A major part of the discussion during Monday’s weekly Bearbacker luncheon concerned what will be, instead of what was, on University of Central Arkansas Bear and Sugar Bear basketball.
UCA men’s coach Corliss Williamson said he is close to working out a home-and-home arrangement, at least for the next four years, with Arkansas State University.
"I think it will happen," Williamson said. "We’re trying to put things together as close as next year."
Brad Teague, UCA athletic director, said Arkansas-Little Rock is also involved in the future scheduling mix.
The plan, Teague said, is for UCA to host a classic-style tournament involving Arkansas teams. UCA would play ASU on the Saturday night of the classic one year and UALR the next year for the next four years. On years ASU doesn’t play in the classic, UCA will play the Red Wolves in Jonesboro.
Teague also said that UCA’s game at the University of Missouri on Dec. 18 will be televised live on KATV (Channel 7, Little Rock). The Bears game against the University of Oklahoma on Dec. 30 with be aired on KATV’s digital channel (171)
Matt Daniel, the UCA women’s coach, said that, in addition to hosting Alabama next season, the Sugar Bears will play in a tournament that will involve a matchup with Texas Tech.
"We see the need to ramp up our schedule," Daniel said. "We want to see our athletes grow and we want them to put them in environments to do so."
Williamson also evaluated the upside and downside of Sunday’s 76-72 loss to SMU at Dallas.
"I have a long list of ‘what ifs,’" Williamson said. "We had a chance to win the game. The bottom line is we have to find a way to win these close games."
He said Mike Pouncey, Mark Rutledge and Tk Smith, three players who have been struggling, had strong games against the Mustangs. He said T.J. Shepard showed encouraging signs in his first game back from an injury.
The Bears play at Oklahoma State on Wednesday night in Stillwater. The Cowboys are coach by Travis Ford, a player Williamson played against when the UCA coach starred at Arkansas and Ford played for Kentucky.
"it’ll be fun to go against each other again as coaches," Williamson said. "They are a strong, physical team and is another game our bigs have to step up."
The Bears play Saturday at Missouri State.
"Our effort continues to improve," Williamson said. "But they (the Bears) think they are there. We as a staff think there’s another level or two we can get to and we hope to get there by conference play."