Pelphrey Feels Like Razorbacks Are Buying In

FAYETTEVILLE -- Above everything else, John Pelphrey realizes the Arkansas Razorbacks must believe. He knows his basketball team must embrace his style of play.

Toughness is needed for his up-tempo, in-your-face style. Stamina is needed. Heart is needed. And he concedes all those traits can't be maxiumized unless his players truly, honestly believe.

At Arkansas' media day Tuesday, Pelphrey said that goal was a work in progress, trending positively.

"I think we've made progress with that," Pelphrey said. "They have to get both feet in the circle. That's part of the chemistry. If that doesn't happen, then it's not going to work."

"Everybody talks about wanting to run and press and be fast and (play with) all this energy and the excitement that it brings, but it's work. It's nothing more than running as fast as you can go and pushing yourself beyond limits and trying to fatigue your opponent physically. In order to do that, you have to be willing to make plays under fatigue, when you're belly starts burning."

The Razorbacks seem ready for that, at least from their words Tuesday. They've experienced brutal preseason conditioning sessions. They have been pushed "more than I ever thought was possible," senior forward Charles Thomas said.

Freshman guard Marcus Britt said September was "all about track." The Hogs have grasped the point of the grueling runs. They understand that conditioning now pays off in February and March, in the final minute of a Southeastern Conference game or an NCAA Tournament contest.

"We know it's going to be worth it," senior forward Darian Townes said. "I can tell already that I don't get as tired as easy anymore."

Glad To Be Back

Vincent Hunter opened up Tuesday about his feelings after last season.

He and previous Arkansas coach Stan Heath didn't co-exist well, and Hunter had looked into transferring to several Division II schools.

"I don't know, man, I was close (to leaving)," Hunter said.

But then, Heath was fired and Pelphrey was hired. So he prayed, talked with his family and eventually settled on staying at Arkansas. Pelphrey is grateful for that decision. He feels that Hunter, who has never been given a clearly defined role, can contribute this season.

"He's a great kid, and I think Vincent loves Arkansas," Pelphrey said. "He's been a guy we've flipped around to different spots on the floor. I like what I've seen lately out of him. He's made open 3-point shots and he's tried to be a factor on the offensive glass. I think he's coachable."

Hectic Schedule

While his players were getting in shape, Pelphrey hit the road recruiting.

"This September, in all my years of coaching, I've probably been out and getting after it more than I have in my coaching career," Pelphrey said.

The Razorbacks picked up their second oral commitment this past week -- point guard Courtney Forston, the 2007 Mr. Basketball in Alabama -- so Pelphrey knows there's much more work ahead. Arkansas can sign up to six recruits in his first class.

Personally, Pelphrey is a bit more settled now, at least. His family is in Fayetteville, and he's eagerly awaiting days without private jet flights.

"I'm looking forward to waking up in the morning and knowing exactly what lies ahead in terms of the day, as opposed to grabbing an itinerary and being in a different state three or four days of the week," Pelphrey said.

Friday Night

The doors at Bud Walton Arena will open for Arkansas' first practice Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Players will be available for autographs until 9. A short practice and a limited scrimmage will then follow.

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