Richardson Previews Alabama Game
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a brief transcript of a press conference held by Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson previewing this Wednesday night’s game at Alabama.
NOTE: Arkansas suffered a pair of tragedies last week. Freshman Charles Tatum had a cousin (Ben Foster Jr.) killed in a car accident in Dallas, Texas on Wed. Jan. 12. Sophomore Teddy Gipson lost his father in a car accident in Farmerville, La. on Friday, Jan. 14.
Tatum has returned to the team and will play on Wednesday against Alabama while Gipson is on an undetermined leave of absence.)
(With all the tragedy this past week, does that stop the momentum built up with the win over Georgia?)
“I think from a psychological standpoint, yes. It put a damper on things that the kids were really happy about. We haven’t played yet to know what total affect this has taken on our basketball team. That is something that I don’t really go into about trying to find out what affect of a personal death has taken on our basketball team.
“As a coach, my job and my feelings are, that is real. Basketball is a game. Once I change that, I don’t want to coach anymore.
“The only thing we have to do is like in life, we have to go forward. We have to keep pushing. Because a tragedy took place, we can’t stop living. That is reality. This is a form of you can’t stop you have to continue to live. You go out and you continue to work.
“I knew the dad (Teddy Gipson’s father – Chris) real well, he was so proud of his boy. Last time I talked to him, he said ‘I’m glad he is turning it around. He is going to be okay now, Coach.’ You knew that is what he wanted for his boy was to turn it around and be the best he could be.
“I didn’t know Tatum’s cousin (Ben Foster Jr.). They were raised in the same house. I’m sure that he is hoping that his cousin (Charles Tatum) will be the best player he can be. He was so proud of him. I think that is why Tatum’s back. I don’t think he wanted to sit around and use that as a crutch or an excuse of any kind. He has said ‘hey I’m going to be the best I can be because that is what you wanted’. “
(T.J. Cleveland is going home to play, can you talk about what kind of play you have been getting out of him this season?)
“So far, T.J. has had a very good season. He has played different roles. We have tried him at starting and coming off the bench. He is just a kid that brings an awful lot one way or another. Lately, we just decided to get him starting again.
“T.J. is one of the most consistent shooters we have on our teams and our most consistent defender. He makes good basketball decisions. Up to this point, I have been very pleased with T.J. He has been a guy that has been very consistent as compared to the rest of the sophomores.”
(Early in the year, you wanted to use Cleveland as the sixth man has that changed?)
“He just brings so much. He is either going to get started or wait. I’d rather he get started on the right foot. Maybe we could work someone else into the sixth man spot.
“Sometimes a guy like T.J. becomes to valuable to be sitting in the first half of the ball game.”
(Who will replace Gipson in the starting lineup?)
“Brandon Dean injured his ankle the other day, but he responded well in practice. If he can respond that well, we will probably start him.”
(How much has the extra practice time helped Joe Johnson and Larry Satchell?)
“Of all the tragedy that we have had, that may have been the best thing to come out of last week for those kids. They got more practice time and more familiarity time. I think it has been real good for Joe and Larry.
“As many practice days as they can get in, it has to help them. I’m not sure the other guys would care if they could be off some more time it would be a blessing to them. It has been good for Joe and Larry.
“I’ve seen a big difference in Larry between the first week he started an up to now. You can see the cobwebs are beginning to get off him a little bit.”
“There is no question being off this week has helped both of them tremendously. Joe may not show it as much improvement as Larry, because Joe from an improvement standpoint is very skilled. It’s more about conditioning for him.
“It has helped Larry because it has helped his skills and conditioning. He played big for us in the time he gave Lane a breather. He came up big for us. He blocked some shots. He altered some shots. He got some big boards. He made some good passes and made a great screen for a guy to get a good shot.
“All he has to do is that kind of stuff and continue to improve. That is the thing that I like about this team. We are going to be better as those two kids get better. We are going to get better.
“A lot of teams may have already gotten as good as they are going to get. This team has a chance to continue to improve because it started with a short deck.”
(Do you think your team carries a lot more confidence into Alabama with a road win under your belt?)
“I think we will take a lot more confidence into the next ball game. Anytime you win, kids get pumped up and think they can win on the road. That is why a road victory is bigger that anything else you can have in college basketball.
“You can win at home and not really gain the confidence that you get when you win on the road. Winning on that road builds confidence everywhere. If you do it on the road, you certainly feel like you should be able to do it at home. Our kids really didn’t even know that they could do it at home.
“To get out on the road and win another ball game would really continue to give us some confidence. That still wouldn’t make us a great team, but it would help us.”
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