Stan Heath said all of the right things when he was introduced as Arkansas' new basketball coach Thursday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.
Heath, who led Kent State to within one victory of the Final Four this season, said he will emphasize rebounding, defense, up-tempo offense and execution in late-game situations.
The former Michigan State assistant coach received strong recommendations from Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski before Arkansas picked him to follow Nolan Richardson.
"Coach K said he was the top young coach in the country," said Frank Broyles, the Arkansas athletic director. "Tom Izzo said Stan was not only a great coach, but a great recruiter. Everywhere we turned, he was the right choice.
"We talked about going to Atlanta, but we already had our choice. We could have gone to Atlanta and interviewed seven or eight more coaches, but this was our man. We had our coach.
"He is enthusiastic and believes in building relationships. He's been at the highest level. Some have commented that he only has one year of experience as a head coach. That's enough. That's what I had when I came here. You learn all you need to know in that first year. It's a most important year and he has it behind him. He's proven himself in that first year.
"I think he will continue our great tradtion established by Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson. He's the perfect fit. I'm very pleased."
Almost immediately, Heath said he wanted to "thank Coach Richardson. He opened barriers for coaches like myself. He's a leader and a pioneer. I feel so honored. I followed his great career.
"I'm thrilled to be here. It's an exciting time to be an Arkansas Razorback."
Heath said the "four staples" in his system are defense, defense, up-tempo offense and execution in late-game situations and late in the shot clock.
"You say, 'Right, they emphasize rebounding,' " Heath said. "Well, our team at Kent State started players that were 6-9, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 and 5-10. We were 16th in the country in rebounding. We will emphasize rebounding and get it done.
"We will emphasize defense. You ask the other Arkansas coaches here, and they will tell you to win, you must play defense. We will play defense.
"We will play an exciting brand of up-tempo offense. We will be one of the few teams in the country that will run after makes and misses. We will be exciting. Our players will like the way we play and our fans will like it.
"We will execute. We will get it done whether it's when the clock is winding down at the end of games or late in the shot clock. That's when you win games. We will execute."
Heath said he will emphasize "player development." He wants to make sure that individual skills improve during a players' time at Arkansas.
"We will have individual workouts and emphasize weaknesses," he said. "And, when we bring a player into our program, we will put a great emphasis on graduation. You can excel as a player and graduate. That's essential. We have the resources here to get that done. I'm convinced of that."
Ramona, Joshua (with hat), Jordan and Stan Heath at the press conference Thursday. Photos by Clay Henry.