Howland's Tuesday Press Conference

Ben Howland talks about the road trip to the mountain schools, how the mid range specialties of several players have helped the team's offense, and more...

Ben Howland talks on Tuesday:


Q: how much of an advantage has it been to your offense to have guys with such good midrange games like Travis [Wear], Shabazz [Muhammad], and Jordan [Adams]?

BH: it helps a lot. It's kind of a lost art. Guys are either shooting 3's or trying to get all the way to the basket. But really, in the game of basketball, being able to pull up at short range, anywhere from 17 feet to 8 feet, in that area, the midrange area, is a huge advantage if you have that skill level.

Q: how do you think the team's confidence is right now?

BH: I think it's good. Winning will do that for you.

Q: you've been able to build some leads in the four games now. And then you see them get whittled down a bit. You see any sort of pattern in that? Is there something you see that needs to be done differently?

BH: you know what? Both against Cal and Stanford, we had good 15 point leads. In the Stanford game, it was foul shots. Jordan Adams, uncharacteristically missed 3 front ends of the 1 and 1. So making our foul shots is a critical element to protecting the lead late in the game. And we had a 15 point lead early in the second half against Cal. You give them credit. They came back and cut it to 4. They're a good team. Teams that are good, it's just like watching NBA games. You can see leads and clock. It's never easy necessarily. We had a 13 point lead with 9 [minutes] to go in Colorado. Give them credit. We were up 7 with a 1:10 to go, and they made a couple big shots on a couple special plays they hadn't run before. One was called a mouse trap play where [Askia] Booker hit a 3. And they had another handoff… and especially the second game of these games are harder to prepare for because you have less time to prepare for.

Q: the last 2 [games], was there some sense that there was a little fatigue? Both games being up in the mountains.

BH: I don't even remember what our lead was in Utah. In the first half, it was 10 or 11. It was 10 at the half, 9 or 11 or something like that. But early in the second half, they came back and it was a nip and tuck game. Really, most of the second half of that game.

Q: Coach, for Oregon State. They have the worst scoring defense and field goal percentage defense, and you guys have the best in both those categories for offense.

BH: no, we don't have the best…

Q: field goal percentage?

BH: oh, I thought you meant field goal percentage defense.

Q: no, for offense. So your offense and their defense… is that something… what do you tell your team going into a game where those numbers are such a discrepancy?

BH: it doesn't really matter. It's going to be a game. They're coming off of 3 losses, and they've all been at home. And they're probably going to be happy to be on the road. That's what happens some time when you leave home and go on the road and you get a big win and get the monkey off your back. And all games were tough. They fought hard and had a chance in all 3 of those games. That being said, we know Oregon State is going to come in here and play really well. [Ahmad] Starks and [Roberto] Nelson are a very good backcourt. And they're very dangerous. They're both capable of scoring 25 points in a given game. [Devon] Collier, we really like inside. He's strong. They beat us last time. So we're going to be very motivated against Oregon State, Thursday night.

Q: how much does them not having [Eric] Moreland (on suspension) help you guys, especially on the boards?

BH: he's a good player. But sometimes when you have one of your star players out, guys step up and other guys take the opportunity. Like the big kid, [Olaf] Shaftenaar, he's a very good… his brother played here a few years ago. The big 7 footer. He's going to get more minutes consequently. So it is what it is. I guess he's going to play Saturday so it was like a 3 game thing [Eric Moreland will miss UCLA but play USC]. But he's a good player. That Moreland kid. Had the most double-doubles of anybody in the PAC-12 conference [audio difficulties]. He was averaging, I think, 11+ rebounds a game.

Q: have you seen a difference on tape in the things they've been able to do with him being suspended these last 2 games?

BH: you know, they played 2 games without him. He's a good player. They were very much in both of those games against Arizona, Arizona State. And Arizona and Arizona State are really good teams. One is, whatever they're ranked, top 10 team. And Arizona State is 3-1 [in conference] and 14-3 [overall].

Q: what does it mean for the team to have been able to pull out 2 kind of close games on the road in kind of mountainous environments?

BH: any time you win on the road, it's big. It's hard to win on the road. That's why I look at Washington and they're the first place team in the league. Washington's 3-0 and all of them have been on the road. So winning on the road is almost key. If you can win your home games and you do a good job… you go, maybe, 5-4 or 6-3 on the road, then you have a chance to be right there at the top of your conference. Everybody's looking at winning at home and minimally get splits on the road. If you sweep a road trip, it's huge.

Q: do you sense that Shabazz's confidence wavered at all after that weekend?

BH: no.

Q: why do you think that is?

BH: because he's a really good player.

Q: he probably hasn't had a stretch like that in awhile.

BH: he's never been in college.

Q: right

BH: I don't see him wavering one iota. Probably just get him more and more motivated. They were trying to really focus on him, and that's natural. Colorado's best player was guarding him, in [Andre] Roberson. And in Utah, they really tried to be physical with him and physical with our team in general.

Q: when he's struggling shooting, do you try to redirect him? To focus more on the glass? Focus more on defense? Or just something to impact the game when the shot's not falling?

BH: no. But we haven't had much experience with him, his shot not falling. And he had good shots. In that Utah game, his first 4 shots were all like right there. In and out. Wide open. Good looks. So it's not a big deal.

Q: do you see Travis seizing a leadership role more, especially given how he's played recently?

BH: he's playing really hard. He's really doing a nice job for us. His personality is more leading by how he plays and how hard he plays. He's done a good job in the walkthroughs and leading up to the game.

Q: what do you think kept him from playing this way earlier in the season?

BH: he played really good for us at times earlier in the season. Like against UNLV in our scrimmage that was closed to you guys, he was dominant. I'm not dwelling on what happened in the past. We're happy with how he's playing right now. I think he's done a good job for us since he's been here.

Thank you.

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