FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Following an open date on Wednesday, Arkansas returns to action with an 8 p.m. game at LSU on Saturday. The game is being televised by ESPN Classic. The Razorbacks are 13-5 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. LSU is 7-11 and 0-4. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“I have tremendous respect for Coach John Brady. He’s a Final Four coach. His team has a lot of pride and will be ready to go. It’s never easy in the SEC because of the environments created. They have two big, big time players in (Anthony) Randolph and (Quinton) Thornton, not to mention their more experienced players.
“Randolph and Thornton are both capable of getting their own shot. They aren’t one dimensional.
“Thornton can shoot the three, drive and get fouled, and he’s athletic and strong. Randolph, for a guy 6-10, there’s not much he can’t do. He can lead the break, drive to the basket and shoot with range.
“Those two are the types of guys you want to get.”
Playing on the road:
“Any time you go on the road, you have to try to be 10 points better than your opponent. You have to defend without fouling, and they have tremendous offensive talent. Offensively, we need to take care of the ball and get our best shot.”
LSU’s seven-game losing streak:
“We know those guys are very, very good. Everybody can read the numbers, but the game will not be played on paper, it will be played on the floor. We have to guard them, and execute on offense and take care of the ball.
“What they’ve done has no bearing what so ever. I see no relevancy in that (losing streak) and what will take place on Saturday.”
“They are all huge, every game. From my playing days and coaching in this league, I know you have to go game-to-game and week-to-week. If you have a good week, the sky is blue. If you split or if you lose, it’s hard to find the sun.
“Everybody has had a chance, after three or four games, to evaluate, improve and try to get better. Outside of a couple of teams, there are a lot of people in the middle who kind of look the same. This is an opportunity to get things headed in the right direction. It’s a 16-game schedule. It’s not played in four or eight. You have to go all the way through.”
Needing a win:
“It’s very important. We need to keep this train moving a little. The ability to focus game-to-game is very important. We don’t know what is in store in terms of who is going to win what the rest of the way.”
“He means a lot to this team. He won a tremendous award last year when he was named (SEC) Defensive Player of the Year. He’s unique in terms of the skill set he brings to the team. He meets all challenges on the floor and off the floor. He tries to play beyond his abilities and has been more of an offensive factor than in the past. We need Steven now and the rest of the way. I hope he continues his scoring, especially the type of shot he’s been getting (high percentage).”
“He’s responded well to some things. I have a comfort level with him at the two wing positions.”
“We took off Monday and Tuesday. We played three games in one week, and you’re allowed to go every day provided you take two days off the next week, which is what we did.”
Assistant coach Rob Evans:
“I don’t think I have it all figured out. I know I’ve been blessed with some of the people I’ve been able to be around. Rob Evans has basically been coaching longer than I’ve been alive. He’s good for me and the rest of the coaches. He has a very good perspective. There’s not much he hasn’t seen, both positive and negative.
“I’m pleased with the entire staff. (Assistant coaches) Isaac Brown and Tom Ostrom are terrific, and (video coordinator) Matt (Siverling) and (director of basketball operations) Damon (Jones) are as well. They are all hard-working and selfless.”