What Eric Musselman said after Arkansas’ win over Fordham

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman was in a more chipper mood after Friday’s win over Fordham than he was after Monday’s over North Dakota State.

His team played much better, incidentally.

The Razorbacks were sluggish for the first 10 minutes against the Rams, but an aggressive defensive spurt through the middle part of the first half led Arkansas to a 23-4 run and a 74-48 win.

Arkansas scored 30 points off 30 Fordham turnovers and outscored the Rams 54-20 in the paint. The defensive effort, especially during the run, was the best Musselman said he’s seen in a long time.

The Hogs fourth-year coach was in a jolly enough mood, he half-joked he wanted a fast press conference post-game so he could head to a Waka Flocka Flame concert in Fayetteville.

Check out the rest of what Muss had to say below. His remarks below are paraphrased.

Eric Musselman's opening remarks

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Fordham Rams guard Cantrell Charlton (24) drives to the basket as Arkansas Razorbacks forwards Makhel Mitchell (22) and Trevon Brazile (2) defend in the first half at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman celebrates after a play int he first half against the Fordham Rams at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Defensively, I thought we were phenomenal. I don’t use that word often. Forcing 30 turnovers, I think it’s the most since 2004. I thought our defensive activity was phenomenal. I thought we played a great second half. Their defense was a little bit unique where they decided not to guard people. We made an adjustment at halftime and put two guys in the Dunk spot. … We’d never run that play before. We called it Ram after their nickname. Let those two guys kind of rubber-band. I thought Jordan Walsh was phenomenal down there. We had not, even in skeleton 5-on-0 … I think the first half we were a little bit surprised at how they defended us. I thought the guys really adjusted well, scoring 42 points in the second half.

Arkansas owned the paint

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Trevon Brazile (2) dunks the ball in the first half against the Fordham Rams at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The 54 points in the paint, that’s kind of who we are. The thing I think is really important is the defense was as packed in as it possibly could be. What it does is it allows you to get a running start to the offensive glass. If the defense is packed in like that, we are flying to the O-boards. We’re going to exploit people that guard us like that. I thought it was a great game for us to see that. Good luck trying to block us out if you’re going to be 10 toes in the lane.

Hogs' big run was the key

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Makhi Mitchell (15) celebrates after a score int he first half against the Fordham Rams at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I just told Chuck on the radio I thought that’s as good as we’ve played defensively, that’s an Atlantic-10 team that averaged close to 80-something points last year. They have a player that wasn’t only all-league player in their current conference, but was an all-league player at Youngstown State. … I think we have to challenge some shots more than we did. Charlton took some shots in the lane that we have to get a little closer. And we’ve got to front the post a little bit better, as well.

Arkansas limited Fordham's best players

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Fordham Rams guard Cantrell Charlton (24) dribbles as Arkansas Razorbacks guard Anthony Black (0) defends in the first half at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We got back to a little bit more of our shadow game in the backcourt. Justin Smith was elite elite at it. We have two guys in AB and Jordan Walsh that can be great shadow players as well. That’s the first time we’ve gone to the shadow defense at full-court, three-quarters court. To cause nine turnovers against their primary ball-handler, that doesn’t happen unless you’re doing something really well.

Ricky Council can handle the ball

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Ricky Council IV (1) celebrates after a score in the first half against the Fordham Rams at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We didn’t envision it. He didn’t overseas. He didn’t do it at Texas. Tonight we had to play, we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing. So we made some adjustments. Ricky, he had seven assists, I think, so he did a great job of finding people and being an offensive weapon as well. I thought he did a great job.

Devo Davis' shooting is middling right now

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Davonte Davis (4) and Fordham Rams guard Darius Quisenberry (3) reach for a loose ball in the first half at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I think that Devo, we need him to score, I’ve said that. I’ve said it to him. Obviously we want to convert at a higher rate than what we’re seeing. He will. He’s one of the best mid-range shooters in college basketball. He can kind of create his own shot. Certainly want to get his field-goal percentage up.

Jordan Walsh was solid all the way around

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Fordham Rams guard Will Richardson (1) is fouled by Arkansas Razorbacks guard Jordan Walsh (13) in the first half at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t want to take away from Jordan’s aggressiveness. Before he got on campus I said he was a violent defender because he blows up dribble hand-offs. We’ve got so many guys that are going to keep growing as this season progresses. … I hope that we got better tonight than we were last game. South Dakota State coming in here, we better play better against them than we did tonight. 

Hogs have several players who can play multiple spots

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Trevon Brazile (2) reacts after being called four a technical foul in the first half against the Fordham Rams at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Makhi Mitchell has earned his starting spot

Nov 11, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Makhi Mitchell (15) celebrates after a score int he first half against the Fordham Rams at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Look at his steals, I’m sure he leads our team in steals at the center spot. He’s got incredible quickness with his feet. He’s got elite defensive lateral quickness for a guy his size. He’s earned the starting spot. He’s earned the minutes he’s getting right now. It wasn’t easy. I hardly played him overseas because he had a large learning curve about how our culture works. … Been very, very impressed with what he’s done since we got back from Europe.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire