FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas opens its basketball season on Friday with a 7:05 p.m. non-televised game against Southeast Missouri State. SEMO is coached by Scott Edgar, a former assistant at Arkansas. The Razorbacks went 2-0 in their exhibition games. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“The exhibition games gave us what we needed, especially the second game. They helped us learn some lessons and made us go through some situations. Winning is important, but those games prepared us well.
“In the exhibition games, our field goal percentage was good both ways (offense and defense), and we rebounded well. Our free throw shooting bothered me, but we’ll get that up. Our three-point defense is unacceptable. The main culprit (against California University) was at the four-spot. My challenge to them is if a guy doesn’t get (the ball), he can’t make it.
“Scott Edgar was at Tennessee last year and he’s a former Razorback coach. We will see pressing and zone defense. We didn’t handle the press well the other day (against California), so we’ll get to see if we’ve improved. I expect us to be energized.
“We didn’t shoot free throws very well, but at the end of the game, we were five-of-six when they counted and we were able to win the game. We probably won’t lead the nation in free throw shooting but we shouldn’t be around 50 percent.”
“We should be around the five-minute mark before we make substitutions. I would like to rotate 10 or 11 guys. That may shrink to nine. There’s so much parity now. I want to play that many, but I don’t want to do anything that may cost us the game.
“If redshirting someone is a mutual decision, then we’ll do that. If it’s not mutual, it won’t happen.
“For our starting lineup, I’m looking at some combination of Gary, Patrick, Sonny, Charles, Vince and Steven. We also have to get Darian Townes more minutes and more touches.”
“Sonny (Weems) is as well as he’s been in a while. I expect him to play without favoring that ankle. He showed good flashes in the exhibition game.
“Cyrus (McGowan, knee) has been really healthy.
“Vince (Hunter, ankle) came in for treatment. He came here with chronic ankle problems and it will always be that way. He’s been playing well. He was nine-of-nine shooting in the exhibition games, he rebounded and had a good assist-to-turnover ratio. I’m really happy with the way he’s playing. He’s setting a good example for the others. It has never been about his talent or ability. It’s always been about his health.”
“They’ve all taken a step up. Gary (Ervin) had 12 points and six assists (against California). Sonny was better, but he has another level he can get to. Patrick (Beverley) played well. Stefan (Welsh) pressures himself, but they’ve all taken another step forward.”