Rim-Busting Razorbacks Off And Running

The Razorbacks are going through rims faster than shoelaces this preseason.



Sophomore guard Ronnie Brewer of Fayetteville, a freshman All-American last year, brought down rims on consecutive days a couple weeks ago.

Then junior All-Southeastern Conference guard Jonathon "Pookie" Modica of Smackover delayed the start of the Razorbacks' scrimmage 15 minutes by bending the rim on the east basket with a vicious backward dunk during warm-ups.

No wonder coaches have wanted the 6-foot-4 and chiseled Modica to get off the weights.

"I tell you what, we're going to have to add some insurance to the rims and baskets around here," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "We need to stock up on a few more because you never know."

Heath just hopes Modica's bend job is the last rim the Bud Walton Arena staff has to replace for a while.

"You can tell they're very excited," Heath said. "At the same time, we don't want to have delays in the middle of the game.

"Hopefully that's out of their system. They can get a nice clean dunk and keep the rim on."

Brewer, who has added 15 pounds of muscle over the summer and now weighs in at a solid 210 on his 6-7 frame, just laughed about the latest broken rim.

"I don't know if it's the weight lifting or if it's weak rims," he said. "We're just ready to go out and have fun this year."



SOLID START

Most times the pickup scrimmage in a relaxed environment like Midnight Madness will feature sloppy play, turnovers and bad shots.

Not so with the Razorbacks, who for the most part played two solid 10-minute halves in front of an estimated crowd of 9,300.

The Red team took a 39-38 win on a dunk by sophomore Olu Famutimi, who soared in to collect a miss and stuff it home with less than 10 seconds to play.

"It wasn't (sloppy)," Heath said. "There were a few careless things here and there, but I saw some good plays -- guys sharing the ball with each other, some good defense, a lot of length, a lot of size on the court.

"I was pleased for just the first time out there in front of a crowd with coaches. I was pleased they showed a lot of things whether it was running the floor, making the extra pass and even some defensive plays."

The Red team was made up of Famutimi, Brewer, freshman forward Darian Townes, sophomore forward Vincent Hunter, junior point guard Eric Ferguson and sophomore Preston Cranford.

The White team was Modica, senior Mike Jones, junior forward Rashard Sullivan, freshman forward Charles Thomas, freshman walk-on guard Sammy Muncey and junior transfer point guard Dontell Jefferson.

Brewer led the Red team with 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting, including 3 of 3 on 3-pointers. Townes added 9 on 4 of 6 shooting.

"I enjoyed myself out here tonight," Townes said. "I gave it my all. I wasn't trying to show them too much, you know, but I had a lot of fun."

Modica led the White team with 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting and 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Jefferson led the White team with at least 4 assists, unofficially, including a sweet alley-oop to Famutimi breaking along the baseline.

Jefferson's counterpart, Ferguson, added 3 assists (unofficially) for the Red team.

The Razorbacks returned for a three-hour practice at 11 a.m. Saturday, they'll practice at 6 p.m. today and have two workouts on Monday.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Heath said. "We need to make sure everyone has a good feel for what we're doing on both sides offensively and defensively."



HILL SUITS UP SATURDAY

Arkansas 7-foot freshman center Steven Hill attended but did not take part in Midnight Madness one day after the funeral of his mother, Penny, who died from a seizure last Saturday.

Hill's teammates and coaches attended the services in Branson, Mo., Thursday and surrounded him with hugs when he was introduced at Midnight Madness.

Hill did practice Saturday and Heath said his teammates are giving him as much support as possible.

"He just wasn't totally ready to go at it (Friday)" Heath said. "I was happy he came down and supported his teammates. They were there supporting him even more so. I just feel like we have to hang in there with him. It's not easy. It's very difficult. Not everyone has ever gone through that before.

"His family is here and we're just going to do our best to help him."

Heath said attending Midnight Madness and getting back to basketball is the best way for him to keep healing.

"The void of losing his mom will never be filled," Heath said. "But all we can do is move on in life and carry her spirit with Steven himself and with our basketball team."




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