The University of Arkansas basketball program conciudes two weeks of "gift" practices this weekend with a pair of exhibition games in Cancun, Mexico.
Five years ago, the Razorbacks took a three-game trip to Cancun, but it wasn't exactly the basketball that stood out.
Instead the talk was about an opponent smoking on the bench during the game, his super model-esque girlfriend chewing him out for not playing hard, large mosquitos, slick floors, gyms without air-conditioning and the bats who came flying out of the UA locker room when they opened the door.
"I've heard about the last trip and hopefully we won't have anybody swatting mosquitoes out of the way when we are trying to call plays," first-year Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said.
"…Some of it was a little bit of a concern, but we have tried to reassure the people that are doing this that we don't want to get anybody hurt," Pelphrey said. "We certainly want to play and come down there and be competitive. But we certainly don't want to be in an environment that is not conducive to having games. We're anticipating playing in an environment that will be conducive to what we are trying to get done."
The Razorbacks, who are slated to leave Fayetteville on a charter flight at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, will play their first game against an as yet unannounced foe Saturday night around 8:30 p.m.
The time and opponent for their second game on Sunday night was still up in the air at press time while the squad will return home on Monday.
While Pelphrey is looking forward to seeing him team play as one on the floor this weekend, it's always been about getting the two weeks of extra practice the NCAA allows when you take a trip of this kind.
"These practices have been great for us," Arkansas senior center Steven Hill said. "We've been able to get used to the new system, the new coaches and work in the four freshmen we have this season. It puts us way ahead of the game and we'll be able to just roll right into practice and the season because of it."
"Small forward Sonny Weems broke his hand in practice this week and won't play on the trip.
Pelphrey will likely start Gary Ervin, Patrick Beverley, Charles Thomas, Darian Townes and Steven Hill.
But he plans on playing everyone extensively.
"All of those guys will be playing," Pelphrey said. "We're getting everbody in to see what we have and give them a chance to develop."
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