FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey conducts his first Razorbacks practice on Tuesday as the Hogs prepare for the Labor Day weekend trip for a pair of exhibition games in Cancun, Mexico. Pelphrey meet with the media on Monday. Here is a partial transcript of that press conference.
“We’re getting ready to start. Everybody is back except for Gary Ervin. He had a death in his family and he went home. He was very close with his grandmother, so our thoughts and prayers are with him.
“We start practice on Tuesday in preparation for the trip to Cancun, as long as Hurricane Dean leaves it alone.
“Any time there’s a coaching change, there has to be some anxiety, especially when you have six seniors. They’ve understood their roles and then all of a sudden, their career is down to nine months. If nothing else, we will be able to get that out of the way and give these seniors the opportunity to have a very successful season.
“I think we can put ourselves in a situation to be successful. We have to play hard every day and work hard every day like it’s our last day. We have to serve others. I need them to do what they do so that the team can do more and on a daily basis be a team player.”
The 10 practices (for the Cancun trip):
“It will take a while to learn our system and to know where to go, but we’ll have our whole system in in two-to-three days. The practices are important. We want to do as well as we can in the games, but I’m not too concerned about what happens there. I’m more concerned about what happens here.”
“He had an outstanding year. He needs to continue to have success. He brings his hard hat and lunch pail to work every day. He will probably be the No. 1 guy on our team people will talk about and focus on. He will have to adjust to that.
“We need leadership out of him. He led (Team USA) in minutes (this summer at the U19 FIBA World Championships). You don’t just hand out minutes like that unless the coach has trust in you. That was good that he was able to adapt and fit in with another coaching style. That impresses me that he comes ready to work every day and he can go into and adjust to a different environment and coaching staff.”
“We will run a couple of different fronts. We’re run a man press with a man on the ball and we’ll run a zone press. That will be based on scouting. We’ll have a 2-2-1 zone and a 2-1-2, depending on the team and the game.”
“I want our guys to know how to play. We will have some sets, so it won’t be just pure motion. To me, motion means there’s no one in the post. With our size and our frontcourt, we have to have someone inside all the time. We will have some set plays, we’ll play using fundamentals and we’ll pick and roll a lot.”
“Sometimes the term ‘great’ is attached where it shouldn’t be, to something that is really common. If I didn’t play above my ability when I was playing, then it wasn’t good enough. We need to understand what it’s like to play hard. Not just on offense, but on defense, rebounding and going after loose balls.”
Levan Patsatsia (freshman guard who signed this summer):
“Everybody needs to help us. He can play the two or the three, but he’s probably more comfortable at the three. In our system, there’s not a lot of difference between the two and the three as far as the skill level is concerned. One is on the left side and one is on the right.”
“We will try Stefan Welsh there along with Marcus Britt. We may give Patrick Beverley a chance. With guys like Patrick and Sonny Weems, who are good scorers, we don’t want to bog them down. We’ll have to see how Gary (Ervin) handles it when he gets back, in terms of style.”
Everyone starts from scratch:
“It’s a new day. From this point on, I have to make certain decisions. I typically don’t have a doghouse. If you screw up, you’ll be punished, but the sun comes up and tomorrow is a new day. If you’re attitude is ‘I was good yesterday,’ you can’t do that at Arkansas. Whoever your opponent is, it’s a big game. Everything is up for grabs.”