FAYETTEVILLE -- Head coach Tom Collen met with members of the media on Tuesday, as the No. 25 University of Arkansas women's basketball team (14-1, 1-1 SEC) received its first national ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Marking the first national ranking for the Razorbacks since Jan. 6, 2013, UA had been ranked three weeks last season and receiving votes and consideration for several weeks.
The Razorbacks split their first week of play in the SEC, falling by just four points at home to No. 10/11 South Carolina and then bouncing back with a 69-66 win at Missouri. UA looks to carry its momentum forward into a road matchup Thursday at Florida (12-3, 2-0 SEC).
"I thought the team stepped up in a big way at Missouri," Coach Collen said. "The freshmen stepped up, Melissa Wolff stepped up and had a fantastic game and I saw a lot of growth. Now we're getting ready to go play another road game against a completely different type of team. Our ability to pay close attention to detail, to bring intensity and to be able to play together on the road is going to be a challenge."
With seven freshmen on this season's roster, including five true freshmen, the early road tests of this season's SEC schedule have forced the Razorbacks to grow up in a hurry.
"I've seen a lot of growth from our freshmen," Coach Collen said. "It's never enough growth as a coach and you want them to grow up rapidly, but years of experience tells me that it's not going to happen overnight. It's going to happen with time and in bits and pieces. They'll have ups and downs. The most important thing to me is when they fall down and make mistakes that are costly, are they going to pout about it or look you in the eye and regain their composure to move on."
Coach Collen believes Florida will go a long way in testing the composure and resiliency of the Razorbacks.
"They're hard to play against," Coach Collen said of Florida. "Sometimes in this league it's just about matchups and they're a tough matchup. Florida is a team that is super, super athletic. They put three point guards on the floor and they're hard to turn over. Sometimes you look out there and they've got five guards on the floor, so they're very quick with the basketball. They want to play at a very fast pace. We've got to do the things we do well."
Arkansas and Florida are scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla.
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