Arkansas Hosts Dillard

Dillard University head coach Dale Brown and his program will get a much needed check tonight after a 7 p.m. exhibition game against Arkansas and Razorback head coach and fellow former Kentucky player John Pelphrey, who will get to see how far his Razorbacks have progressed during the first few weeks of practice.

It's great to have some friends coaching at Division I schools – just ask former University of Kentucky star and current Dillard University head coach Dale Brown.

Brown, whose New Orleans-based NAIA program has struggled financially since Hurricane Katrina, is getting a helping hand from fellow former Wildcats John Pelphrey and Travis Ford.

The second-year college head coach will pick up much needed checks after the Bleu Devils – and that's spelled correctly - play an exhibition game at the University of Arkansas tonight at 7:05 p.m. and then when Dillard is the exhibition foe for Ford's Oklahoma State on Nov. 10.

"This is my first head coaching position and I owe a lot of thanks to guys like (Minnesota head coach) Tubby Smith, John Pelphrey, Travis Ford, (Florida head coach) Billy Donovan and (Arizona State head coach) Herb Sendek for making calls and serving as good references," Brown told "I inherited a 5-27 team and in my first season, we improved to 12-18.

"It has been a struggle as the school is being rebuilt after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina," Brown added. "In fact, we only had 2 scholarships available this season due to financial problems associated with the disaster."

Brown's team played at Arkansas last season and felt like it served its role.

"You know, I feel that my team is a good tune-up game for high-level teams," Brown said. (Coach) Pelphrey gave us an exhibition last season and we forced them into 24 turnovers. We ended up losing by 24 points, but it was a good tune-up for them."

Brown thinks his team will be improved this season.

"We expect to have a really good season," Brown said. "We used our scholarships to sign a couple of 6'8" guys for the post. We have an excellent backcourt returning. We will be lacking depth. Our big void last season was height and we have addressed that with our available scholarships."

Being at an SEC school, Pelphrey certainly has not had the problems with resources that Brown has faced since stepping up from bring the head coach at Moss Point (MS) High School.

However, it's clear that Pelphrey is and his players are anxious to hit the court against somebody else after a 12-1 start turned into a nightmarish 2-15 finish.

"We'll use it as a barometer," Pelphrey said. "Kind of a gauge of where we are and what we need to work on.

"…You walk out of practice encouraged by how hard guys go, with the communication among each other and the attitude and stuff," Pelphrey added. "I'm interested to see when we go play somebody else, does that translate?"

He is excited about getting things turned around this season.

"Everybody is obviously optimistic about their at this time of the year so we are going to be optimistic about ours," Pelphrey said. "At the end of the year we'll look back and see how really equipped we were. I think the thing you learn in this whole deal is its one day at a time, you play one game at a time."

The Razorbacks are 10 days removed from their Red-White game in which freshman power forward Marshawn Powell led the way with the 19 points.

Michael Washington added 14 and Courtney Fortson 13 while starting shooting guard Rotnei Clarke sit out the game with a quad injury.

Those aforementioned players are likely to be in the starting line-up tonight along with either 6-5 small forward Jemal Farmer or an extra guard per Pelphrey.

It's a group that Pelphrey expects to be better defensively.

"I think a lot of things are yet to be determined," Pelphrey said. "But I do think we have a chance to be better defensively. We're a little better on our feet at some spots and a little bit bigger at small forward."

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