The Lid-Lifter

The University of Arkansas basketball team opens its 2006-2007 regular season tonight at 7:05 p.m. by welcoming back former Razorback assistant Scott Edgar and his Southeast Missouri State squad.

For the second time in less than a week a former University of Arkansas assistant who helped lead the program to some glory days will return to Fayetteville in a quest to hamper the progress being made today.

Scott Edgar, who was on Nolan Richardson's Razorback staff from 1985- 1991, is the new head coach of a Southeast Missouri State program that invades Bud Walton Arena tonight to take on the Razorbacks.

He follows in Bill Brown, who coached at Arkansas from 1981-85 and brought in Calif0rnia-Pennyslvania, a team the Razorbacks downed 75-68 in an exhibition game on Monday night.

This is a daunting task," Edgar told the Southeast Missourian newspaper of taking on Arkansas. "They're coming off their first NCAA play in quite some time, they're full of enthusiasm and they think they can be better than last year.

"But it's a wonderful opportunity for us," continued Edgar, who has been a head coach at Murray State and Duquesne and an assistant at UAB and Tennessee. "It's the first time this basketball team will be on the road together, and it will be a great learning experience."

While Arkansas is indeed coming off a 22-10 season that ended in a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Bucknell, Edgar takes over a program that was 7-20 during the last campaign.

But the RedHawks, who won exhibition games over Westminster (88-79) and Kentucky Wesleyan (103-72), have added in two high-profile transfers and are expected to be much better this season.

Former Oklahoma player Brandon Foust, a 6-6 forward, and former Bradley center Mike Rembert – a 6-9 player who was stuck behind NBA draft pick Patrick Bryant - sit out last season but are being counted off heavily this season.

Foust averaged 13 points and 5.5 rebounds in the exhibition games while Rembert was next in both categories with 12 points and 5 caroms per contest.

"I think a game like this is motivation for the kids," Edgar said. "It gives us a chance to find out where we are… I expect us to play well. I'm anxious to see us go in that kind of environment."

Arkansas head coach Stan Heath knows he will see the same type of philosophy from Southeast that was prevalent with the Razorbacks back in Richardson's day.

"We will see pressing and zone defense," Heath said. "We didn't handle the press well the other day (against California), so we'll get to see if we've improved. I expect us to be energized."

The Razorbacks have five players over 6-9 - including 7-0 junior center Steven Hill - while Rembert is the only RedHawk player taller than 6-6.

"It's almost like going into the land of the giants," Edgar said. "Hill is a great shot blocker. We'll see him in the NBA some day."

Hill will join 6-0 junior point guard Gary Ervin, 6-1 freshman guard Patrick Beverley, 6-6 junior small forward Sonny Weems and either 6-8 junior Charles Thomas or 6-10 junior Vincent Hunter.

The Razorbacks also won their both exhibition games, opening up with a 82-49 rout of Xavier-New Orleans.

"Top to bottom it's a very talented team," Edgar said. "They're very athletic."

After an NCAA-mandated day off on Tuesday, Heath had Arkansas in Bud Walton Arena before the sun came up on Wednesday morning to go over Monday's win.

"Our free throw shooting (16-of-31) bothered me, but we'll get that up," Heath said. " Our three-point defense is unacceptable. The main culprit (against California University) was at the four-spot. My challenge to them is if a guy doesn't get (the ball), he can't make it."

Heath has played 11 players in the two exhibition games.

"We should be around the five-minute mark before we make substitutions," Heath said. "I would like to rotate 10 or 11 guys. That may shrink to nine. There's so much parity now. I want to play that many, but I don't want to do anything that may cost us the game."

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