Howland at Pac-10 Media, Part 2

In Part 2, Coach Ben Howland got more detailed later at Pac-10 Media Day Thursday, discussing the status of the injured, what freshmen will probably contribute immediately, and how yoga has become a part of the team's training...

Ben Howland talked in more detail in the afternoon of Pac-10 Media Day.

With Jerime out, what does the point guard situation look like in practices?

‘'I mean, Mustafa Abdul-Hamid has played a lot, the whole practices. He's been there, playing a lot. And he's not truly a walk-on, he started as a walk on but we put him on scholarship for a second straight year. But then, you know, we have guys like Blake Arnett, who is a walk-on from Mater Dei. He actually turned down a ride to go to Montana State so he could stay local and get a degree from UCLA. He's actually been sick the last few of days. Even our walk-ons, the guys replacing the guys who are hurt, have the flu. He hasn't been at practice. We've had everything you could imagine happen. ‘'Drew Gordon went down the other day and hurt his knee. We did an X-ray and I was like, ‘Hey, let the guys know …' And they were like, ‘Well, wait until the MRI …' He practiced yesterday. That was never even released. There's been so many it's been ridiculous.''

Is there anything that you flat out haven't been able to do in practice?

‘'You know what? We don't give up on doing what we're trying to do. We probably haven't moved quite as fast, like yesterday is the first day we started putting in sets, working on offensive sets, because we have a limited number of guys. But we're doing it again today and we'll be doing it now … from here on out we just have to move forward.

‘'Like Jerime Anderson today hopefully will be able to go, and I'm planning practices a little differently so we have a little longer non-contact time. Like Jerime today will be in practice for about 40 minutes. I'm not sure about BoBo's status is yet, if he's cleared for contact or not. I have to wait until I get back to find out. Hopefully Mike (Roll) and Brendan Lane will be back on Monday. ‘'But, not really, we've just gone slower, especially with the freshmen, they're missing a lot of learning. That's important.''

Can they get what in football are called visual reps, mental reps?

‘'It's much more difficult. Visual reps are not nearl y as good as doing it physically. When you do then both combined, that's the best, But visual reps compared to physical reps, it's like 80-20 or 90-10, 90 toward the physical to learn.''

So does that mean you have to do a lot of retracing your steps?

‘'No, this will be our 12th practice and we're working on press offense … we haven't put in an out-of-bounds play yet. That will come up here, but I don't usually do that any earlier anyway. We have our first exhibition game next week. But it's slowed the process for the guys who are out. Like Brendan Lane had his best practice as a young freshman his fourth practice. That's the day he got hurt. He's had four practices.''

That turned out to be a high ankle sprain?

‘'Yeah. He's had his sprained so many times that this time it affected the upper ligaments because there were no loose, all his lower ligaments were so loose. Mike Roll had never sprained his ankle so that's why his severity was a little more, because he's never done it. One is severe because he's done it so much and one is severe because he's never done it. You know? Like Russell Westbrook sprained his ankle all the time, to where he was almost used to it … it was just weird.''

11 practices in, which surviving freshman has impressed you the most?

‘'Well, you know what, Tyler Honeycutt missed the whole summer because of his stress fracture and he's back and he's been in every practice. He, Mike Moser, Anthony Stover and Reeves Nelson have all been in every practice. Reeves is the strongest guy on our team right now. He turned 18 about a month ago and he's up to date, the best rebounder with Drew Gordon being second and James Keefe being third in practices. Rebounding was a problem for us last year so, you know, the first stat I look at every day – who got the most rebounds?''

What does he need to work on?

‘'Just how to play defense at the college level. And he's getting better. He did some good things yesterday. He's going to be a very good player. All those freshmen are going to be good. Both of those two wings – Honeycutt and Moser – are going to play for sure this year. It's just a numbers game. We have Mike, Jerime, Malcolm and then those two. Those are our perimeter players, those five guys, and you usually play five guys every game, and there's a chance we could play Nikola some at the 3, too, but that has yet to materialize.''

Is there a Plan B if Jerime is going to need more time?

‘'No, no … Malcolm Lee is going to back up at the point and Mustafa could be pressed into play there as well.''

