Nolan Richardson Press Conference
BY ANDRES FOCIL
The following is a brief transcript for a press conference with Arkansas head basketball coach Nolan Richardson reviewing the season-opening win over Texas-Arlington and the upcoming Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii.
(What did the tape show about last night?)
“We looked awful. Last night, this morning and a few minutes ago it all looked the same. I think the only good part about the whole scenario is that we were able to win. It would’ve been worse if we lost the ball game. It would have been worse than the loss in Puerto Rico a few years back.
“You need a game. It’s very important that we play a college team that is in shape that is able to do some things. I think as far as this team goes they probably had better quickness than we have in the guard spot. It exposed us on the pressure game that we still haven’t learned to rotate. We still think that from the exhibition games that we are able to steal the ball and make bad decisions and get away with them.
“Now the bad decisions show up. The press is not stealing. The press is wear-and-tear and about making the other team make a mistake. In the end, there is a chance to get something done because of what we have done the entire ball game.
“I’m sure today when we show them the tape today, it will give them a clear picture of how not to play basketball. How not to have the press work. How we think we knew what we were doing when we really don’t. Because the team that has guards like that can expose you to that.
“The other fact is that they attacked the glass every single time. We tried to get to the glass every now and then. It’s not so much about the rebounding as much as you get the chance to shoot more free throws. Right now in all three games, the teams are averaging 35 free throws per night.
“That is the important thing we have to teach is that you have to be aggressive to the glass. I don’t care what size you are if you don’t attack the glass you are going to get beat period. You have to be aggressive on the glass whether the other team is bigger than you are or smaller than you are. I think that is hopefully what we learned from that situation.”
(Do you feel like last night was more like a how not too video?)
“This is not acceptable type of defense. I think sometimes you have to see the not-acceptable as opposed to what you have always done real well. We will have to work and piece our way back to it. First of all, it took us a while last year to learn how to press. Now we still have a lot of freshmen and only one senior and one junior. We are back to square one about learning some things.
“We made 11 minute tape and tried to pick out all the really bad rotations, bad movements in that department. You also pick out the bad things offensively and put those together on a tape and show it to them. Let’s learn what we don’t to do and then get to the things that we do want to do.”
(Some of the players said they maybe took the team too lightly?)
“I’m sure they did. You look at the score and they get beat by Minnesota by 28 or 30 points. The thing that I worried about and I will always worry about with this basketball team is that there are going to be some shortcomings. The key is hopefully we can iron out some of the things.
“It would’ve been better if we could have seen some of those things in the exhibition season. We had the Russian team lined up that could have beat us. That is not bad in the exhibition season. We could have gotten a little better picture. With this team we don’t have a very clear picture yet.
“I’m looking forward to going to Hawaii so we can get some games. All sickness is not death. We need to fix the sickness. The only way to fix it is to figure out what is our sickness. Then we try to cure it. We got a pretty good taste of the sickness that we are trying to cure a little bit. Maybe it will help us become a better basketball team.”
(How do you think the players’ confidence will be going to Hawaii?)
“You have a young basketball team. I think the important thing to a young basketball team at this point is that they won. It’s important any way you cut or slice it. They were still able to come out and win the ball game, which in my estimation is very good.
“I remember my first team at Arkansas. You could tell they were going to lose because of their eyesight. They had glassy eyes. No one wanted to shoot. There was a lot of fear. This team even though they were down, no one was scared. It’s like we are going to win or something good is going to happen. Then of course T.J. (Cleveland) hit some shots and Dean makes two big free throws. This is the kind of makeup they have. I didn’t see panic set in. I let a freshman play the whole overtime in Tatum. He didn’t show any signs of fear.
“I think going to the next game is something they would look forward to hopefully. Maybe they can tell you more. Hopefully when you don’t play well and your expectation is high, you are ready to get to another game. I think in football you have to wait a week, but here we wait three or four days and get three more games under our belt.
“Sometimes the best medicine for things is to go out and get some games. In the mean time, we can work on some of the things we saw and change some things that we don’t think we can do at this point. I think we are short in some things and then some other things give us a chance to be successful.
(Last year you pulled off the press early when you were struggling. Are you too small to be able to do that this year?)
“We might have to go to half court in a form of more as we work our way up the floor again. I think we need to do some of that. That is what we did last year. We had to work our way back up the floor. I think we can do some of that. I think in half court we have to make sure that it is as disruptive as the full court. Let’s go ahead and work on a disruptive half court and move up the floor and in January we probably have it a lot better success with it.
“It looks to me right now by judging from last night that we don’t want to go to a platoon-type system. We’ve got to go more to a numbering type of system. If we are going to go out and extend ourselves the guys who played 38 minutes, there is no way they are going to be able to press. Therefore, the younger kids are struggling.
“Gomez has been away from competitive basketball for a year and he is a little rusty. He has rusted edges. He doesn’t know when to shoot or when not to shoot. There are some edges that have to come off. How do you get those edges off? You have to back it up a little bit and get some confidence going.
“The 94-feet is what we are going to play and we will play some of it in Hawaii, but we aren’t going to live and die by it. You can still have the same type of pressure on the half court and maybe not burn out the key players. The ones that you know need to be in the game when you need them the most.
(Are you going to change the starting lineup?)
“I would like to get Shaq (Alonzo Lane) in the lineup. Shaq got a little winded after missing two days of practice because of a death in his family. We need to have him in the lineup. The reason we need him in the lineup is because we need to have some physical presence around the basket.
“Half of our shots are three-pointers. We get some layups, but most of them come because we outrun someone down the floor. We will get some of those because we run. We are still going to run with the basketball. We are going to make a few changes, but we are still going to play up-tempo.”
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