Howland's Friday Teleconference

Ben Howland talks about Bill Walton's comments from last night, Shabazz Muhammad's reaction to Larry Drew's game winner, and more...

Q: Bill Walton had some pretty pretty critical comments about you and the program last night, did you get a chance to hear those?

A: You know, I just heard about them, I was on the Washington State game. I haven't had a chance to watch our game yet because we're focusing on the next game. But I am aware of that.

Q: What do you think the impact of somebody like that of his stature, especially with a UCLA background, when he says stuff like that?

A: I think we talked about this in the past, because he's been critical in all of our games that he's done this year. I think he's done three of our games this year. I think he's done last night's game, Arizona, and Missouri. AS a broadcaster and as an analyst and announcer, that's his job, and that's perfectly within his right to be critical. For me, Bill is one of the greatest players in the history of college basketball. He holds such a special place in UCLA basketball lore. I just take it and try to do the job to the best of my ability.

Q: Seem odd for him to be so critical during three pretty big wins?

A: Those are just the games that he's had. I'm not sure how many more time he has us. Obviously he feels the way he feels about me, and there's nothing I can do about it.

Q: How do you turn a deaf ear to that chatter from the Internet, and the likes of Bill Walton?

A: What I'll always remember and have fond memories of Bill was when we were in Oakland when he was right behind our bench cheering us on against Gonzaga and Memphis. And the same thing the next year in the tournament when we were going to the final fours. All of the players of his era will have…you know, Bill was 60-0 in his first two years at UCLA. His reference point is pretty special and I understand that. What they had here, and what they did, will be hard to see often again in the history of college basketball. Their expectations are so high and I get it, that's what makes UCLA special.

Q: But what about the Internet chatter, how do you tune that out?

A: It's part of the job, Chris. Anytime you're in a high profile position especially when you're in a metropolitan area like LA, when there are so many different media outlets, you're going to have that. And I understand that, it's something that's part of the job, and it's something that makes UCLA special.

Q: Knowing that he's part of the UCLA family, and a guy you've had over for barbecues, does that make it harder?

A: It is what it is.

Q: Was it somewhat satisfying to get that kind of win last night, and have the associate athletic director come over and give you a slap on the back?

A: Mark Harlan's always there. When we lose he was there, when we lost to Oregon, he was there. Mark's great. The support from the administration has been phenomenal during my tenure here, and I'm so appreciative of that. They're there, and have been there my entire tenure here, win or lose.

Q: What did you think of Shabazz Muhammad's reaction after Larry Drew's game winner?

A: I think it was overblown. I really do. I think it was another thing that was blown out of proportion.

Q: You don't think it was strange that he wasn't celebrating with the rest of the team?

A: He was very happy. And I think he was right, my first concern after the game was that I was worried someone might get hurt. You've all heard about guys getting hurt after a winning shot. It's happened. We've had players with sprained ankles and injuries in warmups. More than once.

Q: Is it surprising that Larry wanted to take that shot?

A: Larry is a great competitor. The thing that's most exciting for me is how hard he's playing on the defensive end. The difference for us in the game was turnovers. We had 10, they had 19. Our ball pressure was better than it's been all season, and you want your point guard to play like that. That was great. I've been very spoiled to have great point guards the whole time I've been here.

Q: Do you think last night could be a turning point of sorts?

A: Well, let's hope so. We'll look back. Ask me that question in a month.

Q: How much of a concern is it to face a zone while you're in a bit of a shooting slump?

A: I think it's a good thing. We have good shooters. Anytime you have good shooters, and you're patient, you can get good shots against a zone. A zone won't be a bad thing.

Q: You have been in a shooting slump, do you see a defense like this as an opportunity?

A: We've just got to get better shots. There were 66 shots last night, that's a lot of shots for us. When we're shooting a lot of shots, it's not great. Usually when we're around 60 it's better for us.

Q: How much do you pay attention to points off of turnovers, and what's a good ratio?

A: I don't pay attention to that, I'm just happy when we force a turnover. I pay more attention to how many we have and how many they have. I pay more attention to the rebounding totals, and they get a little skewed when we're shooting poorly. When we shoot better, and we miss less, that'll obviously skew it a little more in our favor.

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