Howland's Tuesday Press Conference

Ben Howland talks about the upcoming game against ASU, how Tony Parker has adjusted to his role, and how Travis Wear is doing...

Ben Howland talks on Tuesday:


BH: okay, fire away.

Q: what's Travis [Wear]'s update?

BH: I would say that he is doubtful for tomorrow, but he's getting a lot better. I don't know that for sure. He went out there today. He was taped up. He was out there a little bit. We'll see how much he improves tomorrow. But in my mind, I'm not counting on him for tomorrow's game. Hoping he'll be ready and back by Saturday's game. If he heals up and feels like he can go and we can make the decision, then that's great, but right now, we're going with the game plan on him being out.

Q: how much a factor was his absence the last time you played ASU?

BH: it's a huge factor. To have one of our best players, one of our leading scorers… a guy that's played well all year long. To have him out of the lineup is tough. I mean, he's obviously a very good player. A guy that on a given night can get you 20 points. So we're going to be conservative with it. We've got a lot of basketball left to play. We're not going to rush him back unless he's comfortable. It's got to be his thing. It's going to make it that much more tough. It puts more of a challenge to everybody else on the team, especially Dave [Wear], Kyle [Anderson], and Tony [Parker]. And those guys answered the bell on Sunday so now it's another challenge. And these bigs are… that's where they really hurt us last time. I mean, [Jordan] Bachynski killed us. 22 [points], 16 [rebounds], and 7 [blocks], I think. Or maybe it was 14. 22, 14, and 7. He was dominant, and we've got to do a better job. He's a very good player. He's second in the country in blocked shots. I still think about his blocked shots. He had 12 blocks in one game against [Cal State] Northridge this year. He's had 9 in two different games. The guy has great size, good timing, he's a good athlete, he's got a nice touch, he plays hard, he's tough… he's a tough customer. And they're a really good team. They just beat Colorado at Colorado, prior to their last 2 games this past weekend. We know that's a hard place to play. And Colorado's a very good team. And they lost to Washington. Washington's got a good team too. Washington's starting 3 seniors, and they went in there and toughed one out in a close game but ASU, like everybody in our league, can beat anyone in a given night. And they're playing right now… I look at the bracketology and they know that [Joe] Lunardi has them as his last team out. What's going to help them get in? Beat us tomorrow. We understand that. That's the kind of mindset and emphasis they're going to have on this game tomorrow.

Q: do you know where you are in bracketology?

BH: I don't. Where are we?

Q: 7. A 7-seed.

BH: well…

Q: what do you have to do to neutralize a guy like Bachynski on the defensive end to keep him from controlling things?

BH: you know what? They're good at being patient. Getting the ball into him. We've got to play physical and hold our ground. Not let him "weigh" you in at 250… we're giving up weight except for Tony [Parker]. I mean, Tony's going to be important. And the thing Bachynski has over Tony is his experience.

Q: but on the other end, how do you keep him from dominating the game in the middle like that?

BH: we have to shot think better. He blocked 6 of our shots last time. You just don't see many guys like him. It's like, you know… we can't simulate Bachynski out in practice. We have no one like that. so you've got to adjust to it when you play against him.

Q: how much more trust do you have in Tony, especially given what he did in the last game?

BH: I was so happy about Tony's minutes, particularly in the first half, but I have a lot of confidence in Tony. His experience… so I know he's excited about his opportunity right now, and it's going to continue. It's just good to have that… what he gives us that I thought, that I was really impressed with, was the physicality inside. He's banging bodies. That's what we need him to do. He had 3 fouls, 2 in the first half, but I'm really pleased about how he's developing over the course of the season, and I thought he showed really good minutes for us on Sunday.

Q: Larry [Drew II] said he's needed some reminders sometimes to use that weight to be physical. Is that kind of been his biggest obstacle do you think?

BH: it's one thing… when you're in high school and you're that size, you're almost always bigger than everybody else. Now everybody's got the same kind of size as you do in most cases so now it's just learning… teaching him and getting it to be a habit to play with physicality because that's his strength. He's strong. He's got great lower body. He's got good strength. He's got good hands. And he's learning. It's been a learning process. Like I said before, I have never coached a better kid than Tony Parker in 32 years. He's as good a young man as you're going to find. And he's got a great work ethic. He wants it bad. He's doing extra work. He's going to develop into a real nice player.

