Sacramento, Cal – Ben Howland didn't appear any worse for the wear from what had to be an Indiana basketball all-nighter.
How else can you explain it?
Less than 24 hours removed from a 70-42 win over Weber State in the first-round of the NCAA tourney, the UCLA Bruin coach surfaced at Friday afternoon's media get-together at Arco Arena. With nary a stat sheet or media guide in front of him, he spoke of the Hoosiers as if he'd been studying them for months, not hours.
"They have four great shooting guards, 40 percent from 3-point range is very good," Howland said.
Yes, in fact, the Hoosiers do have four shooting guards – Rod Wilmont, Armon Bassett, A.J. Ratliff and Joey Shaw – all of whom shoot at least 40 percent from behind the 3-point arc. It's a quartet of players that helped IU lead the Big Ten with a 38.3 percent success rate from deep.
But Howland's knowledge of IU's perimeter standouts does more than scratch the surface.
Take Wilmont, for instance.
"Wilmont is an outstanding player, an all-Big Ten performer," Howland said. "He's a man – he turns 24 in May or June. He's really strong, can elevate and shoot it over you, and has 25-foot range."
Actually, Wilmont turns 24 on July 28, but that's close enough.
Howland went on about Earl Calloway's ability to penetrate to his left or his right, and he admires the IU senior point guard's ability to get back on the floor from his shoulder injury. He pointed out Bassett's 3-point shooting has improved to 44 percent since conference play began, and that A.J. Ratliff is even better at 48 percent since the first of the year.
But Howland hasn't focused all of his attention on the perimeter and forgotten about the Hoosiers' big man inside, D.J. White.
"They stretch you out on the perimeter, and then they're dumping it in to D.J. White inside who is a load," Howland said. "Seven-foot, three-and-a-half across, 6-9, 250, he plays seven-foot, big body, he angles you. When he gets it inside, if he catches it too deep he's going to score."
Howland is even well-versed (minus one letter) in what Indiana has to offer at the "four" position, the spot in the IU rotation that has seen a variety of players shuffled in and out in an effort to get more production alongside D.J. White.
"Their four men, Mike White and they come in with Neeling (actually, it's Xavier Keeling), those guys are physical, tough, hard-nosed, rock you, sock you, knock you down, help you up," Howland said.
Truth be told, much of the credit for Howland's impressive Indiana basketball knowledge probably has to go to assistant coach Scott Garson, whom Howland said has been preparing for Indiana since the NCAA field was announced Sunday. Once the two college basketball heavyweights emerged victorious Thursday, Garson got Howland up to speed on Kelvin Sampson's squad in a hurry.
These sort of quick turnarounds are actually nothing new to the Bruins. In the Pac-10, teams generally play on Thursdays and Saturdays, giving them just one day to get ready for the next foe. UCLA did that six times, going 4-2 in the weekend contest.
"As a coach, you'd always like more time to prepare for your opponent than one day," Howland said.
Actually, it doesn't appear as if the Howland or the Bruins need it.
Howland Well-Versed on Hoosiers
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