By Nate Allen
Special to the News-Times
FAYETTEVILLE - To inspire his Razorbacks opening their basketball season Friday night against Texas, Mike Anderson brought in the coach who most made the Longhorns’ burnt orange see red.
Nolan Richardson, the former Razorbacks coach who turned Texas apoplectic with his dominance over the Longhorns when both played in the Southwest Conference, addressed Anderson’s Razorbacks Monday, the current coach and former Richardson assistant said on his Miked Up radio show.
“I was ready to play after he got through talking,” Anderson said.
Junior forward Adrio Bailey, the two-year letterman elder statesman along with junior walk-on guard Jonathan Holmes on these young otherwise freshman and sophomore Razorbacks, and sophomore point guard Jalen Harris, practicing with Arkansas last season as a redshirting transfer from the University of New Mexico, said the former national champion coach Richardson always captures their attention.
“Every time he comes in, I tune in to hear what he has to say,” Bailey said. “He’s the champion and I want to be a champion. I tell the younger guys, you listen to what he has to say.”
Harris said you only have to hear Richardson once after hearing Anderson for months to know that Anderson played for Richardson (two years at Tulsa) and coached for Richardson (17 Arkansas seasons).
“I see a lot of Coach A in Coach Richardson,” Harris said. “Everything he’s saying I’ve heard so many times from Coach A.”
Arkansas sophomore preseason All-SEC center Daniel Gafford of El Dorado said Richardson got specific about Texas, the Razorbacks’ greatest archival from the Southwest Conference days that ended in 1990 upon the Razorbacks moving in 1991 to the SEC.
“What I have been hearing it's like a real big rivalry,” Gafford said. “I mean what coach Nolan told us the other day his record against Texas is 14-3. So basically they came out like all the other teams getting ready to play Texas. They came out ready to play basketball.”
Both at his radio show and at his press conference, Anderson said the Razorbacks leave Wednesday for Friday’s 6 p.m. game and ESPN annual Armed Services event at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas to interact with servicemen and do some basketball clinics and learn about life on the Army base.
“Yeah I am excited actually about going up there and being around some of the troops,” Gafford said. “Because you know they protect our country. Just going up there, basically helping them, give back to whatever we’re doing when we get there.”
Anderson, coming from a family with military experience, is excited for his team’s coming experience at Fort Bliss.
“I think it's pretty neat,” Anderson said. “Our guys get a chance to be in their surroundings and they're going to take them on a tour all around the facility and maybe see some of the things they do in terms of the workouts. I think we'll get to meet some of the families, and one night we'll bowl and be there with the families.
“Our guys will perform a clinic, and I think they've got it set up maybe a pickup game between the officers and maybe I get a chance to coach and have some fun with them. It'll be kind of laid back, but at the same time it'll be a good setting for our guys to learn a little bit more about others and the troops and their families and some of the things that they do behind the scenes. It's a great educational experience and it’s a great honor.”