FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ men’s basketball team is back in Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday when the Razorbacks (4-1) play host to Texas Southern (0-6) at 7:05 p.m. The game is being televised by Razorback Sports Properties, formerly ARSN. Head coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Monday to preview the game. Following is a partial transcript of his press conference.
“We have a lot to work on on both sides of the ball. This team needs to get better. There’s no question about that. I would like to see us have more assists than turnovers, have a higher number of steals and force more turnovers. There probably aren’t too many areas on the stat sheet you can look at and say that’s where we need to be. That said, I’m happy we were able to get two wins last week.
“Texas Southern will do some things we have not seen. They are bigger than the last two teams we played. They will play a two-three zone and make more of an effort to press us than anyone else has. It will be interesting to see how much zone they play.
“I’m not paying a bit of attention to their record. I know they’ve had a difficult schedule (losses to Texas-El Paso, Cincinnati and Marquette). The will come in here and look at it as an opportunity to get a win at a place that has incredible history. You better respect every opponent that walks in here.”
Assists and turnovers:
“We have 60 assists and 70 turnovers. That’s not a crazy number, but still, as a team, you would like to have more assists than turnovers. It doesn’t really matter why we have those numbers. It’s just excuses – inexperience and playing with guys for the first time. It could be a laundry list, but we need to improve.
“Courtney needs to get into a comfort level and into a rhythm, but it’s not just Courtney. We need to learn to operate and play better as a unit.”
Michael Washington (sore back):
“In the second half against Florida A&M, he was running well. I expect him to be ready (for Texas Southern). After the South Alabama game, I didn’t think he would play. He was stiff and tight, and he didn’t look good at all. It happened during our shoot-around at South Alabama. It was during drill work. There was no contact at all, but muscles sometimes are funny things.”
“I think he will play even better (than he has to this point in the season). His stats are not mind-boggling in terms of shooting. He has made tremendous progress in his attitude – more so than any other guy on the team. Scheme-wise, he knows what we are doing and he’s one of the most vocal guys. I really, really appreciate what he’s done. The last two games, he’s done a tremendous job of rebounding, but there are a lot of things I find value in other than points and rebounds.”
“The decision (to have a good attitude) is on them. They are aware of what this staff finds value in. Attitude is one thing you can control. Your attitude, if it is good, will give you a chance. It does not guarantee you success, but it can guarantee you failure. If we continue to have a good attitude, play hard and commit to defense, we’ll have a chance to win a lot of games in the future as a program.”
“I’m screaming and yelling at them from a toughness standpoint, but it really is mental. It has nothing to do with repetition. When it’s a game, and winning and losing is on the line, it’s a whole different environment.”
“He has been really good. He’s steady. He’s always had an SEC skill in terms of being able to defend. He helps us play well.”
“Jason Henry (who did not dress for the last three games) will have an opportunity to play if we get through Monday and Tuesday. The best comment on Montrell McDonald is he is suspended indefinitely. It’s important everybody understand there will be games. It would be nice to have everybody do the right things. There’s an expectancy level here of the right way to do things and Arkansas deserves that.”