Howland's Friday Teleconference

Ben Howland talks about the team's deficiencies on the defensive glass, how Shabazz's defense has improved, and how Tony Parker's back is progressing...

Q: What is Stanford looking like this year?

A: They had a very tough loss last night, they were up 14 I think in the first half. Andy Brown was a teammate of the Wear twins at Mater Dei, he had a great game, the best game of his career. And he's had a lot of adversity with three different knee surgeries. He played very well, had 17 points. And Dwight Powell is a real matchup problem. He's a very very good player. They are really a good shooting team. They shoot the ball extremely well. Their bigs can step out and shoot. Like Gage, for example, who hurt us last year. And Huestis is a tough matchup, he's one of the best offensive rebounders in our league. He's got over 50 so far on the season, so he's averaging over 3 per game. He had 12 boards last night. And their game went down to the wire, so it's a tough loss for them. We know that they'll obviously be very prepared for this game tomorrow.

Q: What a rebounder like that, how much of a concern is that to you guys?

A: Yeah, we've been beat on the boards the last two games, and allowed 20 offensive boards. It's a huge concern, and it's something we've got to do a better job with.

Q: What are you seeing that is causing the rebounding deficiency?

A: Lack of blocking out.

Q: Obviously something you're working on in practice.

A: Not today, today's a non-tape day.

Q: Shabazz talked about having a chip on his shoulder to show he can play defense. Can you see that?

A: I tell you what, I thought last night was probably his best defensive performance to date. And you know, in fairness to him, he's never been asked to do a lot of stuff. He's a freshman. This is all new stuff he's learning for the first time that will relate to his career beyond the college level. It's good for him. And he's getting better and better. The thing that I'm most excited about is he's really starting to see the accountability part of it and he's starting to take pride in it.

Q: He said that his defense kind of sparked him on the offensive end toward the end of the game. Is that something you want to see?

A: I would love to have defense spark him. The best thing we did last night offensively is get out in transition. And that starts with getting stops on the defensive end. It's much easier to run when you're taking it off the backboard, as opposed to taking it out of the net. Good offensive teams always start with good defense that ignites your fast break and ignites your offense.

Q: What's Kyle Anderson doing that's making him so effective as a rebounder?

A: Number one, he has great hands. If he can get his hands on it, he's got strong hands, soft hands, really good hands. He's long, he has a nose for the ball. He has good understanding of being able to anticipate where the ball's going to come off.

Q: Do you think he's been able to use his length to his advantage on the defensive end?

A: Kyle's smart, and he's got a 7 foot wingspan. He's long. And he's got good hands too, he's got really good hands. He gets a lot of deflections., he gets a lot of steals because of his hands.

Q: You talked about wanting Shabazz to rebound more on the defensive end. Is that still something you're emphasizing?

A: Yeah, we are continuing to emphasize that, on the defensive end. On the offensive end, it's not an issue. On the offensive end, he's actually been very good rebounding the basketball.

Q: Is it something where he's leaking out too early to go on the offensive end?

A: He's not going with the same emphasis that he goes on offense.

Q: Where would you like to see him get better on the defensive end, and where has he improved?

A: I think he's a doing much better job at trailing shooters and not allowing separation. In other words not allowing a lot of space between him and the man he's guarding. He's doing a better job with on ball defense. There was one really good sequence last night where he was switched onto Cobbs and Cobbs was trying to take him off the dribble from out top and he was not able to get by Shabazz, forcing a turnover. He anticipated being able to get around Shabazz and kind of lobbed the ball to his teammate and it was stolen. So that was exciting.

Q: When you talk about trailing, is that like coming off of a screen? [EDITOR'S NOTE: This question was not asked by BRO]

A: That means when your man that you're guarding is receiving, say, a double staggered screen or some similar screen that you're trailing him, you're going with the body. Remind me and I'll show you on tape or when I see you again. You're going with the body. A good shooter, if you don't go with the body when he's getting a screen, he's going to stop and fade out and the passer will hit him and you'll have separation. A good offensive player is always trying to create separation with his use of screens, and as soon as he gets separation he can make plays—either shoot, or shot fake and drive. So you don't want to allow that separation to occur.

Q: I know a lot has been made about Shabazz getting in shape, and how it'd help him defensively. Is he back or does he still have strides to make?

A: I think he's much better than where he was, and you can always get in better shape. But in our practice on Monday when I ran them hard at the end of practice, he was running with Larry on all the sprints. He was right there with Larry, so that being said, Larry is the guy who's in the best condition on our team. Travis Wear and David Wear are probably right there. And then I would say Shabazz.

Q: How is Tony's back today?

A: Tony's back is still a problem. He wasn't able to go through the walkthrough. He had some acupuncture done to his lower back today, and that was right before we started, so I'm hoping he'll be ready to go through the walkthrough when we go again this evening.

Q: Has that been a constant issue with Tony so far this season?

A: He hadn't had a problem with it since we got back from Brooklyn, so I'm not sure, it's been whatever that's been, a month. It's something with his core, with his flexibility, and that's just something he's got to improve going forward.

Q: Acupuncture, have you seen that work a lot with guys with back issues?

A: I tried it myself, so it does work at times. The bottom line is that it was spasming, and what that tries to do is release the spasms from occurring, and quiet down a little bit.

Q: How's that making it more difficult for you to use him and for him to improve?

A: He had a great practice on Tuesday. Monday was just a freak deal, he had to miss a practice due to migraines and that's something he's had a history of, migraine headaches. Tuesday he had a great practice, and then Wednesday he wakes up and his back's bothering him. He's had a lot of tough breaks between the hamstring in the summer, the back in Brooklyn, he had the ankle where he missed a week with the sprained ankle in warmups before, I forget what game that was. He's had a run of bad luck with injuries. Hopefully he gets them all behind him. You could see last night, Tony's a better foul shooter than those two shots he took last night. That's his back being stiff and his back being a problem. So you know, hopefully he can get this thing figured out. Our trainer does a great job and is really working hard with him.

Q: How prepared are you guys for the short turnaround?

A: It's harder when our freshmen are doing this for the first time when we are trying to assimilate a lot of information in a short period of time and we still have to go out and follow our routines. These guys are smart. I was really pleased with their preparation and knowing how we were playing things last night, and I thought that was a really good effort defensively. We've just got to do a better job not allowing second shots. 

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