Howland's Friday Teleconference

Ben Howland updates the injury status of several players, talks about the zone defense, and talks about the challenges of Cal Poly...

Q: What's David Wear's status now?

A: David started out trying to practice today, but there was very little non contact today in our practice so he couldn't go. Leif, our trainer, took him after practice to try to fit him to a pad that he can wear. It's really a tough place to try to pad, where he fell and got hit. But he thinks he's figured out something to put on there, and it'll get better each day. I don't have a feel for whether or not he'll be able to practice tomorrow, we'll just have to wait and see. And we'll go with some less contact tomorrow, so he should be able to go for at least the first 25, 30 minutes.

Q: Was he diagnosed? Do you have X-Rays or anything like that?

A: It was fairly obvious to our medical people that it was a bruise. But there is swelling in the area.

Q: What's Tyler Lamb's status?

A: Tyler didn't practice today, and we'll find out more tomorrow. Tony Parker did not practice yesterday, because of back spasms. He tried to go, and today he was able to practice, but he's not at 100%.

Q: What have you seen out of Cal Poly? Have you seen any of their film yet?

A: Yeah ,I have, and they're a team that is very disciplined. I think maybe one of you at least on this conference call had to be at the Wooden tip-off luncheon that we have every year where their coach is hoping to beat us 20-17 or something like that. So that's the kind of game we're expecting. Last year, they  played at USC and they actually won at SC early in the year 42-36, so we know that they're going to be very patient. They're going to play zone defense mixed in with their man defense. They will at times press, and also half court trap. They shoot the ball well, the guy is a very good coach. He did a real nice job last year with their team and we know we're going to have to play well.

Q: What do you feel like you learned about your team playing against some pretty stiff competition in Brooklyn?

A: I just think we have a long way to go. We're not very good in any one specific area right now. We're not very good defensively. Obviously, we struggled against the zone against Georgetown, so we're going to have to work on our zone offense. We've got to be a much better defensive team to be where we want to be this year.

Q: Do you find that normally it takes your teams a while to develop defensively?

A: Especially with all the youth we're playing right now. We're playing a lot of young guys that are playing at this level for the first time. Knowing to trail players as they're coming off double screens, just all the little things, it takes time. That's why we went to a zone against Georgia because we literally had same day preparation for a game. They were hurting us with their man stuff, so we were fortunate that it worked to our favor. But we've got to primarily be a team that's able to play good man defense. Some of that just comes from experience, and some of that just comes from really working hard at it. WE've got to be better at zone offense. Typically you'll see that zones work better in November than they do in February. Guys aren't playing against a zone over the summer, but it's totally a different a deal. As the season progresses, teams become better and better at attacking zones and it becomes I think harder to be an effective zone defense as the season progresses. But early on, they can be good at times.

Q: Can you envision only using the zone temporarily and then moving back--?

A: Once in a blue moon. Changing a defense every once in a while is good, but we're not going to be playing the majority of our defensive possessions, hopefully, as a zone team.

Q: How does Shabazz Muhammad look in practice this week and how long do you think it'll take him to get up to 100% conditioning?

A: I think it's going to take him a little while. He missed the whole summer. He missed because of his shoulder, and things that kept him from playing. He missed the whole summer, and then with his high ankle sprain, and then not being able to practice, and then the fall with that bad shoulder injury and that kept him out two or three weeks. So it's taken a little time, but he's getting better everyday. We've been trying to go up and down as much as possible the last couple of days. We got a lot of good running and conditioning in  yesterday. 

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