by Nate Olson
The Eric Musselman era at Arkansas is one-game old, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism. Musselman has checked all of the boxes since he was hired in the spring.
He’s done everything right.
Now, all he has to do is win. That won’t be easy, but unlike the guy who coaches up the street from him, he’s leaned on his years of experience to already have things in place to get the Hogs back to winning.
Here are four reasons to be excited about Musselman.
1. A sense of urgency
ESPN gives Arkansas a nine percent chance of earning an NCAA Tournament berth this season. Musselman isn’t buying it. With a cast of talented perimeter players such as Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones, the old former NBA coach is digging into is archives to find a scheme that can showcase his guards and mask his lack of a post presence. Arkansas may look much different next year, but Musselman is going to try anything that will work to win with this personnel. I think he will surprise many.
2. Social media
More and more coaches are engaging on social media and taking pics with recruits on campus visits, etc. to connect with the younger generation. Musselman nails it. He posted a back-to-school pic in front of his house on the first day of classes at UA, a Halloween pic and reenacted a pic of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan with two recruits. Musselman oozes cool, and social media is a great way for him to exhibit that to eager recruits who are glued to their phones.
Associate Head Coach Chris Crutchfield has spent the past eight seasons as the associate head coach at Oklahoma where the Sooners have enjoyed great success under veteran coach Lon Kruger. Assistant Corey Williams won an NBA title with the Chicago Bulls as a player in 1993 and has spent the past six seasons as the head coach at Stetson. Clay Moser comes to the Hogs after seven seasons working in the Los Angeles Lakers organization in various capacities.
I thought former Hogs Coach Mike Anderson’s staff was a hindrance. He didn’t surround himself with enough great minds. Musselman’s staff brings a wealth of bench experience and is a bit outside the box with Moser’s NBA experience which will be appealing to recruits. The same holds true to former NBA little man Earl Boykins, who is on Musselman’s support staff.
Musselman is already attracting the attention of big-time recruits nationwide. He got 7-foot-3 California freshman Connor Vanover, a Little Rock native to transfer, and Isaac McBride, a Little Rock native who signed with Kansas, is also looking at transferring. Anderson had trouble keeping prized recruits in the state and pulling in major blue chippers. Musselman looks poised to do just that. His first recruiting class stands to be pretty impressive.