The following is the text of a Nolan Richardson press conference previewing the Razorbacks’ exhibition game with the EA Sports All Stars on Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena. “We are trying to execute. Execution is the key to everything in the exhibition games. We are trying to get as many guys playing time as possible. We only have 11 players. Last game, Alonzo (Lane) only got to play 11 minutes. Let’s hope he gets 10 or 12 minutes this game without fouling out.
(What are you looking for in second exhibition game?)
“We are probably working more on things like not fouling 94-feet away. When you start trying to teach pressing defense they get the idea that every pass is a steal or a trap. That is not necessarily true. It’s wear and tear more than anything else. That is what we need to work on going into this game, staying under control.
“When you have a lot of fouls in a pressing game you interrupt the game. That is what we were doing. Even though they had 33 turnovers, there were too many interruptions of the game. You can’t get in flowing well. You have to get a good flow in the game. That is what we have to work on is the flow of the game.
“We need to clean up the foul situation and recognize a good shot. In that game, every shot was a good shot. I think we took 45 three’s, that is quite a few. We are a perimeter basketball team. We aren’t going to fool anybody. That is what we are. If we could make 40 or 45 percent every night, I would shoot 45 of them. We have to know what is a good shot and when to take them. We need to work on that.”
(When you looked at last game was there a lot of bad shots?)
“When you look at the tape all but maybe one shot was a good shot. They were wide open. They weren’t guarding anybody. If you turn around and hit 20 percent more of those shots then it is a massacre. But it didn’t happen that way. We have to realize that may be the norm. If that is the norm then our defense better be better and our execution better be better.
“I want better execution. When you play a lot of players sometimes you don’t have clean up players. Those guys that you put in to get a few minutes. I don’t look at any these guys as being clean up players. If they go in the game and look sloppy it’s not because that is what I’m looking at or because they don’t get to play. I really feel that we are going to be able to use everybody on the team.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to start that same five or not. I probably won’t know until after tomorrow’s practice. We will have some pretty good workouts today and tomorrow. Right now you can put down the same guys, but that isn’t necessarily the way it is going to be.”
(How do you teach the press game differently in the game?)
“I think there is a difference between practice and games. In the games you get the adrenaline going. Sometimes you press in practice and it looks like you shouldn’t be pressing. When the game starts that adrenaline starts flowing and the press gets a lot more accomplished.
“Our deal right now is trying to get them to understand game to game, that it isn’t always about getting a steal. It’s not about trying to get a steal and ending up with a foul. Don’t get guys in a trap and let them out with a foul.”
(Who are your best trappers?)
“I think you are better off asking who are top defenders are, because I expect everyone to trap. I think one of our best ones is the most improved player from last year, T.J. Cleveland. I believe a guy that can become a very good defensive player is Charles Tatum. He is a small quick guy. I think Teddy Gipson can become a very good defensive player.
“Of the big guys, I think Dionisio Gomez and Carl Baker can be good defensive players. I don’t think I’ve ever had a forward as quick as Carl Baker. He is quick. He is long, but he is pretty quick. He is having some trouble with his feet right now. I think he cut his calluses to close or something. I think once those harden he could really be a special defensive player because of his quickness.”
(What do you hope to get out of bringing in an exhibition team?)
“You don’t really know anymore, because there are so many of them out there. There are a lot of teams. We played the Arkansas Express so many times that is was like playing ourselves. You need to get a different flavor. You never know what teams will bring in. The AIA team has always been good, but they are scheduled to go other places.
“It comes down to trying to find a good exhibition game. It was good to bring in the foreign teams especially during the Olympic years.
“Sometimes you don’t know what you are getting. You have to hope that they show. You have your fingers crossed and say I hope you guys make it. There are 300 division-I programs and all of us want one or two games.”
(Anything you haven’t gotten done yet?)
“I haven’t gotten my zone offense in yet. I haven’t worked on it at all. It’s not the hardest thing in the world because we do a lot of man-to-man offense. The thing that I’ve been trying to decide on whether our kids are more adapted to running match-up zone or man to man. I think our presses because of the youth of this basketball team, the biggest fear our staff would have is our fouling. That is what took me out of it last year, because our guys didn’t understand it.
“We kept working on it and after Alabama, we said ‘hey this is it we have to go get it.’ We can’t wait that long this year with this team. We have to get on it early and keep working on it. I don’t think just standing up with the size that we have that we can play half-court basketball with anybody. We are just too small and too tiny.
“Our guards are small and thin. Teddy Gipson is a very thin kid. The only kid we have that can body up with somebody is Alonzo Lane.”