Modica, Brewer Named Team Captains

FAYETTEVILLE -- Fortunately for Arkansas coach Stan Heath, two of his best players are also two of his best leaders.

Heath announced captains for the 2004-05 team on Wednesday and it was no surprise to hear sophomore Ronnie Brewer of Fayetteville and junior Jonathon Modica of Smackover were given the honor by their teammates.

Modica and Brewer are Arkansas' top two returning scorers after averaging 16.5 and 12.3 points, respectively, last season.

However, their defense didn't match their offense at times and Heath said Wednesday both have made dramatic improvement in that area.

The pair have been leading the charge in Arkansas' first four practices dominated by defense and their example has been contagious.

"Brewer has really picked up his defense," Heath said. "He makes so many defensive plays by knocking down a pass or getting a deflection. He's a guy that can make so many things happen. That's the biggest jump."

Modica said being elected captain was a nice honor from his teammates.

"It means a lot to me growing up in the state of Arkansas," Modica said. "I never thought I'd be the captain of the basketball team one day. It means a lot. It also shows I have leadership skills.

"I want to continue to work on those skills and try to be a better teammate and a better leader for my teammates."

Brewer said he and Modica will act as conduits between players and coaches to keep the lines of communication open.

"Me and Modica are two people who can smooth it out," Brewer said. "I think we pretty much represent our team and with everybody electing us captains, they must have a lot of trust in us. I just want to represent the team to the best of my ability."

Like a football team in spring workouts, defense is ahead of the offense at this point, Heath said.

Arkansas bigger and longer than at any point in Heath's short tenure and the matchups in practice have shown that.

"We're so long out there it's hard to get a clean look at the rim," Heath said. "Every time someone drives to the basket, you got a big guy in (freshman center Steven) Hill or (freshman forward Darian) Townes in your way. It's very hard to get a clean look at the rim.

"We're getting a lot of offense from our defense, which I love."

Arkansas will be a man-to-man defensive team this year. Heath is shedding the zone defenses he was forced to use in the last couple seasons handcuffed by personnel deficiencies.

From that standpoint, it is more tweaking than overhauling on defense.

On offense, Arkansas is revamping its sets to incorporate its new big men Hill, Townes, and forward Charles Thomas.

Heath also wants to be more uptempo, something that will come from defensive stops.

"We can be much more aggressive in our halfcourt and fullcourt defense," Heath said. "Our offense has been more reconstructed. We've refined some things to add more balance inside and out. The guys are picking things up quickly.

"We're getting more and more where everyone has a clear picture of what we're trying to do."

Before practice Wednesday, Heath said Arkansas had three good practices before one up-and-down one on Tuesday.

He is giving the team today off to get their "energy back up" and will go Friday though Tuesday before taking next Wednesday off.

The Razorbacks will play their Red-White game Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.

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