Pelphrey Praises Senior Class

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey refrained from saying much about his six-man senior class throughout the 2007-08 season.

But now that the year is over, the first-year coach had plenty of praise for them Thursday afternoon.

"I'd like to say thank you to our seniors and I have," Pelphrey said during his postseason news conference. "Just for those guys allowing our coaching staff to coach them. It's a very difficult situation when a coach comes in who they don't know. They're not sure how he perceives them. What are the expectations of me now?

"I'm just very, very appreciative."

The Razorbacks said goodbye to the group, which includes Darian Townes, Sonny Weems, Gary Ervin, Charles Thomas, Steven Hill and Vincent Hunter, after the 108-77 loss to North Carolina on Sunday. It was the final game for the large class, which hadn't lived up to lofy expectations for much of their careers.

But Pelphrey credited former coach Stan Heath for "bringing these young men" to Arkansas.

He said they should be remembered for their successes after leading the Razorbacks to the NCAA Tournament for three straight seasons. Even more, he said they should be remembered for the program's first tournament win in nine years against Indiana. Pelphrey said it was a "significant" achievement.

"They've had a level of success prior to me," Pelphrey said. "My job, I wanted to help them overachieve, do more than they've done before, try to be consistent in the way we go about doing things."

Even though their college eligibility has ended, their basketball careers aren't necessarily over.

Pelphrey believes several of the seniors will have chances to play professionally. Weems is the most likely to get a crack at NBA, but others could have opportunities to play overseas.

"They all have a level of talent and they're all uniquely different," Pelphrey said. "The good thing is there's a lot of different places to play now."

Who's on Deck?

Now that the season is over, the Razorbacks will begin to finalize the 2008-09 schedule.

Arkansas is under contract to play Oklahoma and Texas in Bud Walton Arena in nonconference play. The Razorbacks also will play Baylor in North Little Rock. In addition, they open the season at Missouri State.

After that, Pelphey said he would have to "do a lot of stuff." He said Arkansas will play in an early season tournament. He also has had discussions with Memphis about a potential series that could begin next year.

But one snag with Memphis and Arkansas could be whether games are played on campus or neutral sites.

"I have feelings both ways," Pelphrey said. "I think (Memphis coach) John (Calipari), I can't speak for the guy, but I think he's more interested in neutral sites."

Either way, Pelphrey said he's looking for balance on the Razorbacks schedule next season.

"Scheduling is a little bit fickle, but we're always going to try to have a balance to it," he said. "Next year's ballclub will probably try to make sure we get some situations in where we can really kind of bring oursevles along and get ourselves ready for conference play."

Compliments for Welsh

Backup guard Stefan Welsh only played eight minutes in the NCAA Tournament because of an ankle injury he suffered against Indiana. But Pelphrey offered plenty of praise for the sophomore's efforts last week.

Welsh was injured in the first half against the Hoosiers and didn't return. He tried to rehab the ankle as much as possible the next two days and played against North Carolina, but was limited because of the injury.

"He got in and you just could tell he didn't have explosiveness to get up and down the floor with the ball," Pelphrey said. "Then when he took the one shot, you could tell his balance was just really, really bad.

"He tried. He gave it a great effort. I told him I was proud of him for that."

Change Coming?

Pelphrey earned six technical fouls in his first season with the Hogs. But the fiery coach joked that he may have to change his ways because of his son, Jaxson.

"I may need to work on my conduct a little bit because my son, before every game, would lean in my ear and say ‘Let's get a technical foul tonight,'" Pelphrey said.

"I may be setting a bad example there. Do as I say and not as I do. I may have to revisit my actions."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories