When the news broke just days after a heartbreaking home loss to Missouri that Michael Qualls and newcomer Alandise Harris had been suspended indefinitely by head coach Mike Anderson, many longtime followers of the program thought, ”Oh, no. Not this again.”
But despite the recent suspensions for Qualls and Harris, Anderson has made a tremendous effort in creating better team chemistry and a more family-like atmosphere, attempting to recreate the image of the program following the suspension-laden John Pelphrey era.
Pelphrey suspended 16 of 32 players who suited up for him for more than two games in his four years as head coach of the Razorbacks.
When discussing his reign over the program, the alleged rape case in a campus fraternity house involving three of Pelphrey’s players, according to police reports, cannot be overlooked.
Former Razorbacks Courtney Fortson and Stefan Welsh were also suspended indefinitely to begin the same season. Fortson served 14 games for his actions.
On the other hand, Qualls’ and Harris’ suspensions were only the third and fourth suspensions handed out by Mike Anderson in his tenure with the Razorbacks, a healthy progression from just a few short seasons ago.
After a clean year one under Anderson, returning back to school following a phenomenal freshman season with the Razorbacks, BJ Young was suspended two games in 2012 for a violation of team rules. Young was held out of an exhibition and the season opener against Sam Houston State.
Junior Rashad Madden was held out of the first three games of the 2013-14 season. Anderson suspended the junior guard for both exhibition contests and the season opener against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville for a violation of team rules.
Qualls and Harris’ suspensions were the third of the season for the team, with theirs coming at an inopportune time in the conference schedule. The two were suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
While all suspensions are inopportune, the Razorbacks had just lost their second home game of the season after a flawless home record in 2013 with a road trip to Baton Rouge looming.
What is strange is that in the previous game, all seemed fine and well with Qualls and Harris, who combined for 18 points in the loss to rival Missouri. But on gameday in Baton Rouge, the news of the duo’s suspension came to light.
Arkansas dearly missed two of its key offensive pieces at LSU, falling to the Tigers 88-74 after a sluggish first half. Qualls and Harris were reinstated in the days following the loss, and have responded well following the suspensions, contributing largely to wins over Alabama and Vanderbilt.
But compared to other suspensions handed out around the Southeastern Conference, Arkansas has been fairly tame.
Ole Miss sharpshooter Marshall Henderson missed a total of three games, the season opener and two in league play, this season for behavioral issues on and off the court during and after last season. Henderson was sentenced to 25 days in jail prior to graduating high school for attempting to purchase $800 worth of marijuana with counterfeit money.
Florida’s highly touted freshman Chris Walker missed the fall semester due to academic issues, but continued to be sidelined as the NCAA investigated his eligibility.
Walker was recently cleared to play by the NCAA after sitting out 12 games for receiving benefits from two agents and three others, according to a statement from the NCAA.
If you think about it, Arkansas could be in a much worse situation by having players suspended for major NCAA violations. But that’s not the case thanks to Anderson and his strong grip on the program. He is doing his part in bettering the once torn image of the Arkansas basketball program.