Sully Says: A year older doesn't always mean a year better
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
BJ Young, Hunter Mickelson, Rickey Scott, Ky Madden and Madracus Wade were expected to be more productive in year 2 under Mike Anderson. 28 games in, and it's hard to say that any of the five have improved this season.
BJ Young is a gifted scorer. He leads the team in scoring despite the fact that he's become a one dimensional scorer. When BJ is hitting the three like he did last year, he's one of the most dynamic offensive players in college basketball. When he's shooting 21 percent from behind the three point arc, he can become an offensive liability. In a critical three-game stretch, BJ was held to a total of 15 points. That didn't happen last season.
Hunter Mickelson's scoring and rebounding numbers are about the same as they were a year ago but he's not the shot blocker we saw as a freshman. Last season, the former Westside star blocked 72 shots. Through 28 games this season, Hunter has 38 blocks. What really concerns me is that he doesn't look any more comfortable on the court.
Per-game averages of five points and two rebounds a game is probably not what Rickey Scott expected in his junior season. Scott played only eight minutes in the loss at LSU.
Ky Madden has not had that breakthrough sophomore season that many were hoping to see. We've yet to see Madden play with the swagger he displayed in the high school and AAU ranks.
I want show you part of Madracus Wade's pre-season bio.
A gym rat who spent countless hours improving his shot; he led the SEC in three-point percentage as a sophomore; Bleacher Report named him the No. 3 pure shooter in the nation and one of the 12 best shooters; Lindy's Sports previewed has him as the top shooter in the SEC; Arkansas' leading scorer in Italy at 15.8 points per game, burying 57 percent from the field.
I don't know what happened between Italy and opening night, but Wade hasn't been the same confident shooter. He looked like the old Madracus against LSU hitting several big threes but on the season, he's hitting only 28 percent of his three point attempts.
Where would this team be without the captains? Neither player was a factor in the 2011-12 season. Marshawn Powell sat out the season with an injury and Kikko Haydar averaged 0.5 points and 0.4 rebounds a game.
This season, Marshawn is the Hogs undisputed leader. When he's in the game, the Hogs are a different team. The new Marshawn is also a 40 percent three point shooter.
Then there's Kikko. He's been the Hogs' only consistent outside shooting threat from the guard position. Kikko is hitting 42 percent from three point range. He's also proven to be one of the most annoying on-ball defenders in the SEC.
Bottom line: a year older doesn't always mean a year better.