The @RazorbackWBB team played its lone exhibition game on Sunday – a 70-61 win over Missouri Southern. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, so let’s address the elephant in the room: shouldn’t this have been a blowout? It’s a valid question and the answer is, yes, it probably should have been. But, does that really matter? The answer is a resounding NO.
This year’s team has SEVEN freshmen. That’s more than half of the squad. This exhibition was the first time any of them had played in a college environment. Even lone senior Keira Peak told me she got pregame jitters, so imagine how the newcomers felt. Check out her full postgame interview HERE.
Speaking of young guns, we saw some of the promise this class will bring to Bud Walton Arena and an SEC venue near you this season. Highly touted post Jessica Jackson did not disappoint in her debut, tallying 14 points with nine rebounds. It’s easy to see she’s the real deal. She also brought the ball up the floor on a few occasions, showing her versatility. No doubt, that’s a nice wrinkle for head coach Tom Collen to have.
McKenzie Adams also had a nice game. The freshman from Frisco, Texas poured in 12 points and was a steadying force at the free-throw stripe. Her eight for ten performance steadied a somewhat shaky day for the Hogs. The rest of the team went just 11-for-18 from the line.
We learned Keira Peak has something to prove in her final season. After a one-for-four start from the field, the senior scored the first two baskets of the second half and went five for her next seven to finish with 13 points. Seeing Peak rebound from a poor beginning was certainly refreshing to see. Arkansas will need her to be able to shake off cold starts and still contribute to the team’s scoring in order for the Razorbacks to have success.
However, it wasn’t all violets and roses. Taking care of the basketball will be something to focus on during this week’s preparation. Arkansas turned it over 21 times, including an uncharacteristic four giveaways by sure-handed point guard Calli Berna. Don’t expect to see that the rest of the way.
Some good signs, some kinks to work out. You’ve pretty much landed on the definition of an exhibition game. Now that’s over with and the real fun begins when the Hogs open up the season against Sam Houston State on Friday morning. We welcome in the kids for this one, as it’s Elementary School Day – so you know the Bud will be buzzing. Come for the basketball and stay for the One Direction and Justin Bieber as an added bonus.
Tipoff is set for 11 A.M. on Friday. Check back later in the week when I’ll have a full preview of the season opener.
As always, hit me up on Twitter (@arperlman) with any thoughts/questions/concerns/comments. Until next time…