FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas returns to action on Friday with the 7:05 p.m. home game against Texas-Pan American. The Razorbacks are 9-2 following the 78-65 win over Texas Tech in Dallas on Dec. 21. UTPA is 2-10 going into Wednesday’s game at Oregon. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“We left off (at the break) playing pretty good, so I wasn’t excited about the break, but we’ve had a couple of good days of practice. We’re trying to continue getting better, especially with our pressure defense and in rebounding.
“We will see a lot of zone in this next game. We’ve seen some, but this team plays about 80 percent zone. I’m more concerned about us playing well. Texas-Pan American has struggled a little bit. They have a lot of newcomers. In this business, you can’t take anyone lightly. We have to be ready to play. We have to bring our ‘A’ game because we have high goals.”
“He is a tremendous defender. He puts great pressure on you, he can chase shooters around screens and he’s strong so he can guard bigger players. He did a great job on Jarrius Jackson (Texas Tech – 5-12 shooting). He stripped the ball from him and forced him into tough decisions.”
Freshmen – Sean McCurdy and Cyrus McGowan:
“They both want to play. I’m hopeful in these next couple of games we can give them a lot of minutes. It’s tough for them because they want to play, but you can tell the difference between freshmen and the experienced players. Both, in different ways, can help us – Sean with his shooting and Cyrus in rebounding – and both can do other things.”
Texas Tech game:
“We played well both offensively and defensively. Another team made a run and cut our lead. It looked like we might get shaken, but we didn’t. They entered the season as a top 15 team, so that
was a big win for us. It was an important game for them and we held them off. It should give us confidence in knowing we can go on the road, take someone’s best shot and beat them.”
Areas to work on:
“We should be a plus-five or more rebounding team. Some of that is because we force a lot of turnovers and don’t get as many defensive boards, but we still have to step up. We’re working hard on that. Shooting is an area that can take care of itself, but rebounding is more of an attitude. We’re doing a lot of things well. We’re taking care of the ball, passing to each other, defending well, forcing other teams into mistakes and executing.
“Both of the second halves in the last two games, we rebounded better. I think those teams took quick shots and that may be the result of us pressing.”
“He’s getting a lot of attention. He has to start cutting and moving more. He will take care of himself. He can do other things and he’s spent time in the gym. He’s been forced to take tough shots, but I expect him to have a good second half (of the season). He is unselfish by nature, so he will pass it, but we still need him to be aggressive.”