Do you think Malcolm can handle that, as a starter, going however many minutes a night?

‘'Yeah, but he's going to play every night regardless.''

But I mean at the point …

‘'Yeah, I think it's … it takes away from him looking to score a little bit, which we need him to do. But, you know, it's something he's going to have to do and get better at each and every day. ‘'Like, he played all point the first … he got hurt after four practices, too. He was out for a week. After his third practice … so in his first three practices he took seven shots in the practices. Seven attempts. That's not what we want, so we need him when he is at the point to be aggressive looking to score, too. But it's different. Now we're running sets, now we're doing things … like, he'll be great coming off of ball screens. And he looks to pass. I'm excited about how much he's improved learning how to jump stop, slow down and make plays for others. Malcolm is going to do just fine at the point and defending the point is zero problem for him. I mean, he's our best defender period on the perimeter – one, two or three.''

So you think Reeves at this point is the most capable of playing on a college basketball court?

‘'I think he and the two wings are all going to play and Brendan Lane and Stover are going to get their opportunities, as well. For Brendan, for him, he has great skill level. He has got to get stronger. He's 210 pounds, 209 pounds, so he gets thrown around a little bit because of just his size. Skill level wise and understanding the game, he's very advanced. Stover has really been a pleasant in practice. He's done a very good job learning things, he picks up things quickly. He's going to be a very good defender because of his length. His issue will be developing his offensive game.''

So how many guys are out right now?

‘'Today, I'm not sure yet. For sure, Roll, Brendan and Jerime … Jerime hasn't practiced yet. Today he's going to go through 40 minutes hopefully of non-contact stuff – 20 minutes of reviewing plays 5-on-0, another 20, 25 minutes doing skills work, you know, shooting, passing, screening, and then he's going to do another half an hour of conditioning and then we're sending him to do yoga. Part of his thing that helped him last year that we're doing now is we're having him go to these yoga classes three or four days a week, which really helps his stretching and his core strength again. That helped Josh Shipp a lot. We have a guy who works with the Clippers, too, really is good doing the exercises. They're doing yoga geared towards basketball, if that makes any sense. …

‘'I heard that incense burning comment at Pauley Pavilion … I also wanted to say we have Jay-Z coming to Pauley Pavilion …''

What kind of class does he run?

‘'Rap class …''

How are you at yoga?

‘'I'll tell you what, I would be terrible. I'm so lacking in flexibility – in terms of my body. Yeah. You know, yoga is really hard. My brother does it and I've had a lot of friends who do it.''

Where did the idea of yoga come into play in terms of helping these guys?

‘'You know what, really, a couple of years ago Jordan Farmar was telling me he really liked it and you've heard other players do it. Then Josh Shipp started going because, you know, his hip injury is just being really tight. I think it's really helped Josh Shipp a lot – Josh is averaging 26 points a game over in Turkey and already has multiple offers for next year with even higher level teams. I mean, so I do believe, you combine that with weight training and strength training, you do them both, it's positive.''

You talked about the '06 season. What was the thing that helped you through all those injuries?

‘'Just that we had good depth and good players that were able to fill in. It was amazing. You know, Cedric Bozeman was out for eight games and then he came back and he played better than he had ever played. Ced was a driving force, he and Hollins, those two seniors, were the driving force behind that first Final Four with their leadership and their play. I mean, they were phenomenal. Ced Bozeman, I mean, he's one of my all-time favorites, especially for that year. I'll never forget him. I love Ced.''

Do you feel like you have a Cedric Bozeman on this team?

‘'Well, we don't have one necessarily like him as a player. You know, he was a point guard who ended up playing small forward for us. Athletically, I wouldn't say there's someone exactly like Ced, no. I wish. I wish we had Ced. But it just reminds me of that year. Josh came in, the eight games he missed or six or seven games that Ced missed, Josh started four of them. He was coming back. We beat Stanford, lost to Cal at home and then went and swept the Arizonas, we won at Arizona for the first time. Josh played great in that game and then after the fourth game he was like, no, this is bothering me too much, I'm going to take my redshirt year. There was a cutoff point that he had to make a decision, then all of a sudden Ced was ready to come back, we got him to come back and be able to play.''


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