Richardson Preview Weekend Matchup with Kentuc
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 Arkansas at Kentucky basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday at 11 a.m.
(Did you watch the Vanderbilt game film and what did you see out of it?)
“I watched it this morning. Our execution that we have been working on, the kids did a great job at all aspects. We got some shots out of our offense. We got some turnovers. All of our turnovers were converted to baskets where before we weren’t doing that.
“I thought all in all, that everybody that went into the ball game played their hearts out. We seemed to be very intense. I thought the guy that really pumped the fans and everybody up was Blake (Eddins). He was intense and had some tenacity.
“Our execution was really good last night. We had some patience and guys knocked down shots.”
(Do you look forward to playing Kentucky?)
“Yes. I think the competitiveness in me is that you always go after and try to play the best teams in the country and they have been that way for years and years and years. Regardless of what their record is, Kentucky is always a big-time program.
“Plus we are going to bring a bunch of young guys over that have never been to Kentucky. That will be quite an experience for them to see 25 or 26 thousand people in the arena. That is another learning experience for the Razorbacks.”
“I don’t know how we will react. I wish I did. We have a bunch of young guys. We are like a thermometer; sometimes we are up and down as a team playing. I sure don’t know how they will react to the fans. We just have to play basketball. They may be scared to death, then again they may not. I just don’t know.”
(How important was last night’s win to help prepare for the rest of the season?)
“I think mentally it is very important. The mental aspect of the game is so important especially at this stage of the season. You have to have some success. You have to see that the things you are working on are starting to pay off. You want to do more of it. I think that is important for guys that want to continue to play basketball. This team is just trying to learn to play basketball.
“Some days we are going to look pretty good. Some days we are going to look pretty bad. We just need some consistency. Then you feel your team has learned the game a little bit better. That is all I’m asking our team to do is to improve with each practice and improve as an individual and not worry about winning and losing. What is important right now is that each guy needs to improve. When you improve your team improves and you have a better chance of winning. You shouldn’t be worried about winning and losing. Worry about improving. I think we will get some things taken care of that way.”
(What do you expect when you play Kentucky?)
“One of the first things you think about when you mention Kentucky is tradition. All you have to do is put a Kentucky uniform on. They attract top players. They have always attracted top players in the country. It’s part of their tradition.
“When you think of Kentucky, you think this is a basketball program that has been basketball forever. That is what I think. Basketball is at its all time best regardless of who wears the uniform.”
(Does your past success at Rupp Arena make you feel good about going in to Rupp Arena?)
“I’ve taken some good teams in there. I’ve also taken in some young teams that I really didn’t know what they would do. All we are going to try to do is execute. I think that is important. So that is what we will work on in practice the next few days like we have for the last week and a half.
“What you have done in the past really doesn’t play into it. We hadn’t lost two games here before this year. If you would’ve asked me before the year, I wouldn’t have said that we were going to do that. Even though we had a young team, I thought we might find a way to pull it off. It didn’t happen.
“So as I take a young team over there with the history of playing well there, I don’t know if that will help us. I hope it will.”
“Its always been a competitive game. The first few years we were successful over there and I think that rally set the tone for the Southeastern Conference games between us.”
(What are your impressions of the Kentucky players?)
“I think (Jamaal) Magloire came back and did the right thing. He is a more polished player. I always like Camara. I think he is one of those long kind of kids that can hurt you. He is always around the ball and gets some stick backs. He can hit a jump shot.
“Tubby’s boy (Saul Smith) is a competitor just like his dad was. He is a competitor deluxe. I thought here last year, he was the guy that kept them in it. At times it looked like we had a chance to put it away, but he would always come up with a loose ball or a great pass. You can go on and on with some of the guys they have on their team.
“They may be a little different than they have been in the past from the things I’ve seen. They aren’t shooting the ball as well as his other teams have. Join the group. We haven’t either. Every time we shoot 50 we have a shot to win. That is what we need to do at Kentucky.
“I think the better we shoot the better we play defense, the better we rebound. It just gives kids just a little more incentive to play harder. But if you start throwing clunkers and clunkers your defense gets weaker and weaker. Then fear sets in and you start looking around to see who is going to do what. You have a problem. Usually young teams do that.”
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