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Richardson Previews Alabama Contest

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Richardson Previews Alabama Contest

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -The following is a brief transcript of a press conference held by Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson to preview the Alabama at Arkansas contest set for Feb. 9 at Bud Walton Arena. The 7:05 p.m. game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot Sports.

(Is Joe Johnson back (from attending grandmother’s funeral)?)
“He got back last night. It is nice to have them all back. We will start again and try to get after it. We still have some games left and hopefully we will continue to improve.
“We can improve in one area and then not improve in another area. The thing that is disappointing is the turnovers that this team has accumulated over the course of the year. Poor passing or decision-making basketball hasn’t been good at this stage. Whether that is youth, the inability to pass or make good decisions that probably remains to be seen.”

(What do you think will be Alabama’s mindset coming to Fayetteville?)
“They are coming off a loss. They won here last year and they have already beaten us this year. They have beaten us the last four times. I’m sure when they look at the Razorbacks they still have some fear, just a little, but not as much as it used to be in the past.
“It becomes a winnable game as opposed to I’m not sure.”

(What will be like coming home for one game before going out on the road again?)
“It seems like we have spent most of our season out there this year. When you aren’t successful that makes it longer. It is very good to come back and play at home. Any team that is struggling needs to get home. We are certainly a team that is struggling.
“So hopefully this game will benefit us. Then we go back on the road on Saturday. Then we at least get to stay home and sleep in our beds for a week and a half. That will be a big difference for us.
“After four weeks in a row on the road on a Wednesday, I don’t know what I will do (at home). It was a heck of a schedule. We didn’t handle it well and that made it tougher.”

(Does it seem like this team has had to deal with more interruptions than other teams you’ve had?)
“I’ve never had a year like this. Even when we were terrible when I first came over here, the thing that was different was that my daughter (Yvonne) was really sick. I remember that basketball really wasn’t very important at all to me. I was losing something.
“I can’t even bring that team to this one. I’ve never had guys that were late (Satchell and Johnson) and as many funerals as we have had these last three or four weeks. I haven’t had that kind of rash of anything.
“I guess if you stay in it long enough, you are going to see it. Some coaches are very fortunate and lucky to make it all the way through it and not see it. It is just one of those years. It has just happened. It has just been a bad, bad year so far. It could end up little bit better, but so far it hasn’t been that good.
“That is not to make any excuses about our basketball team, sometimes the pieces are just not there at the right time.”

(Do you think that both teams have a lot of freshmen explains why Alabama is 10-10 and Arkansas is 11-10?)
“I wish I could have had my freshman all the time. I think we would be a little better off today. Satchell needed to practice and play. To tell him we have already started the season was tough. He needed August, September, October, November, December and then maybe in January he is ready to go.
“Johnson is kind of the opposite. He is more of a skills player. All he needed to do is to try to get in shape and try to figure out what we are trying to do. So those two guys, could’ve really helped us if they started off.
“The team has really never been together and a lot of things have happened. Then you have some deaths in the families and it has just snowballed. We might have a good half like we did the other day. The half we had the other day was good, but it wasn’t that great because we still had 14 turnovers. If we don’t have 14 turnovers, we are up by 15 at half.”

(Will you go back to a pressing style?)
“We tried to press over there, but we couldn’t. You look like you aren’t pressing because you aren’t making any shots. You can’t score, you can’t get in it. It’s always transition basketball. If you make a free throw, you can get in it. If you don’t you can’t get in it.
“We are going to press as many times as we can. If we score, we are going to get in it more. If we can’t than we hope that we can stop them until we do score. It’s all about scoring in pressure defensive. You have to score some points and then make them work it up the floor.
“Half the time we weren’t even getting a shot much less getting into the press. When you turn it over 28 times in the half court, how many times do you have an opportunity to press. You don’t have many. “

(Will you do anything different to try and counter Schea Cotton and Terrance Meade this time around?)
“Cotton is one of those guys that attacks you. He is a big ole strong kid – a man. We don’t have any special plans. You can’t do anything special because we don’t a player that you can say you step up and stop him. We don’t have those kinds of kids.
“We are going to try to do what we basically do at home, double-up and double team and force the guy to go ahead and get rid of the ball. That is one thing about him is that he is left-handed and can get to the basket.
“Meade also had a good game against us. I think it is the same for him. It is all about playing a little bit better team defense and making some baskets. It seems to me when we make some baskets our defense is a lot better.
“That is the trademark of a young team. The scoring is based on their defense. It’s not so much the defense based on the scoring. It’s the other way around with a young team.”



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