Howland on UCLA's Seed

Coach Ben Howland talked about UCLA getting a #6 seed to play #11-seeded Minnesota in the South Region for the NCAA Tournament...


Q: the seeding... how do you feel about the geography of this seed?

BH: we're headed to Austin, Texas. You just go where they put you. And we're playing a great team. an outstanding program in Minnesota. Tubby [Smith], I have great respect for. One of the best coaches in the country. He's proven that during his tenure at Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota. So, you know, they'll be very well prepared. They have Lionel Hollins's boys on the team as the star players, and they come out of a great conference that obviously has a lot of teams that are in the NCAA Tournament this year.

Q: Ben, you said you wanted to try to stay close to home. Is Austin fit in that category?

BH: oh no, we would hope that we were going to go to San Jose. And that was obviously our first choice because it's closest to home. Best for our fans to be able to go support their team. Two other PAC-12 teams got to go to San Jose. And then Arizona was put into Salt Lake [City] so that was closest for them so congratulations to them. They have the opportunity for their fans to get to the game a lot easier than ours.

Q: do you feel slighted about the location?

BH: it is what it is. I'm excited about being back in the Tournament for our team, our players. Every game is going to be tough. And you know, we've got an extra day than the teams who play on Thursday, which being that finals are tomorrow. The start of finals. We're unique, being a quarter school that… it's broke in different years during the tournament. I remember one year we were in San Jose playing in the regional finals when we had to take finals on the road. This week, we'll leave probably Wednesday after practice, and I think most of our guys are done by then with their finals.

Q: Coach, what would you rather have: a lower seed where you're shipped out …

BH: I would rather be closer.

Q: with a higher seed?

BH: I would rather be… honestly?

Q: yeah.

BH: I'd rather be Cal right now, playing in San Jose.

Q: Okay. So you'd rather have a 12 seed?

BH: yeah, I'd rather be a 12 seed right now playing in San Jose.

Q: it's that big of an impact? You think the trip and the [logistics]?

BH: absolutely. And especially for the fans. For Cal, it's a great situation. Not only are they playing, they're playing at home. And I'm happy for them. I thought that honestly, our league seedings were really disappointing for me. And I'm excited for our conference. I think our conference has a chance with Arizona, Cal, Oregon, ourselves, Colorado was a 10 seed, to do some good in the tournament. Collectively now, we pull for everyone in the PAC-12 because obviously we need to gain some respect based on how they seeded our teams.

Q: what did you think about Oregon? Winning the [tournament championship] and getting a 12 seed?

BH: that's what I'm just talking about. I was surprised.

Q: how much do you think that Jordan [Adams]'s injury impacted your seeding?

BH: well, you heard… were you guys listening?

Q: yeah.

BH: you heard that they talked… they may have slid us a line. I thought we were a 5 seed going into this. And you know, if we won yesterday, who knows, it could've maybe been a 4 seed. But at least a 5. That being said, it probably… I'd be curious to hear if anybody asked that question.

Q: you said Tubby. What stands out about Minnesota?

BH: you know, we're going to go watch them right now. I just know they have had some great wins this year. He's one of the best coaches in the country that's proven out over time. And we'll start studying them right now. We have to… We'll be watching film on them here as soon as I get done with this.

Q: with Jordan's injury, what kind of different preparations are you going to do?

BH: you know, we're going to… I've got to do a better job getting Tony [Parker] more minutes. We've got to use Tony for a minimum of at least 10 minutes here in this game coming up. And just play more people. We've got to get Kyle [Anderson] more comfortable now playing more minutes offensively as a 3 versus a 4. And also defensively as a 3 versus the 4. You know, the bulk of all his minutes this year has been as a 4 and so those are adjustments. And then we want to figure out how we're going to do some different things offensively with Jordan and Larry in the backcourt together with both being smalls. And so, we've got a lot of things that I'm excited about that we need to work on and I think will help us. Where we had no preparation, time to really work on any of that between Friday's game and Saturday's game over in [Las] Vegas.

Q: does Minnesota's rebounding concern you at all?

