2008 Arkansas Razorbacks Basketball Preview
The Arkansas Razorbacks (23-12 overall, 9-7 SEC) have had a three-year run in the NCAA Tournament. Last year after finishing second in the SEC West, the team beat Indiana 86-72 in round one of the Big Dance and then lost to North Carolina 108-77. It was a good first-season for head coach John Pelphrey. The 2008-2009 season does not look so rosy as the Razorbacks have to deal with losing six seniors who were responsible for 70% of the team’s points and 63% of their assists and rebounds.
The frontcourt is young and inexperienced. Six-foot-ten, 224-pound forward/center Michael Washington (13.4 MPG, 4.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.5 APG, 41.3 FG%, 62.3 FT%), a junior, offers the most experience. This season he’ll have a prime opportunity to become the big man upfront. Two freshmen forwards, Michael Sanchez and Andre Clark, will see significant minutes. Both have big bodies. Sanchez was redshirted last season and Clark enrolled at the university in January and practiced with the team.
Rookie point guard Courtney Fortson, a former Mr. Basketball in Alabama, has the talent to be a playmaker, point scorer, tough defender and solid rebounder. Junior college transfer Montrell McDonald will see playing time too. He looks to be in the wing spot. Patrick Beverly (33.8 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 41.2 FG%, 64.4 FT%) has a good shot from the field and fine rebounding skills, but his accuracy from the free throw line and three-point arc must improve. Freshman Rotnei Clarke, who averaged over 30 PPG while at Verdigris High School, has the potential to be a major contributor.
The question is can coach Pelphrey get so many inexperienced players
on the same page, playing as a team and reaching their full potential
quickly? The Razorbacks have a chance to finish near the top due
to the fact that the SEC West is in such flux. But there’s
a whole lot working against this team in terms of inexperience,
hard work and lack of depth. Look for these Razorbacks to finish
at the bottom of their division and out of the running for a post-season