VIDEO: Howland After Fresno State

Coach Ben Howland talked after the win over Fresno State, 91-78, praising his three freshmen that all scored over 20 points..


BH: I'm happy with the win. I think that our offense, in both halves, was really solid. We're obviously shooting a high percentage the last 2 games. 58%+ in each of the last 2 games from the field. I thought this team was exactly what we expected in terms of them coming in. They don't have anything in transition, talking about Fresno State. They were very patient. Really ran their stuff. They had the lead, 22-14. I think a 7-2 lead to start the game. Our guys hung in there tough. Those are the type of teams that are going to be hard for us because our players are still learning that if you're going to play against a team that's super patient, you have to be smart about your shot selection or you're going to be playing defense for 25 minutes and playing offense for 15. Teams that want to get up and down, that's better for us.

But I was really pleased with obviously, Larry [Drew II] again. 10 assists. 1 turnover. He's really doing a phenomenal job at the offensive end of the floor, distributing, taking care of the basketball. His assist-to-turnover ratio is among the best we've had since I've been here, and we've had some great point guards. Kyle [Anderson]'s numbers, 3 assists shy of a triple double. Hasn't happened since 1996. He'll eventually get a triple double at some point. I thought that Jordan [Adams], with his 5 assists, 0 turnovers, along with Shabazz [Muhammad], had a very good second half and really got it going offensively. Those 3 freshmen obviously had big nights. I was told that the last game was the first time ever 2 freshmen scored 20 points in the same game, and now to have 3 of them do it, obviously that's a first. But I thought it was an overall team… the Wears are really doing a great job leading us, along with Larry. I thought Norman [Powell] came in, and again, his defense is so important for this team moving forward. And staying healthy. Tony [Parker]'s going to get more minutes. I was really pleased with, like I said during practice the other day, he's going to be playing a significant role as we move forward. So we want to enjoy this Christmas break for 2 days, and then we come back and practice here at Pauley [Pavilion] Christmas night. And obviously, that's going to be an important practice for us.

Q: when you guys were down, I think 25-16, to see freshmen not let that bother them and come back, was that an important moment for this team?

BH: I didn't realize it was 9, Diane. I lost hair tonight, for sure. 25-16, was that what it was? It was a good experience. We're at the 1/3 of the regular season point today. I think our team is improving right now from November to where we are. Obviously, you can see our guys getting into better conditioning. We still have to get better defensively. The one thing that's really unique about this team that I've had during my tenure here, this is probably one of the best teams at taking care of the basketball. I would imagine our turnover numbers are as low as any team that we've had and that's really important moving forward.

I was impressed with Fresno State tonight. I thought they played extremely hard. Physical man-to-man defense. Moving #11 [Aaron Anderson] into the starting lineup at the point, that really helped them. Obviously [Marvelle] Harris, #23, played great and really hurt us on the dribble. We had some defensive lapses but overall, I'm just glad we got the win.

Q: I know you guys shot 50% in the second half, how nice for you is it to have a team that can outscore guys when the defense isn't on?

BH: yeah, we don't want to play that way. We want to do better defensively. But give them credit. They made some tough shots. In the first half, we held them to 44% but they were 5 for 8 from 3. We had some mental lapses where we're leaving shooters. Or guarding #23, who's a driver. We altered things a little bit in the second half in terms of how we're playing. But give them credit. Our players, especially our freshmen, are learning that every time you have UCLA on the front of your jersey, you're going to get the other team's best effort. And I would say that Fresno State… watching a lot of film on them. They played well tonight. If they continue to play like they did tonight, they're going to beat a lot of people in their conference.

Q: I know you think Jordan was a good player when you recruited him. But what's he done that you might not have expected?

BH: when you look at him tonight, 5 assists, 5 steals, 7 rebounds. He's 10 for 14 from the field. He's a fantastic basketball player, along with his skill level. And very unselfish. Just a pleasure to coach. He's better than what I expected.

Q: the 12-3 run at the end of the [first] half, to let you take a lead into the locker room, how important was that for a young team?

BH: it was really big. I know Kyle made a couple of big plays during that run. Dave Wear did a nice job. Travis [Wear] was in foul trouble. We were starting to get a little better defensively. It was important for us to have the lead. We're going into the game and they're 5-6 coming in, getting our guys to understand that every game is a dogfight for us, and we just have to understand that. There's never going to be an easy game for us, especially moving forward now as we play Missouri on Friday and then PAC-12 play after that?

Q: and did you see any of the Missouri-Illinois game?

BH: I did not. We'll watch some of that game during the course of 2 days prior to our practice. But Missouri is really, really good. We know that. It was a great win for them today, beating Illinois. How much did they win by? I don't know.

Q: turned out to be almost a blowout. It was close when I left them.

Q: what aspects of your defense are you most concerned about and when you get minutes for Parker, is that going to be a big thing in terms of posting?

BH: yeah, Tony gives us size and strength. My biggest concern, Marcus, is we're getting beat off the dribble too much. We have to do a better job staying in front of the ball, something that we're already working on in practice. We'll be working on that Christmas night, here at Pauley Pavilion at 6 o'clock. Our post defense has to get better too. We're trying to get to doubling the post more, and we've got to get better with our rotations out of that double, and it's just something that I think we'll improve at as we move forward. Doubling the post, one of the most important things about that is it makes it better to stay out of foul trouble. You may give up an open 3 out of rotations but we have to obviously be aware of foul trouble.

Thank you.

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