Pining For Power Forward Production

FAYETTEVILLE — John Pelphrey recruited 6-foot-6 freshman Jason Henry to Arkansas for his athleticism and scoring skills. He liked Henry's raw rebounding ability, but he never truly envisioned putting the West Memphis native at the power forward position.

Shooting guard or small forward were Henry's positions-to-be, or at least that was the initial plan. But lately, Pelphrey has improvised because of senior Marcus Monk's eligibility issues and the inconsistency of freshmen Michael Sanchez, Brandon Moore and Andre Clark.

So while Pelphrey hasn't been thrilled about playing Henry at power forward recently, he could again put Henry there for increased minutes during tonight's game against Tennessee.

"Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do," Pelphrey said. "We'll have to explore (Henry at power forward) a little more and look at that.

"Auburn basically plays four guards. Mississippi State basically plays four guards. Florida's guys are a lot like four guards. ... There might be some advantages to playing small on the offensive side of it."

Pelphrey also stated how a four-guard lineup could pose difficulties from a defensive perspective, though. That's where the Razorbacks need the most help from the position, Sanchez said.

With Monk out the past three games, and Moore suspended for two of them, Arkansas has gotten little production from its power forwards. Sanchez had eight rebounds, Clark had seven and Moore had one in his return against LSU.

"We need to get more rebounds than we've been getting," Sanchez said. "The coaching staff expects a lot out of the power forwards because we've shown we could do it at times this season.

"I feel like we'll pick things up with rebounds and energy."

Pelphrey hasn't seen that yet, however, forcing him to stick Henry on the floor as the second tallest Razorback. Henry had seven points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes against Alabama. He had 10 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes at LSU.

Most of those 45 minutes were spent as the Hogs' fourth guard/power forward.

"We're just so young at that spot, so we've been trying to work a lot of guys there, trying to find the right mix," assistant coach Rob Evans said. "This year, we're just going to have to do it by committee."

The loose ball failures and rebounding struggles of Arkansas' power forwards have angered Pelphrey the most since Southeastern Conference play began. That's why "there are plenty of guys getting opportunities," he said.

LSU snagged 18 offensive rebounds in Saturday's game, infuriating Pelphrey. Tasmin Mitchell grabbed a couple over Moore. Marcus Thornton, a guard, jumped past Sanchez for one. Chris Johnson had four offensive rebounds in the first half alone.

Pelphrey simply wants the hustle level constantly increased by those trying to compete alongside standout junior forward Michael Washington.

"You may be sick of hearing me say this, but listen, you know what, there are plays in the game where ‘Who wins that battle?'" Pelphrey said. "We've got to overachieve on that play. There are, let's say, eight of those in the game. We can't be losing six of them.

"Those things are important. They aren't showing up in the stat sheet. But those are things that are probably really important."



Today's Ticket



Tennessee at Arkansas

When: 7:05 p.m. TV: KHOG (Cox channel 7, Cox HD channel 707).

Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville.

Records: Tennessee Volunteers, 13-7, 4-2 Southeastern Conference; Arkansas Razorbacks, 13-6, 1-5.

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

Coaches: Tennessee, Bruce Pearl (90-31, fourth season at Tennessee; 407-115, 17 seasons); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (36-18, second season at Arkansas; 116-84 overall in seven seasons).

Series: Tennessee leads 13-12 (Arkansas leads 5-3 in Fayetteville).

Last Meeting: Arkansas beat Tennessee 92-91 on March 15, 2008, in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta.

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