FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays its first exhibition game Friday at 7:05 p.m. against Southwest (Mo.) Baptist. The Bearcats are an NCAA Division II member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. SBU’s roster features 7-2, 295-pound center Frans Steyn. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“The guys are excited. They’re tired of beating up on each other. I know you hear that every year, but it’s the truth. We’re looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we’ve been working on offensively and defensively, and what we need to tweak and improve on.
“Southwest Baptist has a 7-2 big guy (Steyn). He started a few games for Oklahoma State last year. Their point guard (Sheldon Pace) is very good. They have a lot of juniors and seniors. For games like this, I used to worry about not getting a lot of film and not having any idea about how they would play because we wouldn’t be comfortable. I don’t believe that will be the case with this team because we are seasoned.
“We’ve had very tough, demanding practices the last few days. Eric Ferguson has a broken nose. He will be fitted for a mask and will not play this week. He could be back the middle of next week. If this was during the season, he could possibly play. Steven Hill set a tough, legal screen and that’s how it happened.”
What to look for in the game:
“I’m looking for us to play well, to play hard, to be fundamentally sound, to be unselfish and to bring it on the defensive end. As far as combinations, that should work itself out. No matter who we put out there, they should be able to play together. I don’t expect us to be in midseason form, but I expect us to make progress.”
The Red-White Game:
“We’ve practiced better in some areas than we showed in the game. We didn’t push the ball hard. On defense, we didn’t pressure well. I’m not pleased with our full-court pressure. We need to pick it up.”
“I’ll finalize that later, but Ronnie Brewer will start. Dontell Jefferson will be at point guard unless something drastic happens. Jonathon Modica will be out there. I’m leaning towards Darian Townes and Steven Hill, but I also have to look at Charles Thomas and Vincent Hunter.”
“I have confidence in him. I think he’s played very well. He just needs to have some success.”
“Offensively, he’s played very, very well. He’s shot well and has rebounded well all fall. The big thing is can we get him to move his feet, to stay low and to kick the ball out when he gets double-teamed? If he can clean those things up, he can be special.”
“He’s a great defender. He’s one of the best on the inside I’ve ever coached. We don’t appreciate him because he doesn’t score 20 points or get a bunch of rebounds. The things he does do not show up on the stat sheet. I tell Ronnie (Brewer) he may want to buy him a car or something for the way he sets screens and sets Ronnie up.”
Steven Hill and Darian Townes, and Charles Thomas and Vincent Hunter:
“Early on, there will be some rough spots, but there is potential for greatness down the road. Most teams that are successful have two big power guys who are 6-10 plus, but that doesn’t diminish Charles Thomas and Vincent Hunter. Those four have earned it and can help our team in a lot of ways.”