Howland after Cal

Ben Howland talks after the Cal game about the defensive performance against the Bears and how well Norman Powell played overall...

Ben Howland talks after Cal:


BH: that was obviously a very good win and an important win. I really think Cal is a tough team. They never ever beat themselves because they're so well-coached. He's [Mike Montgomery] a Hall of Fame coach. He'll be in the Hall of Fame. They execute so well. It really [audio difficulties] our field goal defense. To hold them to 39% is terrific. We did a poor job on our blockouts though in the second half. They had too many second shots. I thought Norman Powell's defense in the first half on [Allen] Crabbe was critical. He did a great job. You just can't hold down great players sometimes for 40 minutes. I thought Larry Drew's defense the entire game, making Justin Cobbs work. And thank goodness, actually thank God, that he missed that layup. He had a layup at the end of possession. Do you guys remember? He was wide open. They had a run. That's happened now against Missouri, Cal, Texas. So it keeps happening. But I thought Shabazz [Muhammad] made big shots again. The guy's got ice water in his veins. He wants the ball. And that 3 that he had that put us up 11. He made another jump shot in front of our bench, that when they made a run, it help kept the lead. I was really pleased with Kyle Anderson's game tonight obviously. To be 9 for 9 from the foul line. He's really focused on how his routine's going. 12 big rebounds. 19 points. He had a really terrific game. So it's a good win for us, and now a quick turnaround to get ready for Stanford Saturday at noon.

Q: can you talk about the difference between Shabazz that first half where he missed 6 of 7 shots but then came back and made a couple big shots…

BH: I thought early he was too much from the 3 point line. He's best when he's going to the basket and getting the blood flowing. And part of it was our anxiousness. You could see it. We scored 2 points, I think, in the first 4 minutes. We're a young team. We were a little anxious early. Everybody was because they want to get going. They know what a big game it is. It's conference play. The opener. But we got settled down. I thought the second half, he got going. You have to keep getting him the ball when he's got it going the way he does.

Q: could you see some added intensity from him on the defensive end?

BH: I thought his defense… I mean, Shabazz is really growing defensively. And that's probably the [biggest] thing. He's never had to play this hard at that end of the floor. This is a whole new thing that he's being asked to do. And he's really taking the challenge on and doing a great job. He had one possession today where in the second half, he was on Cobbs on the switch and Cobbs was trying to drive him and he couldn't get by him so Cobbs lobbed the ball up to [Richard] Solomon and we didn't have to help because he couldn't beat him and we ended up getting a turnover out of it. Again, we did a good job, knock on wood, with taking care of the basketball. It's probably the best thing our team does more than any one thing, good job of taking care of the basketball. And somehow we ended up with 79 points.

Q: Ben, yesterday, you described your early season's defense as "horrible." What does this say about how far it's progressed?

BH: it's exciting. It's exciting about how we progressed today. Now, the previous 3 games, we were 48%, 47%, and 50%. So today was a huge step forward, and our players are really, I think, understanding that … we had, what was the score at half time?

Q: 38-28.

BH: we're up 10. We had the chance there. We had a 16 point lead, and I thought we just relaxed for a second. Give them credit. We had a chance there to really break things open, and boom, 6-0 run. We got a little ahead of ourselves. And that's how Cal is going to be. You're never going to get an easy win against that team.

Q: does it seem that Kyle's definitely getting more comfortable on the offensive end?

BH: yeah. And I think that his playmaking… he had a great pass in transition when they were making a run with Shabazz who got fouled going for a dunk. He made one other really good pass in transition. It's having 2 point guards out there with the ball. I can't say enough about Larry. 9-0 assists to turnover. His assist-to-turnover ratio is the best we've had in 10 years in my tenure here. It's just terrific. And Kyle, I feel very comfortable with as well when he has the ball in his hands.

Q: how was Tony [Parker]'s back tonight?

BH: Tony's back tightened up on him. He went through part of the walkthrough. He couldn't… we don't know what caused it. He couldn't practice Wednesday because of the migraine. Tuesday, he practiced and he was fine. Then Wednesday morning, he was coming in to do some extra work and his back was a problem. So I'm not sure… we'll continue to work with it. I thought that after his 2 missed free throws, he did some really good things. He was obviously… he ran a great hustle play getting back in transition on one.

Q: Norman's ankle? No ill effects really?

BH: well I'll tell you what, his defense was absolutely unbelievable in that first half. He was GREAT defensively. And you saw it. He had a couple nice dunks. He had one that was a lob, I think, was from Kyle where he got fouled on. Norman had one of his best games of his career here. A lot of what he did doesn't show up in stats. And so I'm really pleased and happy for him.

Thank you.

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