Howland's Tuesday Press Conference

Ben Howland talks about the need for improvement on the defensive glass and the impact of the UCLA-Arizona game for recruiting...

Ben Howland talks from his Tuesday press conference:


BH: today, we had Kyle Anderson miss practice because he was ill with a stomach virus. A gastrointestinal thing. I think Jordan Adams has the same thing. They're both being checked out by a doctor. Jordan was able to practice. He had to leave during practice to go throw up and use the restroom. But he came back and finished practice. And hopefully they'll be okay for tomorrow's practice before we take off down in Tucson.


Q: what have you done to address kind of the issues on the inside game with the rebounding?

BH: a lot of blocking out. A lot of emphasis on everybody hitting the glass. And we'll be doing the same thing tomorrow at practice.

Q: what does the UCLA-Arizona rivalry mean to the PAC-12?

BH: it's a great rivalry. I mean, you had Lute Olson there for so many years. Did such a wonderful job. A Hall of Fame coach. And he really came in and built that program into a national power. UCLA ‘s been national power since the days of John Wooden. And I can't remember what year it was that Arizona joined the PAC-10. Or PAC-8 to PAC-10. It was back in the 80s, I believe. Obviously, when you have 2 really good programs playing each other, there's going to be a rivalry. Sean [Miller] has done a great job there. They've got a tremendous home court. Great players. Outstanding coach. They've done a great job.

Q: do you think it's good for the conference when both teams are…

BH: I think it's good. Many is good. The more, the merrier. We want as many good teams. I think our league is a very good league.

Q: how much difference has Mark Lyons made for them?

BH: he's a really good player. He's averaging 20 points a game or 19.4 or whatever it is. He's tough. He came from a really good program. Xavier. He's done a wonderful job for them. He was obviously a big get to be able to get him for a fifth year. I think it's his fifth year. I know he graduated. Maybe it's his fourth and he graduated in 3, I don't know. But whatever it is, he's been a huge addition to their program. You look at their minutes played, they had a great freshmen recruiting class, but the key guys in terms of the minutes being played are [Mark] Lyons, [Solomon] Hill, and Nick Johnson. Those are the guys logging 30+ minutes a game and doing just an incredible job.

Q: what do you see out of their 3 big guys who are freshmen?

BH: they're really good. Really talented. The big kid inside, Kaleb Tarczewski. He's really good. Very physical. He's really tough. I like that about him. [Brandon] Ashley is really athletic. Very good at blocking shots. Driving to the basket. I think that [Grant] Jerrett is an excellent 3 point shooter. Very long. All 3 of those kids are really good players and are all going to, someday, make a lot of money playing basketball.

Q: with the way that [audio difficulties]. I think something like 4 guys averaging 4-5 rebounds…

BH: yeah, they're even a better rebounding team than Oregon. And in their loss to Oregon, their only loss, they outboarded Oregon in that game. So that's a real wakeup call for us because we're losing on the glass right now by about 3 a game through our first 6 conference games, and we have to do better to have success.

Q: is it just a change in effort? Or is there anything…

BH: it's blocking out. It's getting everybody in there. Watching the film was very disappointing because we could do so many things better than we did. And yet we still had a chance to win. But defensively, we have to do a better job. We have to make the extra pass. Do a better job at that. We watched the entire game yesterday as a team prior to practice.

Q: do you get the sense that that was maybe a wakeup call? Watching that and seeing…

BH: yeah, we have a lot of areas that we have to try to improve.

Q: how tough is it to balance crashing the boards and wanting to get out in transition after a missed shot?

BH: there shouldn't be a balance there. You have to get the ball first before you can run. And we had a problem there. There was one time early in the game where we had 2 guys at half court where they were backing around each other for 3 or 4 offensive rebounds. And we to get an overhead copy to show that clearly because the TV copy doesn't show it quite as well. But our players saw it. They get it. These kids are very coachable. They want to do good. It's really a fun group to coach. I thought we had a very good practice yesterday. Excellent practice. I thought today's practice was good especially considering that we got a couple one of our players out, and Jordan not feeling 100%.

Q: I think Travis only had 2 rebounds in the last game. Is he one of the guys that you really need to buckle down and…

BH: yeah. Travis right now has 6 offensive rebounds. And I'd love for you to go back because you guys are the stat guys. He was leading the league last year I think on the year in offensive rebounding and I've already told him this. He should have 18, 20, 25 right now. So that's been a point of emphasis is to get him to go to the glass every time hard as he can.

Q: why do you think it's something he hasn't been able to do this year that he was able to do last year?

BH: ask him. He wants to score. So that's a great way to get more points. Get to the glass. He knows it. I'm telling you guys the same thing that I'm telling him. Exactly my conversation with him. He's a very good offensive rebounder. It's just a focus that he has to have in his mind because he can go do it.

Q: is there kind of an inherent disadvantage, especially this team, its biggest guy being Travis Wear compared to Arizona having Kaleb Tarczewski's who's 7', 260 lbs. Or something like that?

BH: yeah, he has a native size advantage.

Q: there's no… other than that? On the boards… is that where that is most obvious? That size advantage?

BH: well, you know what, they do a great job. Everybody. [Solomon] Hill is a very good rebounder. [Kevin] Parrom is a very good rebounder. Nick Johnson gets rebounds. [Mark] Lyons gets rebounds. We had, between Norman [Powell], Larry [Drew II], and Jordan, they had 2 defensive rebounds for the game on Saturday. So a lot of times, your bigs are trying to just block out the other bigs so you have your guards in there to get more rebounds. And Larry had like 5 rebounds at Colorado. Jordan's been a very good rebounding force all year. So it's a point of emphasis. It's something we have to get back to. And we're going to make every effort to do so.

Q: with you going head-to-head [against Arizona] with a lot of recruits, how much stock would you put in that win or loss in this game if you were a recruit?

BH: oh, there's so much that goes into the decision. It's not based on the win or loss of a single game or two games. Academics is a very important part. There's so many issues that go into it. I know that's your area of expertise, but there's a lot that goes into it. How many players are in the NBA, and how are they doing? And how are they performing? There's a lot of different factors. Because that's what all these kids… you're talking about one end.

Q: any sense for yet how many wins it's going to take to win the conference?

BH: yeah, I really don't. But it's different now. Obviously, Oregon is in the driver seat. They don't have to go to the Arizonas. They're 6-0 and they've already won 3 road games. But it's a long season. We're just focused on us. We're playing 1 game at a time here. We're playing the best team in the league here. The highest RPI with the most quality wins so this is a great challenge.

Q: would you rather be able to have another shot at Oregon or do you like this unbalanced schedule?

BH: I thought it was great when we had the round robin. But with 12 teams, you can't do that now. And that's really the norm for every other league in the country. We're the only BCS league where we play everybody twice. So it is what it is. And with these superconferences, I don't think you'll ever see it again necessarily with the BCS.

Q: how much does [Kevin] Parrom stand out as [audio difficulties]

BH: well, I think Parrom is so tough. You remember he got shot a year ago and had a tough year because he never fully recovered. I love his game. I think Solomon Hill is terrific. They're older players. Hill, Parrom, Lyons are particularly tough, hard-nosed kids. They're winners. And they've done a great job leading those players this year.

Any other questions? Thank you.

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