VIDEO: Howland after Prairie View

Ben Howland talks about the improved man defense against Prairie View A&M, and Shabazz Muhammad's great shooting night...

Ben Howland after Prairie View A&M:


BH: obviously I was pleased with our performance tonight. I thought our defense in the first half, along with our sharing of the basketball (14 assists in the first half), were both really good for us. I was really worried about this team [Prairie View A&M]. These guys played a lot of people tough. They just beat [University of] Houston. They played UAB and TCU very tough on the road. They've been to Texas Tech. Been to [Texas] A&M. Only game that wasn't really close was the Texas A&M game where they lost by 20. So this is hopefully something that we can build upon here. Especially with our man defense. Making the extra pass. We attacked the zone pretty well too. We should be a good team against the zone because all our guys can shoot.


Q: Ben, you talked about this week that Shabazz [Muhammad] had looked better, shedding weight. More explosive. Did you see that tonight?

BH: he had his best practice of the year 2 days ago, in terms of … [audio difficulties]. You can see that he's starting to get in better condition. He missed a bunch of time. So he's improving. I think his confidence is growing. His shot looks real good. That's a plus for us, and I'm happy for him.

Q: Ben, what was different about your man-to-man defense over the last few games?

BH: I thought our man defense against Texas was pretty good at times. They shot under 40% that game. I think it's getting better. They're young players. They're just growing and learning. It's all the little things. It's the attention to detail. It's hard. It's hard to play good defense. And I thought Larry [Drew II] did a good job of pressuring the ball. And Norman [Powell] gives us good ball pressure. So I was pleased with the overall team defense. We were trying to double the post some tonight. Working on that. Something that we'll continue to have as part of our package of strategies against certain teams, certain players. We have to get a lot better at that. But our rebounding in the second half, we did a better job. Kyle [Anderson] did a really good job. 11 boards.

Q: I asked you previously about being able to put teams away and that kind of thing. Do you think your team showed the kind of killer instinct tonight in terms of start to finish?

BH: I thought it was better tonight. They made a run to cut it to 15 in the first half and boom, we had it back up to 23. I think Jordan Adams did a really good… he does so many little things that don't show up [in the stats]. I was really pleased with him. I thought Dave Wear did a really nice job. It was good to get Tony [Parker] out there. Get Tony more minutes. Tony got 18 minutes tonight. So that was all positive.

Q: was this as poised as you've seen the freshmen look all together?

BH: they're improving. They're getting better. It's what you expect. I don't know any team in the country that's starting 3 freshmen, but it takes time. They're getting better. My staff and I are really trying to help them improve.

Q: Coach, talking about the freshmen, specifically Kyle and Shabazz, they're hitting a little bit more outside shots. Do you think they're just getting more comfortable or have you seen…

BH: part of it, sorry to cut you off, was that this week we had 2 mornings for shooting. We were able to shoot Wednesday (12/12/12) and Friday morning (12/14/12). I did something that I haven't done all year. I cut our practice. [audio difficulties] We shot for about 40 minutes in the morning. And then we practiced for an hour and 15 minutes. That's because our legs were… we've gone really hard on Tuesday. We went twice on Wednesday. We went really hard on Thursday. And then we went twice on Friday. So this was day 5… I thought that helped us… we're getting better in condition too. I think Shabazz and everybody. The Wears have always been in great condition. But I think everybody else is slowly but surely catching up a little bit.

Q: Coach, you're getting more comfortable with your rotation right now?

BH: yeah, there's not much to it. There's only 8 guys playing. But I'm comfortable with it. I prayed before every game and after every game for good health for our team. I'd actually be remiss if I, and I thought about this watching the terrible tragedy in Connecticut, that my heart just goes out to those families and everyone involved back there. It was such a senseless terrible tragedy that I just feel so bad for everyone involved. We had a moment of silence tonight. You could feel it.

Thank you.

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