Heath Sends Message

Arkansas coach Stan Heath pushed some buttons on Sunday, and they seem to pay big dividends with a 60-50 road victory at Vanderbilt.

Arkansas players say they got the message from their coach after a Sunday practice in which they were not allowed to wear Razorback practice gear, and dressed in the visitor's locker room.

"I think for the rest of the season, we know to value our position as Razorback basketball players," said Dionisio Gomez before Thursday's workout. "Coach Heath sent a message that being a Razorback is special. He made sure we realized that there is a proud tradition here with the Razorbacks. He pushed the button and got us going. We understood his point. We are back to playing like Razorbacks, fighting Razorbacks."

Stan Heath said his tactic wasn't a new one. He knew that Cincinnati had done something similar earlier this year, and he had heard of other coaches doing the same thing in other sports when effort was under question.

"We did that for one practice, just Sunday," Heath said. "We took away all of their Razorback gear. We put them in the visitor's dressing room for that one day. And, we talked about the reasons why. I just didn't think the effort was there at LSU. It's been good all year except for that one game.

"I just didn't think we played like Razorbacks in that game. I told our players that they should have a hard time looking Todd Day in the eye. We have a great legacy, a great tradition here of how teams have played.

"It was intended to be a wakeup call. I want them to appreciate what they've got here and to represent the Razorback tradition in a great manner. If we weren't going to do that, we weren't going to practice with a Razorback on our shirt."

Pookie Modica said the team responded in a good way to the coaching move by Heath. The freshman said it got everyone's attention in a hurry.

"That bothered me ... well, it bothered me quite a lot," Modica said. "I could say how I really felt, but you might not want to print that. I was upset.

"It made me feel ... just kind of worthless. No one said we were worthless, but that's how we felt. It drove home the point, I'll tell you that. I think it made us lay it on the line and try our best to give effort on defense, rebound, try our best in everything and fight for loose balls.

"I want to make sure that wasn't just a one-game deal (at Vanderbilt). We have to play that way Saturday against Mississippi State. They embarrassed me the last time we played. We owe them something as far as this game. That's my mindset now."

Larry Satchell declined to discuss it.

"Let me say, for fear of saying something that would be misunderstood, I'll just keep it to myself," Satchell said. "There were some thoughts on what happened (on not wearing the Razorback practice gear). But, I'm not sharing them."

Gomez doesn't blame his coach.

"That's his job, to find ways to push buttons in every way possible," Gomez said. "I understood what he was trying to do.

"He made us think about what everyone thinks of the Razorbacks, how many youngsters in this state would trade places with us and how many didn't get the chance to play here that would have given anything for that chance," Gomez said. "You know those things, but you take them for granted. It's always good to get a wakeup call.

"Coach let us know that he wasn't giving up on us and not to give up on the Razorbacks. I think we know what is expected of us the rest of the way."

In another matter, it was revealed that Olu Famutimi will not have a major ACL reconstruction in the conventional way. It will be an arthroscopic surgery.

That being the case, doctors at Michigan State predict a four-month recovery time. His surgery is planned for March 21, so Dave England, the UA trainer, expects that Olu will be involved in individual workouts with the UA coaches as soon as Aug. 1.

"I don't want to say that is definite, because they haven't even had the surgery yet," Dave England said. "I will keep my answer vague until after the surgery. When they go in with the scope, we'll know then exactly what they find, and not before then.

"After he has the surgery, then our doctors will talk to his doctors there, and then we'll map out a plan. But, I'll say that we should have him here pretty soon after the surgery and begin the rehab."

England has been extremely successful in his rehabs with Razorback basketball players. Ali Thompson came back after a little over two months from his ACL surgery. One of the things that England has done with simple ACL rehabs is have the athlete sleep with a range of motion machine on his knee that moves the knee even during sleep. It's been a big help in speeding the recovery time.

"I don't want to say a lot about this now, but I will say that the fact that it will be a scope tells me that he is going to come back quicker," England said. "That's all I'll say. "The incision will be smaller and less tissue will be damaged."


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