Head Coach Ben Howland answered questions from the media in his weekly Tuesday press conference.
Will you be better against
"Yeah, I'm confident we'll be
better. We spent a lot of time on it after that. Like I said this past weekend,
I thought we attacked both those zones well,
Given the success you've had
lately against it, do you expect
"Yeah. That's what they're doing now. They played a lot of zone against Stanford, for example, in their last game, and Stanford's a very good shooting team with a good inside attack. It's just what they're doing. They'll do both."
Does Thursday-Sunday for your two road games work better for you?
"Yes and no. It would be nice to coming back Thursday night after the game, but obviously that's not feasible. But this way gives us more time to prepare for the second game of the road trip, which I like. But it's also a long road trip, with an extra night on the road. So there are pluses and minuses. I would like to go Tuesday-Saturday, and fly back after the first game and then go back. That's me being idealistic as a coach. I know it's not feasible because of academics."
How does the addition of Richard Midgley change things, since he didn't play in the first game?
"He adds a really good shooter. He
didn't shoot it well against Stanford, and he probably won't have a game that
poor again, where he's 1-for-11. But he is one of the better shooters in our
conference, and a tough, hard-nosed kid. He had a shoulder issue, where he hurt
it earlier in the season. I can't remember who it was.
How big is the importance of this weekend, in terms of post-season? What would you like to see?
"We'd like to see two wins. We want
to win every game. Again, I'm not changing anything in terms of how we're
preparing. We're preparing for
Why is it that your young team tends to play well on the road?
"They do play well on the road.
It's a good question. I've given that some thought. I don't know if being on the
road and having less distractions is it. There are plenty of distractions to go
around, more than you would like, here at home. As opposed to on the road, when
you're more sequestered. I think these kids probably thrive on the fact, too,
that it's us against the world when you're on the road. You've seen a number of
teams that are like this.
Is it surprising for a young team to have success on the road?
"The young guys have been in a number of hostile environments with their high school teams. In small but loud gyms. And they're competitors. I think they've done a good job on the road for the most part. These are both difficult places to play."
How did David Paris hurt you so much in the first game?
"I tell you what, he hurt us facing up, he hurt us shot-faking, stepping through...he hurt us a lot of different ways. His drop-stepping and taking it right at Michael Fey. A lot of his points were on Michael, and Michael has to be prepared to defend him well this weekend."
Arron Afflalo said after the
last game that you guys stopped looking inside to Mike and needed to do that
more. Is it because of Mike or is it because your perimeter players won't look
"It's a combination. He's had 17
shot attempts in the last five games. That includes one or two at
Any kind of new approach to
"He had 18. And Rodrick Benson had
15. Those are the two main guys. Yeah, we'll try to do a few things differently
to help. But really in that game, if you go back and watch it, our offense is
what really made us struggle moreso than anything. I think we went through a
seven- or eight-minute stretch when we didn't score a field goal in the first
half. They finally got it going. It wasn't like they had it going at the
beginning. But there is no question that
Afflalo was sitting on the
bench during the 19-0 run against
"Yeah, he got back in there, though, before that run was over. But he's right. He was on the bench for a good majority of it."
Is it unusual for him to take quick shots?
"We watched the tape yesterday and he's just got to learn. It really hurt us, the team taking quick shots, in the first half. I think it's hard. Usually the one you expect to take a quick shot would be a freshman, and not a senior, or a fifth-year senior. That makes it a little difficult, because we're trying to get these kids to learn. He (Afflalo) will be fine."
Is there a way you can get them to calm down?
"We watched the film, and we have
to keep teaching and coaching. And Brian Morrison had a very good game for us on
Thursday, especially in the first half. I think he was then a little too excited
and amped up against
When he watches the film does he get it?
"We watch it sometimes over and over and over again, so hopefully. I just continue to try to coach him and get him to learn that. We have a lot of basketball yet to play."
What things can you do to get Fey the ball more?
"He has to do, number one, a better job of calling for it and wanting it. I like to have guys who are really demanding the ball. ‘Give – me – the – ball.' That doesn't mean I'm selfish and I'm going to shoot it every time. ‘But get the ball in here. I'm tired of not touching it.' But he also has to do a better job of sealing. When he's getting big and posting up, a lot of times guys are getting around him easily and it doesn't give the guards the confidence for them to pass it in there and not have it deflected or hit away."
Do you think there are times
when the guards look at him and could throw it into him and don't?
"Sometimes. There are times when he's open and we're not hitting him, and there are other times when our weakside wings go through and they stay and load the baseline, and it allows their man to be weakside help, instead of being high above the foul line."
A month ago we were talking about Fey not getting the ball. Now we're doing it again. Has he gotten lax again?
