Players Comment After Game

The players -- Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, and Ryan Hollins -- answer questions after the game Saturday about the win, the Final Four and more...

It's been a while since you've held a team to 45 points.

"I don't think I could even dream about that.   I knew we were going to come out and defend, especially the way we came out early against Gonzaga.   It really was our defense that wasn't allowing us to get easy opportunities on the offensive end.   They were making tough shots.   They were a tough team. We didn't want to let that happen today.   They're a team who makes a lot of runs and really get energized.   Our first mission was to take away their transition offense.   That's where they get half their points from.   If we took that away, we'd be in great shape.   That was our main focus."

Do you feel like you guys were actually more the aggressor the first half, then kind of made them play the way you wanted to after that?

"I think so.   Getting off to a slow start against Gonzaga, we learned from that.   We didn't want to come out the same way.   We looked to be aggressive and really stayed tight on defense every possession, whether it was ball pressure or talking to each other, just communicating so well, on the same page.   It definitely paid off."

Was that what Coach Howland told you their transition offense is, where you had to focus, really put the pressure on before the game?   Could you talk about what it means to get to the Final Four.

"Coach did tell us that.   We watched a lot of tape and see where they get their things.   You know, watching the first game, a lot of their buckets, even though they were three-pointers, it was transition.   It was a lack of intensity and togetherness in transition defense.   Once you knock down a couple shots, it just makes it tough to guard because you're in a rhythm and a groove. That was our key, just to keep 'em off balance all game.   We did a phenomenal job."

Talk about going to the Final Four.

Farmar: "I can't even explain how incredible it feels.   Besides the guys who were in the locker room, no one really -- besides our family and our supporters, no one really believed in us.   Nobody really believed we could do it.   For us to set goals in the pre-season, work our butts off, go through all kinds of adversity all year long, it's just an incredible feeling to have it pay off. We're not done yet."

Hollins: "Just like Jordan said, an incredible feeling.   To be counted out, for our team to pretty much come together as we have, you know, against all the adversity, doubters, injuries, we just worked hard every day.   It's showing off.   I couldn't be happier for my guys.   We're a team, we're a family.   We're sticking together.   I'm just glad for my guys to be able to be in this situation, get the program back to where it should be."

Ryan, what was going through your mind as you were missing free-throws, especially to start the second half?   How much of a relief at the end of the game to pull it out?

"When I first started shooting, it's like, okay, I went one for two.   Then I think I missed my (indiscernible) one.   I've done this before, I'll start making 'em.   They just weren't going in. Kind of about halftime, it's like, okay, it's behind me.   Let's shoot again.   The very first possession, I get an offensive rebound, get fouled.   I missed those two.   It's like, okay, really something is going on here. I just remember kind of being on the bench.   I'll never forgive myself for the rest of my life if we lose this game and I missed nine free-throws, 2 for 11.   It's like, we're going to win this game, we're getting it up.   I'm not going out like that.

Ryan, could you talk about your development as a player under Coach Howland.

Hollins: "Pretty much our team chemistry, just guys having faith in me, me having faith in them.   I think Jordan gave me a great pass, they were making a run, I got a dunk off a pass from him, really put him away.   Maybe earlier in the season, he wouldn't have found me or might have took a tough shot.   But having the faith in me to throw the ball in there, you know, just pretty much trying to make the most of my opportunities.   I'm the guy that never gave up on myself. Being out there, just playing hard, you know, it's paying off finally."

Both teams shot 35% or less.   Some people say this was an ugly game.   For you guys, was it a thing of beauty?

Farmar: "It really was because we're sitting today with these hats on, these beautiful T-shirts, all that stuff.   It doesn't matter what goes on in the game.   We personally, one for nine, 50% from the free-throw line.   I couldn't be happier right now.   I wouldn't have it any other way.   That's all that matters. For any guy in our locker room, in our program, in this family, we really know that's all that matters.   Nobody cares about individual accolades.   That's why we're still playing today."

Hollins: "Definitely.   If we won 2-0, 111-109, a win is a win.   It doesn't matter.   That's what is going down in history right now."

You have been told since you were seven defense wins, defense wins.   You're both on the all-tournament team.   You have the numbers that you just recited.   Anything that you realize through this process that you weren't totally sold onto begin with?

Farmar: "No, we were sold.   That's the only reason we're still alive is because we really believed in it.   Coach Howland has been preaching defense from day one.   I think after the SC game, the way we came out the next day in practice, it was just a totally different mentality.   We haven't looked back from then. Our level of focus has really risen.   We've really come together as a family.   We really believe in what our coaching staff is teaching us.   That's why we're still playing."

Hollins: "Definitely growing up we always understand that defense wins.   I think through our team maturity, we really understand how to play defense.   You know, the biggest thing with defense is how to adjust from guarding Adam Morrison, a team that (relies?) on execution.   A team like Memphis, a team that gets up and down, crashes the board as well as anybody in the nation.   That's the biggest thing our team is pretty much understanding. Defensive chemistry also, knowing guys' weaknesses, strengths, knowing how to help each other out."

Jordan, why don't you hold up that trophy beside you and explain how it feels to keep this stored history going at UCLA.

"I'm going to leave it down there.   At UCLA, no other banner but national championships go up.   I'm going to leave it down here till we take care of our business.   It's just one game at a time, staying together.   We haven't really done anything in the eyes of UCLA and UCLA fans, because they expect bigger and better things."

Ryan, could you talk about the momentum-factor here?   You had that big emotional win over Gonzaga.   You really shut down a big offensive team.   Do you feel like you can take on anybody right now?

"Pretty much that Gonzaga win is a big win.   I think it was a gut check for all our guys.   What a better way to get humbled, you know, to pretty much take the lead at the end of the day and have the season pretty much over with, and to come through and win.   Definitely our guys didn't take anything for granted and wanted to play hard from the start of this game, play together.   That's definitely a key thing right there."

Arron, could you talk about your match-up with Rodney?   How much did you study him going in?   How much is he a key to their transition offense?

"I have to credit my coaches for that one.   We watched plenty of film on him as a team.   Whenever I face a guy who's the other team's top scorer, I'm always well-prepared.   I know guys' tendencies.   I know the other team's plays beforehand.   With the help of my teammates, bumping, I find other guys, Jordan, sometimes Cedric on him.   It wasn't just me.   A team effort.   Multiple things go into that. He is definitely one of their key guys.   Holding him down was definitely to our advantage tonight."

Arron, did you feel you made them play your style of basketball?   Obviously, the score reflects that.   Was there a point where you felt you were controlling the game?

Afflalo: "Yeah.   Last they scored 88 points on us.   We knew if we played at that pace, we weren't going to win.   We're a pretty dominant defensive team right now.   Transition defense was the key to this victory, stopping the team from pushing the ball that thrives off pushing the ball."

Arron, is it your wrist you injured?   How does it feel?   How did you do it?

"It's fine.   I'm not sure.   Probably just banged it against something.   Won't have any effect on anything.   I'm just icing it.   Be back to practice next Monday or Tuesday."


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