Howland's Friday Teleconference

Ben Howland talks about playing against Stanford on Saturday, the blowout against Cal, and what caused the complacency against the Bears...

Q: Are you worried that the team is pushing too hard?

A: Our team is obviously disappointed with the way we played yesterday. They were very much down yesterday, and this will be a good game for us to come back and respond. This a team that lost a close one at home to USC, so Stanford is going to have a sense of urgency. WE just need to do a better job of executing on both ends. Especially, our defense was porous, but we were killed again by not performing offensively. They go hand in hand. It's not like two separate teams. We have to do a better job in our half court offense in particular.

Q: Is it always the best thing for players to try to take over the game individually? Shabazz touched on this last night.

A: Last night was tough for Shabazz Muhammad because when he would catch the ball, they would run another player at him to double him, and the implication was that he needed to pass. And teams may do that to him again in the future so it was a good learning experience for him. We're starting three freshmen. Even though we're in February, we're still a young team.

Q: Do you think that losses like last night hurt more when they're on national TV?

A: I don't know that. I think there's a lot of basketball to be played. At the end of the day, it comes down to wins and losses, quality wins. Cal's playing great right now, they've had two wins over the first place team in the conference in successive weeks. Their crowd was great, and I think we got a little flustered by that, and then we started taking quick shots and weren't patient, and it just snowballed from there. Hopefully we can learn from that.

Q: The way the Pac-12 is playing out right now, does it help when it comes to the tournament that there's so much parity right now, or would it be better if there were a few dominant teams?

A: I think our league had a lot of good wins in the non conference. I thought it was very likely that Colorado would run the table. They've got a great home court and a great crowd behind him. And what it does is make our win over Colorado at Colorado that much better. Now, we've had some really good wins. At Colorado, at Arizona, over Missouri at home. So in terms of that, I'm just thinking about us. But our league is playing well. You look at USC, they're doing a great job right now. Cal's playing relaly well right now. Colorado is playing great right now, just beating Arizona. Oregon's obviously playing really well. So there's a lot of teams doing a really nice job in our conference. When you talk about how poor our conference was the last two seasons, it's back up again now. Stanford is going to be very tough for us to beat tomorrow. That was a great win for USC last night, because Stanford is playing great now. We've got our hands full tomorrow. It's a quick turnaround game. There's not a lot of turnaround time.

Q: How Drew?

A: He was great today in the walkthrough. In fact, Larry did the best job of anyone in the walkthrough today, with no problems. Shabazz had a little soreness in his groin.

Q: What were they working on with Drew?

A: his Achilles tendon. It was a little tight. I'm not sure which one it is.

Q: Do you think complacency was a problem?

A: I don't think that was a factor, but our young guys are going through this for the first time and they don't know what to expect necessarily. If you get complacent, you're going to lose. And it's not just against Cal, it's against everybody. As I told you after the game, I thought we had great practices this week, especially in on Monday and Wednesday.

Q: Is that something you address with the team, just because you beat these guys once, you won't necessarily beat them again?

A: I think I will, now that you guys have brought it up. I'm going to make that part of my speech tonight. God, if that's the perception that you guys have, I sure hope it's not the case, but I'll bring it up if that's going to get in their head the right way. Cal's a much better team than the team we beat by 14 at home. Stanford, we beat by five or eight, whatever it was, but they played us tough, so we need to be ready.

Q: Do you bring up the importance of this game against Stanford with the team?

A: Every game is the most important game of the year. That's always been my philosophy, and the philosophy I try to impart on my players.

Q: Is it of greater importance because of the need to get a split?

A: It's of greater importance because it's the next game. It's the task at hand.

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