UA Players React to Altman

Patrick Beverley - who says he plans to stay a Razorback - and other current UA players react to the hiring of Dana Altman.

FAYETTEVILLE — When told that Dana Altman was going to be his new coach, Arkansas forward Sonny Weems had a rather simple reaction.

"I was like, ‘Man, who is this dude?'" Weems said.v That was a common response from Arkansas' players when they heard the news Monday, ending what had been a week of uncertainty.

While power forward Darian Townes had seen Creighton University play a few times on TV, that doesn't mean he knew of Altman.

"Honestly, I didn't know his name," Townes said. Arkansas' players met with Altman only a few minutes before the coach was formally introduced at a news conference Monday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.

The players sat in the front row and listened, as Altman talked about wanting to implement an up-tempo style of offense that gives his guards the freedom to take 3-pointers, drive to the basket and press opposing teams.

"As a point guard that pushes the basketball, that's the type of style of play that we love to play," point guard Gary Ervin said. "We kind of played some of that way throughout the season, but to have that for 40 minutes, to play up and down, I think that's something that's going to fit us real well."

Not every player, however, was overjoyed with the hire of Altman as the successor to Stan Heath, who was fired last week after five seasons with the Razorbacks.

Guard Stefan Welsh admitted that he was a "little iffy" about Altman. The sophomore-to-be wanted to meet with Altman to see how the coach planned to use Welsh next season.

Meanwhile, guard Patrick Beverley also had reservations about the former Creighton coach. But that changed after Beverley and his mother sat down with Altman following Monday night's news conference.

"We had a long talk with him, and I really like what he has to offer," Beverley said. "I really think he is a good, genuine type of guy, and I am excited to play for him in this type of offense that he provides."

Beverley said last week that he would wait before he made any decision about his future. He wanted to find a coach who could be like a father figure to him.

But after meeting with Altman, Beverley shot down any notion that he would be looking for another school to transfer to.

"The million dollar question that everybody wants to know is Patrick Beverley coming back?" Beverley said. "The answer to that is, ‘Yes.'

"My mother and I talked about it last night. When I signed to play at Arkansas, I didn't sign to play for a particular coach. I signed to play here at Arkansas. That was the biggest thing for me."

Townes, who famously clashed with Heath during a game in January, said he also plans to remain with the Razorbacks. "I'm not going anywhere," Townes said. "A lot of people have asked if I'm going to leave or not, but I'm staying."

Altman doesn't have the same name recognition as Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie or Kansas' Bill Self, who were considered candidates before turning down the Arkansas job late last week.

But after a week of not knowing who their next coach would be, Altman's hire gave Arkansas' players some much-needed peace of mind.

"I think it's kind of a relief finally knowing who your head man is going to be," Weems said. "At first, everybody was like, ‘Man, we don't know who we're going to get because they throw a lot of coaches in (the discussion) — Gillispie and Self and all those (other candidates).

"They turned it down, so we thought we weren't going to get a coach for about a month."


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