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New Arkansas coach plans tough practices for next season

LITTLE ROCK -- As Razorbacks coach John Pelphrey sees it,
Arkansas suffers only from a seasonal slouch.


Pelphrey, at the helm of the Razorbacks for a little more than a
month, says assistant Tom Ostrom's comments about the team being
out of shape were accurate, but perhaps "a little bit strong."


"It's kind of the time of year," Pelphrey said Friday in a
telephone interview with The Associated Press. "We do need to get
into better shape and we will."


Pelphrey left South Alabama last month to take over as the
Razorbacks' coach, after a tumultuous period for Razorbacks' fans
in which coach Stan Heath was fired and Creighton coach Dana Altman
accepted the Arkansas job, only to back out a day later.


Pelphrey said he's had four hourlong individual practices with
players so far this spring. However, the real practices will begin
in the fall for the Razorbacks, who went 43-24 over the last two
seasons but haven't been able to win an NCAA Tournament game.


Although he hasn't seen the team work together yet, Pelphrey
said he knows of at least one weakness -- the squad remains light on
guards. Signing guard Marcus Britt of Forrest City will help, he
said.


"Coming through the door, he's going to have a chance to get
into the mix," Pelphrey said of Britt, who averaged 18 points his
senior year. "Anytime you talk about Marcus Britt, you're talking
about somebody who loves the Razorbacks, that competes extremely
hard and also cares about winning."


Britt joins forward Michael Sanchez of Springdale Har-Ber as the
Razorbacks' first two in-state signings since Pelphrey came on.
Sanchez averaged 15.8 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7 assists in his
final prep season. Sanchez will bring toughness and leadership to
the team, Pelphrey said.


Patrick Beverley, a freshman standout on last year's team, is
"very eager to take on" responsibilities both on and off the
court for the Razorbacks, Pelphrey said.


Pelphrey says he'll "be making practices more difficult than
games. I think that over a period of time, we'll be able to
communicate to those guys how we need to go about doing things.


"I'd be very, very surprised if this group of guys doesn't
embrace wanting to be as good as they can possibly be this year."