Richardson Looks Ahead to Nationally Televised
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a brief transcript of a press conference held by Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson to preview the Florida at Arkansas game set for 8:05 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday night. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN.
(Obviously you hoped to be a little better off than 13-10 at this point, but would you say you have an opportunity with the games you have left?)
“I think that is the real big difference. When you have a schedule like we did when we only had two games early at home and we lost one of them. South Carolina we didn’t play very good and we still aren’t very good.
“Then you put a young team on the road like we have been on the road. We are going to have to talk about that schedule. Because even a senior team that is brutal. We hope that we can make up for some of that by being at home.
“It’s one of those years that even though we are home we are playing the top teams in the country. It’s just one of those kinds of things. I’m guessing they didn’t envision when we got to this point in the year that we would be going against top 25 teams from here on out. We have six games all top 25. I don’t think there is a team in the country that has to do that with conference teams. Lucky – Arkansas. We’ve got them all.
“Every game we play is a top billing team that we play against. To have these young guys starting to believe in themselves has to help. The games we have won have been mostly lower division teams and now we get to play the upper division teams and most of them are on the other side. Four of our last six games are against the East which is the dynamite side right now.”
(Does that help you in that if you can play well your RPI goes up?)
“I guess so. I’ve told our kids; I’m not worried about RPI’s. But what we want to do is keep improving. All I’m saying to our guys is that we have all the top teams coming and we have to go on the road to a couple of them. All I ask is that they play hard and if we play well, we will face the next top team.
“If it turns out that we do real well, then we have decided our destiny for ourselves. Everybody has us buried, but the sand has not been kicked in our face yet. We still have some breathing room. We certainly dug a big hole and got in it, but we have some time to get out.”
“Florida has a good young ball club. Donovan has done a masterpiece of a job to take what he has done in the last two or three years and do what he has done to attract those kinds of kids to his program. It’s an incredible situation for him.
“Not only has he done a great job in recruiting, but he has done a great job at playing all of those guys. You can’t make everybody happy this day and age. Sometimes you have to figure out how to make them all happy. The only way you make everybody happy is to win. Then you don’t have too much unhappiness. If you start losing, you find out who is on your team. You find out who is on your side when you are losing.
(Can you describe Joe Johnson and how he has played?)
“He has played in 12 games. You have to stop and think about this, he had no pre-season, he came after the semester (late December), but in two days he came in and started. He had 16 points in his first outing. This young man had to play himself into shape, try to learn the offense, try to learn the defense and at the same time try to carry a basketball team.
“Then on top of that his grandmother passed away. He had one game over at LSU where he didn’t play very well. I think you reach a point in conditioning when you get a little flat. That is the time I saw him flat. Of course he missed the Auburn game.
“Joe has basically taken us and put us on his shoulders and said I’m going to deliver you. That is what he has done as a freshman. I think if we had him at the beginning along with Larry Satchell, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.
(What do you like about Florida?)
“They don’t have a player that can’t shoot. All those guys can shoot. Then they have Donnell Harvey in the middle. I saw him play in AAU. He is a man. We are talking about a man-child. Physically he is just a brute. Most freshmen, I don’t see them as being as physical. He is just a tough kid. You win game with tough kids especially the tough games.
“They push the ball. He has played a little bit differently depending on how they play. At times they are pushing it and shooting three’s and at other times they try to work it inside and then send it back out to spot up. I have seen them in zones.
“When he is playing the up-tempo pressure he has to play more guys. Style of play dictates how many guys you play.
(Do they remind you of the old Kentucky teams?)
“When you have a guy that played for Rick and a guy that coached for him that is going to happen. Nine out of 10 times that is going to rub off. I think you see some of his personality in it, but as far as philosophy goes it’s more like Kentucky. “
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