Heath Familiar With Abilene Christian Coach

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Stan Heath knows a little more about Abilene Christian than he did the Razorbacks' first exhibition opponent.

Texas A&M Commerce, like Abilene Christian a member of the Division II Lone Star Conference, had two players Heath had heard of and that was about it.

The team Arkansas will play its final regular season tune-up against this Friday in Bud Walton Arena is coached by Klint Pleasant, who was an assistant to Heath at Kent State in 2002 when it made a run to the NCAA Tournament Elite 8.

On Abilene Christian's Web site, Heath is quoted saying Pleasant is an "outstanding young coach" and the "right guy" for the job.

From that respect, playing a team whose coach already knows what Heath wants to do will be better preparation for the well-scouted teams in the Southeastern Conference.

"He knows what we'll do and has a good feel for my style and I know a little bit about him," Heath said.

Heath knows a few of Abilene Christian's players, several who are from the upper Midwest area where Heath began his coaching career.

David Baxter is a 6-3 senior guard who transferred from hometown University of Detroit and "can fill it up," Heath said.

Joe Carr is "a little plugger," a 5-6, 160-pound point guard who Heath tried to recruit to Kent State before Carr decided on Central Michigan.

"He's a little dynamo," Heath said.

Abilene's biggest player is 6-9, 250-pound forward Matthias Krieg from Germany.

Heath said Abilene scrimmaged Toledo very tough in the preseason last year and he expects the Wildcats to do the same to Arkansas this Friday.

"It is a team that is very competitive and they're going to give us everything they have," Heath said. "But I don't have a good gauge on how these guys measure up."

Heath said he'll start the same perimeter group of Ronnie Brewer, Jonathon Modica and Olu Famutimi but isn't sure which combination of Charles Thomas, Rashard Sullivan, Steven Hill or Darian Townes will start on the inside.

Sophomore forward Vincent Hunter was back in Fayetteville on Wednesday after season-ending reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder last Friday.

Hunter will redshirt this year without losing any eligibility.

"The surgery went very well," Heath said. "He's probably going to start rehab in another week or so and we don't expect him to do anything basketball-wise until February. He's handling it as well as he can and he'll have more time to spend on his books.

"We'll just look at this as a positive thing."

To say junior captain and shooting guard Jonathon "Pookie" Modica enjoyed dishing out a game-high 6 assists would be an understatement.

Modica, the Razorbacks' leading returning scorer after averaging 16.5 per game last year, took just four shots Saturday in Arkansas' 72-47 win against Texas A&M Commerce.

"It was very important to me," he said. "It made me very excited. I was thrilled about it. It was like a reward for me because I know I've worked hard on my ball-handling and my decision making trying to make players around me better. I just think it says a lot about how I've been working.

"I'm always going to try to make the players around me better each and every game."

Seven-foot freshman center Steven Hill is a little shorter after getting teammate Sammy Muncey to give him a haircut.

Hill had been sporting a shaggy mop and a matching beard, but got weary of the facial hair and decided to go all the way with the clippers.

He looks like a different player with a short buzzcut and a clean mug.

"I got tired of this beard and I started shaving it," he said. "I had the clippers out and kind of went crazy."

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