The competition that the University of Arkansas basketball team faced this past weekend is probably better than what it will play this upcoming weekend.
That's because the talent-laden Razorbacks scrimmaged themselves on Saturday and Sunday and the opponents this weekend on a two-game exhibition tour in Cancun aren't exactly expected to be overwhelming.
"We had a good weekend in terms of having a couple of sessions and then we scrimmaged Saturday and we scrimmaged on Sunday," UA head coach John Pelphrey said.
"As first scrimmages goes, it was okay," Pelphrey added. "Those are always pretty scary - the first time you put any team on film, with a new style anyway.
"The day off Monday was good for us," Pelphrey said. "Tuesday may have been our best day as a unit. I'm pleased with how hard they have gone and their attitude."
Arkansas – scheduled to play Saturday and Sunday nights – will do so without small forward Sonny Weems.
Weems broke his left hand on Tuesday in practice while apparently diving for a ball and having his hand get caught under a teammate's knee.
"No surgery is going to be required," Pelphrey said. "He is in a cast for four weeks, come out and probably be in a soft cast for a couple of that (the four weeks). He should be right on time to start practice (on October 12th)."
However, the Razorbacks could have sophomore guard Stefan Welsh available to play after not thinking he would be because of a pulled hamstring suffered during the first practice.
"Stef practiced a little bit yesterday," Pelphrey said. "He's not 100 percent, ballpark he is probably about 60. There is a chance he will play. We have been pleasantly surprised. He has done a good job rehabbing and (UA trainer) Dave (England) has done a great job getting him back here. I think as long as he doesn't have any setbacks right now, I think he is going to play."
The Razorbacks were without senior point guard Gary Ervin for their first three practices because of his grandmother's passing.
He returned on Friday and has fit right in according to Pelphrey.
"He is not behind," Pelphrey said. "We were able to get him quickly caught up to speed with Friday, double Saturday and the scrimmage on Sunday. Gary actually played very well in the scrimmage from an offensive standpoint and a competing standpoint as well."
Everybody able to play the games this weekend will get plenty of time according to Pelphrey.
"All those guys know they will be playing," Pelphrey said. "This won't be like it would be in the regular season. If you are the 11th, 12th or 13th guy, you may not play very much during the season, but right now we are getting everybody into the game and see what we got and get a chance to develop a little bit.
"That is what this thing is for," Pelphrey added. "I am not looking to play anybody 30 minutes. That may happen, but that's now where we are and not what my mindset is now."
As far as a starting five, Pelphrey isn't certain on that, but is toying with playing a big lineup with Weems injured.
That would have Ervin at point guard, Patrick Beverley manning shooting guard, Charles Thomas working at small forward with Darian Townes at power forward and Steven Hill in the middle.
"What I am going to tinker with in the next few days is something that I wanted to do," Pelphrey said, "although I didn't plan on doing it this soon is playing big.
"I think Mike Washington is also going to play a lot, Vincent Hunter is going to be in the mix someplace – maybe some small forward as well – and (freshman forward Michael) Sanchez has surprised me with his speed, his handling and passing. I thought there would be more of a transition for him, but there's not, which is a pleasant surprise."
Pelphrey credited Townes with a solid effort so far.
"I've tell these guys that I am going to be honest with them – good or bad," Pelphrey said. "I think Darian has done very well. I have been pleased with his attitude and how hard he has gone physically and how he is going to be able to hold up. He has got the ability to go all day long and I am anxious to see if he can slide over and play a little bit of a different role, taking the ball out of bounds and getting it reversed and things like that."
Arkansas will leave Fayetteville at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning and is scheduled to play at 8 p.m. Saturday night.
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