FAYETTEVILLE — Mardracus Wade has not had the senior season he envisioned.
The guard is averaging just three points per game and did not play in back-to-back games against Clemson and Savannah State early in December.
“It’s frustrating at times,” Wade said. “You come into your senior year and you feel like you’re going to, not necessarily be the man, but be one of the guys that leads the team.
“Being here the longest, you feel like the coaches would believe in you, have a little confidence in you. But I guess it’s sort of been the other way around.”
Since the two games in which Wade did not log any minutes, he has averaged 15.0 minutes per game, including 34 total minutes in the last two games. The Memphis native combined for the fifth-most playing time in the Razorbacks’ wins over South Alabama and High Point. Only Bobby Portis, Michael Qualls, Coty Clarke and Rashad Madden logged more minutes during those games.
“I’m seeing fight,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said of Wade. “I’m seeing him try to compete in practice and doing it on the floor. It’s one thing to say it, but you have to go out and do it each and every day. If he brings that intensity, with his experience of playing for us two years, hopefully it is something he can reflect back on and have a better understanding and appreciation for what it takes to get on the floor and do what it takes to help this team continue to play good basketball.
“Coming back for his senior year, you always want the best for your seniors. But I’m a coach that likes to win. I want to put the guys out there that will give us the best chance to win. That means there will be competition for playing time and that’s healthy for our basketball team throughout the whole year.”
Wade hit a three-pointer in each of the Razorbacks’ last two games, after making just two shots beyond the arc in Arkansas’ first 10 games. In the win against South Alabama at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Wade scored five points in 29 seconds after totaling five points in the previous eight games.
“Most times guys get flustered or some guys will just kind of shut it down,” Anderson said of Wade following the 72-60 win over South Alabama. “He’s starting to figure out — ‘I’ve got to compete, and as I’m competing, I’ve got to take that same mindset when I get in the game whether it be for two minutes, four minutes, eight minutes.’”
Wade has also recorded five in assists during the last two games. Clarke is the only other Razorback to total as many assists in the last two wins.
“I’m coming out there with the mindset that we need buckets, we need scores,” Wade said. “So I’m trying to come out there with the mindset of playing defense, getting assists when I can’t penetrate, looking for open guys and believing those guys can knock down shots. I feel like they have been and I know they’ve been working hard, so I have trust in those guys.”
Even though Wade has been back on the floor and has been a key contributor at times, he said logging a DNP for the first time in his career against Clemson was difficult.
“First of all, I didn’t know what the problem was,” he said. “But I didn’t talk to coach because me and coach don’t really have a relationship like that. But I just stayed to myself, continued to work as hard as I could everyday in practice and whatever happens, happens.
“I can’t control the future, I can’t control what coach says or does. I’m the player, he’s the coach. So I just have to run with it and move forward. Right now, I’m playing my role as a teammate, trying to come in everyday, work hard and give advice to the guys that are playing.”
Anderson said if Wade continues to work the way he has in the last two weeks, he will have the chance to remain in the Razorbacks’ rotation on a more consistent basis.
“He’s just got to keep working in practice,” Anderson said. “We’ve got some other guys that are playing well, but to me, there’s still an opportunity for a guy of Mardracus’ talent to play.
“He’s just got to get consistent and play at a level that’s really going to impact our team. He’ll have a chance to be in a game and see if he can carry it on from there.”