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The name on the front is more important than the name on the back

BY ANDRES FOCIL
The name on the front is more important than the name on the back

They were big names in their home towns, but for many of the 2005-06 Arkansas Lady Razorbacks, they weren’t the name players on the recruiting lists. They weren’t on the message boards. They weren’t on somebody’s hot top 100 sure-fire can’t-miss recruiting.com newsletter. They weren’t always in the headlines. Where they were was in class, in the Sutton Strength and Conditioning Center, playing pickup games in the summer. Not necessarily no-names or Average Janes, but players fully focused on the task at hand. Getting better. For a year marred by season-ending injuries, going 17-14 for the 12th consecutive winning season and a second-round finish in the Women’s NIT wasn’t a bad finish. Just not the one head coach Susie Gardner’s players wanted for themselves. So they went back to work. New players who shared the same work ethic joined in. And now, they are ready to represent the years of tradition and pride that came before them as the 30th edition of the Lady Razorbacks. “I think its great to have players that make their name in college, that aren’t worried about the back of the jersey,” Gardner said. “It truly is about the name on the front. We want to be a team in every sense of the word, and when we are, we are a very good team.” Last season was a learning experience as Arkansas lost only two seniors and three players, none of whom were starters at the close of the year. The lineup was dominated by sophomores and juniors who spent the season learning a system designed by Gardner to take advantage of their strengths. “There’s no need to change a lot from last year, we just need to improve on it,” she said. “The majority of the team is returning, and we’re adding four new players that were built for this system.” That system was a defense-first philosophy that scrambled opponents, took advantage of the speed and athleticism on the team and helped to minimize Arkansas’ lack of size in the lane. “It’s no secret that we’re small; it’s pretty glaring,” Gardner said. “But look at what players with heart can do. Sarah Pfeifer proved last year that you can succeed in the SEC as an undersized player.” Pfeifer led the Lady Razorbacks in scoring, and by the close of the season was regularly putting up 20 points with seven to 10 rebounds, in spite of giving up three to six inches to her opponents. However, Pfeifer as the five player wasn’t the original plan. The attacking scheme went on the shelf after key injuries in January. “Let’s be honest, we need to stay injury free this year,” Gardner said. “For two years, we’ve had key player injuries and what an impact that had on the team. That became evident last year when we got back Sheree (Thompson) and Sarah. At the start of the year, we’re a pressing team with everyone healthy, then we lose two posts and we can’t afford to run like that anymore.”



Sports Category : Basketball (W)