Arkansas vs. Louisiana Tech

FAYETTEVILLE -- One day, when his future in the NBA draws nearer, Arkansas freshman Patrick Beverley will play far more at point guard.

He knows that's his position at the next level. The 6-foot-1 shooting guard from Chicago realizes that's his ticket to earning a paycheck through basketball.

But for now, even with Arkansas' point guard tandem of Gary Ervin and Sean McCurdy struggling at times, Beverley will remain at shooting guard.

For the most part, that is.

"That's where I'm most comfortable for now," Beverley said. "I know I'll have to be a point guard one day, and I know what I have to work on."

His services could be needed if Ervin and McCurdy can't get more consistent. Arkansas (9-3) enters a 1:35 p.m. home game today against Louisiana Tech (2-9) with problems at point guard. The periodic struggles by Ervin and McCurdy prompted Hogs coach Stan Heath to move Beverley to point guard a few times.

While he liked what he saw from Beverley, Heath said Arkansas' scoring leader is too valuable off the ball. That's why Heath will limit Beverley's possessions as the Razorbacks' point guard. Also, Ervin and McCurdy have shown improvements the past two games against Texas and Oral Roberts.

"We've seen that the last few games in the way we're starting to take care of the ball and cleaning up our turnovers," Heath said. "We're passing ahead and passing into the post. That helps our offense. We're seeing better movement.

"I've spent a lot of time with Gary and Sean to try to get them more comfortable. They've responded very well. Gary has been up-and-down."

Ervin has been either hot or cold this season and not much in between.

Lately, through increased intensity and focus, he has improved. Ervin has 10 assists and five turnovers in his past two games.

After coming back from his holiday break, Ervin encountered a coaching staff ready to bluntly discuss his weaknesses.

Ervin approached the criticism-giving positively.

"As I look at it on tape, it's not a lot of major mistakes," Ervin said. "It's a lot of slight mistakes. It's been a real good process, and for a guy like me who wants to get better, the best thing to do is listen to what your coaches have to say and go watch film."

Heath said he hoped all his point guards started taking heed of critiquing. Because tonight's contest against Louisiana Tech isn't as simple as it first looks.

The Bulldogs trailed Southern Illinois by seven and LSU by five in the second half of losses.

"We need to get Gary and Sean going, plain and simple, and they both have the ability to do it," Heath said. "It's a lot harder than people think. We have a brand new perimeter. That's not easy because you don't know what guys can and can't do. Gary feels in his heart, and I think he's right, that he can play a lot better.

"That position doesn't have to be great, but we need it to be solid."

If it isn't, expect to see more of Beverley. He's still raw as that position. And even moreso these days, Beverley strives to improve where he's weaker.

"A lot of ball-handling practice," Beverley said.


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