Sign Of Selflessness

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey wants his basketball players selfless. He wants the Razorbacks to be about the team first, the individual second. Now, it's early in the season. Practice started only Friday night, when the Hogs opened the season in front of 6,200 fans in Bud Walton Arena, including new athletic director Jeff Long

But even in the midst of a sloppy scrimmage, one of Pelphrey's players reminded him how capable the Razorbacks are of becoming an unselfish squad. With five seconds left, and his White team down by two points, sophomore guard Patrick Beverley hustled for a loose ball. Instead of throwing up a wild shot, Beverley found an open Vincent Hunter.

The 6-foot-10 senior forward drilled a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds for the win.

"I thought that was a great extra pass by Patrick," Pelphrey said. "He showed good composure and found an open guy."

For the most part, Friday night's scrimmage truly was a glorified pick-up game. There were lots of premature shots thrown up and lots of turnovers. But the Hogs showed glimpses of their new presses and flashes of offensive success.

Senior forward Darian Townes dropped a team-high 16 points for the Red squad. Beverley led the White with 14 points and Hunter added 10.

Developing Guards

Depth in the frontcourt is no problem. The Razorbacks return five senior forwards and centers — Townes, Hunter, Charles Thomas, Sonny Weems and Steven Hill. Throw in sophomore Michael Washington, and Pelphrey could actually encounter playing-time dilemmas because of too many options.

That's not the case in the backcourt, and Pelphrey doesn't hide his concerns. Arkansas must develop backcourt depth quickly, Pelphrey said. Senior point guard Gary Ervin and sophomore guards Beverley and Stefan Welsh are the Razorbacks' only returning guards.

For Arkansas' up-tempo system to work, the Razorbacks must find more options at guard. Freshmen guards Nate Rakestraw, Marcus Britt and Levan Patsatsia and sophomore walk-on Stephen Cox must contribute in some way.

"That's going to be a big key to the team," Pelphrey said. "All (the guards) need to understand it's great to be great, it's not so good to be bad, but if we can be consistently good, that's better than the highs and lows."

Shedding Pounds

No more fried chicken. No more fast food. No more soda.

For Thomas and Rakestraw, those were cruel orders for the summer. But they paid off. Thomas reported back to campus at 230 pounds, five less than last year and halfway to his goal. Rakestraw's weight loss was far more drastic. He lost 26 pounds in about five months, down to almost 200.

"No more Chili's for me," said Rakestraw, a Springdale Har-Ber graduate.

Pelphrey had to laugh about Rakestraw's eating habits.

"Nate had a philosophy that one diet wasn't enough," Pelphrey said. "He needed two because he couldn't get enough food. We changed his thinking about that, and he's made great strides."

Washington Punished

One Razorback didn't participate in Friday night's festivities.

Washington, a 6-foot-10 forward, violated team rules and missed the autograph session and opening practice. Pelphrey said Friday night that Washington would return to practice immediately.

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