Publish date:

14 Arkansas With 11 players back, last year's surprise SEC champs are primed for an encore

Last February, Arkansas was facing a brutal stretch of six
consecutive games against ranked teams. The Hogs were 12-10 at
the time, and it was pretty clear that the only way they were
going to make the NCAA tournament was to win the automatic bid
awarded to the conference tournament champion. So coach Nolan
Richardson told his team, a group that included six freshmen and
four sophomores, not to worry about wins and losses. "We used
those six games as practice for the SEC tournament," says
swingman Brandon Davis, the lone senior on this year's team. They
went 2-4, and their chances of making the NCAAs seemed remote. A
week later they won the conference tournament.

Now Richardson has 11 players back, and if sheer quantity isn't
frightening enough to opponents, Richardson also has a 6'8" chunk
of quality in sophomore small forward Joe Johnson, the best
player in the SEC. And this year Richardson's got him for the
whole season.

Johnson, who took the ACT in December 1999, missed the first half
of last season waiting for his test score in hopes of meeting
NCAA eligibility requirements and getting a scholarship. He
finally got word later that month that he had attained the
necessary score, and his presence immediately added another
dimension to the Arkansas attack. Johnson can play anywhere on
the floor--and score from anywhere on it--which, in Richardson's
fluid, frenetic system, makes him especially dangerous.

However, Johnson will need help inside, so Arkansas will be
counting on 6'9" rebounder Larry Satchell and 6'7" scorer Alonzo
Lane to improve their games. And it will be up to the Razorbacks'
deep stable of guards, including SEC tourney MVP Brandon Dean, to
control the tempo at both ends of the floor.

Richardson's troops aren't going to sneak up on people like they
did a year ago, but the coach doesn't seem to mind. With a sly
smile he says, "I've got the kind of team that I enjoy




SF [*]Joe Johnson 6'8" So. 16.0 ppg
PF Carl Baker 6'8" So. 4.2 rpg
C [*]Alonzo Lane 6'7" So. 56.0 FG%
SG [*]Brandon Dean 6'1" Jr. 8.5 ppg
PG T.J. Cleveland 6'1" Jr. 2.9 apg

1999-2000 record: 19-15 Final rank (coaches' poll): unranked
[*]Returning starter