FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays host to LSU-Shreveport on Saturday in a 6:35 p.m. exhibition game. LSU-Shreveport is an NAIA member but is already 2-0, scoring 118 points in a win over Southwestern Assemblies of God University and 153 in a win over Paul Quinn College. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“When you play an exhibition game, you never know exactly how good a team is, but when they score 153 points, it gets your attention. They have some players who have played at Division I schools. Kyle Blankenship played at Tulsa,Jeremy Johnston played at Stephen F. Austin and Josh Porter played at Louisiana Tech,and Fredericko Payne is a preseason All-American. They shoot a lot of threes and have a lot of speed. They will try to speed up the tempo, so it should be an interesting, entertaining game.
“We will have to contest the three. They have a lot of speed and will put pressure on Darian Townes, Charles Thomas and Vincent Hunter to move their feet. I’m concerned. They scored 153 points. They must be doing something right. They have players that have some talent.
“Steven Hill (left ankle) is doubtful for the game. He didn’t practice on Wednesday. Today he’s moving around a little better. Cyrus McGowan had Vincent Hunter fall against his knee. He has all his functions and mobility, so we’ll see how he is as we get closer to the game. Eric Ferguson (broken nose) returned to practice on Wednesday and he’s wearing a mask. Darian Townes, with his toe, went through about 60 percent of the practice on Wednesday.”
“Michael Washington’s letter came in. He is officially a Razorback. He has a tremendous upside. He has great athleticism and skills to go with it. As he gets better, he can be one of the premier power forwards in the SEC.
“Stefan Welsh goes to the same school Darian Townes went to (Hargrave Military Academy). He wanted to play against better competition. He has a lot of energy and personality-wise, he will be fun to be around.
“Our front line is in great shape. We have all sophomores and one freshman (McGowan). That front line can be as good as anybody. On the perimeter, it’s important to get players who can help us right away. One player to factor in there is Gary Ervin, who is sitting out. He’s a good player with great leadership skills.”
“Today, I don’t expect Steven to play. I would probably start with Darian Townes, Ronnie Brewer, Jonathon Modica, Dontell Jefferson and Charles Thomas. I don’t know where Steven will be. I would love to get him out there with Darian, but I’m not willing to risk it. We will get Cyrus McGowan and Sammy Munsey out there, along with Preston Cranford and Vincent Hunter.
“I want to give Vince a lot of credit. The last two or three weeks, he’s had a deep thigh bruise, but he makes his times when we run our sprints and he never says anything. He’s a good kid.”
Ronnie Brewer at point guard:
“We will also experiment (Saturday) with Ronnie at point guard to see how he handles it. He’s a very good point guard and it’s important to get him out there more. The last game, I wanted Sean McCurdy and Dontell Jefferson to get as much time as possible. We’re getting closer to the season so I want to get Ronnie out there.”
“The first day he practiced (with the mask), he was good for a while. He got hit in the face and had to come out, then he realized he was okay. It will take some time for him to get used to it.”
“I’m happy with our progress. Defensively, we’ve taken major steps. The biggest jump is in rebounding, which is allowing us to run. Offensively, we’re driving, our spacing is good and we’re cutting down on turnovers. There are still areas we aren’t comfortable with. We still need work on late-game situations. We need to attack that and get good at that because I can see us having good, tough games early in the season. This team is fun to coach and they bring it every day.”