‘Little Ball’ looks different for Arkansas in 2022-23

Eric Muselman It’s no surprise to post smaller, more diverse lineups to the ground in Arkansas, but while the little ball is by no means gone, it’s just getting a lot bigger in Fayetteville with the renewed Razorback roster for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

It’s well documented at this point that Mosselman has focused on adding more size and length to the equation in Arkansas, to the point that pigs are suddenly longer and have a wingspan larger than the average NBA player, according to a graph of the pig’s head itself.

Even with that being the case, don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a whole bunch of Razorbacks, bruised, and overburdened. No, this Arkansas team is equipped with height, athleticism, and versatility to suit anyone and adapt to any style, including those who prefer playing guard-oriented, pentathlon, and spread the floor.

For Moselman, who led Arkansas to consecutive Elite Eight appearances, looking the part was the next step in the program’s progression, and that meant getting taller, taller and sportier in all situations, not just on the front court. One thing is for sure, these Razorbacks won’t work against anyone who will physically overwhelm them in ways that ended the last two seasons.

“When we played with Baylor and played with Duke, I felt that size was an issue,” Muselman said. “I don’t think there is any hiding of that. Beginning in the fourth year, the next progression was about trying to fill in the roster management and perhaps what we were lacking in previous years.

“The first year we had some really good shooters but we had a 6-foot-6 center. Now the 6-foot-8 base is 6-5. Nick Smith is 6-5. Center, then Devo. All three of these guys can play that position. And Devo is 6-4 and he really played a powerhouse forward for us in Year 1 in the NCAA tournament when we played pickup ball. We tried messing around with our roster management and I tried to improve areas.”

Mosselman makes some interesting points when comparing his first-year position in Arkansas, Adrio Billyto his current goalkeeper in Anthony Black, which is an inch or two tall. The 2019-20 lineup he inherited was generally small in size, but it’s pushed to the limit with a frequently used five-guard lineup that’s very entertaining. Galen HarrisAnd the Desi SalesAnd the Jimmy WaitAnd the Isaiah Joe And the Mason Jones.

With no scholarship players under 6-3 and only four 6-5 or less (Derian FordAnd the Dafonte DavisAnd the Nick SmithAnd the Joseph Binion), the current Razorbacks couldn’t produce a lineup this small even if they tried…

In 2020-21, the most used lineup in the NCAA Tournament was dinars notayAnd the Galen TateAnd the Moses ModiAnd the Dafonte Davis And the Justin Smithwhich certainly had more length but was effectively a four-guard unit with a 6-7 Smith serving as a compact center.

Perhaps the best illustration of how different Arkansas is in the size department is to compare looks from last season to the current group. In 2020-21, the Hogs turned the corner when Mosselman “goed forward” with a mix of Notae (6-2), a trio of 6-6 bodies in Odyssey TonyAnd the Stanley Omod And the you see a valleyand 6-10 Jaylene Williams He manages this position.

Fresh-looking Hogs can outsmart this in both length and wingspan with a “little ball” look for Davis (6-4), Smith (6-5), reiki board (6-6), Jordan Walsh (6-7) and Trivon Brazil (6-10). This is just one of the endless possible combinations of Arkansas, and it’s music to the ears of game-making point guards like Anthony Blackwho has a unique size in his position at 6-7+ with the ability to guard multiple points on the ground.

“I think just having a team with that kind of height and athletic performance is special because we can do so many different formations,” Black said. “Just like we can get big, we can get smaller, which is still kind of a big lineup for us, but we can just – we have a lot of mismatches. Our height and our size creates a lot of mismatches, so just make a team. With a lot of guys like that it’s usually a recipe for success, so we’ll see what we can do with it.”

Moselman will have his first chance to juggle various possibilities when Arkansas travels abroad for a four-game exhibition tour of Spain and Italy August 6-16, a trip in which he has already mentioned moving the versatile Brazil down center for a look. From there, the Razorbacks will return to the training ground before the regular season opener at home against North Dakota State on November 7.

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