"I don't know if it's lax. I can't put it all on Mike. I have to do a better job of making sure we pass the ball in there. And that the guys have to look to get it into him. We talked about it after the game. We took 29 threes out of 66 shot attempts on Saturday afternoon. That's way too many threes, especially against a team that zoned us for about three minutes. Against zones, you get it in and get it back out and you shoot threes. But this is too many threes."
Are teams doing more things to try to keep Fey out of the offense?
"No, I don't think so. He's taking the sixth-most amount of shots in conference games on our team. He's not in the top five. But he's shooting the third-highest percentage in the conference."
What's his best offensive move?
"His best offensive move is probably a left-hand jump hook. But he has a good right hand. We actually didn't practice today and just watched filmed today, but I actually had the big guys work out yesterday and just work on post moves for 50 minutes. To get him more reps. I think Mike will respond. He's a good kid and he wants to do well."
"I don't know.
"He had those two really bad games
in terms of offense. But it's not all about scoring either. Against
When he had that great game on Thursday, he said the team fed off of him. Is the opposite true as well – when he's having a bad game does the team feed off that, too?
"I don't think so. We were up one
at halftime against
Do you think Jordan Farmar consciously became more aggressive offensively and looking to score?
"We ran a lot of quick-hitters for
him in the second half against ASU to get him going. He was fresh, he didn't
play that much in the first half, because he had three fouls. He was open. He
did a good job offensively against
Could you see a scenario where the Pac-10 only got two teams in the NCAA tournament?
"I would be very surprised by that."
Did you hear that Pacific's head coach, Bob Thomason, was lobbying to take one of the Pac-10 spots? He was asked if Pacific, if they lost the conference tournament, whether they should get a bid. And he said to look at the Pac-10, a conference that really only has two good teams.
"Bob is a good guy, and a good coach. I'm sure he just wants to get his team in."
Is there a magic number you need to win to get in?
There isn't a magic number. It's just going to come down to the last weekend of the season and the Pac-10 tournament."
Are games like Stanford and
"You know what, we have so far to
go here. There is no magic,
for-sure formula that the committee tells you this is what it takes, this is
what you have to do. They're very much into your non-conference schedule and who
you play and who you beat and where you play them. Even though we lost against
Do you think it matters that something like ESPN says other conferences should get many teams while the Pac-10 shouldn't.
"Well, ESPN doesn't have an
association with the Pac-10. Does it affect the committee? I don't think so. At
the end of the day, they sit down with all the numbers. They're very
well-organized. There are always going to be two or three teams that get left
out of the tournament that have a right to feel they should have gotten in. It's
like, was it right for
If you finish fourth in the regular season, with 16 or 17 wins, do you feel you deserve a berth?
"I can't answer that. Who do we play in the first-round of the Pac-10 tournament and what happens in that game? There are too many what-ifs."
How about if the Pac-10 only got two teams...
"I would be shocked, just based on the RPI of the conference. But one thing I know in the world of sports, anything is possible. We could get five teams."
Does Fey understand his important to this offense?
"I've made it very clear in front of the team, again. Yes."
Does he want to be important to the offense?
"Sure. Of course he does. We had
that conversation here before. Someone asserted that when he scores a lot we
seem to lose. Well, he didn't score the other day and we still lost. So that
throws that theory out the window. We win at
Does he have the competition he needs in practice, or the threat of minutes being taken from him?
"He's our best post defender. Channing Frye had 11 points against us the other day. Frye is an NBA player. He will be in the NBA player. He won't be a low-post NBA player, he's going to be four that spots up and shoots the ball. But Fey did a great job on him. He did a great job on Ike Diogu. He has improved a lot from a year ago. Remember, he had three games where he didn't get a rebound a year ago at one point in the conference. I think he's our second or third-leading rebounder. So he's doing more things than he was a year ago, but we need to get more out of him offensively. We have to get him the ball, and he has to seal better and be more aggressive. He has to be more aggressive wanting the ball. I like big guys to get mad when they don't get the ball. You want to have that problem where you have guys inside on the block who want it in there. Because that collapses defenses."
Is it in him to get mad?
"It's not his nature. But I have seen him get mad, and when he does it actually helps him. One thing about Mike, though, is that he's trying very hard."
Does Fey have a sense that everyone is picking apart his game?
"I don't know if we are that much, even though we have been here. I bring it to the forefront by saying we need to get him the ball more, and this is what we need to do to be more effective offensively. Like I said he's our best post defender on the team. And he's really improved in that area. He wants to do well. In terms of whether it affects him, or does he know if he's the center of conversation today, I don't know that. We'll ask (Associate Sports Information Director) Bill (Bennett) to make sure he relays that to him."
How is Josh Shipp's bruised thigh?
"He had treatment on it yesterday. I'm assuming it's getting better and better. It was sore after the game."