Musselman, players turn to Bahamas after UNC Greensboro loss
There's no sugar coating it: Arkansas' 78-72 home defeat to the UNC Greensboro Spartans was a bad, bad loss. The Razorbacks dropped an early home game to a low major conference opponent, becoming the Spartans' first ever win over an SEC program. Razorback head coach Eric Musselman and his players are well aware of the mark the game left on their NCAA Tournament resume.
"We’re trying to schedule to make an NCAA Tournament," Musselman said following the loss. "When you lose a game like this, it puts a dent in you, quite frankly. This loss is a loss that’s detrimental because it’s a home game. I’m not going to shy away from that. I’m disappointed that we lost the game. It hadn’t happened in a long time, and it happened."
At this point, though, there is no changing the result. The loss happened and it will be there for the remainder of the season, and the team has to look forward. That's just what it's doing. Players can learn from that tough experience moving forward this year.
"We went over it (the loss)," wing Tramon Mark said. "We watched film. We took a deep breath. Just examined all the things we did wrong, some of the things we did good. But we came out with the L so we have to take that... and just move on from it. We’re still getting better and we’re going to continue to get better as a team and that’s what we’re doing right now."
"I feel like we understand that game was a tough one," guard Davonte Davis said. "But we have to put it behind us. We’ve got a game tomorrow and I feel that if we focus on that and try to, like I said, make sure we know our personnel and things like that and our scouting reports. Focus on the Stanford game, I think, and make sure that that game was behind us and we know that we’ve got to get better from it."
If anything, a strong performance in the Bahamas can at least get the team back on track, but could also provide some optimism for fans. USA Today reporter Jackson Fuller pointed out during the press conference that the last nine national champions combined for one loss in Thanksgiving week games.
"Wow, nothing like putting some pressure on somebody to do well in a (Thanksgiving) tournament," Musselman said. "I didn’t know that stat. I mean, that’s a heck of a stat for sure. We have a four-game segment right now. These three games, then we go home and play Duke. I would say this four-game segment, regardless of who we play in game two and game three here, is probably the toughest four-game segment (of) anybody in the country. I haven’t looked at everybody’s schedule, but I can pretty much guarantee that nobody has a more difficult four-game schedule that we’re staring at right now.
"Our whole thing is, do we want to play well here, absolutely. Do we want to string together a winning streak, certainly we would like to, but I’m never going to lose the philosophy of every single day trying to figure out A: how to make just to put ourselves in a position to make an NCAA Tournament and then B: How are we the right mindset physically, mentally going into March. But, first, you have to get there and the only way to get into the tournament is to win games.
"So high priority to play well these three games because we do know that there is a national television audience that’s going to watch these games as well and evaluate teams’ performances."
While the philosophy is to perform well and work on things in preparation for March, the mindset is to win games.
"We’ve got to win some games," Davis said. "We’re coming here to win. I think that’s the main goal, and that’s what we’re focused on. We lost, but we’ve got to put it behind us. We know it was a bad loss, but we’ve got to put it behind us and focus on the next game."
"We’ve got to wash out that taste in our mouths just by coming out and playing hard these next three games," Mark said. "Coming out and winning these games, I feel like that will do us justice on the court."
No. 20 Arkansas faces Stanford at 6:30 PM CT Wednesday night on ESPNU. Depending on opening round results at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Razorbacks will face either Michigan or Memphis the following day.