Football season is (mercifully) over for the Hogs, so now it’s time to turn our full attention to basketball. The Hoop Hogs are having a much better season that the Gridiron Hogs, at least so far.
The Hogs are 4-1, with an impressive home win over Indiana (5-1) and an acceptable neutral-site loss to Texas (5-1), who has risen to #17 in the AP poll after upsetting North Carolina last week.
Let’s take a quick look at the player stats through five games. I’ve added a new statistic - Floor % - which is the percentage of a player’s possessions where they score at least one point. The stat tends to favor forwards, as they take higher-percentage shots, but it’s still a useful metric.
For a review of the other stats (PPP, EPR, TS, EFG%) be sure to check out this post.
Arkansas Player Season Stats
Daniel Gafford continues to carry the team. He leads the squad in effective field goal percentage - 72.5%, the same as his raw FG% since he hasn’t attempted a three-pointer - and true shooting. To score 1.39 points per shot opportunity despite struggling at the free throw line is impressive. The only impediment to Gafford’s numbers is his EPR, which is being dragged down by 18 turnovers. He’ll need to limit those when the lights get bigger.
Adrio Bailey has taken a big step forward. He leads the team in points per possession (1.4), EPR (103 shot opportunities per 100 possessions), and floor percentage (75% of his possessions result in the Hogs scoring at least one point). He’s not a high-volume player with just 40 possessions in five games, but he’s providing some excellent efficiency right now.
If you sort the TS column, you can see that Arkansas clearly has four scorers right now: Gafford, Bailey, Isaiah Joe, and Mason Jones. Everyone under 1.0 TS is getting poor returns on their shots. That’s okay, since this is a young team that will keep growing, but in the biggest games, there are four guys that need to be shooting the basketball, and no one else. Jalen Harris is still struggling to find his shot, but has managed a 0.94 TS thanks to some good free throw shooting (17 of 21). Reggie Chaney has been the biggest improver in the last two games, and he’s up to 50% EFG% (at least 52% is ideal) and 52.4% Floor% after a slow first few games.
Up next is Florida International. The Panthers are 6-1, but three of their wins are over non-D1 teams. The three teams they’ve beaten — Milwaukee, Columbia, and Youngstown State — have all played each other but are a combined 2-6 against the rest of Division 1. FIU’s lone loss is on the road against Fordham.
After FIU comes the trickiest non-conference game: a true road test against Colorado State. Expect to see some freshmen moments in that one. Four straight home games — all winnable, including a tilt with Georgia Tech — will bring us into conference play after New Year’s Day. Getting to SEC play at 11-1 would be a coup for this young team.