It’s finally here, Razorback Basketball officially starts tonight at 7 PM against Mercer in Bud Walton Arena. I’m very excited, as are many Razorback faithful across this great state.
It’s hard not to have high expectations for this squad, especially after our Elite 8 run last season. Eric Musselman has certainly revived this program and morale is high. I thought a great idea for an article would be me giving my thoughts on day one, prior to tip off.
I would love to revisit this article in several weeks once we have numerous games under our belt and a better understanding of this team.
It’s tough not to have high expectations for Arkansas this season. Not only has Musselman recruited well thus far, his transfer portal work is undoubtedly impressive. Chris Lykes, Stanley Umude, Trey Wade, Kamani Johnson and Au’Diese Toney will be brand new additions to this team. I’d expect all of them to contribute significantly, if not start on this team.
With the strong influx of talent adding to an already talented roster, how can you not be excited? Not only have we added depth, but we’ve added a wealth of experience.
Justin Smith, Moses Moody and Jalen Tate are tough to replace, but I think we’ve found essential pieces. I do have some concerns with how this team could gel early in the season. I think this is one reason for struggles in the pre-season exhibition games. It’s not easy to throw a bunch of guys together and expect them to gel without issue immediately.
Look at last season? We all know how that team evolved, but it didn’t come without struggles. This is something we’ll need to be patient of early in the year. I’m also going to have a strong focus on Jaylen Williams and Devo Davis.
JD Notae is a baller, there’s no denying it, but Davis and Williams appear to have assumed leader roles on this team. This has been referenced by Coach Musselman in pre-season interviews. Regardless of leader roles, JD Notae could evolve into something very special.
KK Robinson is also someone I’m paying close attention to. He has some incredible talent that I think will shine this season (if he remains healthy).
Will 7’3 Connor Vanover find a rhythm and a place on this team? Will that coveted 3-ball return?
I’m not going to layout a full seasonal outlook like our basketball pro, Ben Brandon. However, I did want to include a brief section on my expectations and “outlook” on how we progress. I do think Arkansas will have a shot at winning the SEC this season. Kentucky and Alabama will certainly have a say in this.
Arkansas does have a fair schedule, which will probably lead to a solid win rate by the end of the season. I would be very surprised if the Razorbacks aren't able to win 20+ games.
Look for good consistency from this team, especially at home with expected full crowds. COVID crowds are gone and the “hometown” impact is a real thing in college basketball.
This season is going to be a blast and I can’t wait. I’m headed to Fayetteville in a few hours for tip off. How do you think Arkansas will finish?
Thank you for reading! Be sure to follow me over on Twitter too (@wxzachary).