Eric Musselman is no stranger to deploying smaller, more versatile lineups on the floor at Arkansas, but while small ball is by no means going away, the upcoming 2022-revamped Razorback roster in Fayetteville has quickly gotten bigger for the 23 season.
At this point, it’s well established that Musselman focused on adding equal size and length at Arkansas, so the Hogs suddenly have a taller and wider wingspan than the average NBA player, according to Graphic Layout. At the head Hog himself came out.
Even if that’s the case, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a big, painful, razor-back lumberjack. No, this Arkansas team has the length, athleticism and versatility to match up with anyone and adapt to any style, including those who prefer to play guard-oriented, 5-out basketball and stretch the floor.
For Musselman, who led Arkansas to an Elite eight game streak, looking the part was the next step for the program, and that meant becoming taller, taller and more athletic at every position, not just the front court. One thing’s for sure, these Razorbacks aren’t going to run into anyone who physically challenges them the way they’ve finished the past two seasons.
“When we played Baylor and we played Duke, I felt like size was an issue,” Musselman said. “I don’t think there’s any hiding that. Going into Year 4, the next step was trying to fill in the roster management and maybe where we’ve been lacking in previous years.”
“We had some really good shooters that first year, but we had a 6-foot-6 center. Now our point guard is 6-foot-8. And Nick Smith is 6-5. So those two guys who play the big position and then Devoe, all three guys can play that position and Devoe is 6-4 and played power forward for us in our first year playing small ball in the NCAA tournament. He worked with our roster management and tried to improve areas.”
Musselman made some interesting points when he compared center Adrio Bailey in his first year at Arkansas to point guard Anthony Black, who is an inch or two taller than he is now. The 2019-20 team he inherited was undersized overall, but he took it to the extreme with his oft-used and highly entertaining five-guard lineup of Jaylen Harris, Desi Sills, Jimmy Witt, Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones.
With no scholarship players under 6-3 and only four 6-5 or under (Darian Ford, Davonte Davis, Nick Smith, Joseph Pinion), the current Razorbacks can’t build a lineup that small, even if they try…
In the year In 2020-21, the most-used lineup in the NCAA tournament was JD Notae, Jalen Tate, Moses Moody, Davonte Davis and Justin Smith, which certainly had more length but was a four-guard unit with the utility of the 6-7 Smith. As a low-volume center.
Perhaps the best example of how different Arkansas is in the size department is comparing it to the current team from last season. In the year In 2020-21, the Hogs turn the corner with Musselman from Notae (6-2), a trio of 6-6 bodies in Audisse Toney, Stanley Umud and Trey Wade, and a 6-10 combination of “going big” Jaylin Williams manning the post.
The new Hogs can surpass Davis (6-4), Smith (6-5), Ricky Council (6-6), Jordan Walsh (6-7) with a “small-ball” look in both height and wingspan. ) and Trayvon Brazilian (6-10). That’s one of the endless combinations for Arkansas, which is music to the ears of a point guard like Anthony Black, who has exceptional size at the 6-7+ position and the ability to guard multiple spots on the floor.
“I think it’s special to have a team with that kind of length and athleticism because we can run a lot of different lineups,” Black said. “As much as we go big, we can go small, which is still a big lineup for us, but we just — we have a lot of mismatches. Our length and size creates a lot of mismatches, so it’s just when we have a team. With a bunch of dudes like that, it’s usually a recipe for success, so what can we do with it?” we will see .
Musselman will get his first chance when Arkansas heads overseas for a four-game exhibition tour in Spain and Italy from Aug. 6-16, a trip where he has already mentioned sliding the versatile Brazilian into center field. View. From there, the Razorbacks will return to the practice floor before opening the regular season at home against North Dakota State on Nov. 7.
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