FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ men’s basketball team is back on the road this week with Wednesday’s 8 p.m. game at South Alabama. Razorback head coach John Pelphrey was the head coach at USA from 2003-07 before taking the Arkansas position prior to last season. The Hogs are 2-1 this year while the Jaguars are 2-2. Following is a partial transcript of Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“It was a tough night. Missouri State was tougher and played better. We couldn’t get things done down the stretch. We had breakdowns and turnovers. Until the last four minutes of the game, there is time to overcome some of those errors. It’s time to learn and get back to practice.
“We’re back on the road against the best team we will have played to this point in time. It will be another tough environment against some guys who have had success the last three years.
“I’m very proud of what they’ve accomplished. They have four guys back who started off and on last year and they earned an (NCAA Tournament) at-large bid. They have a good, good team.
“They are going to jam the ball inside. We have to be ready to play up front. Their guys are big and strong.”
Going back to Mobile, Ala.:
“There aren’t a lot of emotions right now. We’re coming off a loss and we need to practice. It will be interesting to see. I’m sure it will be emotional for my kids. From a home standpoint, that was all they knew until we moved here. Joe (Gottfried, USA athletic director) was tremendous to us. I’m sure there will be something when we walk back into the Mitchell Center.”
South Alabama and its impact on Pelphrey’s career:
“I could have stayed at Florida another 10 years and worked for Billy (Donovan). I cared about him that much and I enjoyed it that much. I didn’t leave just to go. I knew I wasn’t going to trust my family to just anybody. I was told I could trust Joe Gottfried, and they were right. I probably wasn’t going to get an Arkansas job or something similar as an assistant. I didn’t get this opportunity without success at South Alabama. Winning was the result of all the hard work. The reason I’m going back is because of those people, not because I want to play them.”
Playing in Mobile:
“It was in my contract. Instead of a buyout, if I left for a BCS-type school, there was going to be a home-and-home series.”
“We had good looks against UC-Davis. We just didn’t make anything. Missouri State pressured us well and we didn’t get a lot of clean looks. I think we’re better than we’ve shown. I don’t know if it’s the new distance or not, but I give credit to the defenses. The new line primarily affects the fours (forwards) and fives (centers).”
“He got 16 shots the other night, but the moment he walked on the floor, someone was beside him. As we grow as a program and get better at other spots, he will be better as a weapon. The same is true for Courtney (Fortson). They will all grow and get better.”
“He is suspended indefinitely. He is practicing.”
“He’s done a good job rebounding. He’s strong and physical, and he’s done a good job staying on the floor. I love his heart and I love his competitiveness. It will be good to have him for several years.
“If he averages a double-double as a freshman that would probably surprise me. I am surprised we have to play him this many minutes at this time. We need Brandon Moore and Andre Clark to develop more and get into the mix. The adjustment for everyone is different. Courtney and Rotnei have done it, but there are other things they need to do better. Brandon and Andre need a better understanding of what we’re doing on a daily basis and where they need to go.”
“It feels like our percentage is worse than it is (.604). The ones we have missed just felt so huge.”