Both teams 2-0.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas will try to continue its hot streak to the beginning of the season tonight when they play host to Fresno State at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.
Both teams will enter the game with perfect records in two tries. Mike Anderson is aware of what kind of threat the Bulldogs will be on Friday night.
"We're getting ready to play a Fresno State team that I think is a very dangerous basketball team," Anderson said. "They're guard-oriented. They're shooting over 50 percent from the the field. They're a team that has a nice little rhythm right now. It's a challenge. They've got big guards. They're shooting, I think, 53 percent from three-point land and 57 percent from the field. So it's a team very much so like Bucknell. They've got some veterans on their team and they're coached by Coach (Rodney) Terry, who used to coach with Rick Barnes at Texas."
Jaron Hopkins is a 6-foot-6 guard who leads the Bulldogs averaging 13.2 points per game. Fresno State has beaten UC Santa Cruz 96-65 and then CSU Northridge 89-73.
Arkansas AD Jeff Long was fired Wednesday which Anderson addressed at the first of his presser. With distraction off the court, how do you keep your guys dialed in to the task at hand right there?
"You said the words right there," Anderson said. "That's what we've been working on. That's been our mantra. Dialed in, next level. The basketball part of it. That's what we've been focusing on. The two things they should be focused in on, and that's basketball and the books. And I'll go books and basketball, how about that?"
Former El Dorado standout Daniel Gafford is a key member of this year's Arkansas team as a true freshman. In a 101-73 victory over Bucknell on Sunday night, Gafford had 15 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. In the 96-56 season opener against Samford, Gafford had 10 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 17 minutes. Unfortunately he fouled out in both games.
"You can see the upside," Anderson said. "You can see why we get excited about him. You can't reach 6-11. You can't teach that athletic ability, the quickness. He has a big-time motor. He's one of those guys that can quick jump and go get the basketball. He's relentless, and sometimes that gets him in trouble, so we've got to kind of calm some of that down, because he gets a lot of over-the-back fouls or just some touch fouls.
"But the only way you figure that out is through playing. So if we can continue to get him minutes out on the floor, I think you'll see him make those subtle adjustments on the defensive end. Because he can wreck havoc on the defensive end because of his length and his athletic ability. The things he brings to the table, man, are so valuable for our basketball team. Especially for guy that size. All he's got to do is just continue to take the opportunity to learn from, let's say the miscues, which most of him have been fouls. He played I think 15 or 17 minutes the other night, and he could have easily played 20-plus, but he fouled out. So we've got to work on that."
Is it possible a young player like that wants to be on the court so bad that he figures out how to stop fouling?
"That's the experience that you gain," Anderson said. "You'll see it with him. They'll keep changing before your eyes as we got out. And our course you'll see it with a guy like Darious Hall. I think each game, you'll see those guys learn as they move on.
"And the beauty of it is that we talk about leaders on this team. You've got guys out there that are really talking to them during the play. Such as Trey Thompson, telling guys, 'Hey you can't play with your hands. You've got to move your feet.'"
Another true freshman who is making his mark is Gabe Osabuohien. He only has four points and two boards in two games in 21 minutes, but he seems to always be in the right place at the right time.
"Gabe has done a lot of fundamental things right at this point in time," Anderson said. "It’s amazing. I think he’s learning in practice, but it just seems like when he goes into the game, he plays at a different level. The attention to details are so critical in what we do and timing is everything.
"As you alluded to, he’s in the right place at the right time. Three charges in two games. I said it the other night, I have guys that have been here two or three years that haven’t taken not one charge. You get a guy that takes three? That goes back to protecting the rim. You have ways of protecting that rim and if you can get guys in there that can block shots. With his play up to this point, I’ve been real pleased."