AUDIO: Howland Conference Call

Coach Ben Howland updates us on Shabazz Muhammad, talks about his takeaways from the UC Irvine game and matching up with James Madison Thursday...


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BH: So I want to start with a statement here. This afternoon, UCLA filed an appeal. That appeal will be heard by the NCAA this Friday. We hope to have an answer shortly thereafter. We cannot comment any further on the process at this time. So that in a nutshell is regarding Shabazz and his situation. I also have an announcement of… one of our signed letters is back. And that's from Zach Levine. 6'3" combo guard out of Seattle, Washington that we're very excited about. elated about. He's going to be a very good player. Can really shoot it. A very good athlete. He's got a lot of upside. Here's a kid who went from basically 6' going into his junior year to now 6'4" into his senior year. He's really long and athletic. Had a really good summer. We're really excited about that. We're hoping to have a couple more announcements by the end of the week.

Questions are open now.

Q: What makes it difficult… you're trying to scout these guys who haven't played a game yet…

BH: They're along the lines of Irvine. They have a lot of guys back from last year. They had a big kid who's their best low post scorer. Goins sat out last year from injury I believe. He's a very good player. Big wide body. Hard matchup, one-on-one in the low post. They have a lot of experience back. This kid, Davis, is a really good 2-guard. He averaged 16 points a game last year. He's a real threat from 3. Very long 6'6" athlete. Very good 3-point shooters. They also have seniors. 4 seniors like last night. Very good players. This Moore kid, big athletic. 6'4". Long. They play 9, 10 deep. So we have the 1 exhibition game against a division II team, the University of Philadelphia. And we have film from last year's season. But they have not played a game yet. So we don't know the wrinkles and new things they put in. They're a pressing team. They pressure defensively. They push the ball hard on missed shots. They're very athletic. They rebound hard. Should be a very difficult game.

Q: Do you have an update on Kyle Anderson's injury status?

BH: Kyle had an x-ray this morning at 10:30. Preliminary but not official report is that it is negative. We hope to have an official report sometime later today. He just got out of an MRI on his wrist just about 15 minutes ago. So that still has to be looked at. We may not have an official report on that until tomorrow. But hopefully something preliminary tonight. And we'll wait until Dr. ___ has a chance to look at that.

Q: So that makes it a game time decision?

BH: Yeah. He and Tyler Lamb… Kyle did go through our walkthrough tomorrow in preparation for tomorrow's game. He wasn't handling the ball a lot. I'm hoping this thing works out.

Q: Did Tyler go through the workout?

BH: Tyler did not.

Q: Did Kyle have swelling?

BH: I don't think there's a lot of swelling. There's pain. Point tenderness. Last night what was fortunate… I was watching it. He tripped on the cameraman's foot on the baseline as he's going out to save a basketball. And tripped on the foot. It was beyond the blue line. Everybody else has to stay behind the blue line except for the video guy. Which is unfortunate. I don't like the rule now at this point. Because he falls. Breaks his fall and hurts his hand. And that's not a UCLA rule. That's a conference rule. I actually went to the team manager and asked, "what's the deal here?"

Q: so you're saying Tyler lamb could play?

BH: It'll be a game time decision. We're trying to get the swelling down. The fact that he played in the first game... He's got swelling in there. We're looking at the long term season right now. That thing has to settle down more for him to deal with and to get going again. We're hoping it'll be soon.

Q: : do you have any other takeaways from watching the tape that you didn't necessarily see?

BH: I watched it twice. Our sense of urgency, defense was not great. The freshman are learning this stuff for the first time. Like that last 3 point shot by Wilder… at that point in time in the game, Jordan had to guard him. He had no clue. The guy was curling around, got a wide open three. These freshmen are going to make a lot of mistakes defensively. Kyle, he's learning how to play defense at this level for the first time and try not to get driven… but everybody made mistakes. at the end of the day, they shot 39% from the field. I think their defense was lacking. Especially at the 3 point line. They were 10 for 22. Wilder just killed us. We talked about that. I really tried to warn these kids. This team is good. I really believe that. Their coaching staff.. those kids… They've done a good job. They'll have a very solid campaign. We were very fortunate to come out with a win. The kid makes just one of those free throws with 2.7 seconds to go, we probably lose the game.

