Howland on Collison and More

Head Coach Ben Howland talked to the media in a teleconference Sunday about the status of point guard Darren Collison, the CBE Classic, which UCLA begins play in tonight against Youngstown State, and more...

On junior Darren Collison's status:

"He's doing better. Tomorrow, he's going to run on the treadmill to see how that feels. He will be out for sure on Monday and Tuesday. Tomorrow will be the treadmill run. And assuming that the doctor releases him tomorrow, Tuesday will be lateral slides, Wednesday will be stop-and-start with transition movements on the floor, and hopefully by Thursday he'll be able to practice."


On the CBE Classic's format, compared to playing in the Maui Invitational:


"Maui is nice for our fans. There is great competition over there, but it's very difficult to play three road games, back-to-back-to-back on a neutral site. I would prefer to play any game at home. I never want to go on the road. That being said, it's still hard to play back-to-back nights. The only time you do that is during the conference tournament or in one of these preseason tournaments. It's difficult."


On the play of sophomore Russell Westbrook:


"I think that for him, it's more and more experience. He had too many turnovers the other night – six. I'd like for him to cut down on his turnovers. I thought he did a very good job defensively. He really did a good job defending the little guy [Portland State's Jeremiah Dominguez]. I thought he rebounded well early in the game. I'd like him to rebound more on the defensive end. He's such a good rebounder. Overall, he's got to cut down on his turnovers. He's got to make better decisions. But, he'll get better, and I'm excited about Russell."


On junior Josh Shipp, guarding the opposition's top scorer:


"That's what he's doing right now. That is going to be his role. It will be put to the test as the season progresses – guarding the other team's best player. That's going to be his role all year. It takes a lot to be one the team's top scorers, which is what [Josh] is going to be, and to also be the team's top perimeter defender. He will share that role when Darren [Collison] gets back, and Russell [Westbrook] will be in that role too."


On junior Michael Roll's status:


"Michael [Roll] is getting better. He's feeling better, and I'm hoping that he'll be back in time for the Texas game."


On junior Luc Richard Mbah a Moute playing the three versus the four spot:


"There are so many things that are different, defensively and offensively. Defensively, he's trailing and chasing guards instead of extending screens and helping out the forwards. There is so much that is different from that standpoint. For him, it's coming out and playing at a great energy level. He'll be fine. It's a little more difficult for him [to rebound], because when you're guarding wings as a wing defender, you are further away from the basket. If you're guarding a four man, typically those players are closer to the basket and you're already closer to the basket. Offensively, it should be easier for him to get those offensive rebounds. He's got to come from the perimeter and establish position."


On Youngstown State
:

"We've seen tape from last year. They've only had an exhibition game and two scrimmages. [What we have seen] is all based on what they did last year. They've got a kid named Byron Davis, who will be one of their leading scorers. John Barber is their best inside player, who is also a senior. They'll play a lot of zone and they run a lot of nice little sets. [Jerry Slocum] is a good coach."


On early season upsets in college basketball:


"It's so hard when you only have 18, 19 or 20 practices, especially when you have health issues. In USC's case, they have had so many guys out with injuries and guys who haven't been able to practice because of injuries. Kentucky has a new system, but all of those teams are going to be good. Michigan State's going to be a top 10 team, and I guarantee you that since that point they've had better practices. Georgia Tech got beat by Greensboro, and Cincinnati gets beat by Belmont. It also speaks to the parity in college basketball. Anybody can be beaten on a given night. Look at Appalachian State over Michigan in football. The margin of error, the difference is just minute, it really is.


On senior Lorenzo Mata-Real:


"He's a senior, and he's doing what you expect him to do. Defensively, he's moving his feet and rebounding the ball. He's our lone senior on scholarship, and he had a great year last year. We expect him to be really solid this season."

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