Hogs to Test New Lineup

Nolan Richardson put the Hogs though an extra-tough workout on Thursday to test their mental stamina in hopes of correcting some ailments that have plagued them in the second half of key games. Hoops Update and injury report.

Arkansas worked for well over two hours with emphasis on offensive execution and sound defense without so much reaching for steals.

Nolan Richardson pushed the players extremely hard, hoping to eliminate turnovers that he thinks are coming because of lack of mental toughness.

"When we are fatigued in the second half, we haven't played as well," Richardson said. "It's been a trademark of my teams that they are second-half teams, but this team hasn't been that way. They weren't like that last year, and they haven't been like that this year. We have struggled in the second half.

"I think we were are tired, that we make too many turnovers. That's lack of mental toughness from what I can tell. When we are fatigued, we don't seem to be able to hang in there and avoid the turnovers are the poor decisions."

J. J. Sullinger, freshman guard, sat out a good portion of the workout, fighting a head cold. He will play Saturday against Elon College, but won't start.

"I was going to put Teddy Gipson in the starting lineup anyway, in hopes of getting Teddy going," Richardson said. "But, we need to give J. J. some rest anyway. He started coming down with the flu in the game Saturday and has struggled this week. He was feeling it the night before the game, and wasn't right in the second half. I think he got really tired in that game, and I think that was the cold coming on. He needs some rest in this game."

Alonzo Lane did not practice and has been ruled out of Saturday's game, according to trainer Dave England. Lane sprained an ankle Saturday against Oklahoma State and hasn't practiced since.

"We worked hard this week, and today's practice was longer than what I usually give them this time of year," Richardson said. "I just wanted to push them to the fatigue level and show them what's been happening in the games ... all the turnovers. They just aren't mentally tough enough to keep playing.

"They make silly passes that lead to turnovers. They reach on defense. They try for the steal, instead of playing tough defense and getting a stop. We give up easy baskets because we aren't tough enough to play defense for the entire possession.

"Right now, we have some guys who are struggling. T. J. Cleveland and Blake Eddins can't throw it in the ocean. T. J. is playing like he's trying to lead the world in turnovers and steals. He's getting a lot of both. We aren't getting much out of Blake as far as his jumper. It's been missing.

"Carl Baker looked better when he came back from his injury, but now he doesn't want to shoot. He won't take a shot in practice, and I doubt he'll take one in a game. He's not playing with much confidence. He was open today in practice, and wouldn't pull the trigger."

Richardson said it's not a case of the team lacking much.

"We are close to being a pretty good team," he said. "We can get there. We have some things we are trying to fix this week. Our defense has to improve. I think we are going to be better. I wanted to play a tough schedule to get us ready for the conference and show us the things that needed to be fixed. We've done that. I wish we'd played just a little better and we might be a lot better as far as our record. But, we didn't. We are still working hard, and that's all I know to do, keep working."

It was Nolan's 60th birthday. A team dinner was planned at Brad Dunn's house Thursday night. The Hogs will practice at 10 a.m. Friday.


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