Arkansas coach Mike Anderson and his team returned from Italy undefeated during the trip and on Tuesday he talked about how he felt the trip went.
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson felt his team's trip to Italy was a very successful one for the entire squad.
“It was a great experience for our team,” Anderson said. “Great bonding time. Going over we knew we would get a chance to see Italy and all the historical places. The statues, churches and our guys were not disappointed. I thought it was a great culture country.
“As far as basketball, we got to see the options I talked about. We got to see more players. We had some guys that had some good play.”
Anderson said from a basketball standpoint there was some things he was impressed with.
There was some things I liked and some things I didn't like, but I think we can build on the things that really took place,” Anderson said. “We really shared the basketball. We averaged probably 25 or 26 assists per game. I thought our depth guys coming off the bench gave us some quality minutes.”
Anderson singled out a few guys that he thought played the best during the trip.
“B.J. (Young), it was good to see the improvement in his game,” Anderson said. “His all-around game. Mardracus Wade, I thought he played well. Coty Clark is a guy that is going to help our basketball team.
“When you talk about bringing the options those are the options I'm talking about. We've got more pieces to the puzzle and that was really displayed in this particular trip. The key now is really putting the pieces together and formulate as a team.”
Arkansas returned from Italy this past Sunday and then started classes on Monday. There's an eight-hour time difference between Italy and Arkansas so Anderson said the players were still struggling with jet lag.
“The last two nights I may have gone to bed at 11 o'clock, but I wake up at 4 in the morning,” Anderson said. “I'm bright-eyed, bushy tailed, but it will hit me about 5 or 6 o'clock and I may take a nap, but we had a great experience. I think this is something our guys will remember the rest of their lives.”
The trip was the first game action for Marshawn Powell since he was injured prior to the Houston game last season.
“I think it was good for Marshawn to get some of the cobwebs out,” Anderson said. “The last game he started really exerting himself. I thought sometimes you are playing with that thing in the back of your head about what can happen, but he kind of let loose. If anything, we got him a chance to get back on the floor. I think mentally getting him back on the floor was huge for our basketball team. Our guys actually fed off of that.”
Anderson said he and the team climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa and it is 400-plus steps.
“I told the guys we may trade that for Cleveland Hill and they kind of looked at me,” Anderson said smiling. “They said, 'come on Coach, I don't think so.'”
Clark is a newcomer who was signed out of a junior college in Alabama. Anderson said the fact he played well on the trip isn't anything new.
“He has been doing that in our workouts,” Anderson said. “He is a guy who is getting a double-double everyday. He is a guy that is always around the basketball. He just has a great feel for the basketball. I don't like comparing guys, but I remember a guy named Lenzie Howell that came here. He was an undersized post guy and just had a great nose for the basketball. Coty has got toughness about him, that's what I like about him, but he is always around the basketball. He plays the game the right way....he plays to win. He can rebound, offensive or defensive end, and get to the free throw line and make free throws.”
Anderson did say the team had too many turnovers in Italy and didn't take care of the ball like they have to.
“We forced a lot of turnovers too,” Anderson said. “Our motto is we want to force turnovers, but we also want to value the basketball. Our defense has got be able to defend the 3-point shot when we get ready to go in October.”
Michael Qualls is a small forward from Louisiana who is a true freshman this season. Anderson liked how he played the game.
“He's an energizer,” Anderson said. “He's active. When you see the open court you can see some of the skill things he's capable of doing. He doesn't play with the basketball, but he can finish better on the break than anyone we have. He's very, very active. I like the way he's coming. He can be on the front of the press or on the back of the press.
“JaCorey Williams has some games where he didn't shoot it well. The thing I liked about him he was active defensively. He was deflecting passes and rebounding. He's another guy who can push it down the floor and make some great passes. When he gets on, he had a run in a game where he scored 10 points in a row. He has no fear. He has never seen a shot he didn't like, but that's OK. I like the aggressiveness he brings to the table. Anthlon Bell had his moments where he played pretty good and then he had some freshmen moments as did Dee Wagner.”
Anderson was pleased with how Ky Madden came off the bench and helped lead the second unit on the floor.
“I thought he came in and didn't have to score,” Anderson said. “He had eight assists in a game and a couple of other games where he probably averaged six or seven rebounds a game. He was playing out there with three newcomers and Rickey Scott.”
Hunter Mickelson also drew praise from Anderson for his play.
“I thought right there at the end he really came on,” Anderson said. “I thought early on you just tell that early on I thought some of the conditioning was bothering him.”