FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Thursday to recap the first two days of practice in preparation for the team’s Labor Day weekend trip to Cancun, Mexico, for a pair of exhibition games. Following is a partial transcript of his press conference.
“After two days, everybody has been very attentive. I’m very pleased with that, the focus and the effort. There’s been a lot of enthusiasm. We have a tremendous amount to teach those guys and it will take some time to absorb that.
“We’ve covered everything from the fundamental side in the first two days on defense up to the double low-post. We’ve covered the pick and roll, man-to-man and even got into one phase of pressing. Transition defense has been an emphasis the first couple of days.
“It’s a little difficult right now because Gary Ervin still is not here (in New York for his grandmother’s funeral). Being a ball-handler, that hurts. Stefan Welsh pulled a hamstring on the first day and is doubtful for Cancun, but he will be re-evaluated next week.
“We’re doing things in the backcourt that haven’t been done a whole lot with Patrick Beverley. Sonny Weems has slid over there and is doing the same thing, and we have Marcus Britt over there.
“Overall, I would say it’s good. I’m pleased with the effort. The attention and enthusiasm has been good.”
“We break up into four groups of four and you have to have four point guards. Right now, our two primary ball-handlers, Stefan and Gary, aren’t around. Patrick has done well, but he wasn’t the SEC Freshman of the Year for his ball-handling. Marcus has also done well, but he’s a freshman.
“We want to run as fast as we can and don’t turn it over. We’re going to get a lot more complex on offense.”
“He’s doing well. He’s playing power forward and center, and some small forward for us. He plays extremely hard. He knocked in a three and had a nice drive to the basket (on Wednesday). He’s doing well.”
Beverley and Weems at point guard:
“We haven’t gotten into our total strategy on how we’re going to score the ball. Anytime you play one position, you want to play another. Patrick and Sonny have enjoyed it.”
Getting on the floor:
“It’s exciting. You don’t get a chance to do this very often this time of year. I was looking forward to getting on the court. I want to be patient. We’re implementing a style of play and it takes some time. If I get frustrated, then they get frustrated and that’s not what this is supposed to be about. Hopefully we can come out of this thing with some togetherness.”
Players learning new positions:
“Injuries, foul trouble and sickness are all a part of the game. We have to deal with them all. Gary and Stefan can’t control any of this. Maybe it’s a lesson for these guys to understand how fragile this is. We need to be able to adjust (to not having them). Gary had surgery in the spring so he wasn’t able to go through the individual workouts either.”
Benefit of practice this early:
“On a team with this many seniors, you go from understanding your roles to your career coming down to eight or nine months. I hope we can come down to some fundamental truths and when practice starts in October, we won’t have to do some of the things we’re doing now.”
“I like them. They are all about the right things. They have a physical toughness to them. I think at some point they will contribute.”
Areas of concern:
“I’m concerned a little about our ball-handling and passing. There’s not a lot of guard depth. Can we take care of the basketball well enough and consistently to give ourselves a chance to win?”