BH: everybody's rebounding concerns us. But I haven't looked at their stats or done any of that yet.

Q: I think they're 17th.

BH: yeah, I'm sure they're great. I'm sure that'll be a point of emphasis for them.

Q: do you have a history with Tubby at all?

BH: well, you know what? We played them that one year over in Hawaii when he was at Kentucky. And that's the only time that I've coached against him. And that was a really well-fought game by both teams. But I just have known him over the years and have great respect for him. I mean, they won the national championship against Utah. I was at that game when Rick Majerus was the coach of Utah. Down 10 at haltime and came back and won it. He was at Kentucky, I want to say, 10 years and multiple #1 seeds in the tournament. Really a great coach and a quality man.

Q: can you talk about… what kind of challenges do your players and team face, having to take finals and then play in the NCAA Tournament?

BH: yeah, that's the difference between a pro and being in college. I mean, this is, you know, a stressful time for them as they have to deal with taking finals and studying for it. We have players… Kyle was working on a paper Friday night in his room, it's due tomorrow, during the conference tournament. So it's definitely stressful for them. Just added stress. So maybe, by us being in the Friday rather than the Thursday game, it gives us an extra day because we are in the middle of finals right now so that's probably a good positive for us.

Q: Coach, Larry [Drew II]'s the only player on your team who's played in a tournament game. Are you going to rely on him, having been through the grind of being to the national title?

BH: not really. I mean, we're relying on him from the standpoint that he's our point guard and our leader. But not because he's the only one who's ever played in a tournament game.

Q: how is it different having a team that's never done this before though? Because your prior teams had [audio difficulties]

BH: I think it's just like all year. I think these freshmen will be really excited. I think the Wears will be really excited. And Norman [Powell]. I think it'll be great.

Q: your team's emotionally pretty devastated after hearing about Jordan's injury. Has enough time passed for them to accept it? It seemed like they were still reeling yesterday, in the loss.

BH: I think they feel terrible for him. We're a family and any time, and you're probably too young to have a family member sustain anything that's tough or real hard physically or health-wise, but any time you have that for one of your fallen brothers, it's tough and it's great they feel that way because it shows how much empathy they have for one another. So in a sense, I'm glad that you felt that.

Q: with Jordan out and a limited number of players that you have at your disposal, how much do you have to consider fatigue when you're going into a game plan?

BH: yeah, that's why I'm saying… like last night, I did a poor job using Tony. We're going to play 7 guys. I've got to play Tony. I'm going to play Tony here, alright?

Q: so wait, you're going to go on the record to say you're going to play Tony?

BH: I'm going on the record. Tony's going to get 10 minutes here this next game, minimum. We're playing Tony. For us to go anywhere in this tournament, he's got to be a part of the rotation. And a year from now, he's going to play much more than that. And you know, this is big. I was looking at how to do the rotations, you know, at 3 o'clock in the morning on the day of the game yesterday, trying to figure out… can we run stuff through Kyle as the point and put Larry coming off screens. There's lots of different things and so we've got things to hammer out here but the big thing is, is using Tony for more minutes to spread out those minutes among those 7 players who are going to play.

Q: were you able to do any of that kind of tactical gameplanning between when Jordan got injured and then playing on…

BH: no. I mean, in my mind… we tried to in the first half and I screwed it up by trying to implement things that we've never even done in practice because it's the third game in three days and the whole thing. So it was hard. So now, it gives us an extra day to do that. We'll take tomorrow off because of finals. So 2 days rest for these guys who played 3 games in 3 days. I think it's good health-wise. I'm going to work out Norman and Tony individually tomorrow along with a couple of the other walk-ons just to give them some… because Norman's now minutes have gone from 20 to 32. He should be playing 32, 33 is what I had thought about. I mean, I thought that, going in, and it's my fault for screwing up trying to figure out the rotations, we've got to get Tony a minimum of 10 minutes. Dave Wear's going to play more minutes. And then we've got to get more minutes that are going to be obviously for Norman as one of our better perimeter defenders.

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