Howland's Sunday Teleconference

Ben Howland talks about Reeves Nelson's status on the team, rallying back from the disastrous week in Maui, and comparisons between this year and 2009-10...

Q: Any update on Travis Wear?

A: He practiced today and he moved fine so I expect him to play tomorrow. He didn't practice yesterday but today he did. And then I saw the thing on his toe, and it'll be uncomfortable, but he'll be able to play.

Q: Do you anticipate Reeves Nelson going back into the starting lineup?

A: Not any time soon, no.

Q: Is that just for further disciplinary reasons?

A: It's just that it's my decision that I'm not starting him any time soon.

Q: What is that based on?

A: It's based on having been suspended. He's got to have a good attitude and be accountable for a while before that's going to happen.

Q: Have you not seen strides in that area since all that stuff with the suspension?

A: I thought he did a good job in the second half of the Chaminade game and in the Kansas game, but sometimes he slips back to his old practice habits and he's just got to get better.

Q: Can you talk about Jerime Anderson's play in Hawaii?

A: I thought Jerime played real well for us in Hawaii. I was really happy to have him. He was probably the key guy in the comeback against Kansas. We watched some of that tape as a team yesterday before practice, and we really played hard in that stretch run where we came back and cut it to five three different times against Kansas. We played with a lot of energy defensively and forced some stops and therefore got some nice transition buckets out of pushing the ball off of missed shots by them. And we played physical, played tough.

Q: How much of an increased role do you see him taking as you go further into the season?

A: I mean, he started. He's starting. I don't know how much more of an increase you can get from that.

Q: What does that mean for Lazeric Jones?

A: I thought Zeke had one of his best practices of the year yesterday and had another very good practice in terms of his effort and understand what he needs to do to help us, so yeah. They're going to be in there together a lot.

Q: Zeke didn't take a single shot in the second half against Michigan. Was he under orders not to shoot at that point?

A: No. I just think he, we've talked about this, he's got to be looking to pass first when he's penetrating when he has the ball. I think yesterday in practice he really focused on that and it helped us. He really is one of our best shooters, he's just in a slump. I really believe he'll get out of it. He's got good character and he's going to fight his way out.

Q: Besides Travis, is everybody else healthy?

A: Anthony Stover tweaked his shoulder a bit yesterday, but he practiced today. Larry Drew is out, he can't practice because of his groin injury. D'End Parker still hasn't been able to practice because of his knee. Kenny Jones today hurt his groin a little bit so he's out of practice. So, no, there's guys who have issues.

Q: When did Larry Drew get hurt?

A: Before we left, probably a couple days before we left.

Q: Do you anticipate Stover starting to see some more minutes?

A: Just based on how he does in practice. He was out three weeks and he had two practices prior to going to Maui. He's got to get back in the flow. He practiced once over there, or two times. So he's had like five practices, six practices since he was out for three weeks. So it's a lot to miss and then come back and be at full strength. Or back to how you were before you got hurt when you've missed that much time.

Q: Given the start, do you think you miss Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt maybe more than you thought?

A: I knew we were going to miss them. Those guys are really good players. There's no question we miss them from last year's team. They're two all league players. I'm happy the strike's been averted and they're going to get a chance to now follow their dreams of being NBA players. I was really bummed out that they weren't even playing and they were sitting around doing nothing.

Q: Do you think that's the biggest difference between last year and this year so far?

A: We're playing new guys, yeah, so it is different. We played good teams now. When you look at the last three losses we had, against Middle Tennessee State, Kansas who's a top 20 team, Michigan who's a top 20 team, I mean those teams are really good teams. I think the entire season will bear that out when you look back and see how those teams did come March.

Q: UC Riverside beat Washington State, LMU beat you guys, Pepperdine beat ASU. Have the mid majors been playing the best ball in southern California?

A: Oh yeah, based on the record, no question. Long Beach State's win at Pittsburgh, believe me, I understand how hard that place is to win in, based on the last ten years. They're playing great.

Q: Why do you think the mid majors are doing so well?

A: I don't think it's in particular overall. You still have really good teams. I mean, you look at those teams coming out of Maui, how they're going to do. But Long Beach State's really good.

Q: Just going back to Reeves Nelson, those steps he needs to take to get back into good graces, is it just an attitude thing or are there real steps he needs to take?

A: It's more just him being consistent with effort and attitude.

Q: Does he understand what he needs to do?

A: Yeah, we've talked.

Q: Are you seeing any parallels from the season a couple of years ago when you went 14-18?

A: I think this team has a lot more talent than we had that year. I think we're more talented, especially up front. You know, you look at our front line. I mean, it's early. We're not even in December yet. Tomorrow's a huge game for us. We've got to bounce back. Pepperdine won on the road at ASU, they beat Arizona State on the road, a team out of our league. We're going to have to play well.

Q: Do you feel like you almost have to win out in the non-conference?

A: We're trying to win every game one at a time throughout our remaining games.

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