Ferguson More Positive About Game

Arkansas junior point guard Eric Ferguson doesn't mind the fact coach Stan Heath brought in some competition for his job this year.



Junior college transfer Dontell Jefferson is a 6-foot-6, 190-pound point guard who averaged 16.4 points and 9.2 assists per game for Atlanta Metropolitan College last year.

Rather than see Jefferson as a challenge to his playing time, the 6-1, 200-pound Ferguson believes Jefferson will take some of the pressure off him and the two could also play at the same time.

"Dontell is a great player." Ferguson said. "I love his game. He lets the game come to him. He gets everyone involved in the game. It's going to be good having another guard and we can both play together because we can both play the (shooting guard).

"Then when we have me, him and (sophomore) Ronnie (Brewer) on the court, you have three dudes who can handle the ball."

Brewer led Arkansas in assists last year with 94 (3.4 per game).

Ferguson, who had 91 assists and 109 turnovers while playing a team-high 932 minutes as a true freshman, reversed that ratio last year with 78 assists and 55 turnovers in more than 200 fewer minutes.

However, Ferguson had just eight more assists than turnovers (45-37) in Southeastern Conference action and his up-and-down play occasionally frustrated Heath.

Ferguson did raise his shooting percentage nearly seven percentage points to 37.1 in his sophomore year and is the top returning 3-point shooter after hitting a 34 percent clip last season.

Ferguson said patience and positive thinking are the keys for him to improve his consistency this season. He led his team to a championship win at a tournament in Long Island, N.Y., this summer when he returned home following the first summer school session.

"I'm letting the game come to me," he said. "Taking shots when I've got it instead of just forcing shots. That's what I was doing the last couple games (last year), trying to do too much.

"Now I let the game come to me and just kind of have fun out here. I'm more positive about my game now."

He also went with teammate Olu Famutimi to an NBA coaches camp in New Jersey.

"There were some NBA coaches there and they were loving me because I went out there and had fun," Ferguson said. "I enjoyed it and the coaches were loving me because my confidence was high. When you have fun, when you play the game of basketball, your confidence is higher when you're having fun.

"That's what I try to do even out here playing pickup."

Jefferson said he's "fitting in pretty good" with his new teammates and trying to learn their strengths and weaknesses.

"I'm just trying to make sure I get the guys the ball in open spots where they like to shoot the ball," he said.



NEWCOMERS SIDELINED

A couple Razorback newcomers didn't take part in open gym pickup games last week because of minor injuries.

Jefferson came down with a case of shin splints in his right leg two weeks ago during conditioning work, but hopes to return this Monday.

Six-foot-7 freshman forward Charles Thomas didn't practice last week after taking a fingernail from fellow newcomer Darian Townes across the left eyelid and requiring 14 stitches.

Trainer Dave England won't let the physical Thomas return to play until the stitches come out, which could be this week.

Thomas said the initial injury was pretty scary as it blinded him and bled a lot, but it could have been worse had he taken the fingernail across his eye rather than his eyelid.



BREWER BRINGS DOWN RIM

Brewer, who has gained 10-15 pounds of muscle to his 6-7 frame this summer, stopped play at open gym Tuesday when he broke a rim on one of the goals at Bud Walton Arena.

The rim snapped with a loud pop that had Brewer grabbing his ears and caused a ruckus with his teammates.

"You're lucky that wasn't me," said sophomore forward Vincent Hunter. "I would have been up there (in the stands) if I had done that."

Heath joked about it Thursday after the rim was fixed.

"The screw was loose," he said, grinning at Brewer sitting on the floor well within earshot. "Ronnie didn't do anything."



PHARIS LANDS OVERSEAS GIG

Former Razorback Billy Pharis of Van Buren, who averaged 5.5 points and shot 37.9 percent on 3-pointers last year, has landed a roster spot with the Svenborg Rabbits in Denmark.

Razorbacks assistant coach Rob Flaska's former college roommate is a coach in the Denmark league and made a few calls to find a team interested in Pharis.

Pharis, who left Fayetteville at the end of August, said he likely plans to spend a year overseas playing and traveling before enrolling in law school at Arkansas next year.

Pharis was an Academic All-District last year with a 3.86 grade-point average and was also a member of the SEC's Good Works team for his community service efforts.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories