Heath Getting Used To Smaller Box

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Arkansas coach Stan Heath had some first-game jitters, too.

He didn't waste any time picking up his first technical foul of the season early in the second half when freshman forward Charles Thomas tried to draw a charge near midcourt but was called for the block.

An irate Heath ran out of the coaches' box to near halfcourt and was rung up.

Heath's technical wasn't one of those that coaches pull to try to fire up their team, but it served its purpose by igniting an 18-1 run by Arkansas to put the game away.

"I can't take any credit for the technical foul boosting the team," Heath said with a chuckle. "It was a strange technical. I thought we had a charge and I didn't say anything to the referee, I just came out there like, 'Hey, that's a charge.' I think I just kind of crossed that line."

The court at the University of the Virgin Islands has a number of markings, including for volleyball and the international trapezoid shaped lane.

Apparently the international coaches boxes are smaller, too.

"The lines are a lot closer than at Bud Walton," Heath said. "I got to do a better job of staying in my box. It was the first game and that was a little bit of me on edge, too."

Senior Mike Jones had an odd stat line Friday night.

Three minutes, two lane violations.

He didn't get in the game until just more than two minutes remained in the game and was called for pushing off on a rebound against Phillip Williams.

Williams went to the other end for a one-and-one and missed the front end, but Jones stepped in the lane too soon and Williams got another try.

Williams made both to cut Arkansas' lead to 30-29, but it wasn't the end of Jones' problems.

He got back in the game with less than two minutes left and Arkansas now leading comfortably by 20.

Jones stepped in the lane too soon on a missed Jason Killean free throw, but Killean would also miss the retry.

A bizarre scene unfolded not once, but twice, in almost identical fashion in Winthrop's backcourt in the second half.

The Eagles were under pressure from the Razorbacks after a made free throw with less than 11 minutes left and had to call a timeout before a 10-second call against them before crossing midcourt.

The shot clock said 25 when Winthrop called the timeout and dipped to 24 before it was awarded, leading Heath and all his assistants to point at the clock, which was reset to 26.

Ten minutes later, the identical event happened with a timeout at 25, the clock run to 24 and reset to 26, leading to the same, if not more exaggerated, reaction from the Arkansas bench.

"The ref said he was counting and he had it at 26, a nine-count," Heath said. "If he said it, I believe him and that's what I told him. I think they have some new score people. Between the whistle blowing and a second running off ...

"But we're close to getting some of those violations. We're hopeful we'll get more of those."

Not everything went smoothly on Arkansas' first day on the islands.

The Razorbacks had to get on a bus for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at 3 a.m. Thursday morning to board the 5:45 flight to Atlanta.

The high-backed and cramped chairs on the flight are tough on a 5-foot-11 sports reporter, so it's hard to imagine how players like 7-footer Steven Hill and 6-10 Darian Townes survived the flight.

"I was in the back like a sardine," Hill said. "It was awful. I hate plane rides."

The jetliner from Atlanta to the islands is more hospitable to the legs, but the day clearly took a toll on the Razorbacks by the time of their 6:30 p.m. practice.

After landing, Arkansas barely had time to check in before heading back to the gym, which is less than 200 feet from the runway the plane landed on.

In the commotion, Arkansas assistant Darren Sorrensen thought the airline had lost his bag, but it turned out to have been placed in a vacant room.

Driving on the left side of the road is plenty adventurous, especially on narrow roads that make the Pig Trail look like Interstate 540.

Arkansas assistant Rob Flaska did well navigating from the island's southwest end back to the east side for a welcome reception featuring steel drums and jumbo mokies, a sort of cross between hula dancers and circus clowns on stilts.

Flaska only crossed onto the right -- wrong -- side once, veering up an intersection on the wrong side of the concrete divider, but like the game of basketball, it was no harm, no foul.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories