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Collen, Razorbacks host Morgan State

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Collen, Razorbacks host Morgan State

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team hosts Morgan State Monday at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks return to action after a week of practice and final exams and both the players and coaches are anxious to return to the court. “Any other week would have been hard (to practice all week) but because of finals we were pretty busy,” junior Sarah Watkins said. “Now we just want to play someone.” Watkins gets her wish Monday with Morgan State followed by a quick turnaround for a Wednesday game with Texas Southern. Arkansas breaks for the holiday before hosting Mississippi Valley State Dec. 28 as part of a doubleheader with the men’s team. “It’s hard to keep players focused this time of year,” Collen said. “We really try to let the players focus on their academics this week. They put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well and our staff understands that.” Freshman Calli Berna is one of three newcomers experiencing finals for the first time. “Finals are intense,” Berna said. “The hardest part is not letting it take over. You have to balance both school and basketball and it is harder at this level (than in high school). In addition to the finals themselves, players and coaches battle an ever-changing schedule this week as they work around tests. “We run the risk of not being fine-tuned against Morgan State but somehow the players just seem to find energy this time of year,” Collen said. “They’re not in classes now and they get some more rest and they’ll be ready to go Monday.” Arkansas is out to an 8-1 start this year and has won eight in a row after dropping the season opener to Minnesota on the road. Morgan State enters the game 2-4 and play at Missouri State Sunday before meeting the Razorbacks Monday. They have put together a balanced attack with several players averaging around five points per game and the Bears substitute liberally, something Arkansas’ deep bench should be able to handle. “Morgan State is extremely athletic,” Collen said, “and pretty quick-triggered from three-point range. They love to spread you out. Some of our preparation for ORU (last week) is going to carry over to this game as well. They like to get out and run and they have played a tough schedule so they are not easily intimidated. We don’t want them to come in and get on a role.” Arkansas enters the game as one of the top defensive teams in the country. The Razorbacks have held opponents well below their season scoring averages but Arkansas’ scoring has struggled at times. “We want to continue to focus and grow,” Collen said. “Our defense is really solid. We are building confidence in the defense and our ability to rebound. Our players are starting to come around offensively and we need to keep working on that.”



Sports Category : Basketball (W)