VIDEO: Howland, Players After ASU

Coach Ben Howland, Travis Wear and Shabazz Muhammad took questions in the post-game press conference after the win over Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament...

Ben Howland, Travis Wear and Shabazz Muhammad took questions after the Arizona State win in the Pac-12 Tournament.




Transcript

BH: that was a great win. Really proud of our team. We beat a very good team today. When you look at our conference, the PAC-12, and you think that that's the eighth-seeded team in our league, I think that says a lot about our conference. Give Arizona State a ton of credit. They had us down. They had us down 15 with 16 minutes to go, but these guys never quit, they never gave up, they never stopped believing in themselves and each other and really found a way to battle back. We came out great in the second half and cut it to 3, then it went back to 11, and then we battled back again after going down 15. So I'm really proud because earlier in the season, we had a couple other instances like that and we didn't come back. This team is very resilient, has great leadership, and just really proud of their toughness. And again, I can't say enough about Arizona State, I thought [Jordan] Bachynski… he always gives us problems. He's given us problems in every single game since his freshman year. He didn't even play a lot as a freshman. I thought that Jordan Adams did a fantastic job on [Carrick] Felix today. for Felix to only have 7 points and 4 rebounds tells me he was blocked out well and that he was defended well because he's a great player and he's going to make a lot of money. [Jahii] Carson is just fantastic. Can't say enough about him. I thought Larry Drew [II], I mean, I look at his line, 8 for 10 from the field, 4 for 4 from 3. 20 points. 4 assists. Only 2 turnovers. We only had 6 turnovers today and they only had 5 so that's a pretty well-played game when you're talking about 2 teams that, combined, only had 11 turnovers. And I was so happy that we won the battle of the boards today because that's been our Achilles' heel. And that's why, by the way, Larry's not here right now because he's icing his Achilles' tendon which is a little sore. I thought Travis [Wear] did a great job. You consider that Travis had missed 2 weeks with the exception of 32 minutes of game playing with the Arizona game and Washington State. He didn't do anything with contact, and so he obviously made a big shot. I thought that Shabazz [Muhammad] did a fantastic job taking the game over, especially scoring inside. I mean, we need to score inside. And he's our best player at going to the basket. And we made our foul shots. 15 for 17 is fantastic. We had to play really really well to beat a very good team and live for another day.

Q: Shabazz, can you talk about your second half? After a slow start, you were able to pick it up in the second half.

SM: yeah, I mean, the first half, we got some good plays set up for me, and I got some open looks. I mean, they didn't fall, but I was just trying to make sure I was rebounding the ball and playing hard, and when you do that, you get good opportunities. And I started rebounding the ball and the ball started really coming to me in the second half.

BH: he had foul trouble in the first half too. We were kind of taking… I really rolled the dice to play him in the last minute in that last possession of the first half, for him to get the rebound and put it back was a huge play for us.

Q: yeah, Shabazz, over here, what happened at the end of the game there in front of the Arizona State bench?

SM: yeah, I mean, I just got a hard foul. And then he… I don't know if he kicked the ball or I don't know what. But I just tried to stay composed and just knowing that it's a tough loss for them. They were up the whole game. And like I said, we're getting ready for tomorrow so that's one thing we have to forget about.

Q: did he kick you?

SM: yeah, he did kick me. But I mean, it's something… he's a competitor and he's mad that they lost so that's what it is.

Q: Shabazz, you just talked about coming back home and playing here at the gym. It almost looked like it was going to end one-and-done and you get to keep on going.

SM: yeah, I mean, we were very fortunate. I mean, I just thought in the first half… I thought we played hard. In the second half, we really turned it up and it really had good karma for us. And we just went down and really rebounded the ball. I think we outrebounded them. And Travis hit that big shot. I mean, we just all were really composed and that's what happens when you're composed and relaxed.

Q: Ben, what was the difference on the boards? I know it's been awhile since you guys have outrebounded someone. Was there something that you noticed that was especially different? Was it motivation? Effort?

BH: I thought we blocked out. I thought that Travis, in particular here, and David [Wear], were excellent in that respect. Because they're the ones that are kind of isolated inside. They're playing 4 guards out on the perimeter and only 1 big inside. And Bachynski's a load. He's going to make a lot of money playing basketball. And he's done next year after his senior year. He's really a hard matchup. I did notice, looking at the stats here, we had 5 guys in double figures. And that always pleases me. When we have 5 guys in double figures, chances are we're going to win the game. So it was really good balance today, led by Larry. He's playing really good basketball for us.

Q: yeah, Ben, over here, over here. What did you think about the uniforms?

BH: you know what? Our players love them. Shabazz was just talking about how nice they fit. They're so light.

Q: how nice they fit?

BH: yeah, how nice they fit. They're really light. Very light.

Q: how about how they look?

BH: you know what? I'm 55, but I'm hip. I'm cool, you know? But we're going back to our UCLA traditional jersey tomorrow. I like some of the jersey changes. I was telling Shabazz and Travis out in the hallway before we came in here, the one before the ‘SC game, the all-blue one, I really liked that. And Adidas is unbelievably great to us. Adidas is a great partner for UCLA. They're incredibly supportive. They take care of all of our teams and do a fantastic job. So this is a marketing thing for them, and we're happy to help them in any way we can.

Q: Coach, way back here, up top. Obviously, you don't know your opponent yet but I've got to post the hypothetical if you face Arizona or Colorado. Take us through what you see.

BH: when you get to this time of year, there's no easy game. Colorado is fantastic. They're in the 20s in the RPI. Arizona is 13 in the RPI. And they're both very good teams. We know we've got our hands full. We're just really pleased to be playing another day. Finding a way to come back and win that tough game over Arizona State. So we're excited about the opportunity. We know it's going to be a tough game either way. It's hard.

Q: Shabazz, dunking on a 7 footer. Walk me through that. And have you ever done something like that before?

SM: yeah, I mean, not this season. But, I mean, in high school, I think I've done it. Just knowing I got the break, and I knew he was going to jump so I just tried to get good positioning on him and went up and got the dunk on him.

Q: kind of fired his teammates up, as I remember.

SM: yeah.

Q: Ben, how important is it for your team, not only to show the resilience you showed today but also to win a tournament game with the scrappiness that this team showed?

BH: it's great. It's very important. Because we're hoping to get a good situation in the next tournament. We're playing right now like it's the NCAA Tournament in that if you lose, you're done. I mean, we were on the flight home if we lose this game. So you've got to have that sense of urgency on every possession. We made a few mental breakdowns. We left [Jonathan] Gilling… Gilling played great. Gilling made five 3's today. They were 6 for 17. We were really fortunate because we actually had a 3 point lead and left him to help on a drive which was what Carson wanted, and he had a wide open 3 right in front of their bench that he missed. He had one wide open… I think his last two 3's he missed and they were both great looks so we appreciate the good fortune and was very thankful.

Thank you.

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