Italy Exhibition Tour Excites for Upcoming Season
This summer, the Men’s Basketball team traveled to Italy to prepare for the upcoming season. The Hogs finished the trip 4-0, defeating teams from Italy and Lithuania by a combined 22.3 points per game.
I know basketball season isn’t right around the corner, but it will spring upon us before we know it. The news of the Italy trip excites me for the upcoming season of Hog basketball. The Hogs are hoping to bring the excitement and buzz back to Bud Walton Arena with a talented roster this year.
So, how beneficial is an overseas trip for this young team? This trip could turn out to be very valuable and instrumental to success this year. The combination of extra practices along with extra time to build team chemistry will be extremely valuable for the team.
Arkansas finished last year with a record of 18-14, 6-10 in Southeastern Conference play. The Hogs are looking to take the next step this year and land a spot in the postseason after a four-year hiatus.
Basketball fans such as myself have been eager to see a quality team night-in and night-out for the Hogs. Last season, each player had his share of highs and lows. Consistency, especially on the defensive side of the ball, is something this team needs to strive for to be a strong contender in the SEC.
Head coach Mike Anderson has pointed out that this team is very athletic and can score with the best of them; the Hogs just need to bring defensive pressure and consistency every night.
Some other encouraging news from the Italy trip was the progress of junior Marshawn Powell. After suffering a season-ending knee injury last year, Powell experienced some good playing time after last year’s disappointment.
Powell will be surrounded by a good nucleus of sophomore B.J. Young, junior Mardracus Wade, junior college transfer Coty Clarke and freshman Michael Qualls. The Hogs will be deeper and more talented this year, putting hope and excitement into the future of Razorback basketball.
The team experienced a new culture in Italy, similar to the new culture of basketball being created here at home. The Hogs are no longer hoping to be just a contender — it is now a focus of the program to achieve higher levels of success.
Let’s forget about the X’s and O’s on the court for a moment and focus on the mental aspect of a team. It’s necessary for a team to have common goals and a focus on winning as a team, not as an individual. Playing as a team with focus and determination is what will win games and championships — just ask the Miami Heat. Sorry, Oklahoma City Thunder fans.
So as Hog fans, we should start to get excited and engaged in Razorback basketball for the coming year. This team is going to play hard and give fans a reason to fill Bud Walton Arena — not just this year, but for years to come.
I remember the stories of my parents talking about how Bud Walton Arena was always sold out, especially in the early ‘90s. Now, under the guidance and institutional memory of Mike Anderson, the Hogs are trying to establish a brand of hard-nose basketball that people truly enjoy and appreciate to watch.
Zach Wheeler is a staff writer for The Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Tuesday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.