FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas returned from its Labor Day weekend trip to Cancun, Mexico, on Monday where the Razorbacks recorded exhibition game victories over Quintana Roo, 60-57, and Belize Select, 108-37. Head coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Tuesday to recap the trip. Following is a partial transcript of his press conference.
“It’s good to be home, even though we were not gone very long. The trip was a blessing. Looking back, I think we were able to accomplish what we wanted. I think they got a feel for the way we want to play and how to go hard. We also want them to serve each other. I think we made some progress. I think a lot of anxiety was relieved in terms of ‘how will I fit in’ and ‘how I’ll be able to play in this system.’ It was good in terms of doing things together as a group.
“In the games, we got a chance to get organized and come together, and play as a team. Now when we come back for practice in October, we’ll have a foundation and a frame of reference, and it will not take us 10 days to get there.”
Beach time in Cancun:
“We were able to have some recreation time on Sunday. I saw some smiles. Hopefully we’ll come out of this a little closer as a team.”
Concerns after coaching two games:
“My concerns at the point guard spot are real. There’s not a lot of depth at the guard spot. Sonny Weems and Patrick Beverley are very good on the wings, but the depth is not great. We do have strength and numbers up front.
“As much as I would like to play Charles Thomas some at small forward, power forward is his best spot. He was a warrior in practice. He’s giving great effort and his attitude is phenomenal.
“The biggest thing is taking care of the basketball and not turning it over, and consistently being hard-nosed and nasty on the defensive end.”
Players who looked good over the last two weeks:
“Patrick Beverley has been there day in and day out. Gary Ervin had an impact when he came back (from New York). Charles Thomas has been giving great effort. Sonny Weems, on the floor, is very good. He’s a little quiet, on the floor.
“Stefan Welsh did well. He did a good job huddling us up (in the exhibition game) to make sure we knew what we were doing. It’s a big deal, but it doesn’t seem like much. When you see guys doing that, it’s a little intimidating (to opponents) because they can see there’s a collective effort.”
Three suspended players for the first exhibition game:
“If you get outside the parameters we set, there will be consequences. They all did a good job encouraging their teammates (in the game they missed) and they needed that. We struggled.”
More on point guard:
“Gary practiced better than he played. I got to see Stefan actually play a game and not just try to get through practice. I don’t know if Stefan is a true point guard. He hasn’t played there much. That’s where Gary has always played, but what if Gary gets hurt or can’t play. Stefan needs to be the most improved player on the team. If he can do that, he will help us.
“Patrick did well in the minutes and situations we put him in (at point guard). It’s tough to put him over there because there’s no one else like him (at his shooting guard position).”