FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays its first exhibition basketball game of the season on Tuesday with a 7:05 p.m. contest against Xavier-New Orleans. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“We were scheduled to play Xavier last year, but Hurricane Katrina changed those plans. As part of fulfilling our contractual obligations and to help them out, we wanted to play this year. Xavier has had 23 20-win seasons. I don’t know a lot about them. They have two good guards. One is definitely a Division I-type player.
“For them, I’m sure this is just like starting over. You just try to take any positives out of it that you can. It had to be devastating for the players to not play and for the coaches. I don’t know how many players they lost, but I know one went to Cincinnati and played quite a bit.
“We’re excited about playing. We’re not SEC-ready, but we’re ready to play.
“I want to solidify that area. I want us to work our tails off and sustain that for a long time.”
“Based on what we’ve done lately in five-on-five, Patrick Beverley is 19-of-30, Stefan Welsh 23-of-51 and Gary Ervin 15-of-32. Those three stick out quite a bit. Sean McCurdy hasn’t shot as many, but he’s 10-of-21. Those numbers are solid and that’s against a good defense. (Assistant coach) Glynn Cyprien says it’s hard to gauge if it’s the offense or the defense. Normally, the offense is a little behind the defense right now, but this is our second year in this offense and it’s difficult to guard when we’re moving and screening well.”
“The motion offense is a perfect fit for him so he’s a perfect fit for us. He reads and reacts very fast. He has the special ability to catch and elevate, and to get his shot. From 15 feet, he’s very
accurate. Sometimes I feel sorry for Charles (Thomas) and those guys who have to chase him around.
“His team played motion last year. It was a little different from ours, but I’m sure it helps. He has a natural feel for doing it.”
“I see him playing a lot and contributing. We’re replacing four guys who played a lot of minutes. Guys determine how long they are out there. Sean can make shots and he plays tough. He’s scrappy. He’s getting into a comfort zone where he doesn’t get sped up too much.
“This team has the ability to improve on where we are (in each game) when we go to the bench.
“Sean is hard on himself, but he bounces back.”