Easing In Powell

University of Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey told a media gathering Wednesday that injured sophomore forward Marshawn Powell would be eased into preseason workouts that start Friday and that he really likes the make-up and work ethic of what will be his fourth Razorback team.

With one of his best players just getting back into shape, University of Arkansas head basketball coach John Pelphrey will be practicing patience.

Sophomore forward Marshawn Powell (6-7. 220), who broke a bone his foot 8 weeks ago while playing a pick-up game in his home state of Virginia, will go through workouts on a limited basis when preseason practice starts on Friday.

"We knew he'd be ready for the start of practice in terms of being allowed to be back out and moving around and doing those things," Pelphrey noted during a short Wednesday media briefing. "But what we're not going to do is put him out there because he's not in great shape yet and hurt something else. We're being careful."

The Razorbacks will take the court several times this weekend and ease their sophomore standout – who started every game last season – into the mix.

"I think he's full-go in terms of getting himself back in shape," Pelphrey said. "But we're obviously not going to put him out there right now and expect him to get through a practice or any of those types of things. That's not where we are."

Powell (6-7, 220) averaged 14.9 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds last season for the Razorbacks.

He visited the doctor on Tuesday according to Pelphrey, who said there is no guarantee he will play in next Friday night's Red-White game.

"I think he went through an abbreviated conditioning session the other day with the guys, but it's in very small doses," Pelphrey said. "I think he's being cleared for a lot of stuff. Physical challenges, running, a little bit of changing directions. Those types of things. But we're going to be smart here."

Arkansas senior center Delvon Johnson (6-9, 250) can tell Powell is anxious to get going full speed just from the individual workouts he has gone through recently.

"When he does work out with us, he works hard," Johnson said. "I can tell he's ready to get back."

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The Razorbacks will have two exhibition games in early November – as of yet those dates have not been announced – and will open their season on Nov. 18th against Grambling State at Bud Walton Arena.

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It's been clear to those who have been around the UA coaching staff that they like the mental make-up of this team and its chemistry more than the first three.

In fact he was so inspired on Tuesday after watching a conditioning workout that he sent each player a text message informing them of his excitement.

That's apparently happened 3 or 4 times since school started and has Pelphrey believing this team had a chance to be better than his two.

"That understanding of team, that effort, that togetherness, that willingness to kind of stand side by side and handle the good and bad and ebbs and flows of a basketball game during a season, hopefully that will give us a chance to overachieve every single night," Pelphrey said. "By doing the right things over and over again, the fundamental things, those truths – I think they give you a better chance on a day in and day out basis."

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Johnson played at 235 last season and beefed up to 255 during the off-season because of his weight room workouts.

"He looks like a totally different human being," Pelphrey said. "He's had a phenomenal, phenomenal off season."

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Michael Sanchez (6-8, 235) played only four games last season due to plantar fasciitis, but the redshirt junior appears fully ready to go this season per Pelphrey.

Sanchez started 28 of his team's 30 games in 2008-2009 season while averaging 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds.

"He's doing very well with regard to injuries," Pelphrey said. "We have no issues there. He's as healthy as I've seen him."

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The Razorbacks lost point guard Courtney Fortson and center Michael Washington off last season's team.

But they have added in Iowa point guard transfer Jeff Peterson and three other newcomers in freshmen guards Rickey Scott (6-3, 195) and Mardracus Wade (6-2, 170) and junior college forward Marvell Waithe (6-9, 216).

"I think there are a lot of spots up for grabs," Pelphrey said.

Peterson is certainly a different guard than Fortson.

"He's laid back and he doesn't say too much," Arkansas senior Marcus Britt said of Peterson. "Last year's point guard, he's going to say something no matter what."

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Pelphrey's stated philosophy since he arrived was to press and play up-tempo, but that has not been the case on a consistent basis because of numbers.

He thinks he finally has a roster to do so.

"We are really going to try and take advantage of our strength in numbers, especially at the guard position," Pelphrey said. "But we have talked about being fast and athletic and sprinting and getting from one spot to the next."

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All three of the Razorback seniors and its two redshirt juniors are all on schedule to graduate this spring.

Delvon Johnson

Marcus Britt

John Pelphrey

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