Arkansas will open the season on Friday morning at 11 when they take on Jackson State at Bud Walton Arena.
Kelsey Hatcher transferred to Arkansas from Oklahoma State and is now a starter for the UA.
Tom Collen's Razorbacks defeated Rogers State 69-40 on Sunday afternoon in an exhibition game at Bud Walton Arena. Collen is anxious to see his team play in a real game in what should be a loud atmosphere considering it's Elementary Day.
“I'm excited for the season to start,” Collen said. “Our players have been working hard. I think they really enjoyed the exhibition game. We didn't shoot the ball very well, but we got out a lot of jitters. I just think they're ready to play somebody and it be for real.”
The Razorbacks return two starters from a team that was 24-9 this past season. Despite some key losses off last year's team that went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Collen feels confident about this year's team.
“I like this team,” Collen said. “I like them as people, I like the chemistry and I like their work ethic. I'm excited about them. I don't know how long it's going to take for us to develop as a team.”
Collen said he isn't too sure what to expect on Friday when his team faces Jackson State.
“First, it's the first game of the year,” Collen said. “We really don't know what they're going to do so it's a bit of a guessing game. That makes any coach nervous. It will be a challenge for us. They have a new coach who was a high school coach.”
The Razorbacks are playing the early game due the men's game Friday night. Collen knows the arena will be loud with between 2,000 and 3,000 elementary children in attendance.
“Hopefully, we'll have the right mindset since it's the first game of the year,” Collen said. “It's very unique. Young kids like that the noise is constant. It's not a typical crowd where the cheering is up and down. It's kind of nerve wrecking to be honest with you. You have to stay focused and concentrate and our players have been through it before. They seem to like it.”
Point guard Calli Berna will be one of the leaders of this year's team despite just being a sophomore.
“I have high expectations for Calli,” Collen said. “Probably not any higher than she has for herself. She's not a natural scorer by trait. She's more about trying to get the ball to other people. The challenge for her will be probably trying to please us. She knows she needs to score more, but she's not natural at it. She will be a little bit out of her element.”
Arkansas has won 27 consecutive home openers since the 1983-84 season and are 35-1 in home openers.
Arkansas' Projected Starters:
Calli Berna, PG, 5-10, Sophomore, Fayetteville
Kelsey Hatcher, 2G, 5-10, Senior, Little Rock
Keira Peak, SF, 5-9, Junior, Clyattville, Ga.
Sarah Watkins, C, 6-3, Senior, Germantown, Tenn.
Quistelle Williams, PF, 6-0, Senior, Grand Rapids, Mich.