FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays its second men’s basketball exhibition game of the year on Thursday when the Razorbacks face Dillard at 7:05 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. Dillard is an NAIA member of the Gulf Coast Conference from New Orleans. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“(Dillard head coach) Dale Brown was a teammate of mine and he was a big part of my senior year (1992 at Kentucky). He’s very close with (assistant coach) Isaac Brown. They went to the same high school and played together.
“This game will be a little different than the Campbellsville game where we were probably physically faster and quicker. This team has quickness. Ball-handling will be a premium and it will be much tougher.”
Courtney Fortson (freshman PG expected to play on Thursday):
“The team will change (when he plays). It will get everybody in the positions they are most comfortable with. Stefan Welsh, who had a very good game last night, has had a little more success at the wing than at point guard. Courtney needs Rotnei (Clarke) and Stefan out there because they are capable of making shots from the perimeter. It helps Montrell McDonald because he has the ability at that spot to do some things.
“What I’m interested to see is if Courtney can bring his defense into the game. He needs to be focused on ‘Hey, I’ve done the right things and I’m on the court.’ He has the ability to be a great player because he can make people around him better.
“He’s a winner. He is consumed with winning. That’s one of the things that really attracted us to him.
“He has to play the point guard spot very well for us to reach our potential. I like Stefan some at the point guard spot, too, but with Courtney at the point, that puts other guys in more comfortable roles.”
“After those first couple of karate chops (fouls), he did very well. He settled down and drove the ball, he had a couple of high-low passes and he made a good low post move. His heart is in the right place and he’s a hard worker.”
“I think it’s a weakness. Those guys need to rebound more. Michael Washington is a proven rebounder at this level. Andre Clark, Michael Sanchez and those guys have to find a way to do that. Our guards need to get in there, too. Courtney will help with that. I don’t think we’ll have a guy who will get 10 rebounds a night.”
Three-guard lineup of Stefan Welsh, Rotnei Clarke and Courtney Fortson:
“I think that will happen. Those guys have a better understanding of where to go and they seem to get there with more frequency than the others. Montrell McDonald has been making progress the last two weeks and Brandon Moore played better than he has practiced.”
“Most guys make a big jump from their freshman to sophomore year. That’s from a practice standpoint and also because they’ve been through it. He’s gained confidence, and improved his strength and conditioning.”
“Wherever it is, it still needs to get better. Our toughest days are still ahead of us. We have not faced any adversity yet.”
Brandon Moore, who was displaced by Hurricane Katrina:
“He was displaced and his mother had to stay and take care of family members. Their story is amazing and I won’t do it justice. It blew me away for Brandon to go 30 days probably hoping she was still alive. You know how your mind works. She dropped her cell phone in the water. You know he has some toughness to him. I have a lot of respect for Brandon and what he’s been through.”
Steven Hill, who signed with Oklahoma City of the NBA:
“We’re very happy for him. I talked to him when he was leaving Portland and told him this is a journey. It’s not like college. You don’t get to pick where you go. There’s a chance this will not be the last team he goes to, but we knew this day was going to come.”