VIDEO: Howland after USC

Ben Howland talks about how UCLA beat USC without Travis Wear, how well Tony Parker played, and the quick turnaround before the next game...

Ben Howland after USC:


BH: so obviously, that was a great win for us. I thought the first half, we played tremendously at both ends of the floor. Our defense fed our offense. Really pleased with Tony Parker's play. I thought he was huge today. But to win here on the road without Travis [Wear] available to us, was absolutely a significant statement by our young guys and our team. I thought Larry [Drew II]'s two 3's early in the first half were huge. And Jordan Adams had obviously a tremendous game. I love looking right here and seeing 5 guys in double figures. When we have that kind of balance, that's when we had our best games and been our best teams over the years. So this is a huge win, and I'm just excited for our team. And now we have the quick turnaround. I didn't even know we were playing Wednesday until yesterday. Because that's how much I'm looking forward to the next game. I found out yesterday because I have a friend of mine call me, wanting tickets. I was like, "are you sure we're playing Wednesday?" So it's a quick turnaround and we've got to be ready for the [Arizona State] Sun Devils who like us are fighting to get into the tournament and everybody's bringing their best.

Q: you called the last game against USC as "depressing." So what kind of adjustments were you able to make in this long stretch off.

BH: I actually referred to being depressed after watching the film. And when I watched that… and our whole team, we saw it again. No clips this week. We saw the whole game the last time we played them. We played much better defense. They ended up winning on the boards, but it's when they were down 20. They really hit the offensive glass. So give them credit. They didn't stop playing. They battled back. They cut it to whatever it was. 11, 9. And I think we made our foul shots today, for the most part. 19 for 28.

But we had some great performances. Dave Wear… I got to commend Dave. He had a double-double. 11 rebounds. Dave Wear and Tony really stepped up in the absence of Travis today. it just shows we've got a lot of great players.

Q: how does it change how teams have to approach you defensively when Tony's playing like he did in the first half?

BH: yeah, [Tony] did a great job because they were kind of switching. And so he was isolated in the post, and he really finished well around the basket. Couldn't be happier for the guy. A guy who didn't get to play as much as he would like. Has stayed positive through all… everybody asking him the question, "how does it feel to not be playing as much as you would like?" And yet, he's been a great teammate. We talked over and over again about there'll be a time when there'll be a huge game and you'll be thrusted in and he'll obviously be in the same situation on Wednesday. And it really is great for me because it gives me a lot of confidence in Tony the way he played today in such a huge game. and you could see how much he's improved during the season. He's improving. He's just so much better defensively. I'm just so happy with him because there's not a nicer kid that I've ever coached. Not a nicer human being, young man… ever. And I've been doing this a long time so for me, this is a big statement. I'm telling you, it's the honest-to-God truth.

Q: game started to get pretty chippy when USC came back fighting in the second half. How were you able to control the team? [audio difficulties]

BH: yeah, you know what? Our guys… I didn't see the replay and what happened to Norman [Powell]. I thought that that was the right call, double technical. Probably took Norman out too long because I just didn't want the "chippiness." And there was talking going on. We have 3 of the best officials in the PAC-12 doing the game today so they did a good job keeping the game under control.

Q: you've got 4 games left, still tied for first in the PAC-12, how do you manage your team's emotions?

BH: [audio difficulties]… …about the next game.

Q: [audio difficulties] against USC to slow down from last time?

BH: I think part of it was Shabazz [Muhammad] had more contacts in 4 days. He played with contacts for the first time. He's able to play with them. We've had a really tough time in trying to find goggles that would fit him and work. I think it's something he's going to have to get used to and hopefully it clears up. We have one of the top eye institutes in the world. We have doctors who are working with him. I talked with Shabazz. It's all about winning. That's what we're trying to do here. It's not about the stat sheet other than the wins.

Q: [audio difficulties]

BH: I thought he did a good job… I thought Larry was terrific today. I don't know his assists today. He got tired there. I probably played him huge minutes in the second half. He started to get a couple uncharacteristic turnovers. He still played 37 minutes. But I thought he did a great job controlling the game.

Q: what does it open up elsewhere?

BH: the first play of the game, he got the ball inside to Dave Wear and he kicked it out to, I think, it was Jordan for a wide open 3. Was it Jordan or Larry?

Q: Larry.

BH: getting it inside is so important because it makes teams collapse so we can get it back out. And they actually changed the way they were playing us. Normally, they were going underneath screens and they ended up changing it because we shot the ball so well. We were 2 for 19 when we played them last time. Too many 3's. Today, we were 6 for 11 from 3 in the first half and only one in the second so much better to not rely so much on the 3 pointers.

Q: what was your thought process, I guess, Tony not getting as many minutes in the second half.

BH: he got tired. They were making a run. I hate to throw a guy in there during that kind of melee. He's a freshman. The officials got on him one time for getting chippy with somebody. I explained to these guys. We can't afford that. We have too much riding on the line here to have somebody miss a game because of a response to someone else goes into the social media.

Q: what would have been differently coming in … [audio difficulties] you had to get this game. To keep up with Arizona…

BH: these are what-if's now.

Q: I know.

BH: we got this game. This game is over. We got it. It's done. It's in the books.

Q: do you think your players better understood the rivalry this time around?

BH: I thought the uniforms… and I didn't like the quick turnaround the last time. We played Saturday-Wednesday. Everything was for TV. This time, we had much more time to prepare, and what's really disappointing, for the first few days of the week, we practiced without contact to minimize partly anybody getting injured in practice. So sure enough, the day before we play, we're going with contact and he gets hurt in the first 5 minutes so you just never know.

Q: what happened?

BH: it's a foot sprain. He sprained his foot. It's a ligament in his foot.

Q: and what's the timeframe you have?

BH: day-to-day. Don't know. He has a fair amount of swelling in there. I told Trav that he should know everything there is to know about [audio difficulties] by the end of the week because he's going to spend a lot of time in there.

Anymore questions? Okay, thank you.

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