It was hard to tell what the 6,200 basketball fans at Bud Walton Arena liked more on Friday night at the University of Arkansas' first basketball practice.
It could have been the talent on the floor, the little bit of pressure defense unleashed, the buzz-beating shot in the scrimmage, the presence of two big-time recruits or the passionate speech by new Razorback head coach John Pelphrey at the end.
Pelphrey talked of bringing championships back to Arkansas with his fire-and-brimstone speech that ended with the following quote, the fans roaring and an impromptu Hog Call.
"Moreso than any other time in history of this basketball program, we need you," Pelphrey said to the fans. "We need your energy, we need your passion. We are looking forward to playing for you this year."
The Razorbacks held a 90-minute autograph session before holding a 20-minute scrimmage.
"I think the best thing about tonight was the fans," Pelphrey said. "As or a coach – or whatever your form of profession might be, you never want to get surprised, but we always do get surprised with the fans. The fans at this school often surprise with their passion and turning out in large numbers. It was pretty cool there for about an hour or so being able to sign autographs, meeting those people and hearing encouraging words."
Vincent Hunter's 3-pointer near the buzzer gave his White team a 39-37 win over the Red in a 20-minute scrimmage.
Patrick Beverley had 16 points, Darian Townes 14 and Hunter and Charles Thomas 10 each to lead the way for the two teams in scoring.
"It was good for our guys to get out there, run around and have a little interaction with those guys," Pelphrey said. "That was what it was meant to do – have a fun evening. Tomorrow is a little bit different day."
Arkansas will go through two closed workouts on Saturday, the first one kicking off around 8 a.m.
"It is the start of work for us, the start of the season," Pelphrey said. "It's very, very important not only for us, but I am sure a lot of other coaches around the country."
Sophomore forward Michael Washington did not play due to violation of team rules, but Pelphrey noted he would be practicing on Saturday.
In attendance at the event were 6-9, 215-pound forward Brandon Moore of New Orleans (La.) Holy Cross – on his official visit – and 6-10, 205-pound Andre Clark, the former North Little Rock prospect who is now at Genesis One and was on an unofficial visit.
Clark had committed to Oklahoma earlier before backing out when Arkansas started showing interest.
He rode on a bus from 11 p.m. Thursday night to 11 a.m. Friday morning to be able to make the visit on his own dime.
"I've got to say I am leaning pretty heavily here to Arkansas now," Clark said. "This is a great place with great fans."
Gary Ervin drives around Marcus Britt.
Patrick Beverley makes a move on Nate Rakestraw.
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