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State of the Hogs:
Arkansas did not practice Monday (since NCAA rules require one day off per week), but Stan Heath still met with the media anyway. Blake Eddins and Pookie Modica also made the trek to Bud Walton Arena for the sole purpose of meeting with the scribes and broadcasters.
Heath opened the session with a clarification on a quote attributed him a few days earlier that he thought was played in the wrong context by at least one media outlet.
"Sometimes quotes get inserted and they don't properly fit," Heath said. "There was one like that recently that gave the impression of something that is not true. I have not given up on my team. It's been a difficult season, but I have not given up on this group.
"Sometimes you don't have a Rolls Royce or a Mercedes Benz, but you can still get by with what you've got. You give it a little push and do what you can. I don't mind getting out and giving a little push."
The Hogs are amidst a five-game slide as they head to play Vanderbilt, also on a five-game losing streak.
"Both teams are desparate for a victory," Heath said. "We are struggling, but we look at this chance to win one on the road as a motivating tool.
"Vanderbilt is a unique place to play because of the configuration of the court in relation to where the bench sits. You know that there is going to be half the time that you have a hard time with communication either when you are on offense or defense. We worked on practice yesterday with the players running the offense and the defense because it's going to be hard for them to see me in this game. It went well."
Modica said that Sunday's workout was upbeat and intense.
"There were no complainers," Modica said. "We got after it and played hard. I thought practice went good.
"I know one thing about this team; I can't guarantee victories, but I can promise that we are going to come to play in this next game. I do guarantee a hard-fought game."
Eddins said, "A lot of teams would have folded up a long time ago. We came to work as we do in all practices."
Some might have thought the Hogs folded up in a blowout loss to LSU. They fell behind 49-19 at halftime, but fought in the second half before losing a 75-56 decision.
"We started slow and I did think we could have competed better in the second half, but we didn't quit," Heath said. "If we had quit, we would have lost by 50. We didn't do that."
Someone mentioned that the team had a closed meeting Sunday, but Heath said it was nothing out of the ordinary.
"I'm not going into details, but I don't think you should read too much into this particular meeting," he said. "There have been a lot of those this year. Sometimes they have been called by the coaches, sometimes by the players. We've had those all year. I don't think it matters a lot what the dialogue is because I'm more interested in what the actions might be and that's my stance on meetings."
After the media briefing, this writer asked Heath if he was surprised to see one of his comments highlighted in last week's story about Nolan Richardson regarding a comparison between his current players and the team he coached last year at Kent State team.
"Frankly, I was," Heath said. "We had talked for about 45 minutes in my office, and we were done and on the way out the door together, and he asked me if I was happy here. I said that I was, and that I had been treated as good as anyone could expect. Then, he asked how players on this team would have fared on that Kent State team. I just said, 'That was an Elite Eight team and to be honest, I don't know if any on this team would have started on that team.' "
Heath said it upset him that those comments were included because he didn't feel like it was part of the interview, and he worried how his current players, especially the freshman, would react to those statements.
"I don't think it's really fair to include them in that story," he said. "And, you have to put it into perspective in that you are talking about an older team with several talented seniors and then you are comparing them to our freshman."
It was obvious in talking to Heath that he feels that many of the young players on his UA roster compare favorably to those Kent State players in ability and that they would compare favorably as they gained more experience.