The ORU Golden Eagles will wrap up Non-Conference Play in a Sunday Matinee vs. SEC member, the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas is lead by second year Head Coach, Eric Musselman. If that name sounds familiar, especially to my Minnesota/Upper Midwest followers, that is because he is the son of the Late Minnesota Gophers & Timberwolves Coach, Bill Musselman (His mother also seems to have some coaching prowess…see letter above). In 5 years as a college Head Coach, Musselman has compiled a record of 136-45, winning 20+ games each year, including his 20 wins from a year ago. He’s a unique Coach in the fact that he holds 30 years of coaching experience ranging from the CBA (now G-League), NBA, and now NCAA but almost seems like a young up and coming coach who only recently burst onto the scene (He’s quite savvy on Social Media). That youthful energy proved beneficial on the recruiting trail as he landed the #5 ranked recruiting class in 2020 headlined by 6’6” Wing Moses Moody.
A Look at the Razorbacks…
The Hogs are off to a 6-0 start to the season but have yet to be truly challenged, mostly in part due to a soft schedule. Arkansas opponents hold a combined record of 8-29, while all D1, none of them hail from a Power Conference nor are they projected to make the Big Dance. Their best win came against North Texas who is 3-3 on the season. This year’s squad is virtually a brand-new team for Coach Muss as he only returned 3 players from last years roster, with Desi Sills (10.7ppg) being the only player to play significant minutes. The rebuilt roster is made up of 4 Impact (4-Star) Freshman and 7 Transfers who are all eligible to play this season.
New Roster both experienced & youthful…
For this season at least, Coach Muss took a page out of Coach Cal’s playbook and completely rebuilt his roster with Freshman & Transfers. Depending on what recruiting service you look at, all four Freshman were listed as 4-Star Recruits with Moody being Arkansas’ highest rated recruit since Bobby Portis in 2013. Of the transfers, four joined the team this off-season as Grad Transfers while the remaining three sat-out last season for Arkansas.
So far into the season, the team has used its depth to compile the 6-0 record with 10 players averaging more than 13mpg. Combining their depth and young talent, they are averaging 91.3ppg while holding opponents to 57.5ppg on 34% Shooting. From what I can tell they like to use their size and athleticism to play fast and score at the rim. They don’t shoot a high volume of 3’s but are efficient when they do (37% as a Team). Even their 7’3” Center, Connor Vanover, forces opponents to play him honestly (10-22 / 46% from 3). Of the many challenges the Golden Eagles will have to deal with, the Hogs also guard the perimeter exceptionally well holding opponents to 28.2 % from beyond the arc. This is a problem and difficult task for a team like ORU that relies heavily on the 3pt shot (50% of Shot Attempts are from beyond Arc).
Thoughts & Tidbits…
– Which ORU squad will show up? The team that went punch for punch with Cade Cunningham (Potential #1 Pick in 2021 Draft) and the OSU Cowboys or the team the came out flat vs. Oklahoma on Wednesday shooting an abysmal 2-16 (12.5%) from 3pt in the first half which all but shut the door on an upset big
– Max Abmas is a star in the making (would be my pick for SL POY if it’s not 1 of SDSU’s Big 3) but he cannot win this game by himself, so who will step up? Kevin Obanor is off to a solid start and is the obvious pick, but he really didn’t show up vs. Oklahoma until the 2nd Half. Even if KB plays well, they will need heavy contributions and consistent shooting from guys like Thompson, Weaver, Glasper, and possibly 3pt Specialist Justin Lovvorn. Another wildcard to make an impact could be Francis Lacis who has shown impressive flashes as a player and a shooter his Freshmen & Sophomore years but is currently off to a rough start this year.
– If you follow Eric Musselman on Twitter, he may have made a mistake by posting a letter, attached above, that his mother recently wrote to him breaking down his team. Momma Muss, makes some interesting points and areas to exploit.
1. If you have seen the movie SEMI-PRO, the Hogs tend to channel their inner Flint Tropics before they took the game serious by celebrating and high fiving a bit too much. Currently they do not get back on down as quickly as she would like to see them.
2. HAMMER the Defensive Glass, as the team does not fully utilize their Size & Athleticism when grabbing O-Boards, again they could be too busy expecting makes and celebrating prematurely
3. Lastly, she compliments the team’s communication and willingness to share the ball. I would suggest whispering rumors into Razorback players ears about their teammates to break up the chemistry (Joking but seriously, think about it!)
– In finale, this Arkansas team is arguably the deepest and most talented team the Golden Eagles will play this season. Offensive Efficiency, especially from the Arc is a MUST!! While ORU likes to score and play with high pace, so does Arkansas and they do it better. Only way to slow them down is with good shot selection preventing fewer long rebounds leading to easy buckets in transition.