Jordan Sibert shoots at Arkansas last season. David Jablonski/Staff
The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 50: The Arkansas game
When I talked to Archie Miller about the non-conference schedule earlier this summer, he said scheduling is the second hardest thing coaches do, trailing only recruiting. Miller repeated that comment to former Dayton Daily News sports writer and former Flyer Doug Harris an in-depth piece about the “matrix of scheduling” on UD’s website.
Fans all over the country complain about soft schedules, and there are a ton of lopsided matchups out there in every sport. I can see the point of scheduling one or two at the beginning of the season, almost like quasi-exhibition games, but those kind of games don’t do much good for you later in December.
I also believe Miller when he says scheduling is hard because every coach I’ve ever talked to in any sport about scheduling in the 19-plus years I’ve been a sports writer has said the same thing. The Reds’ Bryan Price is lucky he doesn’t have to worry about it. Then again, he has plenty of other problems right now.
The Flyers have played three non-conference games against teams that ended up ranked 201 and below in the RPI in each of the last two seasons: Miami (240), Illinois-Chicago (300) and Alabama A&M (324) in 2014; and St. Francis, Pa. (294); Central Michigan (298) and Delaware State (329) in 2013.
The Flyers also have three teams on the schedule this season who ranked 201 or below last season: Miami (240), Furman (281) and Southeast Missouri (297).
The schedule is a mixed bag. Who the Flyers get to play in Orlando (possibly Notre Dame in the second round or Xavier in the final) will say a lot about the overall success of the schedule. They start with Iowa (40th in the RPI last season) and will play either Monmouth (178th) or Notre Dame (10th) in the second round.
The overall strength of the schedule might take a hit if Arkansas drops in the RPI (it was 29th last season). That very well could happen considering what has happened to the Razorbacks since the end of last season.
Here’s what we know about Arkansas, which beat UD 69-55 last December in the last UD game ever with Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson on the roster and plays at UD on Dec. 30.
- The Razorbacks finished 27-9 last season. That was the sixth-highest win total in program history. They played earned the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament, played in the SEC championship game and played in the NCAA tournament for the 30th time.
- The Chicago Bulls drafted 6-11 sophomore Bobby Portis, who scored 18 points against Dayton, with the 22nd pick of the first round in June. Portis averaged 17.5 points.
- Michael Qualls, the team’s second-leading scorer (15.9), also went pro but tore his ACL in a workout with the Phoenix Suns in June and wasn’t drafted.
- The Razorbacks also lost two seniors: Rashad Madden (9.6) and Alandise Harris (7.6).
- If those losses weren’t enough, offseason issues have also hurt the roster. This is from a story this week in the Baxter (Ark.) Bulletin: “Arkansas now is down to 10 scholarships with three players arrested, one of of whom senior forward Jacorey Williams, has been dismissed while the other two, sophomore point guard Anton Beard and redshirting transfer forward Dustin Thomas, are in school but remain suspended from the team, plus a prime signee, forward Ted Kapita, not yet meeting academic requirements and thus not enrolled in UA fall semester classes that began Monday.
- Beard and Williams averaged 10.5 points between them. If Beard doesn’t return (and it sounds as if he won’t in this story), Arkansas’s top returning scorers are 6-3 guard Anthlon Bell (7.9), 6-10 forward Moses Kinglsey (3.6) and 6-3 guard Manuale Watkins (2.6).