Listed below is video of what Coach Pelphrey had to say as a well as a transcript of the thoughts of senior Michael Washington and sophomore guards Courtney Fortson and Rotnei Clarke:
Also see Pelphrey talk about off-season distractions.
Q: Starting practice, bouncing back from last year:
Rotnei Clarke: "We're excited. The season we had last year we feel like we can build from that and get a lot better this year. We believe we are going to do that. We are getting ready for Friday when practice starts and we are excited for the whole upcoming season. We are going to get our minds prepared. We have had it prepared for awhile now and we're ready."
Courtney Fortson: "We are very excited about the upcoming season. Like Rot said, we feel like we are a much better team than last year. We are more experienced so it should be a lot of fun."
Michael Washington: "This year I think we are going to do better than last year. We went like 2-12 in the SEC. I feel like we are going to do better than we did last year."
Q: How much better can this team be?
Clarke: "It just depends on our mindset. If we are ready to go, I think this team has some special things in them. It just depends on how far we want to go with each other, how far we are going to go as a team, how close we are going to be sticking together throughout the season – in the rough times and the good times. If we prevail through the tough times, I think we are capable of a lot of special things this year."
Fortson: "I think we will be great this year. We have great freshmen coming in with athleticism. We added depth to our roster so I think we will be okay."
Washington: "I think we are going to be a great team this year if we stay together, play as a team and be focused."
Q: What kind of things went into MW's decision to come back?
Washington: "It was a like a family thing. My family decided I should come back so I came back to basically get better and play with my team and hopefully win a ring."
"I learned a lot and that I had a lot to work on and a lot to do. I did not go as far in the process as other players did. I dropped out before then. It was a great process.
Q: Washington was projected in the mid-second round. Did that help make the decision?
Washington: "I really don't know. Like I said it was a family thing. My family decided I should come back and finish school so that is what I did."
Q: What did the other two guys think about Michael coming back?
Fortson: "Obviously it is great for the team. We have an all-league center back and one of the better big men in our league. I think it was great for him to come back."
Clarke: "Having him back is going to be great for us so I was happy to see him come back and have him for a whole another year. It's obviously big for our team."
Q: Which newcomers have stood out in the summer pick-up games?
Fortson: "To me, I don't have an individual favorite, but I think all of them have worked pretty hard during the offseason with all the weights and just getting used to our system. I think everybody did a great job."
Clarke: "I feel the same way. They have all worked real hard coming in. Sometimes it is a hard process coming in not having gone through it and knowing what it is like. They have worked really hard and we've got a lot of good character guys that have come in, too. I feel like we are a lot closer, too, than we were last year."
Q: You have got every starter back, but also 5 or 6 newcomers…what do you expect them to add and how do you mesh?
Fortson: "Basically it is going to be a learning process for the guys coming in. But I think we can translate that good for them so they can catch on to the system a little faster than we were last year. We were freshmen coming in starting and not having anybody in front of us so we had to learn the ropes pretty fast."
Clarke: "I feel the same way. I think this team is going to mesh really well. It is big for us to have a little depth in the chart this year. I think we are really going to mesh well together and play well together. I am expecting big things out of us."
Q: Played so well that first semester, what went wrong the second semester?
Clarke: I think going through it last year we were in every game, almost every game. We were in every game in the second half a lot, too. It just came down to the little things that we didn't do that we needed to do to win the games. It was a learning process for us, certainly with some young guys including Court and myself. It was a younger team and we learned from it. We are a lot more experienced this year and hopefully we can do those things that we need to do in late situations and crucial situations to win games."
Q: What has off-season been like?
Fortson: "I would say that the off-season has been kind of fun with all the weights and running. We've got into so it has been pretty fun."
Clarke: "Like Court said, it has been fun and it's been tough like it was last year, working real hard to get prepared for the season, but we have had a good time doing it, too."
Q: Have any of you guys lost weight, added weight, changed your bodies?
Fortson: "It depends on what area you are looking for. I think I have gotten stronger with squats and benching."
Clarke: "I have worked real hard this summer and all of our guys have. I feel like I have gotten a little more athletic through the squats that we are doing and I felt like I have gotten stronger and hopefully it will pay off throughout the season. I can dunk a little bit."
Q: Rotnei, how does it feel to be anointed the greatest shooter in college basketball?
