FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas leaves Tuesday for Orlando, Fla., to participate in the inaugural Old Spice Classic. The Razorbacks face Southern Illinois in the first round at 11 a.m. (central) on Thursday. The game is being nationally televised by ESPN2. Every game of the tournament is on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. Arkansas faces either Minnesota or Marist in the second round. The Hogs and Salukis are both 2-0 this season. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference:
“This is our first trip on the road and I want to make sure we have the right attitude. We need to be business-like. With the team we’re facing, we can’t look ahead.
“Southern Illinois is highly regarded nationally. They return all five starters and they won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship last year. They’ve had tremendous success over the years.
“They play a very deliberate style. They run a ball control offense. It will not be a pretty game, but my concern is winning. For us, we can’t get concerned with the way they play. We may have to guard them through the shot clock.
“In two games, we’re averaging around 62 or 63 possessions a game. In SIU’s last game, they allowed 46 possessions. The number of possessions goes down. They wind down the clock and play for the shot in the last four or five seconds.
“We will make adjustments, but we have to be good enough to guard in the half court.”
The tournament field:
“I think every team in the tournament except for Western Michigan and Virginia Tech was in the post-season last year. The teams that are considered mid-majors are very good. It’s a good field. We should find out a lot about ourselves.
“I don’t get caught up in rankings, but I know SIU is very good and they could be the favorite to win the tournament, but we want to win it.”
Playing in The Milk House in Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex:
“When we first mentioned it to our players, they were really excited about playing in The Milk House. A lot of players play there in (AAU) tournaments.”
“We’ve seen Patrick Beverley and Sonny Weems have big nights. Now, we need to start firing on all cylinders. We didn’t get much from Charles Thomas or our bench the other night. I hope to continue to have a balanced team, but two of our leading scorers from last year, Charles and Darian Townes, are about sixth and seventh on that list.”
“I’m about 80 percent certain Charles will start the next game, but I want to look at the matchups. Who starts isn’t important to me and I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.
“We’ll probably start Charles and Sonny this time. I told them we would alternate.
“I would like to start six guys.”