VIDEO: Howland after ASU

The head coach talks about how each of the three freshmen played, the quality of this ASU team, and what it'll take to beat Arizona on Saturday...

Ben Howland after Arizona State:


BH: … considering the adversity of not having Travis [Wear] again. Really did a great job battling a very good Arizona State team. You could see why they definitely have a very good chance at the NCAA Tournament. Their loss tonight on the road here I don't think hurts their chances. I think that they're a problem for people, and they really played well. You know, we got in foul trouble in the first half. We had to go to zone. The zone was horrible. It reminded me of earlier in the season against San Diego State. But we never work on it.

I thought our rebounding was good tonight, especially Kyle [Anderson]. Kyle, obviously. 15 boards. I was really pleased with both Jordan [Adams] and Shabazz [Muhammad]. Each had 6 defensive boards. Those boards were huge for us.

And we did a much better job in the second half with our field goal percentage defense. When you look at this game though, we kept switching and playing ball screens because of the size disadvantage of [Jordan] Bachynski. [Jahii] Carson is just a heck of a player. [Carrick] Felix is a heck of a player. Those 4 3's early in the game were breakdowns. When you have 31 negative… you're supposed to make him dribble to his shot, and I think he had 12 of the first 16 points. Was that correct? So he was killing us.

And then we missed foul shots down the stretch that we were capable of making. I'm looking at this and I can't believe this is right. That the only ones missed were Shabazz's. We were 15 for 18. So it was really… he had a chance there. On the front-end. On the second… you know, we had 13 turnovers. Larry [Drew II] got… I didn't do a good enough job utilizing Norman [Powell]. And I felt like when we got to the end of the game with 7 minutes to go, it's just hard to throw a guy in there when it's that tight. I definitely should've used him down the stretch. Our guys showed a lot of character.

Originally, I was hoping, coming down the stretch, and get ready for Arizona tomorrow, but we're taking the day off. Shabazz will not be coming in here because he tweaked and sprained his left ankle, and he's being seen by the doctor and trainer right now, but he assured me he's okay. Travis [Wear]'s status is now day-to-day and I hope that he'll be back, ready to do a walkthrough or something by Friday but that's just me hoping. Questions?

Q: Coach, this game kind of… you guys, the last time you played them [audio difficulties]

BH: well, we talked about right before the game that they beat us 53 to 33 on the boards in Tempe. So we did a much better job in that respect. And we had to play really well to beat this team. they're a good team. We got 21 assists tonight on 28 baskets which is great. I thought Shabazz's first half really got us going. He was terrific tonight in that first half. He still… it's frustrating for him because the only time he gets to wear contacts is on Sunday for the game and today. So we're hoping… and we've got goggles again for him. So I'm praying and hoping that his eye will clear up and that his ankle's going to be okay. I thought Jordan Adams made a big shot to tie it up 70-all. I thought Dave Wear played terrific tonight again. He played all 25 minutes, I believe, starting the second half. He didn't come out the last 25 minutes. So that shows the great condition he's in, and he did a good job battling Bachynski all night because that guy's big and strong, and he didn't have the same type of game he had in Tempe when he had 22 [points] and 15 [rebounds].

Q: Coach, Kyle had a career high tonight. Also, Jordan and Shabazz were over 20 points as well tonight. How much in a game like this was that needed, those contributions from those 3 guys in particular?

BH: yeah, those guys did a great job. I thought there was good execution offensively on a lot of possessions. We ended up shooting 42%. We've got to… We obviously missed [not] having Travis out there. And I thought Tony [Parker] did a good job. His basket that tied it at 52-all was big. I thought, though, that Larry made uncharacteristic turnovers out of fatigue, and that's my fault. It was 66-60, and he was trying to up the ball and we're tired. Instead of slowing it down. So I talked to him about that. I'm just glad we can learn from a winning game rather than a losing game.

Q: obviously, the rebounding battle was completely different than it was in the last game. What was the main difference? Was it effort?

BH: yeah. I thought also that… we did a great job effort-wise, but we didn't miss as many shots. A lot of times when we get outboarded, it's because we shot 32%l and we're not a great offensive rebounding team. So when we're more efficient offensively, we have a better chance. And we did a much better job. Shabazz, Jordan, Kyle… you talk about the points but I'm more excited by the rebounding. Because that's been our Achilles's heel. They all did a great job. between the 3 of them, they had 21 defensive boards out of our 30.

Q: yeah, is this kind of payoff where you've been playing freshmen all year, when they get into a game like this, that they are able to carry you?

BH: yeah, I would say they carried us. I think they all played great. Larry had 13 assists. Dave Wear is very important. I should've used Norman more in the second half. He had a very good first half for us, especially on the defensive end. But there's no question. These freshmen kids are not playing like freshmen in November. You can see, they improved a lot. All of them. In a lot of respects. And so that's exciting. To see guys improve. And you could see that those 4 freshmen, Tony and the 3 kids starting, I think earned… I think the media got it right. They are the #1 recruiting class in the country, and they played like it today.

Q: Coach, Jahii Carson…

BH: great player.

Q: … wants to go right the whole game. What were you guys trying to do to him to make him less effective than he was?

BH: uh, we didn't do a very great job of it, did we? And we know he wants to go right. But we were trying to… we got bit by Bachynski so bad in the last game that we were squeezing and going under. We were plugging and going under. That's my fault. Probably should've stayed with our normal hedge and go under with Larry. Carson… give him credit. He's a heck of a player. Every one of those 3's that they missed… like [Evan] Gordon's 3, he was wide open that he missed. There was another 3 by Carson that he missed down the stretch. They were fatigued too. You're looking at 45 minutes for [Jonathan] Gilling. 44 minutes for Carson. That's incredible and playing at that high level.

Q: how does he get to [audio difficulties] when you know he's going to the right?

BH: you know, he's so fast. He's so quick. And there's a screen. So he's going right because there's a screen. When it's just one-on-one, we did a pretty good job. But everything for them offensively is Carson receiving a ball screen. How do you play them? They've got a 7'2" guy. The way they shoot….

Q: Ben, we talked yesterday about them fighting for their tournament lives and needing this feather in their cap. What does this say about your team to be able to step up in a game where guys are leaving it all on the court?

BH: yeah, it's a great effort. And give Arizona State credit. Like I said, I don't think that loss tonight on the road is going to hurt them that bad because we're pretty good. We need to keep winning to make sure we don't hurt their RPI. So I hope that they're rooting for us. I know they will on Saturday. But that being said, they're a problem. You don't want to face them in the PAC-12 tournament. That would not be a team that I would like to see for a third time necessarily. They're a good team, and I'll say this. And I told him this. Herb [Sendek] is one hell of a coach. He is a great coach. And having, obviously, a great point guard makes coaching, for both of us, both of these teams are a lot better from a year ago and a lot of it has to do with having those 2 point guards joining each respective squad. Any more questions?

Q: you can finally turn your attention to Saturday's game. Seems like, with ESPN coming and all that, what are your thoughts going into that one?

BH: it's tough. Arizona is very good. It was a great win for ‘SC tonight. I found out after the game that ‘SC won. And we knew they'd bounce back from a tough loss at home to us. And Arizona is going to come in here, rip-roaring, ready to go on Saturday. No doubt about it. And they are very good. I mean, their RPI's in the top 5. Look at what they did in both the conference and non-conference. They're a great team who will represent our conference very well in the NCAA Tournament with a chance to go a long long way deep into the tournament. So this would be a great opportunity for us to play well and have a chance to win on Saturday. We know it's going to be tough, and they're very good. And I'm hopeful that Travis will be able to give us some minutes on Saturday. Thank you.

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