Hunter To Have Surgery Friday

FAYETTEVILLE -- After an injury-free summer, a hustle play in practice last Friday will end sophomore Vincent Hunter's season.

Hunter, a 6-foot-10, 214-pound forward from Little Rock J.A. Fair, first dislocated his right shoulder last Dec. 6 in Chicago against Illinois.

He missed all or part of the next eight games and now will be out for the 2004-05 season with reconstructive shoulder surgery scheduled for Friday.

"It is disappointing that Vincent won't be able to be on the court with us this season," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "After visiting with doctors, our training staff and his parents, we felt like surgery was the best course of action. I know he is discouraged, but we will continue to support him. He is still an important part of this team. I fully expect him to be ready to go next season."

Hunter reinjured the shoulder last Friday before the Red-White game going for a ball out of bounds and catching himself awkwardly on a chair.

He dislocated it again late in the Red-White game while setting a screen and now faces a rehabilitation process that will last 3-5 months, according to head trainer Dave England.

England said the surgery is routine and Hunter has a good prognosis for full recovery.

"I'm upset, but I got to do what needs to be done," Hunter said Wednesday. "It's going to better me in the long run, I think.

"There's a lot of bright spots. I can still work on my game and get stronger and get bigger. It's kind of a blessing in disguise for me."

Hunter averaged 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds and 15 minutes in 24 games last year. He had career highs in points (14) and rebounds (9) in Arkansas' 86-78 win against Ole Miss.

He also had a career-high 3 blocks in Arkansas' 70-62 upset win against No. 22 Vanderbilt.

With Hunter out, Heath's post experience has now shrunk by half.

"It means some other guys have to step up," Heath said. "Vincent has a year of experience under his belt. He has a feel for college basketball and playing in the SEC. It just means there's more minutes to go around and more guys have to assume more responsibilities."

Junior forward Rashard Sullivan (6-8, 240) is the only experienced post player in the rotation along with the trio of freshmen Steven Hill (7-0, 233), Darian Townes (6-10, 245) and Charles Thomas (6-7, 240).

After Hunter's injury last year, Heath had only Sullivan and 6-6 Razorback quarterback Matt Jones to call upon inside.

"We do have more options available," Heath said. "We do feel like we have some guys who physically from a size and weight standpoint can do the job. The factor that goes unknown is experience.

"The experience is where it's a big loss for us."

Arkansas opens its exhibition season Saturday against the first of two NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference members.

Texas A&M Commerce will visit the Razorbacks bringing back four returnees from a team that went 13-14 overall and 4-8 in the LSC.

The Lions return their top sixth man from a year ago in Matthew Rager, who averaged 8.3 points and 2.4 rebounds.

Allen Walker is a senior point guard who averaged 3.2 assists per game and is the top returning rebounder with 3.4 per game.

The Lions are coached by Sam Walker, who wasn't available Tuesday because he, like many Division II coaches, was teaching class.

Walker teaches a class in sports appreciation.

Fox Sports Southwest public relations assistant Kristi Roberts said Tuesday her network would not be picking up the final round of the Paradise Jam Tournament Nov. 22 from the Virgin Islands.

If Arkansas makes the consolation game or the finals, the game will be carried on Fox College Sports, a network launched in September.

Razorback fans in Northwest Arkansas will be out of luck since Cox Cable doesn't carry FCS, but those in Central Arkansas who purchase the nine-channel Fox Sports package from Comcast do receive the College Sports Network.

Comcast covers Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Sherwood and Bryant.

The consolation game is at 4:30 p.m. and the championship game is at 7.

The court at Bud Walton Arena looks a little different nowadays with a deeper 3-point line, a wider lane and a half-circle under the basket to help officials determine charges.

Part of the experimental rules to be used this year in all certified games between now and Jan. 1 will be a 3-point line of 20 feet, 6 inches, nine inches deeper than the current 19-9.

The lane has been widened by 1 1/2 feet on each side and the middle of the paint has an arc located two feet from the center of the rim to differentiate between charges and blocking calls.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories