Howland and Players After VCU

Ben Howland, Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and Jrue Holiday talked to the media after UCLA's victory over VCU Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, discussing the last few minutes of the game, some of the things that they didn't do well, and Villanova...

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by UCLA student-athletes and coach Ben Howland. Coach, we'll ask for an opening comment, please.
COACH HOWLAND: Yeah, it's late. You guys are troopers.
That was a great finish to a game that we didn't do a really good job of closing out when we had a 10, 11-point lead. You have to credit them. They really fought back. Maynor is an outstanding player. He did a great job getting to the foul line the second half. Ended up with 21. We did a good job on him in the first half. He really did a good job the second half.
I'm proud of our team. I thought that any Nikola Dragovic's 13 rebounds is a stat that really stands out. We did a good job defensively, holding them to 40 percent. It's a big win. VCU I think is a very, very good team and well-coached. So we're pleased to be moving forward and getting ready to play a true road game on Saturday.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Darren, any doubt in your mind at all that Maynor was going to take that last shot?
DARREN COLLISON: Oh, come on. Everybody knew he was going to take that last shot. I think that time when they beat Duke, he took the last shot. I mean, it's his team. There's a lot of pressure on him to get the job done. There's a lot of pressure on myself to get a stop. Right there, you have to remember what was taught earlier in the year, what you've been taught all along, play solid feel. When he tried to get me up in the air, I just had a good contest.

Q. Darren, did it ever cross your mind that they might run something and have him give the ball up?

Q. Once he gets the ball, that's it?
DARREN COLLISON: No, we knew he was going to get the ball. I mean, that's what's been happening all day long. Very few times when he came off screens. Majority of the time, it was pretty much coming off of ball picks.
That time, when it's like eight seconds, seven seconds left, you don't have time to get a screen.

Q. When did you think the ball was not going in the basket? Did it have to hit the rim first?
JRUE HOLIDAY: Well, I mean, I had a good angle from it. I was on the baseline side. I saw it was short.
But, you know, from Darren's angle, I don't know. I guess it would be to little risky, a little iffy to see if it went in or not. From my angle, I was short, so...

Q. Josh, what impressed you about VCU? They never seemed to let a team get away from them.
JOSH SHIPP: How hard they played. They never quit. They kept fighting. They're a scrappy team. Did a lot of run and trap stuff. They never quit at the end. They gave themselves a chance to win.

Q. When Darren was in foul trouble, you played some at the point. How was your comfort level at the point guard versus the two tonight?
JRUE HOLIDAY: I felt pretty comfortable when Darren was in the game. And there were double-teaming him. I had to bring it up from them. I was pretty comfortable trying to get to the basket and just trying to distribute to other players.

Q. After so many years of playing in friendly opening-round environments, what was the difference this year?
JOSH SHIPP: It's tough. Once you get on the floor, you really don't notice it. You're putting all your effort into the game. You really don't pay attention to the crowd.
At the end of the day, it's always good to have that home crowd. We didn't have it this year, so we just got to play somewhere. It's here, it's against us. Just want to go out there and do whatever it takes to get wins.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys.
THE MODERATOR: VCU per NCAA rules has declined to come to the table. All VCU interviews will be conducted in the locker room. Questions for Coach Howland.

Q. What did you think of your offense coming down the stretch? Seemed a little tentative.
COACH HOWLAND: I think there was a couple opportunities where we were driving to shoot rather than driving to pass. Typically when you drive, we want our players on those penetrating drives where everybody collapses to try to draw people so you can kick it out. I thought we did a better job earlier in the game. There was a lot of plays. Like Jrue had a wide open press that he missed late in the game that I think would have put it from 9 to 11 or 7 to 9. There were a couple plays like that. And Nick's wide open three in front of our bench with four or five minutes to go would have put it to 14. Instead he misses that one and they get it back and run out and get an easy layup.
But we did a pretty good job trying to be aggressive, attacking their press, trying to score. If you don't try to score against teams that press, then they're going to keep. I thought Jrue in particular did a good job of trying to be aggressive.

Q. After what's happened last year in the tournament, nice to say Collison on the defensive end making the stop at the end.
COACH HOWLAND: And Darren really had a good week of practice leading into this. His back really did bother him last time we played. The two days off I think really helped him. His defense was spectacular in the first half. I think Maynor was one basket in the first half. Then when he got in foul trouble, we had to take him off, I think that's what Maynor really got going, when Darren had to come out of the game because of foul trouble. He's a very, very good player. Darren typically is the guy who is guarding that point guard. I thought Darren's defense, including the last stop, was big.
Josh did a good job hedging that screen, so Maynor couldn't go right to the basket, then Darren got back in front of him and really bothered that shot at the end. I was just glad he missed.
One thing we did there down the stretch is we doubled Maynor so he couldn't get the ball in initially. You knew they wanted to get it to him. Actually burned about four seconds, five seconds, before he got it. He shot the ball. There was very little time left when that shot released his hands. It was like the ball hit the rim and, boom, the buzzer sounded. They used 13 seconds, which was to our benefit.

Q. Have you thought about Villanova yet?
COACH HOWLAND: Yeah, I've thought about the fact that we are playing here in 36 hours and 25 minutes, I believe it is. So this will be a quick turnaround. Playing them on their home floor, a court that they play on every year at least three games, they play at the Spectrum earlier in the year against Pitt. This is going to be a true road game in the NCAA tournament because they actually play here multiple times. They're a very, very good team, very well-coached, a team that really has a lot of athletic guards that can all shoot. And they play small at times. They'll play four guys around one, and they're all guards. So there's gonna be some matchup issues. We've got to address 'em.

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