Howland, Collison After Villanova

UCLA Coach Ben Howland and senior point guard Darren Collison took questions from the media at the Wachovia Center immediately after the Bruins lost to Villanova in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday...

COACH HOWLAND: I thought that Villanova played great today and really handled us. They out-boarded us. We had too many turnovers. They shot a great percentage. I really want to, you know, commend them for what an outstanding team they have.
I'm disappointed that this is our last game of the year. It's not the way we would like to have gone out. They really, you know, handled us well. But I'm still very proud of our team overall, and especially of our three seniors and everything they've meant to this program. With Josh and Darren up here, Alfred in the locker room, these kids have, you know, been in four straight NCAA tournaments, three Final Fours, three PAC-10 championships. So it's really tough to be saying good-bye to them today from their careers at UCLA.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Darren, it seems like every time you try to make a run, they get a key rebound or basket, push the lead further up. Was it tough to get that offense going?
DARREN COLLISON: Yeah, exactly. Two key things about basketball, it's all about runs and stops. Any team that is going to go be able to go on a run. But it's got to be the more maturity team to get stops. We just couldn't get stops. When we did get stops, had a couple key offensive rebounds that kept them in the game, that let to kickoffs with threes.
We knew they was going to put on a run. It was important for us to get stops. That was our main focus. We've been playing off our defense all year long. When we do get stops, we push and get points off of transition. But it just didn't go our way today.

Q. Darren, it looked like there were times in the game where the physical nature of the game seemed to get to you. Seemed a couple times you were talking to the officials. Was that a fair assessment?
DARREN COLLISON: I mean, they were a physical team. We're a physical team. It's nothing we haven't seen in the PAC-10. We just didn't get the recognition in the PAC-10 for physicality. Big East are the main conference that gets credit for being physical.
But I was just talking to the official because I thought they was fouling a little bit too hard. Maybe I was getting frustrated or not. But we got to be able to bounce back from that. How we see they're playing, we got to be able to match their intensity and match their physicality. It was too late for that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We'll continue with questions for Coach Howland.

Q. I know you mentioned turnovers ago. In terms of their offense, to give up 46 points in the paint, as you did, how much of a concern was that for you?
COACH HOWLAND: They did a good job spreading us out. They're a very good shooting team. When they spread you out, they're able to take some of the mismatches in terms of being inability to stay in front of the ball. They got a lot of, you know, scores around the basket consequently. They did a good job of attacking the rim. Again, I think Villanova is a very good team. I just told Jay that I think they have a real chance to move forward in this tournament. Whoever's going to put them out is going to be a very good team. They're very, very talented, very well-coached. Obviously they have a veteran group of guys, when you talk about their players are all seniors or juniors, with the exception of Fisher, that play major roles.
So this is a very good team. And you really have to credit them. You know, I think we've been a solid team all year. We were a couple wins away from really probably not being here, because we'd be a little higher seed. But they are outstanding. I watched a lot of film on Villanova the last 36 hours. Very impressed.

Q. Is there any concern on your part when you see your senior All-American point guard talking to the official about how physical a game is?
COACH HOWLAND: I didn't know that that was necessarily happening. So I was unaware that Darren was discussing the physical nature of the game with the official. We knew they were going to be physical. That's good basketball.

Q. You talked about this yesterday with Villanova having such a home court advantage. You heard the crowd. You saw the crowd today. After looking back on it now, the way they played, did they have an advantage today? Did that help them? Could this game have been played anywhere and turned out the same?
COACH HOWLAND: I think it's obviously an advantage to be in your familiar, backyard surroundings, there's no question about that. Whether the game would have been any different if it had been played anywhere else is something we'll never know. It was played here today.
They played great; we didn't. A lot of the fact that we did not play well has to do with them and their ability both ends of the floor, rebounding the ball. They had us down I think it was 8 on the boards in the first half. They had 12 more on the game. There's 12 more early in the second half. So they got a lot of second shots back when they did miss.

Q. Could you talk about what you have done here with this group of kids, been able to accomplish in a short period of time. Can you reflect back on what these guys have been able to do for you. .
COACH HOWLAND: Especially Alfred, Darren and Josh have been here now for four years. Actually Josh's case, five years.
What Josh has meant to the program, coming back from back-to-back hip surgeries, having a fight through torn labrums on both sides, still be able to be a very effective and outstanding player.
What Darren turned down the opportunity to go pro probably two years in a row for his love of UCLA, the program, his teammates.
And Alfred graduated a year ago in three years and came back.
So those seniors, in particular, mean a lot to me. And I think our young freshmen, you saw play, Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson, we've got a good group to work with in the future.
But it is tough. It's tough. It hasn't really hit yet to think that those kids are finally done here. They won 123 games in their four years. I saw today, Villanova, this is the winningest group they've ever had in four years. They won 100 games. These kids won 123. So that's a lot.

Q. Aboya has been such a tough guy for you in tough games like this one. When he went out twice in the first half, particularly in this game, what did you lose?
COACH HOWLAND: We lost his ability to defend. I mean, Alfred, the number one thing he brings is his ability to defend. When he went out, Cunningham hit a big jumper where he was a little too open. He made another play on us. It was tough.
Alfred's done a great job this year staying out of foul trouble. But that historically had been his problem. So it was unfortunate for us he got in foul trouble here early in the game today.

Q. Darren Collison said the physicality of the PAC-10 is not so different from the physicality of playing a Big East team. Your perspective on his remarks?
COACH HOWLAND: Well, I'd say the PAC-10 has become much more physical the last few years, at least compared to when I first got in that league. Physicality is also what they allow you to do, how it's called.
I think that the PAC-10 has probably become a much more physical league over the last four or five years. No question, the Big East was always a physical league, in my four years here. In watching film of their league games. That's the way the game should be played. That's how I like it to be played. They have strong, physical players. So I think it worked to their benefit today.

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