since the Nolan Richardson era. Portis, Harris and Clarke, along with freshman Moses Kingsley are the main factors in their success. All four average over five points and three rebounds per game.
Depth must be present in order to play the “Fastest 40” style of basketball and depth is exactly what Arkansas has.
There are 12 players averaging over 10 minutes per game. Playing 12 players for solid minutes every game allows Arkansas to get up and down the court and wear opponents out. There will be a lot of teams in the SEC who have a better starting five than Arkansas but none will be able to hang with Arkansas’ depth. The Hogs have to learn to use their depth to beat good teams.
Sophomore DeQuavious Wagner and freshman Manuale Watkins are the only two players that don’t see much playing time. Nothing against them, they just aren’t ready to play at this level yet but will get there eventually. Besides Wagner and Watkins, everyone is contributing quality minutes.
In 11 games, Arkansas has had 10 different starting lineups and 10 players have at least started once. This just proves the quality of balance and depth present in Arkansas’ roster.