FAYETTEVILLE — One thought flashed in Arkansas forward Coty Clarke’s mind when he and the Razorbacks saw Bud Walton Arena’s flooded floor last month.
"We weren’t going to have conditioning," Clarke said Wednesday. "I was like, ‘Yes.’"
It didn’t take long before Clarke’s hopes of a morning off were dashed, though.
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson showed up and told the Razorbacks to head to the concourse of the arena in 10 minutes for conditioning. Cones were set up, workouts commenced and they have continued at other locations the past two weeks.
The Razorbacks have been without their home court since heavy rains damaged Bud Walton Arena’s floor in the early morning hours of Sept. 20. But Anderson refused to let the problem stop his team’s progress as it built toward the 2013-14 season. Arkansas found other places for individual workouts and group sessions and will continue to do so this weekend, when preseason practices officially begin Saturday.
Arkansas announced Wednesday that Bud Walton Arena’s floor is in the final stages of repair. So the Razorbacks will work out in the school’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) building until the restoration is completed.
It’s not an ideal spot for a program coincidentally in the fundraising stages for a basketball practice facility. But Anderson doesn’t want his team to consider the uprooting as a reason for frustration. Instead, he believes the inconvenience is an invaluable opportunity to work through adversity.
"What do you do?" Anderson said Wednesday as he previewed the beginning of preseason practices. "You adjust. Good teams adjust and you make the best of it."
Arkansas has held most of its workouts the past two weeks in the HPER, rubbing elbows with other students on campus. Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade joked players might even bump into some of their professors there. But the wash out in Bud Walton Arena also helped the Razorbacks turn back the clock as well last week.
Arkansas held some workouts in Barnhill Arena, which was the program’s home from 1954 through the 1992-93 season. Anderson was part of former coach Nolan Richardson’s staff during the final days in Barnhill and enjoyed being back.
"It brought back a lot of memories," Anderson said. "The buzzing of the lights. The closeness in there. It brought back a lot of memories. It was kind of nostalgic."
Guard Kikko Haydar, a Fayetteville native, said he loved the experience because of the arena’s rich basketball history. He said the flooding turned into an opportunity.
"I told the coaches if it wasn’t for circumstances, I would’ve never gotten to play in Barnhill," Haydar said. "For somebody growing up in Fayetteville, I thought it was fun and a very good experience."
Anderson said former Arkansas great Todd Day was in attendance for one workout and told stories about the past. Wade called it an honor to practice in Barnhill.
"I really wish we could play a game in there because I want to see how loud it gets," Wade said. "They said it used to get really loud in there and they talked about all the good things that happened in there."
Arkansas officials said exact cause of Bud Walton Arena’s flooding remains under review, but may have been tied to "utility construction excavation in the vicinity" and the heavy rains that fell that night. The statement also indicated "subsurface groundwater overwhelmed existing foundation drainage pipes and backed up into the arena through a duct drain at the playing court level."
The water was removed from the court and the floor was sanded down. It is now in the process of being repainted and refinished. The work should be completed in time for the Razorbacks to return to Bud Walton Arena on Monday.
So Arkansas plans to hold four full practices in the HPER on Saturday and Sunday.
Haydar said it may not be ideal, but the Razorbacks are dealing with it.
Clarke agreed and added it could’ve been much worse.
"I came from junior college and I didn’t even play in my gym until my last two games" Clarke said. "So I’m used to it. If we’ve got to play on a court outside or wherever it may be just to practice, that’s what we’re going to do."