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Not in Shape? Razorbacks' Conditioning Caught Musselman by Surprise

Eric Musselman didn't expect his team to be gasping for air like they were pretty quickly in exhibition Sunday

It was pretty evident Arkansas' shooting disappeared Sunday afternoon but Eric Musselman didn't have a clue why.

You have to wonder if what shocked him had something to do with it.

"Our overall physical conditioning shocked me at how winded we were," he said after a hair-raising 77-74 win over East Central (Oklahoma). "Even the first six minutes of the game. I was absolutely astonished at the lack of physical conditioning we exhibited early in the game."

If No. 16 Arkansas had tried to throw the basketball in nearby Beaver Lake they would have clanged it off one of the rock cliffs around it.

Nobody thought to ask in the postgame press conference if the two were somehow related.

Eric Musselman

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman during exhibition opener against East Central.

Musselman clearly didn't have a clue they wouldn't be able to get shots to fall with any regularity.

"If we had a really bad shoot-around and a really lackadaisical practice yesterday I would chalk it up to that," he said. "I am concerned. We had a great shoot-around today."

It was so good he did something that probably won't be repeated any time in the near future.

"We knocked off the last 15 minutes of shoot-around because I thought we had good energy," Musselman said. "You can rest assured we'll never take off 15 minutes of our shoot-around ever again with this group of players.

"We'll probably add on another hour in our next shoot-around on game day."

He was at a loss to explain things right after the game.

"I thought they were ready coming in," he said. "Maybe some nerves ... I don't know."

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He's got a week to figure it out before North Texas comes to Bud Walton Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Eric Musselman

Eric Musselman talking with assistant Gus Argenal during East Central game.

There will be more preparation for that one. Against East Central, the Hogs did none.

"It's the first time I've ever done a game at any level and not scouted ... at all," Musselman said. "First time ever. At any level.

"The one thing that I just told the staff before coming in here is maybe our preps help us even a little more than I give it credit for."

All the staff told the team about the Tigers was who their leading scorer was.

"We'll get right into our prep for North Texas and prep a lot more than we did this one," he said.

He does think he saw one thing that, at least after one exhibition game, that fans might see more down the road.

"We thought some guys were going to play better so we ended up going really, really small to try to win the game," Musselman said. "We had guys playing out of position. We'll probably play small-ball a lot this year."

Remember, though, it's the first exhibition game and he made a point about what that really means.

"That's why you play these games," he said.


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