Howland's Tuesday Press Conference

Ben Howland talks about the lack of athleticism on the team, names the captains of the team, and then talks about playing more zone going forward...

Ben Howland talks on Tuesday:


Q: Coach, you talked about the lack of athleticism overall on the team after the game the other night. Do you attribute that to a change in philosophy since the Final Four years or is it more of… just the attrition, the transfers, that sort of thing?

BH: well, I think we have some really good basketball players. But our quickness, especially when we're playing "big," is not great. So that's what I was talking about. Especially against the very small guys. If you look at the other team, we were much bigger than they were. I should've zoned. In retrospect, I should've zoned more. We had the 18 point lead with 11 [minutes] to go. Obviously I watched the tape 3 times. We had a 15 point lead with I think 8+ minutes to go. And really, I thought they made some big shots. Give them credit. We missed a couple that normally would've gone. But you have to give them credit. They did a great job. They were playing hard defensively.

And [audio difficulties] rather than point to lateral quickness, it's about playing harder and doing the tough things. So we watched that whole game tape yesterday with the team and saw a lot of times we were leaking out on offense before making sure we had the ball first.

And you can see our youth. What they were running primarily offensively was not something that we were prepared for. [audio difficulties] They hadn't run it in their first set of games. So they put in the flex offense which we hadn't seen.

Q: Ben, how much can you overall attribute to guys that haven't played college basketball…

BH: we're dependent upon freshmen in a big way and they're very good basketball players and their learning curve will be faster than most because of their talent level, but it's still a learning curve going from high school to the college game.

Q: with Kyle Anderson, obviously he played a lot of point in high school, has it been an adjustment for him switching to the 3…

BH: he played point in AAU. He didn't play a lot of point in high school.

Q: okay. Is he having an adjustment period playing the 3 in college? And do you anticipate him playing more point as the season goes on?

BH: well, Larry [Drew II], first of all is doing a great job at the point. And his assist-to-turnover ratio is probably the best we've ever had. During my tenure at least. 44 [assists] to 7 [turnovers]. So that's outstanding. That's a 6:1 ratio. He's doing a great job offensively in that respect. But the minutes that he doesn't play, obviously Kyle will be our backup point with the ball. Kyle can play at the 3, at the 4. So we look to play him at those spots as well.

Q: these freshmen that you're using a lot… you talked about how they all came from winning programs. Now they're at the university. How do you get them to not panic…

BH: I don't think they're panicking. But I think it's new for them. Kyle [Anderson], Jordan [Adams], [audio difficulties]. It's tough for them. It's all about getting better. About improving. And they're good kids so they're going to take the adversity the right way and get better.

Q: in the short term, does it make it tough with Tyler [Lamb] leaving because he would've been a more [audio difficulties] in situations like this…

BH: in fairness to Tyler, he was never healthy. He played 13-14 minutes for us at the Indiana State game and his knee swelled up the whole next week and he had about 4.5 hours practice cold during this entire period.

And Tyler left because he wanted to play 30 minutes a game. And he didn't see that happening with our current team. I didn't want Tyler to leave. Tyler would be a good player for someone. But no question, defensively, in particular, Tyler has been here a couple of years, and he would've been our best defensive player if he got healthy and was out there.

Q: [audio difficulties] retooling it?

BH: I'm still thinking about it. But the bottom line is they're all playing. The starting lineup is not as big of a deal as everybody is saying. They're all going to get a lot of opportunity. Play together. Play as a team.

Q: what's a reasonable timetable? Do you have a sense for a team with so many new parts to kind of gel…

BH: with the addition of Shabazz [Muhammad] now playing what, 3 games now? It takes a little time. He's having to play catchup because he missed practice time, both in the summer, and with the injuries. But that's going to come. It just takes time. It's not fun to get a loss and lose. But our chemistry will get better and better as the season progresses.

Q: is there stuff that Shabazz needs to do, conditioning-wise, to get back into basketball shape after sitting out a bit?

