Hill Hosts Silent Block Party

NORTH LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas' Steven Hill blocked a career-high six shots during Saturday's 72-60 loss against No. 5 Illinois in Alltel Arena.

It was the most blocks in a single game by an Arkansas player since Nick Davis had nine against Mississippi State in 1998. Hill missed his only field-goal attempt and had just one point off a free throw, but his impact on the game had nothing to do with scoring.

"Defensively, he's terrific," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "He was a little hesitant offensively in this game, but he covers up for a lot of our mistakes on defense. The way he blocks shots, the way he's in the right position and the way he clogs things up as a freshman, you appreciate that so much as a coach."

Hill altered at least as many shots as he blocked and Illinois coach Bruce Weber said the future looks bright for the 7-foot, 233-pound center from Branson, Mo. Weber remembered watching Hill on several occasions during the recruiting process.

"I think he can be a really good player," Weber said. "Now, it comes down to work ethics because he needs to improve his explosion, quickness and bounce. But if he puts in the time, I think he has the chance to be really good.

"I'm just glad we're not playing him again for a while (since Saturday's game ended a four-game series against the Fighting Illini)."

For his teammates, having Hill in the middle has been a boost for a defense which often struggled against bigger opponents last season.

"Last year, we were a little undersized and this year, we can match up with anybody," said Hogs forward Olu Famutimi. "The way Steven has been playing, he gives us what we want and what we need inside that we were lacking last year."

Arkansas players said they've been "dogging" Hill since he won't even talk trash to an opponent after sending their shot into the second row. He already has three games this season with four blocked shots.

"Yeah, they give me a hard time about it," Hill said. " They say I need to start getting an attitude out there and I probably will before the season is over, but for now, I won't talk too much."

Hill played efficient defense for most of the 30 minutes he was in the game. He didn't pick up his second foul until early in the second half.

"At the beginning of the year, it looked like I was going to have a hard time with fouls," Hill said. "But I've tried to work on that and stay out of foul trouble and I've accomplished it so far."

Using the proper technique to avoid fouls while blocking shots comes natural to Hill, who once had 14 blocked shots in a game at Branson High.

"Blocks are just like scoring points," Hill said. "You get in that groove and it just starts coming easier and easier because you've got your timing down."

And timing is everything when trying to put an opponent's shot back in their face.

"The big thing for me is to wait until the very last minute," Hill said. "Because if you go early, it's really easy to get your body in there and foul them so I try to time it.

"You just kind of have a feeling of when to go, but when you see them raising up, you've got to go get it."

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