FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas opens its season Friday at 7:05 p.m. against defending Big Sky Conference champion Portland State. The Razorbacks won both of their exhibition games while PSU beat Seattle, 83-74. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“Our health is coming along nicely. Steven Hill (ankle) is about 90 percent. He’s getting better and better. Vincent Hunter (knee) will not require any surgery. He has a bruise on his knee. We expect him to possibly be available some time next week, but he is questionable.
“We don’t know a lot about Portland State. They played an exhibition game against Seattle, which is where Coach (Ken) Bone was before, so they weren’t too receptive to giving out information.
“They won the Big Sky Conference last year and won 19 games. They return one starter, they have a new coach and they have good size on the front line. We expect them to play multiple zones with a little man mixed in. Since it’s their first game, there will probably be a little bit of them finding themselves.
“We’re focusing on ourselves. Tuesday was one of the best practices we’ve had. This is our first game and we want to play well. The guys are looking forward to it. I’m sure the Maui Invitational is somewhere in the back of their minds and there is some excitement about next week, but at the same time there is excitement about the first game.”
Preparing for Portland State:
“On Tuesday, our practice was 100 percent Arkansas. Today we will throw things at them that could possibly happen Friday, such as zones, man and pressure. We will not spend an enormous amount of time on that since we don’t know what they do.”
“I would like to be in that same field about four months from now. If that happened we would be in great shape because that’s a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight field. It will get our players playing at a high level right away. It will show us what our strengths and weaknesses are, and what we need to work on. It will also give us a chance to put Arkansas basketball back on the map.”
“We will just play it by how he feels. For the most part, his minutes will go to Darian Townes, Charles Thomas and Steven Hill, and then Cyrus McGowan. Those first three played a lot of minutes last year.”
Steven Hunter and Darian Townes:
“If they take care of business, they will play together. It appears both are healthy. They are getting a lot of reps in practice. I think they will both want to play together.”
“He served one game (LSU-Shreveport) and he will serve another on Friday (Portland State), and we will make a decision after that.”
“In the two exhibition games, he had a lot of assists and few turnovers. He’s a smart guy. He figured out if he throws to Ronnie Brewer, Darian Townes and Jonathon Modica, he has a good chance of getting an assist.”
“In both exhibition games, those teams shot a low percentage on threes and on twos. In the last game, we found out we are in shape and that we can get back on defense. We are better. We rotate, Charles Thomas took three charges, which is a good sign, and we’re rebounding better than ever. Darian Townes is going after balls and Jonathon Modica averaged 10 rebounds in the two games so it is on his mind.”