If you missed it this weekend, The Hoop Hogs had their annual red/white game in front of an estimated 7,000+ fans. It’s a team with Daniel Gafford and a ton of new faces around him. Friday was our first chance to see them in a semi-competitive environment. The Red team won 105-82 led by Gafford and Isaiah Joe. Here are a few key takeaways from that scrimmage.
Isaiah Joe Can Fill It Up
There’s going to be a big scoring hole left from Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon’s graduations. The first person who looked up to filling that role was Isaiah Joe, who was the most recent Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arkansas. He led all scorers with 31 while shooting 10-17 and 9-14 from deep. They will certainly need his scoring touch this season with a team losing almost 90% of their scoring from a year ago.
Length, Length, Length
The one thing this team has way more of than last season is length. Especially at the wings. Barford and Macon could do a lot of things, but they weren’t the longest defenders and it hurt the Hogs at times. Both were listed (pretty generously) at 6’3” and more often that not one was forced to guard a small forward when both were on the court with the 6’0” Anton Beard.
Fast forward to this year and you have Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones both listed at 6’5”, as is Khalil Garland if he gets healthy. Adrio Bailey should get minutes at the 3 and when Jordan Phillips recovers from his surgery that is another option who is 6’7”. Mike Anderson has said he wants to get after teams defensively, and with this group of players he can do that without being at a physical disadvantage like last season.
Jalen Harris Leads at Point Guard
Last year Macon and Barford took turns taking the lead as combo guards. This year the Hogs have Jalen Harris on the court, and he will be a much more traditional point guard, setting up opportunities for others, most often Joe and Gafford. He finished the scrimmage with 16 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds. The six turnovers is a concern and will need to be reduced throughout the year. But having a player with the potential to clear last year’s leader of 3.9 assists per game should benefit the other scorers.