FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –- Arkansas plays host to Alabama in a Southeastern Conference game on Thursday at 8 p.m. The game is being nationally televised by ESPN. The Razorbacks are 12-5 overall and 0-4 in the SEC while the Crimson Tide is 12-7 and 2-3. Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried resigned on Monday. The team is being coached by interim head coach Philip Pearson. Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Tuesday to preview the game. Following is a partial transcript of his press conference.
“It is very, very treacherous out there. I hope everyone gets around in a safe fashion. With school out, we are practicing twice, so we’re trying to get in one extra practice as opposed to what we normally do. (Monday) was good. We made progress. This morning was not as good, but it was not bad.”
“They have a lot of veteran guys. They are long, athletic and pretty deep up front. They have two wins in the league. I’m sure they will come in and feel very good about themselves. With us not protecting home court, they will be looking for a road win.
“(Alonzo) Gee is a problem. Their whole team is a problem. They play three bigs. They are huge, as big as any team we will play. Gee is an outstanding player and an explosive scorer, and has been for a long time. He can do it from the three-point line or off one quick dribble.
“With the coaching change, I don’t think a lot will change in terms of scheme and system. Philip Pearson has been around and recruited a lot of those guys. If anything, they will probably try to rally together and use that adversity to bring them closer.
“My only comment about Mark (Gottfried) is that my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. There are two sides to this thing. Everybody gets excited about new coaches, but there is also someone’s family being adversely affected. I never like to see that happen to anybody.”
Courtney Fortson, assists and turnovers:
“Hopefully we will perform better as a unit and hopefully he will play better. A little of that is on him not making good decisions, but our team needs to operate as a unit at a higher level and our opponents have played well.”
“The three-point line has hurt us in conference play. Alabama has Mikhail Torrance, who is shooting better than he ever has. Brandon Hollinger has made four or five in a game, Alonzo Gee is extremely capable of making threes and Senario Hillman is an explosive scorer. We have to continue to defend the three-point line. We’re not looking at percentages.”
Full court pressure:
“We have pressed less. It’s hard to press when you don’t get (defensive) stops, and depth and foul trouble have come into play as well.”
Fast break opportunities:
“We were terrific (Monday) in practice. We got out on the break several times against Auburn. We just didn’t convert. We have to do a better job of converting.”
Jason Henry (knee injury):
“He did not practice (Monday) or today. We will try to get him ready. We’re just going to manage him and see what happens.”
Marcus Monk, who sat out the Auburn game:
“There is no change. We’re working with him (in practice) out there.”
“I try to focus on conducting yourself the right way when things are going great and when things don’t go so well. It is very difficult and challenging right now. I feel honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Arkansas and I’m looking forward to these next 12 games.”
Playing with desperation:
“If you look at the definition of desperate, it says almost beyond hope, at the end of your rope. It says you could become hopeless and give up. Part of the definition says extremely intense. If we play like our life is on the line, when we do that, we overachieve.”