Drew on Improvement

Larry Drew talks about the team's improving play over the last several games and the team's pace of play against Missouri...

Larry Drew talks on Wednesday Part 1:

Part 2:


LD2: … a game specifically I remember going back to my freshman year when I was at Carolina [UNC], we were undefeated up until conference play. First game, we had Boston College. We had a couple losses on the season. We had Wake Forest. So we started conference play 0-2. And it just, like I said, it just shows how things are heightened to a whole new level. It's that time of year where… I mean, all season everything counts, but really going into conference, everybody has something to prove. The rivalries start to pick up. People play at a new level.

Q: what's the biggest adjustment you remember having to make?

LD2: just trying to stay with everything. Keep up with the focus and the effort. Not getting too down or too high after particular wins and losses because it's a long season.

Q: you guys are obviously clicking offensively. Is that what you were expecting from this team? Or is this kind of exceeding your expectations?

LD2: oh no, this is pretty much what I was expecting from this. I've been with this group of guys since the summertime. I think while we were in China, I really got a chance to see what we were really capable of. Like what our potential could be. Just based off of that trip, I'm starting to see the kind of… well, we're getting back to that way of basketball that we had in our offenses back then. Just real fun team basketball. Everyone sharing the ball. Everybody's unselfish. Like Coach [Ben Howland] says a lot, it's really a good "problem" to have is where people are trying to be unselfish and making the extra pass. I think it's going to help out everybody else out in our offense.

Q: did you guys expect to play as fast as you're playing? The high tempo teams in the PAC-12? Is that what you guys…

LD2: I mean, we came into the year with that new mindset that we would get out and break. Push the ball. Over the previous years. I think the guys have been expecting this.

Q: what's your assessment of the freshmen and with everybody thinking, "we're going to be good"but has anything surprised you?

LD2: again, like I said, I've played with these guys since last summer…

Part 2

LD2: I really expect pretty much how these guys have been playing. And I expect them to keep playing the same way.

Q: with Shabazz [Muhammad], do you guys see a switch from the last few weeks? The last few games… where he scored 21 or more points the last few games… have you guys seen something…

LD2: it was just about him getting out there and getting acclimated. He wasn't able to take that trip with us over the summertime to China. He missed the first couple of games. He was able to practice with us but practice and games and the rest of the things… but I had all the faith in the world in him. I knew when he's out there on the court and when he got his feet wet, he was going to start raising his level of play. And he has.

Q: when he practiced, was he practicing like with the starting group or [audio difficulties]

LD2: Coach had a bunch of different rotations. It's not like we had a "starters group" or anything like that. Coach rotated guys a lot. No matter what position he was playing or with who, he was always bringing the same things that he's bringing out there that you're seeing in the games that we're playing.

Q: he said after the last game, in the over time, in the 3 point shot, that you trusted him. In that situation, are you looking for him or are you just looking…

LD2: honestly, in that type of situation, I'm just looking to make the best play possible. The right play. On those 2 particular plays, I was able to get into the paint. His man helped off. I saw Shabazz wide open, and I do have the upmost faith in him and whatever it is that he's able to do, making big plays, he came through for us.

Q: you said before, the UNC pace was going up and down all the time. That was something you weren't super comfortable with. Is the pace that UCLA is going right now, is that about the speed it is you want to go? Like kind of slow it down sometime and then also…

LD2: yeah, most definitely. I'm way more comfortable when we slow things down when we need to or pick it up when we need to. I like to lull my defender to sleep a little bit and then just bam, go right by him. I feel like I have that ability to go by my defender whenever I need to. As far as the overall team pace, I think it's good for us just to keep our opponents on their heels and not really knowing exactly what to expect of us.

Q: Coach Howland notoriously ran a slow half-court offense. Have you seen him kind of adjust to you guys to be faster? To run kind of how you like to run?

LD2: in practice, even in games, we're not pushing the ball as hard as he wants us to. He's making the point to let us know to push the ball harder. Run. Pick it up. It's like in practice. If you don't think you're running hard enough, it gets on your mind. So he definitely lets us know what he wants out of this team, and we're trying our best to get acclimated.

Q: how concerned are you guys about give up 70, 80, 90 points a game? Are you pretty confident that you guys can go out and outscore most teams on most nights?

LD2: that's not really our mindset to go out and "outscore" people. That saying, "offense wins games, defense wins championships"… we're not going to go just "outscore" everybody we play. At some point, we have to stop people from scoring as well. So it's definitely something that we're aware of and we've been working on.

Q: the Missouri game, [Phil] Pressey obviously had a great game. Coach was talking about the plan was to make him shoot. How tough was that for you to have a guy go off like that when you're playing against him even though that's the game plan?

LD2: to be honest with you, I didn't realize how good of a game he was having until half time when it was 12 assists at half. I'm like, "what?" Yeah, it was sticking to the game plan as far as making him the shooter. He did take too many shots. But Pressey. He is a great player. I respect him. I went up to him after the game, after we got out of the locker room and stuff like that, Missouri was on the other side of the court… actually, I was down there talking to Stormin Norman. He coached my Pops back in the day. My mom introduced me to him and his family. And Phil [Pressey] walked up to me. Just congratulated me. Told me good game and he respected my game. I don't think I've had anyone get 19 points and 19 assists. Just as far as how they play, he comes off a ball screen on every possession it seems like. That's pretty much the NBA style of basketball right there. Obviously, I have aspirations of the NBA so I have to be prepared to play that type of way night in and night out. So it was good for me.

Q: you ever come close to 19 assists?

LD2: actually I had 19 assists my senior year in high school in 3 quarters actually. We were like blowing this team out. I think the record was like 22. My coach, he didn't want me to play as much because he wasn't trying to get me hurt. He left me in a couple more possessions and I made some drives and they [teammates] weren't making them...

Bruin Report Online Top Stories