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Nolan Richardson 2001-02 Season Preview Press

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Nolan Richardson 2001-02 Season Preview Press
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas head basketball coach Nolan Richardson met with the media Wednesday to discuss the 2002 season, which begins with Friday’s Midnight Madness at Bud Walton Arena.

“I know that Midnight Madness is right around the corner, but what is important is what has been happening in our country. I contacted the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) to try and get coaches to do something. Not only are we getting a can of food (as admission to Midnight Madness, which goes to the Salvation Army), we are also asking for $1 to go to the (Red Cross New York) relief fund. We first set this up to generate food to help those who are less fortunate. Now we’re trying to help by making a donation to the relief fund. We are not charging people $1, it is a donation. When it comes to helping, I’m not one to wait around. This idea was presented to the NABC the day after (the terrorist attacks) happened.”

Thoughts on the upcoming season:

“I am really pleased coming into our season. We have upperclassmen that I haven’t had in a long time. We have five seniors, five juniors and three freshmen. I also feel that coming off the game with Georgetown, that it sent a message to our staff and players that we have to get better. There’s no substitute for strength and quickness. This group stayed together (during the summer) to work out. The last group that I had that did that was when Corey Beck was here. We’ve always conditioned our guys, but we’ve never really had a weight program. We’re hoping this program will get us stronger so we’re not injured as much.

“(Brandon) Dean was hurt half of the year (last year). It’s always something, because of the way he is built. I don’t think we’ve seen the real Dean yet. Blake played hurt the whole season. Joe Johnson was never in shape. He never had the chance. Joe was on this program when he left during the summer. The NBA saw that; he was stronger. Each of those guys, there isn’t one of them who didn’t gain 15 pounds in the bench press. We had two guys max out over 325 in the bench. Corliss benched 320, so they beat him. Larry (Satchell) benched 330 and (Alonzo) Lane 325. Thursday (Oct. 11) is our last day of conditioning.

“We’ve been working in the morning, weight lifting and playing pickup games in the afternoon.

“We have shirts that say 94-40 – 94 feet, 40 minutes a game. We’re looking at doing more of this. Our bread and butter would be the 94-feet defense.

“We’re looking forward to a great season. I wish we could have started three months ago. This team could play a game today, from the standpoint of conditioning and knowing what we have to do.”

On Midnight Madness:

“The Midnight Madness format has changed a bit. Our guys will be participating in the slam dunk and 3-point contests. Between (Alonzo) Lane, (Teddy) Gipson, (Carl) Baker and (Berry) Jordan, those guys are really flying high. We’re just going to have fun.”

On Alonzo Lane and Larry Satchell:

“Alonzo has worked on his shot. He’s always had the good foot movement. Larry Satchell is really improved. He was our most improved player last year and he may be our most improved player again this year.

“Some people say we don’t have a center. In our system we don’t need a center. When you have a center, you have to wait for him to come down the floor. I’m not going to wait for a center. Our guys aren’t going to wait for a center.”

On the newcomers – Michael Jones, J.J. Sullinger and Berry Jordan:

“Jones has picked up 23 pounds since he’s been here. He’s gotten better. He could be like a three this year. He can shoot the ball and run the floor pretty good. He’s going to be a good player.

“J.J. isn’t like a freshman. His mannerisms aren’t like a freshman. His dad’s a coach; he’s just got a basketball mentality. He’s got speed and he can finish. His jumpshot is like a Magic Johnson shot. He shoots way up. He’s a bigger (Corey) Beck.

“Jordan is raw talent. I’m excited about watching Berry in front of a lot of fans. He can jump out of the gym. With fans watching him, he may jump even higher. He doesn’t know the talent he has.”

On the team’s go-to player:

“I was asked who was our go-to guy. All our guys are go-to players. It’s everyone on the floor. That’s the worst thing about having a go-to guy. If he doesn’t live up to expectations, the team is let down. Our go-to guys are the five guys on the floor.”

On UA’s guards:

“With (Brandon) Dean, (Teddy) Gipson and (Jannero) Pargo, we have three legitimate big-time guards. I wouldn’t trade them for anybody. And then we also have T.J. (Cleveland) and (Charles) Tatum. All T.J. does is find a way to win.

“If each player steps up, we won’t miss Joe (Johnson). We can be a good ball team. It’s important for our team to get off to a good start.”



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