Muhammad talks Offense

Shabazz Muhammad talks about his mid range game, how the team struggled in the last minutes against Colorado, and how he fights shooting slumps...

Shabazz Muhammad talks on Tuesday:


Q: I know you guys have talked about how different things have been in the last few weeks, but did things change even more after the Colorado win? Did it feel like that kind of win?

SM: oh, absolutely. That was one of the biggest games of our year. I mean, Colorado. I think Coach [Howland] was saying in the AP standings, they're like 4 or 6. So they're going to be a really good team in the NCAA. They're really high so that was a great win for us, especially beating them on the road. And coming back here and finishing strong in our house.

Q: Coach seem happier?

SM: oh, absolutely. I think that [Texas game], the Missouri game, and this one were the most happiest I've seen him in awhile.

Q: and going against Oregon State, where you're playing a team that lost the past 3 games… is that something you guys have to think about a little bit extra? That they're going to come back with a little bit more on them?

SM: oh, absolutely. They're going to come out with a vengeance. I mean, they're losing 3 games, especially at home. So that's going to be a big factor for them, and they're going to come out and play hard.

Q: and do you feel like you guys can match that with your streak and the motivation to try to continue that?

SM: oh, absolutely. We're not satisfied yet. We haven't really done anything yet. Even though we're in first place in the PAC-12, we want to end in first place and it's only the beginning of the PAC-12 season so far. So we're trying to finish out strong.

Q: obviously, it's still early out in the season, but if you guys get to 10 wins, that's the longest streak since 2008, or I think it was. You came here with the goal of sort of bringing UCLA back. Do you feel like you guys are sort of on that way?

SM: oh, absolutely. If you look at it, at the beginning of the year, where we had all of our losses. And now we're figuring it out, and guys are knowing their roles. And you see it. We're winning. 8 straight games we've won.

Q: you feel like the target's kind of back on you guys now after people forgot about you a little bit after the Cal Poly loss?

SM: oh, absolutely. I think the target's on us, especially in the PAC-12. Guys are trying to get the opportunity to beat us. On our floor and when we were over there on their floor. We just have to take advantage of it and don't take any plays off.

Q: do you feel any pressure building as you guys continue to extend the winning streak?

SM: uh, no pressure. I just feel like if we do what we have to do and we play our game, I think we can play with anybody.

Q: you feel like there's kind of maybe less pressure now that you guys have kind of proven some things?

SM: I think so. Like I said, we did a really good job in Colorado. That was a really big test for us. On the road. Winning those back-to-back games. I think it was big for us.

Q: we kind of heard you guys yell in the locker room afterwards. What was that?

SM: oh yeah. Coach Howland does that after the big games. In the Missouri game he yelled, and this game he yelled, and the Texas one. So that's 3. As he's yelling, he's really excited. Everybody was excited after that game. And even though I didn't play well, I'm still excited for my team. And we're really doing a good job.

Q: for you, what's the key to kind of getting back on track? Maybe shooting a little bit better…

SM: yeah, I just think I was settling for too many jump shots. On those away games, you're not used to the court. And the rim is kind of… maybe not the same as Pauley [Pavilion]. So not just settling for jump shots. And getting rebounds on the offensive and defensive ends to get my game going.

Q: do you consider your midrange game one of the biggest strengths of your game?

SM: oh, absolutely. That's what I work on a lot. That's probably the thing I work on [the most], is my midrange game. Because I know I'm getting the ball a lot there. That, and the 3 point shots and working on my ballhandling more and those are the biggest factors of my game.

Q: the midrange thing…is that kind of your dad's influence? Having all these basketball guys around you from an early age?

SM: oh, absolutely. That's all we work on when we're in the gym. It's midrange. It's shooting a whole bunch of midrange shots. And in the game, I feel so comfortable making them.

Q: do you kind of consider yourself a high volume shooter? Would you say that about yourself?

SM: I don't think so. Like I said, the away games really showed that you can't just settle for the jump shot. I was shooting the heck out of the ball here [at Pauley Pavilion]. And I go there and wasn't shooting the ball well. So that's how you know you can't just settle with the jump shot. And just knowing that I have to attack the rim more than settle.

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