Injury Bug Plagues Hogs

Arkansas may not have all hands on deck for its trip to South Carolina. Here's a look at how the injury bug affects the Hogs in this key road swing.

There was good news and bad news on the injury front, said Arkansas coach Stan Heath.

The good news first; Ronnie Brewer's sprained ankle sustained Saturday against Kentucky is minor and he should be full speed by Wednesday night against South Carolina. The bad news is that Mike Jones has a "severely strained" groin muscle and a hernia, according to trainer Dave England. Also, Marcus Monk's injury to his AC joint sustained in football has flared up and he will be out indefinitely.

"The groin strain is as bad as I've ever seen," England said. "I'm saying he's out for one week and we'll see how he is then. I'm not saying he's out just one week. I'm saying we'll wait one week and then check it again. It could be quite some time.

"I just deal one week at a time with these types of injuries. He told me he was going up to dunk and it happened and that was on a straight up movement, not a side-to-side movement that commonly is the thing that causes a groin strain. The hernia is not a major deal at this point. It's the groin strain we are concerned about."

England said Monk needs some time and rest on the AC joint injury. Surgery isn't something that is needed at this point. England said it's an injury that is fine with protection, but "you don't have that in basketball like you do in football." When Monk might return is unclear.

Brewer will practice Monday, but sit out the contact portions of the workout. Stan Heath said that might give the physically tired Brewer some much-needed rest.

"He's played a lot of minutes and some rest from practice will do Ronnie good," Heath said. "Ronnie will still be in the mix when we do the teaching stuff and he'll know everything."

On the Kentucky game, Heath said he was pleased with many aspects of the Hogs' performance. However, he said the Hogs rushed their shots and the result was 36 percent shooting in both halves.

"We did a lot of things well," he said. "We got hurt on the way we defended the high pick and roll late in the game. We had film study with some of the guys at 8 a.m. this morning to go over that. We had defended it so well earlier when it involved our big men covering the screener. We were playing a smaller lineup and we didn't cover it well in a couple of instances late.

"We were playing a smaller lineup and how Kentucky attacked us was a little unique. Olu Famutimi and Pookie Modica should have been the helpers for the helpers and they didn't just scream in there. That lineup didn't get the reps in practice to cover how we would handle that situation and that was what we went to late."

Eric Ferguson left Patrick Sparks on one of those situations in the final minute. Sparks hit the Wildcats' final bucket. Heath said Ferguson thought Sparks was going to dish to the screener on the baseline just as another guard had done on an earlier trip in the final minute.

"Eric hadn't given Sparks one thing the entire game until that play," Heath said. "He took a great fake on a pass from Sparks, something that was in our scouting report. Eric was going to where the pass was faked and he just left Sparks. He anticipated the pass. It was a heckuva ball fake."

Heath said Charles Thomas is the likely candidate to fill Mike Jones' slot in the starting lineup. They might need his bulk to battle Carlos Powell, South Carolina's brutish forward. However, Heath is not ruling out using both Steven Hill and Darian Townes together.

"Steven is coming on," Heath said. "He did some nice things against Kentucky and we have to get him more touches on offense."

Dontell Jefferson's spotty play was also discussed Monday.

"I feel for Dontell," Heath said. "He wants to help the team and he knows he's not playing to the level he's capable of playing right now. Maybe it's time to move him to the two and have Ronnie or Eric handle the ball when he's out there. That will take some pressure off of him. He did give us a nice spark when we were down 8 points at LSU.

" We've got to get him confident. Still, I know that the scouting report is to send a lot of heat his way when he enters the game. He's got to burn that pressure to make it go away and that requires some confident decisions."

South Carolina's defense might not be the best medicine for Jefferson right now. The Gamecocks rely on changing pressure defense.

"They try to disrupt you by changing on almost every possession and coming with pressure," Heath said. "We have to attack their pressure and make sure we get good looks."

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