Q: a good wakeup for James Madison?

BH: Madison is very similar. Senior-dominated guards. They're athletic. They run a lot of ball screening. We've just got to get better. I hope it's a wakeup call. I hope our guys now will trust me that this will be a really hard game and they need to be ready to go. One more thing I have to say… We got a good early lead, up 10, 20, 21. 25. 15. Couldn't quite get over the hump from there. So we extended ourselves last night. The game was obviously a late start. 8:30. Most of you probably got home way past midnight. So we have to have some energy ready for tomorrow.

Q: have you had a guy before that could provide instant offense?

BH: ever have a freshman score 21, 26 his first couple of games? Kevin Love was pretty good. Can't remember what his numbers were. He could put numbers up. Needless to say, Jordan's doing a great job at the offensive side of the floor. His free throws down the stretch, making them… making with 8 seconds left to tie up the game. Those were huge. He is a very creative player.

Q: Coach, the Wears came out really hot the first couple of minutes and went in a slump in the middle of the game. Is there a reason that happened that you can see?

BH: Bottom line is they have to be aggressive going to the basket more. Travis got a little bit too caught up in shooting jump shots. His best range is his midrange 15, 17, 12 feet. When he's picking and popping or catching the ball. We've got to get them some more rest. I think they got a little winded there. That's my fault. Tony got the 2 quick fouls. Josh is limited to 3-4 minutes before he needs rest. But we may need to end up when we get healthy... hopefully get Shabazz in the lineup. Be able to play Kyle some at the 4 eventually and get them rested.

Q: any chance last night to talk to Tony and Kyle and Jordan about the shirts…

BH: Actually talked to my staff. I didn't know anything about that until ___ pointed it out. We won't be wearing that shirt tomorrow. This is their friend. They love their childhood friend. They've been childhood friends. That's not something we'll do in the future.

Q: with Zach Levine. How much do you foresee him playing the 1 next year?

BH: He can play some there. He's a combo guard. I think he's more comfortable as a shooter than playmaker. Here's a kid with so much upside. Quickness-wise. He is a good passer. I think he can give us some minutes there. But we primarily see him as a shooter and scorer. Not that a point guard can't be [a scorer].

I thought Larry Drew shot… at the end of the game… In the first half, Larry and Norman were 1 for 11 from the field in the first half. Of those 11 shots, 10 were good shots. So they just missed some shots. Hopefully they'll do a better job knocking them down. And actually Larry did in the second half. Those 2 big 3's that he made were really important for us. One was a kickout from Josh. I think one was from Kyle. Obviously the drive at the end was huge.

Q: any hesitation about putting Kyle back in the game again?

BH: That was strictly a medical decision. I don't make that decision at all. They say you can't go in, you can't go in. Just like Tyler Lamb. I don't decide if he's ready to play or not to play. UCLA is very conservative. Very much concerned about the health and welfare of the student athlete.

Q: in watching the tape, what did you see in terms of rebounding? Getting outrebounded by 11.

BH: they have a lot of great scramble loose balls. You have to give them credit. Because we're trying to run more. Norman, Larry have to be better at rebounding. Norman continues to leak out on the shot like we have Patrick Ewing rebounding for us. That's not the case. We need at 5 guys blocking out and rebounding.

There were a lot of scramble situations and they beat us to the ball. Give credit to Irvine. The Wilder kid. Starring... Flowers is a really good player. They're big inside. All play aggressively. They did a nice job.

Q: in watching the tape after Kyle went back in, did you see a difference…

BH: saw him grabbing his hand... one time he was grabbing his hand. Wilder was coming off a handoff for a 3. But as the game wore on in the second half, you didn't see him grabbing as much. Was kind of right after he came back the first time. He was still thinking about it.

He indicated that it wasn't as bad today. But maybe it's him being tough. We'll find out. Hopefully, Alex will release to you guys.. but I don't anticipate… because of the hour today.. that thing will be read officially tomorrow morning.

Q: Ben, I know you can't comment specifically on the appeal. But do you still feel very optimistic that this whole thing will work out in UCLA's favor?

BH: At this time, I'm just optimistic and hopeful that it'll work out. That's all i can say. Hopeful is a big part of it.

Any other questions? See you guys tomorrow. 8 o'clock. We're getting used to these late starts.

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