Razorbacks Coping With Thin Roster

The thinning of Arkansas' basketball roster started in early August.

At the time, the Arkansas athletic department deemed Patrick Beverley ineligible for this season, announcing he wouldn't play in 2008-09. Beverley left the program a few days later, marking only the beginning of an unfortunate trend of departures, injuries and suspensions for John Pelphrey's already-young Razorbacks.

Junior forward Montrell McDonald quit the squad in December. Freshman guard Jason Henry has missed six games because of a violation of team rules and a knee injury. Freshman forward Brandon Moore is suspended indefinitely because of a driving while intoxicated arrest.

And now, the eligibility status of senior forward Marcus Monk is in question after the athletic department pulled him from competition before Saturday's 73-51 loss to Auburn.

"We've been the walking wounded all season," Arkansas junior guard Stefan Welsh said after Saturday's loss. "That's no excuse, though. We've got enough. We're not going to use Jason Henry's knee as an excuse or Monk not being able play as an excuse. We've found ways to win throughout the year short-handed."

That's true, as the Hogs have persevered through the hardships. But even through their 10-game winning steak, their lack of depth was glaringly apparent. Saturday afternoon against the Tigers, Pelphrey suited up only 10 players.

When he looked down the bench, he saw a former golfer (Stephen Cox) and a walk-on (John Paul Noland) included in that number. And Pelphrey said he wasn't sure when the Razorbacks would get back to full strength.

He said Moore still wouldn't suit up for Thursday's game against Alabama, which had its coach, Mark Gottfried, resign on Monday. Henry wasn't able to play in Saturday's second half because of knee soreness, but Pelphrey did sound hopeful that Monk would be reinstated to compete against the Crimson Tide.

"I think we'll be OK there," Pelphrey said in regards to Monk on Monday's SEC coaches teleconference.

Pelphrey said the depth problem could force Arkansas to alter its game plan Thursday.

"We might have to change it up a little bit and play a little more zone," Pelphrey said. "We may have to look at some different things in terms of maybe calling timeouts just to make sure Michael Washington stays fresh or doesn't pick up another foul or Courtney Fortson doesn't wear down."

Mostly, though, Pelphrey stressed he wouldn't let his players use their short bench as a crutch.

"The dudes that are in those white uniforms, that's who we're rolling with," Pelphrey said. "And we're going to be excited about that."



Thursday's Ticket



Alabama at Arkansas

When: 8:05 p.m.

Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville

TV: ESPN (Cox channel 25, Cox HD channel 732)

Radio: KEZA-FM 107.9, KKEG-FM 92.1, KUOA-AM 1290, FM 105.3

Records: Alabama Crimson Tide, 12-7, 2-3 Southeastern Conference; Arkansas Razorbacks, 12-5, 0-4

Coaches: Alabama, Mark Gottfried (11th season); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (2nd season)

Series: Arkansas leads 25-21 (12-5 in Fayetteville)

Last Meeting: Alabama beat Arkansas 59-56 on Feb. 27, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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