Bahn: When Anderson Said He Wanted To Be Back With The Razorbacks, He Really Meant It

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 3:45 pm  

Mike Anderson left behind a lot of talent at Missouri to help rebuild Arkansas. Missouri is currently No. 2 and 18-1 overall. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

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More playing time for youngsters. Fewer options off the bench.

These are the primary topics of conversation for Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson. They’ve seemed to be the primary topics of conversation since Anderson took over the program last spring.

Such is the state of Anderson’s current team, which stands 15-4 overall despite a roster that is now down to eight healthy scholarship players, none of them seeming to be a serious offensive threat in the post.

Meanwhile, Anderson’s former team sits 18-1 and ranked No. 2 nationally behind Kentucky. Missouri, featured recently in Sports Illustrated for being one of the smallest, but most explosive teams in college basketball (sound familiar?), opened the year with 14 consecutive victories. Since a bad road loss at Kansas State the Tigers have won four in a row, including a victory at Baylor, now ranked No. 6.

Certainly, Tigers Coach Frank Haith deserves some credit. What the Tigers have done under Haith — 129-101 in his previous stop at Miami — is even more remarkable when you consider they’re essentially down to seven healthy scholarship players.

Some have questioned if Anderson’s “Fastest 40 Minutes” style could have yielded these results. Hard to know for certain.

What we do know is that Anderson had assembled his best team yet at Missouri. Anderson was well aware the Tigers were a team capable of winning the Big 12 and making a run in the NCAA Tournament.

And Anderson walked away from it to build at Arkansas. No doubt this season in Columbia, Mo., would have been much easier for Anderson, but he walked.

“When I took the Missouri job, the cupboard, it was kind of bare,” Anderson said last month. “I didn’t leave it bare. We left some pretty good players there, some good kids.

“It’s going to be a challenge to see if we can get that same mindset, change the culture, get players in here that are going to buy into winning and get this program elevated as well.”

Cynics (and jilted Missouri fans) will point out the fact that Anderson got more money to coach at Arkansas. That raise, they’ll say, is why Anderson left Missouri.

Let's think through this.

Thanks to Arkansas, Anderson is now among the top 10 highest-paid coaches in America. He’s making $2.2 million annually and has a deal that runs for seven years.

But Anderson, whose team faces Auburn at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, got more than just a 10-percent raise by choosing the Razorbacks.



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