Q: Larry, how was it to be out there with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] today?
LD: Oh, it was a great feeling. Guys like that don't come around too often. So when they do, you definitely want to take the time out and recognize everything it is that they are and what they achieved. So it was great to have him out there.
Q: what did he mention to you? Coach [Howland] said he talked about life and some of the things that he did in the past. What did he talk about in terms of basketball?
LD: sticking together. Staying together as a team. Pushing each other, encouraging each other, and just keeping the eyes on the prize and not looking back, just look forward.
Q: have you talked to him before?
LD: I don't think that I've had a personal conversation with Kareem. But I would love to see him someday, sometime. To get a chance to speak with him.
Q: how long did he actually talk for?
LD: 5, 7 minutes.
Q: so you all just came out on the court and he was out there? You didn't know that he was going to be there?
LD: well, I guess they were doing some type of recording or something like that before we got our shots. actually, we were shooting for about 20 minutes and then Coach called us over to let us know that Kareem was going to talk to us.
Q: Coach emphasized that a lot of the key to the defense is your on-ball pressure. Has he been talking to you about that? And how do you think that's coming along for you this season?
LD: yeah, Coach Howland, all the coaching staff really, really have been on me for my on-ball intensity effort and basically showing me that every defensive position starts with me. And it is something that I do feel like I need to improve on. Just bringing that intensity and effort every possession for however minutes I'm playing. Because it is true. Just being a point guard out there is being a leader on the court. My teammates are going to follow my lead. And if I'm slacking off for a play or whatever, they're probably going to do the same thing. If they see me up there pressuring, working hard, doing everything I can, they're going to do the same thing.
Q: is this a little different… a higher level of emphasis on on-ball defense than you had at say, North Carolina?
LD: actually, no. Not at all. Defense at Carolina was pressure, pressure, pressure. Deny everything. So it was like you either play defense or you weren't going to be in the game. Like I said, it's something I have to improve upon and focus on. So I'm definitely working on it.
Q: how different is UCLA's defensive message versus North Carolina? I know you said, "pressure, pressure, pressure."
LD: the message is clear. It's the same, I think, for any school, any college that you play for. Defense is always the key to winning games. Coach Howland has placed a lot of emphasis on defense here. It's now for us to go out here and actually execute, starting with me.
Q: Coach said you got a little more winded at the end of… in the second half of the Texas game. Do you feel like you still have room to grow in terms of conditioning?
LD: definitely. I would think so. Actually, I think it was the first half. The second half, I didn't get too winded. I do remember getting winded in the first half. There were a couple possessions where it was back and forth, back and forth. Not too many dead balls. But I think that's just going to work itself out through the course of the season. Just me playing harder on defense, running on offense harder. I'll just get myself into shape. Q: Coach said he wanted to see you shooting a little more? How much more could you see yourself shooting in this offense? You had maybe 1,2 jumpers a game so far.
LD: it's just me, being the type of player that I am, I'm always looking to get my teammates involved. The coaching staff, they have it on me about shooting the ball more. So it's not a problem with me. I like to score. I like to shoot.
Q: do you anticipate getting more outside shots?
LD: yeah. If they're there. I don't like to force anything. It's not like he's saying, "yo, I'm looking for you to shoot more." I'm not going to just catch the ball and just go shoot it. If it's a good shot, and I feel like it's a good shot… there's so much you have to take into account. I can do that. I can definitely do more in terms of scoring.
Q: it seems like everyone's talking about how around this time where you don't have class, that you can focus on shooting a lot. Do you see everyone's confidence improving in terms of getting jumpers up after practice, before practice?
LD: definitely. Especially these last couple of practices. Guys have been getting into the gym beforehand, getting up shots alone. I think the last game showed that we were pretty hot from the field. I think a lot of that is guys spending extra time in the gym.
Q: are you comfortable with the pace on offense that you guys have reached now? It's somewhere in-between where you were at North Carolina and "old" UCLA times. It's faster than normal UCLA but slower than North Carolina.
LD: I'm definitely comfortable.
Q: could you see it going faster or slower? Or is this where you want it to be?
LD: it depends. As of right now, I'm pretty comfortable with the pace that we're playing. Certain situations in games where a team is porous on defense, we're going to have more emphasis on pushing the ball. If they're really sprinting back on defense, we're going to push it but really not look so much to just fast breaks. Might have to run some sets. Do something different.