FAYETTEVILLE — Mardracus Wade was not in the starting lineup for the first time in 46 games during Arkansas’ 56-33 win against Vanderbilt last Saturday.
But that’s not what had the guard puzzled after the game. It was the fact Arkansas coach Mike Anderson never motioned to the junior to come off the bench in the second half, calling it a “coach’s decision” to sit Wade after the break.
“I come in here and play with the same effort 110 percent,” Wade said Monday. “I play hard. I try to stay positive. I don’t know what Coach A had going that day or what was in his plans or what not, but he’s got to do what’s best for the team.”
Wade is hoping he’s back in Arkansas’ plans, though, when the Razorbacks (10-5, 1-1 in Southeastern Conference) return to the court against Auburn (8-7, 2-0 in SEC) on Wednesday night. The Memphis native was replaced in the starting lineup by Fred Gulley and scored three points in 12 minutes, but all of it came in the first half.
Anderson was asked more about his decision to sit Wade on Monday and said it was just one game.
But Anderson added that Wade does need to start “performing.”
“Bring some better practices that can take him into the game,” Anderson said. “I think basketball is a game of confidence. You’ve got to play with confidence.”
Wade, who is one of Arkansas’ better on-the-ball defenders, has struggled offensively throughout his junior season.
He was Arkansas’ second-leading scorer as a sophomore (10.8 points a game) and his average has dipped to 7.4 points in 15 games. His 3-point shooting percentage (32.5 percent) is well below his 2011-12 average (47.6 percent) as well.
Anderson hasn’t been openly critical about those offensive areas, though. He did point to Wade, specifically, when highlighting Arkansas’ rebounding woes in the Texas A&M loss. Wade didn’t grab a rebound in 24 minutes.
Wade went without a rebound in 12 minutes against the Commodores, too, and has one in his last 57 minutes on the floor.
“I think he can be one of the better defensive players in our league. I really, really do,” Anderson said. “And I think as he starts taking that to heart and doing some of the little things, then you’ll see him playing even more.”
Wade said he relished Arkansas’ third-straight win against the Commodores despite his view from the bench in the second half last Saturday. He also called it a good team victory after the disappointment at Texas A&M a few nights earlier.
But Wade’s feelings were evident after the game, when he vented some of his frustration via Twitter.
Wade was asked about the post Monday and said he pulled it down after getting a phone call. His disappointment in sitting remains, though, and Wade hoped to have the situation resolved by meeting with Anderson as early as Monday night.
“There’s a lot of stuff in my head right now,” Wade said Monday as he prepared for Arkansas’ first practice since the Vanderbilt win. “A lot of things we’ve got to talk about, hopefully, after practice or maybe (Tuesday) morning or whatever.”
Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell said the Razorbacks need Wade to play a big role if they plan to make a run in SEC play this season.
He chalked up his shooting woes to confidence issues, saying Wade will be one of the best players on the floor if he believes it. But Powell said it clearly hasn’t been the case so far this season, watching Wade look hesitant with the ball in his hands.
“I don’t know if he second-guesses himself, but he does a lot more pump-faking than he needs to,” Powell said. “I mean, I’m telling him during the game, just shoot the ball, let the ball go. If you miss it, you miss it. If you make it, we need it.
“Hopefully he’ll bring it.”
Wade said he’s planning on it against Auburn on Wednesday night.
He’s just hoping Anderson can be convinced he has earned the opportunity.
“There’s always something on his mind and there’s something on my mind,” Wade said. “Hopefully we can get things worked out and I can be out there pretty soon.”