Clarke: "That's an honor to hear that, but that is something that I am going to have to carry on throughout the season. Somebody can write that down, but for me to go into the season, I am going to have to prove that. I know the guys around me have really got me that title – especially from last year with them really getting me the ball when I am open. That is not even about myself, it is about my teammates making me better and putting me in the situation to do that and have that honor."
Q: That said, were you disappointed in how you shot last year?
Clarke: "I felt like I could have shot better – a lot better. At times I was disappointed, but I feel like I learned from it and we have just got to take things into the season and change a little bit."
Q: How hungry were you guys after the end to last season?
Fortson: "I think it makes us very hungry and motivated. We know we were better than that, being in most of the games that we lost. We feel like we could have beat most of those teams – plain and simple."
Clarke: "Obviously the ending that we had last year is going to motivate our whole team. I believe and I know we are going to have a better start and a better ending. It is going to help us throughout the year. We are going to work hard from the things we learned last year. We are going to take the things we learned and apply them to this season with the experience that we have. I think it is going to be better for us."
Washington: "I am very motivated. This is my last year so I hopefully can win me a ring. I want to end on a good note."
Q: Mike, what parts of your game have you been focusing on improving to not only help you team, but your draft stock?
Washington: "Back to the basket, jump shots, taking other players off the dribble."
Q: Mike, were you surprised when Patrick Patterson and Jarvis Vanardo came back?
Washington: "I didn't even know they came back really. I haven't played against Patrick Patterson, but I will get a chance to play against them this year."
Q: Negative headlines, what has the team got to do to turn them around?
Fortson: "Win. That's it."
Clarke: "Putting those thing behind us and focusing on this season is what we want to do now. Winning and having positive things on the court and off the court during the season is going to help us out. We are going to put that stuff in the past and focus on the task at hand. That is what is most important to us right now is winning games."
Washington: "I am going to go with the other two guys and say win, too."
Q: Courtney, were you surprised at how much attention your Twitter got and the reaction to it?
Fortson: "I was surprised about the tweet. I regret the tweet, but you live and you learn and you move on to better things so I have put that behind me.
Q: More careful now?
Fortson: "Of course I am. I revise things a little more."
Q: Feel like you can use this off-court stuff to rally around each other?
Fortson: "Yes, I think this shaky off-season has helped us come a little closer and work harder in the off-season. So when we are on the court, it will show."
Clarke: "I think it brought us closer together. I think our team chemistry is really high this year. That is always going to be a positive going into the season."
Q: Get something positive out of it?
Clarke: "Definitely. That is what we have been focusing on, being able to do some positive things throughout the season. I know we are going to do that and hopefully bring some excitement to the state."
Q: Were you ready as freshmen?
Fortson: "I think we were ready. I think we were the top freshmen in the country as far as being ready to play on the court. I can't speak enough about how we handled ourselves last year."
Clarke: "I felt like we were ready. I know me personally my body was real sore last year throughout the season and I think I have improved on that and gotten stronger. Just by the things we have been going through, I am not as sore. I think Court and I are going to be more experienced and hopefully it is going to turn out a lot better."
Q: Coach Pelphrey thinks practices will be better, more competitive. What do you think it is going to be like?
Fortson: "It is going to be very competitive. Any time you have a group of guys like we have that love to win, it is going to be very competitive in practice and very rough, a very physical practice. I can't wait."
Clarke: "Just by the 40 minute practices we have already had, individual drills where we go 2-on-2, it is already physical and already competitive. It is just going to get more competitive once practice officially starts. I am ready for it."
Washington: "It is going to be very competitive at practice. We have great depth this year so we are going to be very competitive."
Fortson: "I think it will be more competitive because we will have depth so you have a point guard sticking a point guard, a big man sticking a big man so you want have any mismatches and it will be very competitive just by that standpoint."
Q: Lot of roles last year that needed to be filled, not this year. Is there going to be a place for the new guys to sneak in?
Fortson: I think the newcomers will fit in well coming off the bench and some of them may start. We have great depth and great possibilities this season. We will just see what happens.
Q: Can some of the new guys really start?
Fortson: "I go into practice not thinking that you have a starting position so I think that makes you work harder.
Clarke: "No position is really handed to you. You have to go out and work hard every day in practice to earn that position.
Washington: "I feel the same way."
Arkansas head basketball coach John Pelphrey
Courtney Fortson, Rotnei Clarke and Michael Washington answer questions from the media on Thursday.