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Richardson Previews SEC Season Opener

Richardson Previews SEC Season Opener

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The following is a brief transcript of a press conference held by Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson to preview the Arkansas vs. Ole Miss game on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at Bud Walton Arena.

(Will it be different for Carl Baker since he knows a lot of the Ole Miss guys?)
“It’s different when you are a player. I’m sure he knows all the kids. They had programmed him to go over there with the rest of them. They have quite a few Arkansas kids over there. I thought they expected him to be over there. I think Carl always wanted to be a Razorback.
“He is very familiar. His uncle has been over there. Again, I think he wanted to be a Razorback from the time he was a little kid. I’m glad we got Baker. I’m sure some of our other guys like Joe (Johnson) will know their guys.
“It will be a little bit different this time. We are starting three Arkansas kids, Chris Walker, Joe Johnson and Carl Baker. Now you at least have Arkansas guys going against Arkansas guys. That probably makes a little bit of a difference in the type of flavor of the game.
“They have more at stake than a guy that is just playing. You have guys playing that probably think they should’ve been offered a scholarship here. They get excited. I would too if I came to play in my hometown or my home state. I think that is just the nature of the beast.”

(What kind of team does Ole Miss have?)
“They aren’t very different than from the past. They are a real physical and strong team. They will nail through a pick they don’t run around them. They run right through the picks and if they aren’t called than that is how they will play. That is typical Ole Miss. That is the way Rob (Evans) had them playing and (Rod) Barnes plays the same.
“They have good guard play. They’ve got some people doing things a lot better than I thought they would at this time of year. They have a real good basketball team. “

(Is this game a where Satchell, Gomez and Lane have to get involved inside?)
“Yeah. Those guys have to hold their own in a game like this and try to do the things that we can hopefully do best. I thought our game last night was good statistic wise except from the free throw line and maybe making a few shots. We took 20 shots, eight of those were layups that we couldn’t get in. You make five of those you are going to have a 15 point game the other way. But we didn’t.
“We missed eight free throws down the stretch and we still had a chance to win. That’s incredible. My deal is hopefully we have done a few things to correct for example we had 23 offensive boards. We never get that many offensive boards. That means we are attacking the glass on offense.
“We have to do that to beat Ole Miss. We have to go to the glass on the offensive end and keep them from getting as many offensive stick backs. We have to do that. I think that is going to be the key. Obviously we are going to be a streaky shooting team. We haven’t had three guys on in the same night. We may have one guy hitting like T.J. (Cleveland) was the other night, but then last night he was one for eight.
“There is no one to step up and take that spot from the shooting end of it. (Jason) Gilbert came in and gave us some help in the shooting department. But we have had that all season.
“You just can’t rely totally on your defense game in and game out. It’s doing its job. We forced 24 turnovers and had 14 steals. It’s doing its job. Offensively we have to have some guys make some shots. That is where we are struggling. Then we are missing a lot of open shots.
“If we could make some shots and keep what we have going then you could see where this would be a pretty good basketball team. It is all about making some shots. That takes some of the pressure off of the defense.”

(How do you feel about going into conference play?)
“Well you have to play. Everyone with a freshman type team would like to have more practice games. But our 13 games are up so now it is time to see if maybe we will be different in the conference season.
“Sometimes it’s hard to think you will be much different, but I know that we are about to turn a corner. Whenever that corner is turned, I think at that point we will be a good team.
“If I go back over the games we lost, we could have won three of those games if we just make some free throws. Iowa State was the same thing we walked to the line and couldn’t make any free throws. Against Oklahoma we couldn’t do anything make a shot or make some free throws. It’s always been that situation.
“I’m just thinking as some of those things begin to fall for us, things will change. All we needed was one big play last night. We got back the ball back on a great defensive play and then went down and Walker tried a fall-away jump shot. He had just scored a basket. The thing was he was thinking I’m a senior I have to go down and win this game for you. He is taking the wrong things because he tries so hard because the team is so young. It is in his head that nobody else will do that.

(After practice you talked some about free throws. What did you tell them?)
“I was trying to show them a guy that can shoot free throws and what his thought pattern is. The think about shooting or playing anything is keeping it on line. Our kids are missing left and right. That means they don’t have things on line to begin with so you aren’t going to make shots or free throws.
“The one that was worst at it was Shaq (Alonzo Lane). That is why we got the big balls out because then it forces you to get your hand out and try to get it on line. That is what they need to start working on and not worry about free throw shooting.
“I think when you eliminate the factor of worrying about the free throws, you have to worry about something else. I told them the best thing to worry about is the line you are putting it on as opposed to putting it in. Get it on line and either it’s long or short. But if you miss it left or right then you have four problems. If you eliminate two, then you are just working on taking a little off and putting a little on.
“Once you get that mental picture of that is what you are trying to do and your hand will follow through to that spot, you will be surprised how many free throws you make without worrying about how many free throws you are going to make. It’s all about the line. That is the key.”

(What will be your starting lineup?)
“We will probably go about the same with Carl Baker, Alonzo Lane, Joe Johnson, Chris Walker and T.J. Cleveland.”

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