#106 Arkansas: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #106
Conference Rank: #9 Southeastern Conference
2009-10: 14-18, 7-9
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: John Pelphrey (51-47 at Arkansas, 131-114 overall)
Arkansas struggled with inconsistency last season. Injuries and suspensions did not help, but when Courtney Fortson came back the team really started to play well…at least for a little while. Fortson left early for the professional ranks and his 17.9 points, 5.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds will be missed, but the Razorbacks return three starters and bring in a ton of talent, so improving on their 14-18 record of a year ago should not be too difficult even without Fortson.
Key Losses: G Courtney Fortson, C Michael Washington, G Stefan Welsh
The point guard situation should not be a problem. Fortson was a turnover machine anyway and Coach John Pelphrey has incoming freshman Fuad Haydar and Iowa transfer Jeff Peterson eligible after sitting out last season. Peterson could take over the point guard duties from day one. Two years ago the 6-0 guard averaged 10.6 points and 4.2 assists for a bad Hawkeye team. He has the ability to be the steady playmaker this team needs. Rickey Scott and Mardracus Wade will add depth on the wings. Scott is a nice pickup for Arkansas and could work his way into the regular rotation as a freshman despite the talent returning. However, the most important newcomer could be junior college transfer Marvell Waite. He will have the unenviable job of trying to help replace Michael Washington in the post.
Rotnei Clarke was a staple in the starting lineup, but a handful of other players got an opportunity to see quality minutes when Fortson was out. Jemal Farmer was the most productive of the bunch and averaged 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds. The 6-5 senior also has some size to help out the frontcourt on the glass and that could turn into a valuable asset. Marcus Britt is not a bad rebounder either, but in about 20 minutes of action per contest he only averaged 3.9 points per game. He certainly fills a need on this team with his defense and rebounding ability from the two guard spot, but he will not likely start 16 games again this season. Julysses Nobles had a pretty good freshman campaign. He was not asked to do much scoring, but he proved to be a steady ballhandler and had a much better assist-to-turnover ratio than Fortson. If Peterson cannot secure the starting point guard role, it will fall to Nobles. Either way, the Razorbacks have a couple good point guards to replace Fortson.
The bigger questions are in the frontcourt. Marshawn Powell will hang onto the starting power forward spot after having a superb freshman campaign in which he averaged 14.9 points and a team high 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The question is whether or not Powell can keep up his productivity without Washington by his side. Powell is a good player, but he may not be ready to handle a bulk of the frontcourt duties on his own. That is where Michael Sanchez and Delvon Johnson, along with Waite, come into the equation. Sanchez missed all but four games last season after starting 28 games in the 2008-2009 campaign. Sanchez is not much of a scorer, but he is a tough rebounder and could regain his starting role if he gets over his foot injury. Johnson is coming off of a decent freshman campaign, but it may be asking a little too much from him to step into a starting role. Glenn Bryant may need to step into a larger role as well after averaging less than ten minutes per game as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
Clarke is the star of this team now and he will have to be a leader on the floor. One of the nation’s best outside shooters, Clarke knocked down 3.2 three-pointers per game last year. More impressive than his number of three-pointers is the fact that he connected on 42.7 percent of his attempts. Clarke lacks the size to attack the basket very effectively, but if he can find a way to supplement his shooting by getting closer to the rim every once in a while, he will be impossible to stop.
The backcourt will be fine as long as Clarke’s shot keeps falling. The frontcourt on the other hand could become a problem. The good news is Coach Pelphrey has plenty of options. Waite could be the answer sooner rather than later and the return of Sanchez can only be a good thing. Johnson should even develop into a better all-around player with a year on the team. However, none of those guys are going to replace Washington and Powell can only do so much.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jeff Peterson, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Rotnei Clarke, Junior, Guard, 15.1 ppg
Jemal Farmer, Senior, Guard, 5.8 ppg
Marshawn Powell, Sophomore, Forward, 14.9 ppg
Michael Sanchez, Junior, Forward, 4.0 ppg
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