Head Coach Ben Howland announced at the beginning of the call that in the last five minutes of today's practice, Kevin Love was kicked in the left shin and had immediate bruising and a fairly serious contusion. The team doctor looked at him and felt he was fine but Love is going to have X-rays this evening to make sure.
On probable starters with the depletion of the front line with injuries:
"I don't have any yet. I can tell you that Darren Collison will start (chuckles). I think Luc [Richard Mbah a Moute] will start and I think there is a pretty solid chance that Josh Shipp will start. Lorenzo [Mata-Real] didn't practice again today and we are going to practice tomorrow and then take two days off and try to get healed up a little bit and start up again on Tuesday (Oct. 30)."
On balancing the physical nature of practice:
"We spent 50 minutes today out of the two hours going five on zero. It was probably a little more. Half our practice today was noncontact, so, it's just unfortunate that this happened. It is just a physical game. You see it all around the country. I was speaking with Jamie Dixon (head coach at Pittsburgh) today and they are down to 10 scholarship players being able to practice today and they have 13 and we only have 11."
On Love's injury today:
"I tell you what, anytime one of these guys go down my heart always ends up in my throat because you just never know. I'm pretty confident that he should be fine. He walked on his own and walked up the stairs to go to the training room so I think he'll be fine."
On how the other guard position is shaping up opposite Darren Collison:
"We are going to have the ability to play a lot of different ways because I'm going to play Luc [Richard Mbah a Moute] some at the three this year. Whether or not he starts there, or we start Lorenzo [Mata-Real] or we start Alfred [Aboya] or we start Luc at the four and start [Michael] Roll or Russell [Westbrook], those are all options. I've got to figure it out. I've got two weeks. But it doesn't mean that it won't change during the year. Right now, it is pretty clear that I have to figure out what team blends together and what team is going to get us out to a good start. There is one team that might be the best team offensively and there is one team that might be the best defensively. Bottom line is, anyway you look at it, our returning starters, [Darren] Collison, [Josh] Shipp, Luc and Lorenzo along with Roll, Russell, Alfred and Kevin [Love], those guys are all going to get a lot of minutes."
On the ESPN poll coming out ranking UCLA No. 2:
"It is great and we are excited to be ranked so high, but we are just trying to focus on getting better. I was commenting to one of my coaches today that we used to not be able to play games until the Friday after Thanksgiving. That was always your first game 12-15 years ago. Then the Preseason NIT games started playing earlier. Now, we are going to be playing our sixth game the Friday after Thanksgiving. There is just so much to do in just a short amount of time."
On which poll he puts more stock in (ESPN or AP):
"Well of course the writers. Aren't you all a bunch of writers. I mean, there's no question it's the writers (chuckles). You know what though, they both really matter because it helps shape people's thoughts and opinions to a certain degree. But you still have to go out and prove it and you still have to go out and do it. I was at one time an ESPN/USA Today voter back when I was at Northern Arizona and I really took pride trying to do a good job and study it and stay on top of it because you have to get your vote in every week on time."
On UCLA vs. North Carolina:
"I think there is probably 10 or 12 teams right now that all are going to have a legitimate chance to win the national championship. Two years ago when we lost in the finals to Florida, they were unranked at the start of the season. So, the rankings are nice and I think they are important. The great thing about college basketball and why the NCAA Tournament is the greatest sporting event in this country is because there is so much parity. You can have a George Mason get all the way to the Final Four and I think you are going to see more of that in the future. There are so many great teams and great players. The margin of difference between the No. 1 team and the No. 20 team in the country is not that big. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night."
On the atmosphere in Pauley Pavilion with the sellout crowds:
"I'm really excited! I think it is great that there is a real buzz about our team this year. With all the experience coming back and then adding Kevin [Love] to the mix. I think it is exciting and I know that all of our students and people on campus are excited about it because I hear about it all the time and I think it is great. "
On what he needs to get done before the first exhibition game:
"There are a lot of things. We've got to continue to grow in terms of putting in sets and we've got a lot of things to learn. We still have to get back to our basics and how we play defense. We have a lot to do in terms of press offense. There are a lot of little things that we need to spend some time on. Today was our 13th practice and we don't have an out-of-bounds play in yet. We don't have a zone play in yet. So we have a lot of things to do between now and our first game."
On the improved front court with the addition of Kevin Love:
"I think Lorenzo [Mata-Real] has improved his game is this area, too. All our guys have gotten better and obviously Kevin [Love] is very good down there. I don't think it will be too different. A lot of teams will defend us straight up and play real hard. We are going to be a good team against the zone because of our passers in the paint. Today, Luc [Richard Mbah a Moute] and Kevin were playing together at the 4 and 5 positions and it was a lot of fun to watch because they are both very good passers. We are going to be a good and unselfish passing team that will lead us to have good balance in scoring. I am hoping that we can have as many as five guys averaging double figures."
***Kevin Love had X-rays performed later Friday and they were negative. He will practice Saturday, and then UCLA will take off for two days before resuming practice Tuesday.
Howland's Friday Teleconference
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