Q: he seemed a little more patient offensively when he got passes. Is that something that's been an emphasis for you?

BH: yeah, just learning to let the game slow down. When you're a freshman, thrown in… especially a big and these guards are swiping at you. They're like piranha when the ball goes in there. And you've got to learn how not to get sped up, but to stay patient. To slow down. A lot of post guys have to learn how to slow down and let the game slow down. And play slower inside. What I was really pleased with too was he went to his left. One of Tony's bad habits that he had when he first got here, and he continues to try to be better at, every time he catches it in the post, you know the first thing he wants to do?

Q: dribble?

BH: dribble. And so by dribbling it, it allows the other team to react to it, and that's a habit he's getting better and better at breaking. And it happened to him in the first ASU game. He got the ball inside and could've gone right up with it but instead he dribbled and now Bachynski is able to react to it and he blocked the shot. So this time around, hopefully he doesn't dribble. And it happens in practice, and we bring it up every time. When someone else does it, we bring it up in practice. So it's learning.

Q: have you guys [figured out] the goggle situation for Shabazz [Muhammad]?

BH: you know what? He went ahead and remade again yesterday… the strength of the prescription was too strong, and we're supposed to have them by tomorrow. His eye looked better today. You'll see his eye. His eye looked the most improved and the widest I've seen in a week. So I think that's a good sign as well. I think it's improving, and I think he should be able to wear contacts for the game tomorrow. In practice, we probably want to have him use the goggles here until it's complete but that's for the doctor. I don't know how… I don't know.

Q: you zoned for, I think, one possession against ‘SC. What was the reason for that?

BH: foul trouble. We had 2 bigs in there with fouls. Just something different for one possession, and we still gave up a layup.

Q: how much would it help Tony just getting… stringing back to back solid games for him just with building his confidence?

BH: that would be great.

Q: do you see him… you know, does his attitude change a little bit coming off a game like he had on Sunday?

BH: he's great all the time when you meet him. He's taken so much, I think, stuff from everybody. "Not playing", "how does it feel…" it was really hard on him early. I can tell you, a McDonald's All-American, a kid that's had so much success, to keep such a great attitude throughout our season… I just can't say enough about him as a kid. And you can see, now thrust with the opportunity, he takes advantage of it. I'm just so happy for him. And I'm just so excited because I can see just how good he's going to be down the road. I really feel that way. So I'm really proud of Tony for his positive… being such a great teammate to his teammates. He's been fantastic. And so, in other words, that kind of situation couldn't happen to a nicer person. No guy deserves it more. He's like a good Christian kid. He goes to Sunday church. He's got a beautiful girlfriend who's a player at USC who's just gorgeous and nice. Beautiful. High school sweetheart. That's another USC girlfriend. We've got 3 of them. Our whole frontline is dating girls from ‘SC.

Q: Détente?

BH: *smiles* *chuckle*

Q: you talked about this year with Jordan [Adams] as far as exceeding your expectations when you had him come in. What has he done so well?

BH: well, you know what? Like I was so excited about Jordan's defensive rebounding. He had big rebounds late in that game Sunday. He shoots the ball well. He's making good decisions. He's a good passer. But he's guarding now the other team's best wing night in and night out. And so he's playing unselfishly. He's a great team guy. He's playing tough. He does all the little things. He throws his body around. He's not afraid to get in there and bang with people. And we really need him to rebound the way he did the other day. Those 6 defensive boards were huge. And I'd like to see that. And he's going to have an opportunity to do that again tomorrow.

Q: what was the reason behind the switching him on their best main player?

BH: I think he's done that for the most part. He's been doing that all year. So whether it's a 2 or a 3, he's done a good job. And he's a tough hard-nosed guy. He comes from a great high school program. Coach Smith… man, we went… he's had like 30 NBA players come out of his program. As much as any university. It's incredible.

More questions? Okay, thanks.

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