Richardson Previews Jackson State Game
BY ANDRES FOCIL
The following is a brief transcript of a press conference held by Arkansas head basketball coach Nolan Richardson to preview the Razorbacks’ game with Jackson State on Saturday, Dec. 4.
(As far as reviewing the trip to Hawaii, how did you feel about what was accomplished?)
“We feel like we accomplished some things. There are some things that I don’t know if we accomplished because the game was so physical and wasn’t called closely. It seemed like we fouled somebody 100 or 150 times. If you didn’t knock somebody out, it wasn’t a foul.
“We were trying to keep our opponents off the free throw line. When we left here they were shooting 35 or 46 free throws and things of that nature. There is no way we can play a good basketball team having them go to the line that often. That was important to try to get rid of.
“The other part that we were able to take a look at is being able to go inside. I thought Shaq (Alonzo Lane) did a pretty good job over there for a freshman. We decided that we could go into him and he could kick it out and we could some better looks at the basket. You can get some better looks when you go in and kick it back out as opposed to being just a perimeter team. That is what we are, we know that. That was a bright spot that we can now go inside.
“I thought at times our defense was pretty good and at others it wasn’t very good. I thought in the game against Iowa State, our free throw shooting was just bad. The next night we shot it pretty decently. That is an up and down type of deal also. All you can basically do is keep working on what you are working on – execution, execution, execution.
“I was able to put Jason (Gilbert) in the ball game to give us more offense in the beginning of the game to get us uncoiled as opposed to bringing him off the bench to see if he can save us with some shots. He did a good job over there in the final game. He nailed some shots that opened up the game to at least where we could go inside with it.
“I was very pleased with Baker. Even in the final game when he didn’t score, he had a presence and was touching a lot of balls. He was very active. I was very pleased with his performance.
“Walker played pretty consistent. Brandon Davis had a very good tournament over there. He wasn’t throwing it away a lot. He played under control. He is our most physical player anyway. I was pleased with his play.
“I wasn’t pleased with Dionisio Gomez’s play. He was hesitant on everything he wanted to do. He might have been second-guessing himself on everything and that isn’t very good. I thought that kept him from having the kind of games that I thought he would be having at this stage.
“When I stop and think he didn’t play last year and didn’t have many workouts after the beginning, it just shows that not playing somewhere really makes a big difference. I guess we have to continue to work through it and hope he can grow and get some confidence and turn into the player we think he can be.”
(Do you feel quite a bit better about the team than you did after Texas-Arlington?)
“Texas-Arlington just exposed us to the fact that we were just out there trying to steal the ball and not really understanding what needs to be done when you play a college conditioned type basketball team. They had guards that could penetrate and had an exceptional night shooting the ball. It was a game to me that our guys thought they would win easy and it didn’t turn out that way.
“I think that kind of game helped more than let’s say we win by 20 and then get on a plane for Hawaii. That game may have helped us more than any game we’ve played. The exhibition season didn’t help us at all. We couldn’t see anything.
“That game opened some eyes and got our attention. I’m glad we won the ball game, but I’m also glad that happened. It’s hard to tell freshmen and sophomores their mistakes, but it is easy to show them. That game may come back to be the best game we played all year as far as preparing us to get better. Because we can always bring out that tape and show it.
(What does Coach Andy Stoglin feel about his team (Jackson State)?
“He feels like this may be the best team he has ever had. They played in El Paso, but they just came back from Hawaii. I told him when you get back from Hawaii, for two or three days it is rough. Then they went over and beat Arkansas State. And listening to the game last night, it sounded like they had Memphis on the run.
“He has a team that has good size. He has some tremendous leapers on his team. As I said before, he feels like he has one of his best teams in the years that he has been over there. Lindsey Hunter is an NBA player and the best player that played for him, but he feels like a few guys on this team could play on the next level. They are young.
“I know it will be a tremendous ball game. We are going to have to play well. The thing that our team has to realize is that we are not dominant over anyone. All we have is Arkansas on our chest. That counts for a little bit. But once the kids get past the name it is a one-on-one type of thing. I could be in that uniform and you could be in this uniform. We have to approach every game that way.”
(You always get together with Coach Stoglin before the games, what will you do this year?
“We’ve had dinners together for years and years and years. He coached at Southern and I was at Tulsa. He is a big taco lover. That is one of his favorite foods. My wife is one of his favorite cooks. It’s like an automatic deal, when he comes in he has to have his tacos.
“I sometimes think I don’t have a whole lot to do with it. I don’t think there is any question that will take place. My wife was cooking chili last night for him. She makes him some special chili. Not only does he eat some, he takes a big barrel of it home so he can eat it all through the winter months. That will probably happen.”
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