Razorbacks Set for Season Opener
BY ANDRES FOCIL
The following is a brief transcript of a press conference with Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson previewing the Arkansas vs. Texas-Arlington basketball game set for 7:05 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 22 at Bud Walton Arena.
(How do you feel going into the regular season?)
“We have come through some exhibition games and I’m ready for a real college-type game. We will face more-conditioned athletes. It’s hard for me to tell how effective we were on the boards because some of their guys got tired and refused to go anywhere.
“I don’t think that will happen when we play regular season regardless of who we are playing. It will be good to get a game under our belt and see how we are playing. That way when we leave on Wednesday and get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday in Hawaii we will have three games in three days. It really will help us to have four games next week. It will really give us a chance to look at ourselves. It will be a good evaluation picture there.
(Feel like you know about as much as you can about this team?)
“I think over a period of time you get to know more about your players and what to expect. These games we’ve played so far, I’m not sure you can tell. For instance I think Dionisio Gomez is a lot better basketball player than he has showed in the exhibition games.
“That could also be true with some of the other kids. We missed 11 free throws the other night, I don’t expect us to miss all those free throws. We are a better free throw shooting team than that. I think in time after we play a few ball games, we will get a little better hold on where we are.
“I’ve been trying to get everybody playing time. And when you do that you might take your best player that is having a heckuva game out because you are trying to share time. This guy could have had a great ball game playing 20 minutes, if he would have played 30 minutes, what would have happened?
“Wholesale substitutions may not be something we want to do with a team like that. Maybe three coming in instead of five unless you are angry at those guys and want to sit them down to send a message. We aren’t going to tolerate, if you aren’t going to play hard and try to execute. Again I think it is important to play some games to see where we are.
(Going into your 20th season as a head coach and 15th at Arkansas, how do you feel about that?)
“It’s a milestone for me. I thought they would fire me my first year here. If someone would’ve told me that I would be here 15 years later, I would have been totally confused. I probably would’ve said the same thing over at Tulsa in my first year when I was a rookie at the college level.
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to have some very good assistant coaches. I think that is the reason I’m still here is because I’m lucky and have had some good assistant coaches. I think that is one of the main reasons that I still have my job.
“We’ve also had some good players. When you stop to think about going into your 20th season, I think I’m behind in the race. I got my job late. I was 38 years of age when I got my first major college job. I was behind. I’ve been trying to catch up.
“I was talking to John Thompson the other night. He already had 27, 28 29 years in. Bobby Knight played in college at the same time. When you look at all those guys that have been coaching a long time they started as pups. I didn’t. So I’m behind in the race.
“They say are you going to try to coach longer to catch up. No. You’ve got your fill, I’m just trying to get mine. I’m trying to get the full you’ve got. I haven’t gotten it yet. I’ve got some years to go to catch up in the race.”
“I think Monday I think I will go with the first group I started with: Brandon Dean, Brandon Davis, Chris Walker, Dionisio Gomez and Teddy Gipson. I will bring T.J. Cleveland off the bench as our sixth man. That is the role for T.J. right now although he will start at times and let Teddy play the sixth.
“I have to have one guy come off the bench that can help the rest of the lineup be a better team. Those are the two guys that I can see being able to help everybody else.
(Do you see Alonzo Lane becoming a starter at some point?)
“I think he will start some games. I was very impressed with Alonzo last night with his physical presence. Alonzo is a player with the style of play we have can’t play a whole lot of extended minutes. I think he is coming, you can see it. His confidence is getting better. You can see is reacting instead of thinking.
“He is a real coachable kid. He is a pleasure to coach. He really is. Whatever you tell him he will work on. You don’t have to go back and tell him again. Sometimes he is so coachable, some things you have do instinctively. Once he gets past that, I think he will be a very good basketball player.
(Have you heard that some people are calling this team the Razor Runts?)
“The Razor Runts, that is a good one. I’ve been thinking about what I can call these guys. They are some runts. But, I enjoy coaching this bunch to tell you the truth. To me this is the biggest challenge I’ve had in a long, long time. This is a big challenge.”
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