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Richardson Previews Battle with Vanderbilt

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Richardson Previews Battle with Vanderbilt


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a brief transcript of a press conference held by Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson to preview the Vanderbilt at Arkansas game on Wednesday Feb. 23 at Bud Walton Arena. The 7:05 p.m. game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot Sports.

(Is Charles Tatum back and is T.J. Cleveland available to play on Wednesday?)
“Charles is back. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Dave (England – Head Trainer) about Cleveland yet. They took the cast off on Saturday. He is still highly questionable for the game on Wednesday night. It will just depend on what he can do today. He will try to loosen it up a little bit.

(What have missed without Cleveland in the past four games?)
“He can shoot and play defense. He has aggressiveness. T.J. was having a pretty good season. He had a couple of games before that where he didn’t score as well, but I think he was probably or most consistent guard when he went down. It made a big difference in our program at least from a guard standpoint. It has been a big miss. I’m hoping we can get him back to finish out the year.”

(What do you think about Vanderbilt?)
“They have had a pretty good year and beat some people. Langhi has a chance to be player of the year. He’s definitely one of those kids that has a chance to play on the next level. He is a good rebounder and shoots the ball well. He has a good supporting cast too.
“They have a good shooting team. They always seem to be a little above the other teams in shooting average in their attempts from the perimeter. They run at times. They certainly keep the ball in Langhi’s hands because he makes good decisions.
“They are a pretty solid basketball team. They are a good rebounding team. They have won some big basketball games this year.”

(Does this team resemble how Van Breda Kolff’s teams used to play?)
“They probably push the ball a little bit more than the other coach did. But as far as offense and defense they have a lot of the same similarities.

(Is it impressive that a kid the size of Dan Langhi can do so much?)
“I didn’t know he was 6-11. He didn’t look that tall last year. He has grown a bunch. It’s just like we when we had Dwight Stewart who could come out and shoot the basketball. It’s hard to match up on big guys that can shoot. Plus if you put a small guy on him he takes you inside. You put a tall guy on him he takes you outside. I think that is the biggest plus a big guy can have is being able to shoot the basketball. It makes matchups very difficult. That is probably another reason that he is considered one of the best players in the league.”

(Do you have a gauge of what your team’s mindset is after a couple of losses?)
“I haven’t seen my team since then. When they left they were disappointed. I have a couple of kids upstairs watching tape and that is good. I haven’t seen the team yet. When you look at a team that has lost the last couple of games, I know how they feel. I was a player. Nobody likes to lose, particularly guys that think they should be winning. It feels bad. That is the only way I can answer that.
“If you want to ask me how I feel, I can tell you that. When I stop and think that I haven’t lost two home games in a row in 15 years that has to be a hard, ugly and empty feeling for a basketball coach that has prided himself on winning basketball games. It doesn’t matter whether it is here or there it’s just that losing isn’t something anyone should feel good about. I certainly don’t feel good about it.
“If my team has any feelings, I’m sure they don’t feel good about it.”

(Do you think your team will play better because they don’t want to lose three in a row at home?)
“It’s easy to say they are going to bow up and not going to lose three in row. It sounds good. You write about it. It sounds good and reads good. But I believe the kids don’t want to lose period. It doesn’t have anything to do with in a row. I know that is how you have to write it because it sounds better that way.
“I don’t think the kids want to lose period, not three in row, two in a row or one in a row. Losing is losing. I don’t think anyone wants to lose.”

(How did you assess Blake Eddins’ play against LSU?)
“I’ve been saying for a while it was just a matter of time before he moved on up the ladder. I thought when he came he got sick on us and then hurt himself. He just kept getting better and a little better. In the ball game the other I was very proud of him because I started to see the things that I thought I would see. That’s really important to see the things you thought you would see it and I saw it.
“He had some shots early that he missed early, but they were on line. I think once he starts making one or two of those shots, his game plan changes. He has a real good feel for the game.
“To me he has shown some leadership on top of that. That really impressed me. When a freshman doesn’t play a lot and then starts showing some leadership, I’m impressed with that. Just because of that I think he will start this week. That is my reward.
“When a guy does what he is doing, staying after practice everyday and working on this shot, diving on the floor and doing all the things, I’m going to reward him. I just love a guy that will give you all that. He will give up his body, doesn’t care if he gets hurt. It just doesn’t matter. That is the type of player that can play a lot for me without maybe the most athletic ability just because he gives so much.”



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