Heath Wants a Victory

Stan Heath thinks Saturday's game with Auburn is winnable, but he warns that the Tigers will bring plenty of weapons to Bud Walton Arena. Here's a look at where the Hog cagers are one game into the SEC schedule after a 61-51 loss to Alabama.

Not only did Stan Heath discuss the results at Alabama from Wednesday night, but the Arkansas head basketball coach went into the Auburn scouting report in an in-depth way at his media briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Also, it was obvious that while practice hadn't begun yet, the coaches had the second unit on the floor this afternoon before practice to teach them some Auburn sets so that they would be prepared to give the team a good look when practice did begin. It was solid instruction, too.

In talking with some coaches before practice, I learned that the UA is using state of the art softwar to break down tapes of both the Hogs and the opposition. It's called XsandOs. And, it's the same stuff the NBA uses.

For example, the Alabama game was recorded on a DVD system during the game, and the Arkansas coaches were able to get on the plane for the return film and insert a CD and watch it. If it had been a home game, the CD would have been broken down as an offensive CD and a defensive CD, or by calls from the sideline, or by segments that featured a particular series of plays or defenses (out of bounds plays, etc.). The coaches also already had an Auburn CD ready to watch on the return flight, too, so they could begin to prepare the team for the next game.

Not every team has this technology. Some haven't gone to it. In fact, most haven't gone to it, nor do they have the assistant coaches that have the expertise to use the equipment and the technology. I do know that Michigan State was one of the first Big Ten schools to use this technology last year.

The Arkansas coaches would take it a step further, except NCAA rules don't allow for it. For example, in the NBA, the coaches use the video system to show replays of the first half at halftime. The same technology is used in the bench area during games by NHL teams. NBA teams are not allowed to use it except at halftime or after games.

But, it's a pleasant surprise to see how effective all of this an be for our coaches.

I also enjoy listening to Heath during his media briefings, in that he does talk about the players on the other teams as if he knows them. I think he probably does because he's well prepared at every turn.

I could go through what Stan Heath said today, and it would be extremely similar to what Niels Boar just posted. He talked about Auburn's ability to put four 3-point shooters on the floor at the same time, spread the floor and then hurt defenses off the dribble with penetration. He talked about Daniels and Killingsworth as being outstanding offensive players.

But, in his bottom-line conclusion, Heath said, "This is a winnable game. Auburn has a lot of weapons and can really score with a lot of players with a scorer's mentality, but we can win this game."

It would seem that a good deal of what Stan Heath is dealing with in regards to this team is the mental health of the players. He addressed that today.

"What I'm pleased about is that we have fighters," Heath said. "They are doing what we ask. We have no problem with effort. But, we are still learning how to win.

"I think there are psychologicial things that hinder us. We have had no real success against big-name teams. You need that. Another problem we have is that we don't have a go-to guy. We don't have an Erwin Dudley or a Mo Williams. Alabama knows who they are going to go to for a big basket. Ours might change from game to game."

One of the thing that was interesting was Heath's take on the Alabama atmosphere, in particular the crowd at Coleman Coliseum.

"I was a little disappointed," Heath said. "There were a lot of empty seats for them to be the No. 4 team in the nation. We are struggling and we get more than the No. 4 team in the nation.

"That was my first SEC road game and I was not in awe of the crowd. It was not a tough place to play. They were actually friendly. I kinda liked the Motown signs. They made me feel comfortable."

Heath said it was a good experience to play a road game, and for the team to hold its own for the most part.

"We played one of the better teams in the country on the road and did okay," he said. "I'm pleased because we held our poise when a couple of things that aren't in our control went against us. We got our grips on the game and made some runs. The stretch at the end of the first half when we scored one point in 8 minutes, that ended up killing us. You can't do that. Our defense was good the hole game, though. Alabama only scored 10 in that stretch, so it wasn't our defense giving up points to give them a run. We just couldn't hit a shot and we had a lot of good looks and we had some free throws."

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