FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays its first exhibition basketball game of the year on Friday when the Razorbacks play host to West Florida at 7:05 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. The SEC also released the coaches pre-season all-conference team with sophomore guard Patrick Beverley on the first team, and seniors Steven Hill, Charles Thomas and Sonny Weems on the second team. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference.
“The All-SEC team (coaches pre-season) came out today and there are a couple of ways to look at it. No. 1, it shows respect for what these young men have done in the past. No. 2, it doesn’t mean a whole lot because it’s based on performance (during the year). I’m not too concerned with individual awards in a team game. I’m more concerned with winning.
“Only 18 guys were picked, and obviously in this league that is good. I would be really excited if they got some of those awards at the end of the year.”
No. 19 ranking in ESPN/USA Today coaches poll:
“That doesn’t have a whole lot to do with me. That’s not what we’re looking for. That’s great to talk about, but if anything, that gets everybody’s attention. It means nothing. Now, if we get one of those bad boys (national ranking) at the end of the season, that means we’ve had a level of success.”
Friday’s exhibition game against West Florida:
“It will give us a chance to come together as a group, really for the first time. That was supposed to happen in Cancun and last Friday. This is an opportunity to come together and focus on a common opponent.”
Players who missed the Red-White Game:
“Patrick Beverley, Gary Ervin and Michael Washington will be available, unless something happens between now and Friday.”
“Gary Ervin, Patrick Beverley and Sonny Weems will probably be in the backcourt. Stefan Welsh and Marcus Britt will get a chance as well. Up front, Steven Hill and Charles Thomas have been consistent. Darian Townes, Vincent Hunter, who has been shooting the cover off the ball, and Michael Sanchez are also in there. All of those guys will get a chance.”
Goals against West Florida:
“I’m looking for consistency defensively and doing what we’ve talked about. If you can’t talk it, you can’t do it. I want to see these guys get to the same spots consistently, play defense as a unit, and take care of and share the ball. By taking care, I mean not turning it over.
“I would like to press the whole game. We want to press. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll have to make adjustments during games based on fatigue, foul trouble and injuries. We want to force teams to deal with it every single time and bring fatigue into the game at the end. When two guys are tired, what prevails, the guy with the biggest heart.”
Style and system being installed:
“I think we have our concepts in. Offensively, we’ll get more and more complex as time goes on. There will always be things that we tinker with. We have a couple of presses put in, we’ve worked on man quite a bit and we have a zone in because we’ll see more zone on offense and we need to work on that.”
“The last two practices have been very good. Maybe it’s been the intensity. We’ve made more of an effort to have a good attitude and be a team. By harping on that, they’ve done it better the last two days.”
“Backup guard play will be a huge issue if the guys in front of them aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. What we can’t have is underachieving. It’s not fair to expect one of those freshmen to be as good as those other guys. If we get good guard play, those guys (backups) will be fine.”
“I don’t have a dog house. He’s served his two-game personal improvement punishment. He’s been really good in practice. He’s had only one bad day that I can remember. He can play and score around the basket and step outside. Sometimes he gets too amped up. Sometimes when he comes into Bud Walton Arena, he’s open.”
Ideal number of minutes for players in your style:
“Normally, I think guys can play 28 to 32 minutes at a high-level situation. Everybody is different. Patrick Beverley’s engine just runs. It is an endless fountain of hard work with this kid.”
“I’m pleased with Darian, overall. He didn’t do some things he should have (earlier), but we’ve moved on. I think he could have a big impact on our team. He’s better at the center spot, I think, because he has a better feel for where guys are with his back to the basket. He’s got a knack for scoring the ball.”
“The difference between being in good shape and great shape is attitude. I think there’s a mental toughness that has to coincide here. Mentally, we have to be tough enough to push through it and know there are wide open spaces on the other side.”