BH: just getting up and down and running. I've got to do a good job playing him in 4 minute stretches, giving him a couple blows. But he'll get there. He's a very good athlete. Especially strength-wise. So he'll get there. He'll get in good shape. And he's tough. He's a tough kid.

Q: have you named captains?

BH: I have. The Wear twins and Larry Drew are the captains.

Q: what do you look from them as leaders?

BH: leaders on and off the floor. Larry has to be more vocal. Kyle was talking about it. Larry, his personality is not one to bark out or get on his teammates, but he has to get better at that as a leader and as the point.

Q: in terms of the zone defense, do you anticipate playing a lot more zone going forward?

BH: yeah, we have to play some zone. It helped us against Georgia. Especially with limited numbers of players, it helps too. And we have length. So I think our guys did an incredible job against Georgia playing zone. And Norman [Powell] and Larry [Drew II] did really good and helped us in that game. something we have to mix in, for sure.

Q: what about going up against zone defenses with the offense, is that a work in progress? Will it require more scheming?

BH: I thought the 2-3 that they were running the other day against us didn't bother us much. They went away from that. The 1-3-1, we hadn't seen it before. In the second half, we really started to figure it out. And they didn't play it down the stretch. They were playing man for the most part. But we'll be a good team against zones, I think. We have pretty good shooters. Kyle is especially good in the interior zone when he catches the ball, turns and faces them and making plays and making reads.

Q: long term, I don't think you commented publically on Al Freeman [Allerik Freeman] yet. What will he bring to the team next year?

BH: Al Freeman? He's a very good basketball player. He's a good athlete. He's a very good defensive player. He shoots the ball well. He's a combo guard that plays both positions. He's a great kid. So he's going to be a great addition.

Q: do you anticipate him being more of a 1 than a 2 or more of a 2 than a 1?

BH: I think he can do both. He's very versatile. He's played both in the summer and on the different teams.

Q: do you fear the Wooden Classic game might be [audio difficulties]. There's talk about it being shut down?

BH: with the new facilities now… that's up to the leadership of the athletic department. That's something I'll leave to Dan [Guerrero] and his team but we're excited about that and playing out there again. Coach [Wooden] came to so many of those games. Being there after the game, the day before the game. so it'd be good to keep that alive, I hope.

Q: how does the matchup against San Diego State…

BH: they're a really good team from Southern California. It'll bring a good gate. San Diego State fans travel well for them, I'm sure.

Q: that Northridge [California State University, Northridge] is off to a pretty good start…

BH: they're off to a great start. Northridge is a real problem. I told our team that Northridge is as talented as anybody we've seen. They play harder than anybody. They're really good. He's done a great job. And they're young. They play 10 guys. [Stephen] Maxwell, inside, is a load. He's so good. [Stephan] Hicks is a great player. Averaged 18 and 8. The little guard, Josh Greene, is a very good scorer and shooter. They're a great offensive unit. They really pressure you. We haven't seen the type of ball pressure from anybody yet like we'll see tomorrow. They change defenses. They'll play pressure man-to-man. They'll play 2-3 zone. They'll play 1-3-1 trapping zone. 3-2 zone. They get after you. Coach [Bobby] Braswell over the years… he does a great job. Their team will win a lot of games this year. It's a very good team. They're 6-1 and got beat by BYU with less than 4 minutes to go and BYU is a very hard place to play.

Q: have you had as many transition opportunities as you imagined when you said at the beginning of the year that you wanted to run a bit more?

BH: as I spoke to before, part of that is teams like Irvine, Georgetown… they're very patient offensively. They're taking their time. So it becomes a slower game for us in terms of having opportunities to be able to get out and run when you're taking 50 shots a game, makes it a slower paced game. Especially when you're not getting stops. And so, our ability to get out and pressure and create havoc with our pressure defense is just not something that's available to us.

Q: what do you think you have to do to assert the pace of the game a little bit more?

BH: we have to rebound better and get stops. Our best opportunities to run is off of misses from your opponents.

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