Evaluation Meeting Pushed Back

FAYETTEVILLE -- Scheduling conflicts pushed back a Monday meeting between Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles and Razorbacks basketball coach Stan Heath to evaluate the future of the basketball program.

Broyles said he had a number of commitments to attend to Monday and postponed his meeting with Heath, who will be out of town for the rest of the week recruiting.

The two met last week after Heath withdrew Arkansas from consideration for the NIT the day after the Razorbacks' 65-46 loss to Tennessee on March 10 at the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta.

Arkansas lost its final two games of the season to Auburn and Tennessee by a combined 32 points and the Razorbacks' lackluster effort led Heath to promise a "top to bottom" review of his program.

Upon reading Heath's comments, Broyles prepared a list of general questions on Heath's basketball philosophies and his plans for the future to be returned at their next meeting, which could wait until next week.

"We'll get it done when we're both in town," Broyles said.

Broyles said last week he would offer suggestions to Heath if he saw a need based on his responses to the questions.

Heath said Monday he welcomed Broyles' input as he enters his fourth season seeking his first NCAA tournament appearance at Arkansas.

"He wants to assist our program in taking the next step and I'm definitely appreciative of that," Heath said. "I feel real good about his support. I'm sure we'll get together and just kind of look at things and make sure we're seeing them from the same viewpoint."

Heath was optimistic about his team's chances next season after a summer of growing up following an ending that left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

"This team has a chance to be special next year," Heath said. "We now have the talent in place. This team is now going to have maturity about itself. Guys who have experience. This team does have the makings of really taking that next step being where we want to be, a team that challenges at the top of our league and possibly has a chance to win it."

Heath didn't rule out roster or staff changes when he announced his review, but with no moves likely on either horizon unless assistants Oronde Taliaferro or Rob Flaska land head coaching jobs, his promised changes will come in attitude first.

"For us, the main thing is that we all see the same thing -- that winning is the priority," he said. "It's directly related to our work ethic. It's directly related to our cohesiveness out there on the court.

"It will be really important that we make the sacrifices and make the commitment and all stay in tune with the vision."

Heath said the player meetings last Monday and Tuesday weren't evaluations as much as a way to probe his players' feelings on how a once-promising season and 13-1 start had sank to a 1-5 finish with losses marked by extended scoring droughts and a noticeable drop in cohesion on the floor.

"Sometimes the coach thinks a different way," Heath said. "I was just more or less picking their brains."

Heath said player opinions mostly mirrored the coaches.

"We all just felt we weren't playing the same as we did early in the year," he said. "We weren't maybe as connected out there on the court offensively and defensively. Our confidence slipped and we weren't playing with the same kind of passion we played with early in the year. It was pretty much the common theme."

Spring break began this weekend, offseason weight lifting will start next Monday and Heath said the actual player evaluation meetings will take place "down the road."

Heath will be on the recruiting road this week scouting next season's signing class as well as seniors and junior college players who could fill his one available scholarship for his 2005-06 roster.

Arkansas already has commitments from St. Anthony's (N.J.) point guard Sean McCurdy and Meridian (Miss.) power forward Cyrus McGowan and has offered its remaining scholarship to Terre Haute (Ind.) point guard Armon Bassett, who may not know if he is academically eligible until next week.

Taliaferro has been in contact with officials at Eastern Michigan about its opening and Flaska applied for the Eastern Illinois job last week.

Both Flaska and Taliaferro have been on Heath's staff for all three of his seasons in Fayetteville.

Heath didn't want to comment on how any possible departures would affect his staff.

"I want the process to run its course," he said.

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