Arkansas hopes slumping Wade can pick up scoring


Arkansas hopes slumping Wade can pick up scoring

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Mardracus Wade would love nothing more than to return to his role as a scoring threat for an Arkansas team in desperate need of exactly that.

Last season's top 3-point shooter in the Southeastern Conference first must find his shooting touch and a way to simply get back on the court for the Razorbacks (10-5, 1-1 SEC) when they host Auburn (8-7, 2-0) Wednesday night.

Wade, who connected on nearly half of his 3-point shots last season, has struggled so far in his second year under coach Mike Anderson. The junior is averaging 7.4 points per game and is shooting just 32.5 percent (13 of 40) on 3-pointers, a season after a breakout effort in which he averaged 10.8 points per game.

Anderson singled him out last week for not grabbing a rebound in 27 minutes of action in a loss at Texas A&M. Then, against Vanderbilt, he didn't start for the first time this season and didn't even play in the second half.

``I think he's just got to start performing, that's all,'' Anderson said. ``Bring some better practices that can take him into the game. I think basketball is a game of confidence. You've got to play with confidence.''

Following the win over the Commodores, Wade - who led Arkansas with an average of 28.8 minutes per game last season - took to Twitter to express his frustration with the lack of playing time.

``This is crazy ... Can't believe that,'' the Memphis native tweeted.

Wade deleted the post shortly afterward based on the advice of a friend, and he was clear this week that he knows he holds the key to his future. He's also confident he can regain last season's form, sooner rather than later.

``I've got to stay in the gym and continue to work and try to get better and just come out there and produce,'' Wade said. ``I know I will because I'm that type of player. I work hard. I don't get down too much on myself.

``I'm like a gym rat. I'm always going to be in here to get better and help my team out any way I can.''

Wade's sudden drop in production this season isn't nearly as pronounced as his rise last season, when he burst onto the SEC scene after averaging just 4 points per game as a freshman. The Razorbacks were in dire need of a breakout season from someone after sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke transferred to Butler.

Wade obliged, hitting 70 of 147 (47.6 percent) 3-pointers. He benefited from more touches after an early knee injury cost leading scorer Marshawn Powell all but the first two games of the season.

Powell, who has returned this season and is second on Arkansas in scoring with an average of 14.3 points per game, has been as surprised as anyone by Wade's shooting woes. The forward has noticed Wade's reluctance to shoot at times, saying he ``does a lot more pump-faking than he needs to.'' Powell isn't sure if his return has affected Wade's role.

``I mean, I'm telling him during the game, `Just shoot the ball; let the ball go,''' Powell said. ``If you miss it, you miss it. If you make it, we need it. ... Hopefully, he'll bring it.''

Arkansas needs Wade to emerge as a third scoring option to go along with Powell and leading scorer BJ Young. Through Arkansas' first two SEC games, no one other than Young or Powell is averaging more than 5 points per game.

``It can't continue,'' Powell said. ``You're not going to get any W's if that continues.''

Wade has been far from the only one to struggle from the outside this season for the Razorbacks, who are 11th in the SEC in 3-point shooting percentage (31.5). The shooting guard, however, might just be the key if Arkansas hopes to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.

``We've got to have a third scorer and a fourth scorer,'' Anderson said. ``Our team has been built a lot on balance, so we've got to have some guys to really step up. ... That scoring has got to come from other people.''

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
W1. Philadelphia (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

2. Pittsburgh (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

2. Boston (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
Florida (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings..

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 23, 34 days before the NFL draft.  

Stability at the top of the depth chart

A Redskins defense that ranked 27th in total defense and was dead last against the run is likely to return nine or 10 of the players who were the primary starters in 2017. The Washington defense, which was 16th overall and 27th running the ball, will certainly return seven starters and could have eight the same as last year.

I’m sure that this will alarm many Redskins fans, but it shouldn’t. Before getting into that, let’s look at the changes.

On defense, the nine starters who are assured of returning are DE Stacy McGee, DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown, ILB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, S Montae Nicholson, and S D.J. Swearinger.

As of right now, a tenth returning starter has to be penciled in at nose tackle. Yes, if the season started today it would be Ziggy Hood at nose tackle again. More on that in a minute.

The only starting spot that is certain to turn over is the cornerback opposite Norman. Even though Bashaud Breeland’s contract agreement with the Panthers fell through due to a failed physical, he is much more likely to land on another NFL team than he is to return to the Redskins.

It is impossible to think that the Redskins will not do something to address the nose tackle position, whether it’s in the draft or in free agency. Then again, it’s impossible to believe they have run the 3-4 defense since 2010 without coming up with a long-term solution at the nose.

On offense, the seven starters certain to return are WR Josh Doctson, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Trent Williams, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, and TE Jordan Reed. RB Samaje Perine could be an eighth returning starter depending on if the Redskins take a running back early in the draft.

The new starters will be QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, and someone at left guard.

Having between 16 and 18 returning starters from a team that went 7-9 in 2017 may not be enough turnover for some fans. That’s not a completely unreasonable point of view. However, there is such thing as having too much churn in your starting lineup and some stability for the Redskins may be a good thing this year.

They had five new starters on defense last year and a new defensive coordinator. They also had a new coordinator on offense along with two new wide receivers and, by midseason, changes in the starters at running back and center. This is not counting all of the on-the-fly changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Continuing to make changes in the starting lineup is not always a recipe for success. Sometimes you just need to pick a group of players and, to the extent that you can in the free agency-salary cap world of the NFL, stick with them. Sure, you have to address weakness like nose tackle and possibly running back and fill holes created by free agency departures. However, it is often better to give a player time to acclimate to a system and, especially with a rookie, time to learn the fine points of the game.

Tearing things down and starting over again after a mediocre season is a recipe for, well, more mediocre seasons.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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In response to a tweet about this article that said that the Redskins led the league in losing important players in injuries:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 25
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 127
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 171

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