Ben Howland talks after USC:
BH: it's obviously a very disappointing loss. I thought ‘SC was very, very tough. Inspired basketball. We had a great comeback to close a lead when we were down 15. Actually had 2 possessions where we had a 1 point lead… maybe it was a 2 point lead. [Jio] Fontan hit a 3. Maybe it was a 2. Fontan hit that jumper when we had at least a 1 point lead. And there was another time when they got a putback offensive rebound. Rebounding again, obviously, hurt us. I thought that our execution offensively… they "outphysicaled" us in the first half. Fighting through screens. We've got to do a better job of setting screens. I thought their screens… I thought [Jio] Fontan, I thought [Eric] Wise, I thought obviously [Aaron] Fuller in the first half did a great job. We really were broken down off the dribble by Wise. He was making plays. Fuller had 13 points. I don't know what he averages on the season. But he had 13 at the half and 13 for the game which really hurt us.
I was really proud the way Shabazz [Muhammad] battled through the flu. He was definitely ill on Tuesday, and he was still sick. He showed a lot of guts. Travis [Wear] was out for basically 5 days without any contact. He did a good job for us. We missed a lot of open jump shots too. We're 2 for 19 from 3's and we've got to knock down some of those misses. Questions?
Q: does this one sting any more because it's a rivalry game?
BH: it's always worse when you lose to your rival. Lose at home. Lose 2 games in a row. 3 of the last 4 now. We have some soul-searching to do. To fight our way back. We have 2 more home games coming up against good teams who are going to execute. I think the first half, our offense was really lacking. We shot 33%. We had the lead. We couldn't build on it. I think we were up 21-15. Is that right? We had a 6 point lead, and we couldn't build on it. Give ‘SC credit though. I thought they showed a lot of toughness and really did a good job against us tonight.
Q: how sick did Shabazz seem to you? Was it very clear that he was still suffering from the flu?
BH: he had 2 liters of IV fluid put in before the game started. He showed a lot of guts. Not only that, I played him a lot of minutes. I have to use the bench more and that's my fault. Playing these guys so many minutes. In the overtime, give them credit. Our guys fought there. We had our opportunities. Jordan [Adams] gave us the lead with that layup. We had a lead one other time. I called timeout. But we just couldn't get stops with a lead after fighting ourselves out of the hole, down 15.
Q: Ben, you said you guys have to do some soul-searching. What is it that you're going to be looking for?
BH: just the tough things. It really comes down to us doing a better job blocking out. When we go back and watch this game, which I'm going up and do as soon as we're done here, you're going to see a lot of missed blockouts. A lot of missed rotations. Like that dunk by [J.T.] Terrell in the second half, we're watching the guy come down the middle, and we're not rotating over. We have to get back to just basic shell drills and doing the tough things defensively and rotating. I thought Larry [Drew II] did a great big time play at the end of regulation to take a charge to get us the ball with a chance to win with 3 and a half seconds to go. And we didn't get a good enough shot out of 3 and half seconds. We actually had a planned design. I have to watch the film. We passed it ahead to Jordan. But I'm proud of the way our guys fought back, being down. The crowd was awesome. They helped us get back into the game. No question about it. We have to battle through this and learn from the adversity we're going through right now. And come back and get ready to play a very tough… 2 teams at home next week. We have some time now in practice. We'll take tomorrow off. Practice Friday, Saturday. Take Sunday off. And come back for our normal week of practice.
Q: Coach, there was a lot of talk about just being one game this week. And guys were going to enjoy the time off. To get back into the swing of things. [audio difficulties] how much do you think that plays into tonight?
BH: I didn't hear anything about that. So that's news to me. If players are telling you that, I have no idea.
Q: Coach, once again, rebounding. What are you going to do to try to correct the rebounding problem?
BH: well, part of it is that we're missing shots. Shooting below 40%. When you look at the rebounding, they had 12 offensive, we had 12 offensive. But they had more defensive rebounds because they shot a higher percentage than we did. They shot 47%. We shot 38%. So bottom line is, we have to be more efficient offensively. And we have to do a better job of that on the floor. Along with the defensive boards. It's a combination of both. It's not one or the other. But the rebounds are skewed when you're missing more shots than you make.
Q: having lost 3 of 4, does the attitude need to change at all? What's the attitude right now?
BH: I don't think so. We lost to a top-10 team in Oregon at home. Arizona State's very good. USC has played the toughest schedule in the conference. Their seniors I thought really stepped up tonight. I thought Fontan, Wise… I thought Terrell did a nice job for them. [Byron] Wesley was very effective. Played good defense tonight. Give those guys credit. ‘SC was doing a good job there.
Q: was Fuller's performance off the bench surprising at all? I think it's the best he's played in probably over a month.
BH: well, yes. He had 13 points in the first half. A lot of them were layups. A lot of them were just our poor rotation. Not rotating down. Wise hurt us. Wise is a very good player and he was very effective tonight. I thought a lot of baskets that Fuller got in the first half… we had like 1 transition bucket where we gave up a layup in transition over the top. We made a number of errors.
Q: jump shooting's kind of been your forte this season. The last 2 games, stone cold. What do you attribute it to?
BH: I don't know if there's anything. A part of it was I thought they did a good job being patient and making us play defense for long periods of time and maybe wearing on our legs a little bit. I've got to do a better job rotating Tony [Parker], Dave Wear, and Norman [Powell] in there for more minutes.
Q: Coach, you guys have lost 2 straight at home now. Do you have conversations to them about taking pride in your home court? Playing in your home court?
BH: yeah, I think that's pretty self-explanatory. That's a really basic thing. We just can't expect that because we're at home, we're going to win. You have to show up. You have to really, really be tough. And give them credit. I thought that ‘SC did a great job of that.
VIDEO: Howland after USC
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