FAYETTEVILLE – Eric Musselman’s latest Arkansas assistant won’t be overwhelmed by the head coach’s endless energy and demands on his staff.
Gus Argenal worked for Musselman and his University of Nevada teams in 2017-18 and 2018-2019 whose success brought Musselman to head coach Arkansas since 2019.Argenal after the last two years assisting at California State-Fullerton as associate head coach, officially reunited Monday with Musselman as an Arkansas assistant coach. Argenal met with Arkansas media on a Wednesday Zoom press conference and was asked if he and Musselman had considered him joining him at Arkansas in 2019.
“For sure definitely we talked about it, Argenal said. “It was the timing. I was talking to other schools interviewing for two or three different positions. Success gets you a lot of opportunities and for all of us that have worked for Coach Muss we have gotten a lot of opportunities because of that.”
He said now the Arkansas timing is “perfect” for himself and his family, his wife and 9 and 11-year old sons will move at the close of the Fullerton school year in June, Argenal replaces 2-year assistant Corey Williams, recently joining the staff at Texas Tech.
Another Arkansas assistant vacancy needs filling since now former Arkansas associate head coach David Patrick Wednesday officially was named an assistant Oklahoma. Argenal said he comes ready to hit the ground running for Arkansas.
“I know Coach Musselman,” Argenal said. “I think that’s a really big thing. Right now if you ask me, ‘Hey, we’re going to start practice in 10 minutes,’ and we haven’t practiced yet, I would know exactly what Coach would want as I walked on the floor.” And in recruiting, game-planning and even marketing. Musselman busies himself with all and expects his assistants energetically doing the same.
“You’ve got to be fired up every day,” Argenal said. “He does more in one day probably in the mid-morning than most of us do in a month. So you have to buckle up and hop on here and be ready to go and try to match that. I don’t think I lack the passion, the energy level for that.” Argenal both knows what to expect yet be expected to suggest the unexpected.
“He gives us a blueprint just like his players, the things that he wants done,” Argenal said. “If you can follow that, he gives you the answers to the tests as to what he wants. And as long as you are willing to work and do what he wants, it’s a great setup. People sometimes say he is a mad scientist but I would say he’s a defined scientist. He knows exactly what he wants. And I’m excited to keep learning from him and help him moving forward.”
He’s learned that Musselman willingly learns from those working for him.
“ I would say that’s the best part of Coach Musselman,” Argenal said. “That from the grad assistants up he’ll take suggestions and then he’ll look at different things and different ways of doing things. He allows us the coaching time. We follow his lead but we definitely have a chance to coach. He allows us to have input on our game plans, on our recruiting and everything we do. How we operate on day to day and our marketing. That’s something that’s fun for me.”
Argenal was part of a Nevada staff that took the Wolf Pack to the 2019 Sweet Sixteen and joins an Arkansas program fresh off a 25-7 Elite Eight season.
“Going to the Sweet 16, we (Nevada) were one game away from getting to the Elite 8 obviously and Loyola-Chicago knocked us off, really at the buzzer,” Argenal said. “I was able to go through that with coach and see what each game meant and how the pressure built. We didn’t get to the Elite 8 level but hopefully next year we can get one more game past that and get to the Final Four. I’m excited.”
Argenal said he knows Arkansas’ Walton Arena homecourt advantage firsthand. He was a Texas-San Antonio assistant when the Road Runners lost big to former Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey’s Razorbacks.
“I remember our game plan was to not let them get out into transition because the crowd will get into it and then we’re in big trouble,” Argenal said. “Our guys definitely didn’t follow the scouting report and started chucking up threes from the corners. Arkansas got running and the crowd got into it. I was amazed by it. We definitely felt it that night and I can’t wait to see what that’s going to be like next year with what we have brewing here.”