Every season, coaches, media and prognosticators look into their crystal balls and forecast months into the future to the Final Four in March.
And Arkansas head coach Tom Collen is no exception.
But Collen has the benefit of knowing his team inside-and-out and he’s excited about what he has on the bench as the 2010-11 season begins.
"We’re very excited about the start of the season," Collen said. "We return a great group of experienced players who continue to expand their basketball knowledge. They have worked very hard in the off-season and in the preseason conditioning and getting stronger and our staff is excited about what we can do this year."
Arkansas has something new this year – a deep and experienced upper class. The three seniors, Skye Rees, Brittney Richardson and Caroline Powell, all have unique skills and offer both full-time and role playing minutes for the team.
Rees is a junior college transfer who joined the team last year. After adjusting to the game at this level, she found her niche with a season-best 10 points on the road at Kentucky.
"This is Skye’s last year with us and we need it to be her best," said Collen "I thought she was impactful to our system on the offensive end last season because of her ability to hit the three-point shot and stretch the defense. That allowed our penetrators to get deep in the lane and shoot a lot of lay-ups."
Richardson battled injury and illness much of the season but played in 12 contests with some key three-pointers and solid defense.
"We are hoping that Brittney can stay healthy for her entire senior season," Collen said. "I have always believed Brittney puts the ball in the basket from three-point range as well as any player on our roster. She is also battle-tested and plays with a lot of confidence. Her preseason has already been interrupted with a minor surgery but she should be ready to go by early October."
Powell’s role is even more specialized. She saw time in just one game but is critical to the program as part of the scout team during practice.
"Caroline has worked as hard as any player on our roster," said Collen. "This is her third year with us in some capacity. She started out as a manager. Then joined our practice squad. When she gained her eligibility last year after fall semester, we added her to our travel roster and she remains there for her senior year. She does everything we ask and does it the right way. She makes us a better team every day."