Comments from Howland, Players

Head Coach Ben Howland, Arron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar and Cedric Bozeman talk to the press after UCLA's come-from-behind win over Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. UCLA give each other credit, but also credits Gonzaga...

Head Coach Ben Howland, Arron Afflalo, Cedric Bozeman and Jordan Farmar took questions from the media in the press conference right after Thursday's game.

Howland: "Obviously, we're real pleased to get the win. That was a great finish for us. It's really just a testament to the character, the toughness, the heart of our players to have the never-quit attitude.   I'm really, really proud of them.

"I would be remiss if I didn't immediately point out that we beat a great team today. As I said going into the game, that was the best team we've played all year with the possible exception of who happens to be our next opponent, MemphisGonzaga is terrific. Adam Morrison is special.  We feel very fortunate to have pulled out this victory.

"You have to credit our players and give them a lot of credit today for the way they hung in there and gutted it up. Just looking at the stat sheet, we held them to 36% in the second half after a terrible first half. I thought we came out much more aggressively at both ends of the floor. They ended up having 15 turnovers to our 10. I guess when you look at the statistic sheet, I guess that's probably the difference in the game, the five-turnover differential.

"As happy as I am for our players and our program, I genuinely do feel for Mark Few and his Gonzaga team and staff because I really have great respect for their program, what they've accomplished, having been there 25 years ago way back when. We're very, very excited about this opportunity to play on Saturday against a great Memphis team.

Jordan, could you describe the last sequence.

Farmar: "Just trying to apply extreme pressure.  We've been in the situation before.  What I can really think of is last year when we were down at home to, I mean, Pepperdine, but the situation was the same.  We were down one, we needed to force a steal. We were going to foul if they got past halfcourt. We trapped Adam in the corner. When he passed the ball to Batista.  It was myself and Ced. We were both swiping at the ball. We didn't want to foul that early. We wanted to create pressure and get a steal. I think Ced knocked it loose and I picked it up, saw Luc was coming under the basket.  Raivio was waiting up there so I had to put it up a little higher. Thank God Luc is 6'7" with a seven-foot wingspan, so I just put it up there and Luc went to go get it and made a great play."

Can you just talk about the last three minutes, what you did defensively that made the difference.

Afflalo:  "You know, it was nothing particular. We just played with a lot of energy. Obviously, it was desperation time, being down 9 with three minutes to go. You have to bring it all out, start trapping a little bit here and there.

"Three minutes is a long game -- a long time with only a 9-point lead, which is three or four possessions.   We were very fortunate tonight. "

I noticed after the game you went over to Adam.   What did you say to him at that point?

Afflalo: "You know, I was running around celebrating with the rest of my team.   But, you know, I saw him laying there in tears a little bit. I just felt for him a little bit. He's a great player. There's really no reason for him -- outside of the fact he's a competitor and wanted to win, he has no reason to cry.  He's a great player. He's going to have a great career.

"He should definitely keep his head up.  I mean, that's hard to say, you know, when you won the game and your opponent lost. But I just really wanted to see him still in a good mood."

Has it sunk in? Can you believe what's happened? Are you still kind of in shock?

Farmar:  "I guess we are. I mean, it won't really sink in for a while. We've seen it time and time again, you know, going back to all the classic tapes, just to be part of it is something special.

"Halftime, we just told each other, we've been here before, and it's a long way from finished. It seemed like the whole game, every time we would make a run, they'd come right back. We couldn't get the necessary stops until the last three minutes. I don't know where we got it from. But we dug deep, found a way to get it done. It's amazing. It's unexplainable right now."

Afflalo: "Same point here. I mean, just three weeks ago we were down double-digits up here against Cal. We just had to play with a lot of energy and make plays. Jordan said it, Luc, those guys, they really made the big plays down the stretch."

Jordan, could you talk about the steal at the end.

Farmar: "Just trapped a couple times. Trapped Adam Morrison in the corner, he passed it to Batista.   Ced and I were trying to create a lot of pressure. Ced knocked the ball loose, I picked it up, got it to Luc, who finished it."

I think you guys had cut it to six in the second half when Morrison made that four-point play.   How much wind did that take out of your sails?

Afflalo:  "It took a lot out of me personally. I had been on the bench with three fouls. The team, they did a great job of getting us back into the game. The first play, as soon as I get back in there to help, I foul and give up a three. So, On top of that, I pick up my fourth foul.

"I was deflated personally. But I know the team still had high spirits. They never gave up. It was just frustrating to come in there. I felt like I had to put a burden on them in a sense by coming in there and making that bone-head play. They kept fighting. They kept fighting."

