Razorbacks Know Losing Beverley Hurts

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey didn't minimize the magnitude of losing former guard Patrick Beverley

"It's a devastating blow," he said at his team's media day on Monday.

Most of the Razorbacks echoed that sentiment. Even freshman guard Rotnei Clarke, who only knew Beverley from summer workouts and recruiting trips, hasn't fully recovered from hearing the news he said Beverley delivered himself.

"He was an unbelievable player, and a great guy to be around," Clarke said. "I developed a friendship with him the moment I got here, and he helped me improve so much during the time I was here this summer."

Pelphrey said Beverley's presence wouldn't only be missed on game days.

"The thing that he did add to us from a leadership standpoint was that whatever happened the night before, you knew he was going to get the guys riled up for practice the next day," Pelphrey said. "That's just what he was, and that's probably what we've got to find as we go along here. We have to find that element."

Junior Leaders

Combo guard Stefan Welsh and power forward Michael Washington immediately inherited more leadership responsibilities when six seniors graduated.

Beverley's departure only increased those duties for the third-year players.

"Mike and I take being leaders seriously, and we feel like we're ready to lead this team," Welsh said. "We want to help the new guys out, and we want them to know we care about them."

Welsh and Washington have shown leadership in the weight room, in pickup games and in nearly every situation off the court, redshirt freshman forward Michael Sanchez said.

And when the season arrives, Sanchez knows the Razorbacks will lean on Welsh and Washington even more.

"They've been in the games, been in the battle," Sanchez said. "They are the only ones that can testify."

Freshmen Guards

Pelphrey expects immediate production from Clarke and fellow freshman Courtney Fortson. He referred to Fortson as a "tough, nasty, hard-nosed point guard" and called Clarke "as fine a 3-point shooter as there is in the country."

Pretty lofty stuff for two guards who haven't yet played in a college basketball game. But Clarke and Fortson both sounded confident that they could handle the pressure.

"We work really well together on the court," Clarke said. "The coaches were telling us that we would even before we got here. They were right. The first time we stepped on the court together in pickup, it hit me."

Renovations Update

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long informed the media on Monday about the progress being made on renovations at Bud Walton Arena.

He said the arena, which received a new playing surface, would be available for the start of practice. The new lower-level retractable seating will be ready for the Red-White Game on Oct. 24, Long said.

Long also said that the new LED scoreboards would be ready for the first regular season game but that the LED ribbon boards wouldn't be available until the first conference game.


• Freshman Jason Henry and junior Montrell McDonald are fighting to replace Sonny Weems at the small forward spot. Both are expected to play often, so McDonald insisted the competition wouldn't infringe on their budding friendship. "That's my guy," McDonald said. "We both want to start bad."

• Pelphrey said that Arkansas was holding walk-on tryouts today and that he hoped to add anywhere from two to four players to the roster.

• Arkansas begins practice on Friday and will hold its Red-White Game on Oct. 24.

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