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Hogs Emerge from Non Conference Schedule With More Options

Mike Anderson's system requires a deep bench with plenty of options. It looks like he has it heading into SEC play.
Most Razorback fans have been unimpressed and uninspired by their favorite basketball team's November-December schedule. Actually it's not that bad. The Hogs' strength of schedule exiting non conference play ranks seventh in the SEC.

Mike Anderson isn't worried either way. His job was to develop a more well rounded basketball team with a deeper bench in 2014. So far he's done that starting with the top new prospect in the program who is playing at a different level than he was at he beginning of the season.

"He got popped in the mouth early on," Anderson said of rookie forward Bobby Portis. "He wants to be a great player. He doesn't want to be just good. So he's one of those guys that stays in the gym constantly. You have to run him out of the gym."

In his final pre-SEC game Portis scored 19 points and pulled down 10 boards with 3 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and zero turnovers against Texas-San Antonio. That's quite a contrast to his play in an early season game that still haunts him.

"I went to Maui and played against California," Portis recalled. "I had five points and one rebound so after that game I had to man up and just be better for my ball club."

Ky Madden is another December success story. After a pair of up and down seasons on the Hill Madden is finally thriving as a result of the "We Hogs" bonding philosophy Anderson has been stressing since last summer.

"I feel like my teammates, they encourage me every day," Madden said when asked about his improved play. "They keep me going every day. Even after practice we all stay together and we shoot and we work out together and I feel like that's what fuels me."
Michael Qualls heads a group of several other Razorbacks who have become more complete players. Qualls' ability to connect on the mid-range jumper could prove huge once the Hogs start hitting the road this month. With players like Qualls, Coty Clarke, Moses Kingsley, Jacorey Willliams, Ricky Scott and Kikko Haydar coming off the bench Anderson says this is the kind of team he can win with.

"We're getting more and more guys that are starting to play at a high level and the more we can get at that high level, that's what you want," Anderson raved. "That's the work in progress that we talk about."

Arkansas plays its first true road game of the season Wednesday, January 8 in College Station, Texas against Texas A&M.

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