Jordan, the fact that you were out of timeouts with so much time remaining, do you think that worked to your advantage?

Farmar: "It seems that way now. At the time -- we've been in the situation before.   Coach likes to call timeouts and use all the ones we have. We've been in situation where we've been down with no timeouts.

"It worked in our favor this time. It was a little helter-skelter. We got a turnover out of it. "

Was this game exemplary of the brand of basketball that's being played on the West Coast now?

Afflalo: "You know, ourselves and Gonzaga, we have contrasting styles a little bit. We are leaning towards or pushing towards trying to become a running team right now. But we're still a great halfcourt team, a great halfcourt defensive team as well as offensive team. That's why you see a lot of teams playing the zone right now because we execute very well.

"But, you know, their style of play, you know, is great as well. I think that's the first team in a while that scored over 60 points on us. As you could see, it came down to a game that had to be decided in the last seconds."

Did the thought cross your mind at any point you were in serious trouble and you were going to lose the game?

Afflalo: "Well, yeah, definitely. You know, you can't look past that. That's the reason why those three guys in particular stepped up and made plays. I'm speaking of Jordan, Ced, Ryan and Luc, Darren as well. You're down 17 in the second half, time is not on your side. That's great incentive for great players to start making plays."

Farmar: "I felt a little different. I was so caught up in trying to lead and trying to get my guys to play, play, to not worry about the score, to not think about going home. I would just keep saying, 'It's not over, we're going to win, don't worry about it.' I was saying it so much that, you know, I was believing it.

"We've been down before. We're a team with a lot of character and a lot of heart. We've had so much adversity throughout the year with injuries and foul trouble and all types of things that we battled through. It was just one more case of that. We did a phenomenal job today."

Can you even think about Memphis right now, the pace they play?   What do you remember from that game in November?

Farmar: "In November we were a completely different team, as I'm sure they were. They are, too.   We've grown so much. All of our freshmen are no longer freshmen, or at least not playing like it.   We've grown, as well, especially as a collective unit. We're much more of a family and we really feel like that.

"It's going to be a completely different game.   I'm sure they're much different from when we played them last November. "

As the comeback is happening at the end of the game, your confidence is growing, can you describe what you saw in the guys you're playing against?  Anxiety, nervousness, panic?

Farmar: "I didn't see too much of that from them. I think they did a good job until the last couple possessions. They were doing a good job. We were just getting stops. We were making them take tough shots. The biggest thing for us was to get rebounds.  Down the stretch, we were just doing a great job getting rebounds and trying to push and get something easy on the other end. I think we were so focused on, you know, trying to take it one possession at a time and get stops after every score, it didn't really register in my mind we were even making the comeback."

Coach Howland, you managed not to foul in those last three and a half minutes.   Was that a conscious effort that you wanted to get across or did it just pan out that way?

"We came out in that second half, really got aggressive pressuring the ball. I don't know turnovers they had at halftime. Anybody know what the halftime stat was? Turnovers for Gonzaga?

"Anyway, I thought we really did a better job of picking them up full court, really getting into the ball. They had a lead. We were the tentative ones in the first half. I thought we did a better job of playing way more aggressively at both ends of the floor in the second half.

"You've got to, again, tip your hat to Gonzaga. They're an outstanding team. We were very fortunate. I was just thinking right now as I was sitting here about that last shot by Batista.   Believe me, I thought we were a very -- we were very fortunate to get this one.   I'm very proud of the comeback. It's just a testament to our kids, our players' mental toughness, battle through adversity, staying with it.   It doesn't end till it's zero, zero, zero.

"There's traps. They were good traps down late. We had good traps against them where we had them pinned right in the corner. I can't even remember, was that Morrison that threw it away the last play? I don't know if they had any timeouts or not. I don't know. I don't think they did.

"So, you know, it came down -- people often criticize my timeouts and use of timeouts.   We were using the substitutions on made-foul shots down the stretch there to get a guy in to have them have to set up their press offense, and that really helped us get set and get on the ball.

"We were in this situation before where we actually didn't win the game at home. I can't remember who that was. We lost three home games. It was either -- I think it was the Cal game. This really goes back. Today goes back to at halftime talking about being down at Cal by 11. I think it was three weeks ago today. That was for the PAC-10 championship, a share of. This team has really taken it to another level from that game on. I think it's exciting for us. We get to enjoy this run again till about midnight, then midnight the bell rings and it's all Memphis.

"What time is it?   Just kidding."


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