Setting up Shop

New University of Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey has one asssistant coach hired and also has his director of basketball operations in place, but says there's plenty left to do as he continues to set up shop as the Razorbacks' new man on the job.

Three days into his what he calls a dream job, new University of Arkansas head basketball coach John Pelphrey is working hard to put everything in its proper place.

That includes a staff, getting to know his new players and maybe even adding a couple of recruits to the mix.

"It is a busy time of year anytime you take over a program with certainly having returning players you certainly want to have a chance to meet with and talk to, academically make sure you have a good game plan and doing the right things, some workout type of stuff, putting together a staff and obviously a lot of other things this time of the year with recruiting," Pelphrey said. "There has been plenty to try and get ahold of.

"And certainly with my family, trying to make some preliminary plans for relocation," Pelphrey said. "I've been doing quite a bit these last few days. It is going to take some time, but I am looking forward to getting some of those things knocked out of the way."

Pelphrey, a former Kentucky college star and assistant coach at Florida who takes over the Razorbacks after five years as head coach at South Alabama, is halfway to getting his staff in order.

He has hired former South Alabama assistant Tom Ostrom as a full-fledged assistant and named another former assistant in Matt Figger as his director of basketball operations.

"Obviously there is a couple of other spots where I am talking to folks and evaluating what is best for our coaching staff and what is best for our program," Pelphrey said.

Pephrey has an idea of what he wants for other two assistant spots, especially one of them.

"I would love to get it done as quickly as possible, but certainly I am going to take my time to make sure I get it done as efficiently as possible," Pelphrey said. "I think in one spot I am going to look for somebody that has got some head coaching experience. I think that would something I would like to get done. We'll see how that goes. Obviously there are some people I am talking to."

He says he is trying not to pigeonhole his assistants – in part because that is not the way that he was brought along as a player under Rick Pitino and as an assistant under Eddie Sutton and Billy Donovan.

"I want all these guys(the assistants) to think like head coaches," Pelphrey said. "I don't want to label them as just recruiting or just working with guards. I want all these guys to come to me with ideas and to think like head coaches. That is the way I was treated. I am not going to label them although I know they are all not the same and we have different talent levels.

"I am going to want everybody to be able to recruit, be able to coach, be able to have some relationhips with our players away from the floor," Pelphrey added. "That is realy important to me."

It doesn't appear that any of the staff of former head coach Stan Heath will be around although Pelphrey did speak to Glynn Cyprien.

"I have a relationship with Coach Cyprien and we have spoken, but right now I am headed in a different direction in terms of retaining anybody from the previous staff," Pelphrey said. "It is my understanding that those guys have some opportunities as well."

The current recruiting spring recruiting period open on Wednesday and runs through May 16.

"We are certainly going to be recruiting and exploring every opportunity to see what we have got out there, to see if there is anybody we can add to the mix to our basketball team next year that can help us," Pelphrey said. "But at the same token, we are just not going to give scholarships away. They are too valuable. We are going to try and take only guys that can help us."

Junior-to-be point guard Sean McCurdy had already asked for and been given a release before Heath was fired, but Pelphrey said no one else has asked for a release at this point.

"I have not had a conversation with him yet, but I plan on doing that a little bit later today," Pelphrey said. "Most of the guys have been able to stop by and see me and I have encouraged them to do.

"…I have been very pleased with some of the conversations I have had with the guys and their attitudes and their excitement level about the potential for next year," Pelphrey said.

Pelphrey is obviously excited with the basketball team he has coming back and says it will just take some mental and physical toughness to put them over the top winning road games and having an ultra-successful season.

"I think a lot of times the game comes down and usually gets decided under five minutes and there has to be a level of toughness that it requires to get it done," Pelphrey said. "Players have to go out and make plays. I think more so than anything that has to be the understanding of when that moment in time comes in the game, when the game is decided, you have to make it happen.

"I think a great name from the past here is probably Corey Beck," Pelphrey said. "That guy understood winning, whether it was diving on the floor ripping a guys arm off to get a loose ball, making a tough lay-up and getting fouled and making free throws, picking somebody up full court and taking it from them. There is an understanding and toughness where it is not so much making a great offensive play, but a physical blockout, the toughness to step up and make a play because so many times the margin that goes into winning is really, really small."

UA assistant coach Tom Ostrom

UA Director of Basketball Operations Matt Figger

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