Howland After Long Beach State

Ben Howland talks about Larry Drew's defense against Long Beach State, the shooting night for Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad, and the improvement of the team overall...

Ben Howland after Long Beach State:


BH: I thought that was a very good start to the game today. I think we were up 15-4. Is that right?

Q: yep.

BH: really got off to a great start. Then they started hitting some shots. Have to give them some credit. That team, they have a couple of kids that we weren't sure if they'd be eligible today. They were not. I guess it'll be another few days. That was a talented team that's won 3 championships in a row. Obviously, [Dan] Jennings really hurt us inside. But I was really, really pleased today with Larry Drew's defense on [Mike] Caffey. I thought Larry Drew really took the challenge. That's the best game of Larry Drew's career thus far at UCLA. He played fantastic at both ends. 9 assists, 1 turnover, shot the ball well (6 for 7), 4 rebounds. Did a great job defensively on their point guard, he's a very good player in Caffey. So I was really pleased with his play. I thought that everybody shared the ball again. 21 assists on 33 baskets. That's a nice percentage. And I'm glad to get the win here as we get ready for our last game before Christmas.

Q: Tony [Parker] didn't get many minutes. Was that just because the game was kind of tight?

BH: that's a game-by-game thing. He's been averaging, I think, 10-12 minutes. At least. It was a tough one. We had difficulty all night matching up with #35 [Dan Jennings]. We tried to double up. We started spacing the floor. Tony's going to get more minutes. It's just a 1-night deal. And he's going to be very important. We're going to be in foul trouble. There'll be situations where he'll play major minutes. Over half of the game. He played 22 minutes, I think, in our last game against Prairie View.

Q: they brought it down to a 7 point lead with like 10 minutes left. Then Jordan [Adams] and Shabazz [Muhammad] kind of seemed to turn something on there and they scored the next 11 points. Can you talk about how important that stretch was then?

BH: well, we took a couple of quick shots that fueled their comeback and cut it to 7. And then we made a couple of shots that weren't necessarily great. But they really got hot, those two. And their teammates did a great job feeding them. And we shot the ball again from the foul line well tonight so it was a good performance. I thought Dave Wear, too, played really well in this game tonight. I thought Dave Wear did a very good job. Look at his numbers: he had 11 points, shot the ball extremely well, played very, very good defense. So I was really pleased with Dave's play today.

Q: Coach, what did you think of your zone offense today?

BH: well, I don't know if it broke down. But we ended up shooting 59% for the game as a team. So any time you shoot 59%, you have to feel good. We were 8 for 16 for 3's so we really shot the ball well. We came in yesterday and did extra shooting and that helped us, I think, as it did last week. Getting more reps of shooting which is good for our team.

Q: Ben, second straight decisive win. Can you see this team kind of gaining more confidence and growing steadily together in practices and during the game?

BH: yes, I sure hope so. That's what we're striving for. I think the team has a good unity. They're playing hard. I didn't think our practice was especially great yesterday. I was concerned about… part of it was we went twice. Normally, I don't go twice the day before a game. We're going to practice Thursday morning because the women have a game. I'm hoping to bring some guys back, and I'll tell them they'll be shooting later that night. Because I think it really helps us. But doing it the day before the game is hard. This was kind of different. To have a Saturday, Tuesday. Took Sunday off. Have just 1 day of preparation. I thought our guys did a pretty good job with 1 day. And they're getting better at understanding how we prepare for an opponent.

Q: Ben, you talked yesterday about Larry [Drew II] playing the kind of defense you want him to…

BH: he did. Boy, I tell you what, that was really exciting. That's the most exciting thing. Because when he is playing like that defensively, it makes everybody else's job easier because he's guarding the head of the other team, the point guard. And that was a terrific defensive performance by him. I was just so pleased. He played his tail off.

Q: Coach, what did you think of Long Beach hanging in there…

BH: Dan [Monson] does a great job. Dan Monson is a great coach. Not a good coach. A great coach. Did an unbelievable job building that program. They are going to be a team that's going to be very difficult to beat in their conference. Their schedule been ridiculous. At ‘SC. At Syracuse. At Ohio State. At Arizona. North Carolina at home. I mean, that's like murderers' row. At UCLA. Their strength of schedule must be the toughest in the country. And they do a terrific job. He's got a couple really nice players. I think this Jennings kid will really be a problem, moving forward, for other people to match up with. He's very good.

Q: Coach, you talked about Jennings. How was he able to be so effective?

BH: he was being physical. Slowing down in the post. He did a great job.

Q: Coach, is your expectation of this team to be a good team shooting over the top of zones?

BH: yeah, when you look at us: Norman [Powell], Shabazz, Jordan, are all very good shooters. The Wears are extremely proficient at shooting. Larry Drew has really done a good job working on his shot. You say how confident he shot the ball tonight. And that's all through repetition. We have a number of guys… Kyle [Anderson] can shoot it, and he's working hard on his shot. We have a lot of guys that can put the ball in the basket.

Q: with the way Jennings went off, how much concern did that give you about your interior defense?

BH: yeah, we're going to have to double the post a lot this year. We don't have that kind of… he's 255. With the exception of Tony, we're all under 230. 230 and under. So you give up that kind of size, you have to scheme for it. Either come down with your guards, which is hard against good shooting guards. We'll double post. We're going to hopefully improve on that. We started working on that last week.

Thank you.

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