Arkansas enters 2014 with a chip on their shoulder, ready to begin SEC play and show what they are really made of, but in order for them to do so there are a few things that must happen.
1. Win on the road!
This cannot be stressed enough. There is no way Arkansas will ever make it into the NCAA tournament until they prove they can win games away from home. This should be the main focus of the team this season. No matter how many games you win at home, if you can’t win on the road, you aren’t a good team, pure and simple.
Arkansas basketball has been unsuccessful on the road the past few seasons. Last season the Hogs only won one game away from Bud Walton Arena and went 0-3 at neutral sites, but had no problem winning at home.
The past two seasons their only conference road wins have come at Auburn, that won’t cut it. There are a lot of teams in the SEC that Arkansas should be able to beat on the road consistently.
2. Play with high intensity
Early in the season the Razorbacks have played with great intensity, especially on the defensive end. They have held opponents to an average of 66.2 points per game and have forced 220 total turnovers and collected 98 total steals in just 12 games.
Of course, Arkansas hasn’t played the greatest competition just yet but they need to continue playing with the same level of intensity, if not a higher level, throughout their SEC schedule.
Most teams in the SEC won’t be able to keep up with the “Fastest 40” style of basketball; they lack the depth to do so. If Arkansas plays aggressive and gets after teams for the entire 40 minutes, every game, there won’t be a team in the SEC that will be able to keep up.
Senior Kikko Haydar brings the energy to this team, players needs to feed off his energy. If every player would play with the heart that Haydar does, this team would be unstoppable.
3. Keep shooting
Arkansas has been hot, hot, hot this season. They are currently ranked 12th in the nation in points per game at 85.8 and are currently shooting 49 percent from the field (19th in the nation), as well as 40 percent from behind the arc.
Michael Qualls, Anthlon Bell, and Rashad Madden are the three are the best shooters on the team and they need to be able to step up and hit shots. If they continue to shoot like they have, they will be hard to stop.
It’s simple, Arkansas needs to continue to shoot well and produce points to win SEC games.
Rebounding has been a struggle for Arkansas early in the season. They are only averaging 37.4 rebounds per game, which will not cut it in the SEC.
Arkansas’ big men: Bobby Portis, Alandise Harris, Coty Clarke and Moses Kingsley need to strive to win the boards every night. But rebounding isn’t just for the big men; it should be a goal for every player to win the boards, every game, on both the defensive and offensive side.
It’s very easy to lose games by being out rebounded, but Arkansas cannot afford to lose games that way.