Preaching to the Faithful
Mike Anderson and former Razorbacks Pat Bradley, Ernie Murry, Blake Eddins, Sunday Adebayo and Scotty Thurman were some of the featured guests at Thursday night’s Little Rock Razorback club dinner at the Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock.
Blake Eddins let loose in his introductory speech, and delivered some gems. Following are choice excerpts.
He opened talking about Nolan’s ouster nearly a decade ago and his reaction when he discovered the powers-that-be weren’t yet ready to make Anderson his permanent replacement:
I was junior on the team the year Coach Richardson got fired. When that happened the team kind of went into scramble mode. The team had a meeting and for some reason wanted me to the spokesperson to the press. So I go out as this idiot 21-year-old and am thinking “Oh, we got this.” I talked to the press. You know, ‘God bless America and all that good stuff.
I leave that deal thinking “Man, I think we’re gonna get this deal, it’s gonna be great.” I find out the next day [the Anderson hiring is] not gonna happen and go to Coach Anderson. I got tears in my eyes. I love the guy. And all I keep saying is ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry coach.’ And Coach A kind of grabbed me by my shoulders and doesn’t blink, doesn’t anything. And in his wonderful, sometimes third-person dialect he said ‘Blake, you don’t worry about Mike Anderson. Mike Anderson’s gonna be fine. Mike Anderson and his family are gonna go get a good job. Mike Anderson’s gonna win some damn ballgames.”
On the legacies of Mike Anderson, Norm Stewart and Nolan Richardson
He won 100 games faster than anybody in Missouri basketball history. He’s got the best winning percentage of anybody in Missouri basketball history. That’s better than Norm Stewart who I think went to a couple of Elite Eights but for some reason has his name on the court. We’ve got a coach who won a national championship and went to a few Final Fours and can’t get his name on a napkin…
On Rotnei Clarke
Through all of this, Coach Anderson has never complained. He’s been the same Mike Anderson that recruited me and recruited some of ya’ll. He’s been humble, he’s gone to work and everything. He didn’t complain once, he didn’t pout. He dad didn’t call a CBSSports.com writer and say he’s gonna transfer to Gonzaga if he didn’t get his way and all that good stuff.
On Mike vs. Stan
Mike Anderson does everything faster than everybody else. He eats faster, he goes to sleep faster, he fouls you in pickup than anybody you’ll ever play. What was ya’ll’s flight [from Fayetteville] down here? Thirty-six minutes? Something like that. Seven years ago, same flight, same pilot, same plane, same everything – took Stan Heath two hours and 18 minutes. He had to eat something, stop in Russellville and refuel.
Listen to all Eddins’ speech here: Blake Eddins in NLR
Mike Anderson didn’t quite let it fly like Eddins. But the night’s main attraction did offer insight into the new team after three days of workouts. He said it will take time for this team to develop the stamina for his trademark up-tempo game, but the process has certainly begun with 6 a.m. workouts:
We have two hours a week we can do individual workouts with them, so we’ll put these guys through some individual instruction in the 20 to 30 minute slots four days a week … trust me, we can do a whole lot in 30 minutes. We had a couple guys who five minutes into the workout went to the garbage can to puke. And I mean throw it up, literally throwing up and that’s just individual workouts so you can imagine as we get prepared for the conditioning part of it. Like I said, it’s gonna be up-tempo and in your face.
The phrase used to be ’40 Minutes of Hell.’ [With Mizzou] I just just had a nicer version. I called it the fastest 40 minutes. But coming in here with the team that we’ve inherited, I told people “‘Watch out. I might be more like ’15 Minutes of Hell’ and ’25 Minutes of ‘What the Hell are We Doing?'” It’s gonna be a work in progress, but the more we do it, the better we get after it.
Here’s his take on those highly-recruited freshmen:
1) Rashad “Ky” Madden – Anderson loves his energy and effort, but claims he’s 6-6. Unless, kid’s gone on an incredible summer growth spurt, this may be pushing it. When I saw Madden in late May, he was more in 6-4 range. But Anderson’s assessment that he “needs to put some meat on him” is certifiably true.
2) Hunter Mickelson –
He’s put on 25 pounds since he’s been up there, so you’re talking about a guy who’s worked hard this summer. I just like his versatility, he’s a guy who not only works inside he can’t step outside. So as he picks up the speed and strength of the game, I think you’re gonna see a guy who can really help us. [Mickelson, whose father is from Minnesota, last year told me he considers Kevin Garnett the player after which he most tries to pattern his game.]
3) B.J. Young –
He’s a guy that’s gonna score. He figures no one’s gonna stop him from scoring. And he probably has never seen a shot he didn’t like, but the thing I like about him is he’s got a winning attitude. He will fight you and fight you and fight you. And I think we need that.
4) Devonta Abron –
He’s picked up probably 10 pounds. He’s 6-8 and has solidified himself. He’s a left-handed kid but one thing I like about him is he don’t mind banging. I like guys who have aggressiveness and I like guys with toughness and I think that’s what those guys bring to the table.
5) Aaron Ross – Anderson wasn’t allowed to comment on Ross, who enrolled at a Wisconson prep school after failing to academically qualify for the University of Arkansas.
Listen to Anderson’s entire speech here: Mike Anderson in NLR
You’d better believe a whole mess of reporters and cameras gathered round ‘Ol Mike at this one. Here’s proof:
1. KARK films Mike talking to media
2. Powelling around with wholehogsports.com
3. Pat Bradley, Mike talk to KATV