Collen opens SEC play Sunday

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Tom Collen and the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team embark on part two of the 2009-10 season opening Southeastern Conference play in Bud Walton Arena Sunday.

The Razorbacks (8-5) host Florida (7-6) at 2 p.m. in the first game of the 16-game league schedule.

“You can take all the pre-SEC records and throw them out the window,” Collen said. “There are one or two teams who are really elite but anyone can beat anyone in the league this year.

“I think we’ll find out really fast who is ready to step up and compete in the SEC,” he continued. “We prepared well with a tough non-conference schedule and we’re ready to go.”

Arkansas has battled consistency as much as anything throughout its non-conference schedule. The Razorbacks played well to start the year but lost three of its last five down the stretch. Scoring droughts and lack of leadership were often the culprits but Collen knows those are correctable elements.

“We’re still moving in the direction of where we want to be at the end of the year,” he said, “but we still have some work to do. We know we can play well. We just have to execute. We’re still a relatively young team but we have so much potential and get better every day.”

Arkansas has just one player, senior Charity Ford, with three years of significant playing time. The majority of Arkansas’ points and rebounds are coming from the underclassmen.

Sophomores C’eira Ricketts, Lyndsay Harris and Ashley Daniels have been key players for the Razorbacks through the first 13 games.

Newcomers Quistelle Williams, Sarah Watkins and Dominique Robinson have also seen significant minutes. Robinson was expected to miss the Florida game after having surgery prior to the holiday. Her status has been upgraded to day-to-day and may play this week.

The Gators were picked sixth in the preseason SEC media poll and seventh by the coaches but enter the week 12th in the standings. Collen doesn’t, however, have any doubts about what the Gators are capable of.

“Florida plays really fast,” he noted. “I was amazed at how well they play at the speed they play. They’ve been a little up-and-down but they are certainly a talented team. We need to guard them hard and find ways to play well against them.”

Tickets for the game are on sale at the Razorback Ticket Office or on-line.