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March 22, 2006
THE MODERATOR: We have the student-athletes from the UCLA Bruins. We'll open it up for questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Jordan and Arron, would you just in general talk about what your knowledge was of the UCLA program and its success back in the day before you got to campus.
JORDAN FARMAR: We were very knowledgeable about our program. I think that's a big reason why we decided to attend UCLA, seeing the years just prior to us, being there, weren't going so well, being able to have the opportunity to come in and make an impact and really turn the program around to get it back on track to where it was, like you said, back in the day. It was probably the most intriguing part about UCLA.
ARRON AFFLALO: Same here. You know, definitely knowledgeable about all the past greatness that's come through UCLA, all the banners and things, that was one of the reasons why I decided to attend that school.
Also I was definitely aware of the fact that the program had been down for a few years. That presented a good challenge.
Q. Before you played under this coach, how much do you think you knew about defense, how much better a defender are you now and how does he get people to play defense as well as you guys do?
ARRON AFFLALO: He's an intense coach. He demands a lot of you, no matter who you are. Us three being the focal point, along with a few other seniors on the team. He just demands a lot of you. You just tend to go out there and play with a lot of pride and a lot of passion.
Q. Cedric, does it kind of surprise you that the team from Spokane has more national attention than the team from LA?
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: I mean, I don't really know. Gonzaga has been pretty much under the radar for a lot of years. I think now they're actually getting a lot of national prominence. They've always been a good program, just under the radar.
Q. Do you feel you've been under the radar this year?
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: Under the radar? I guess. I mean, we don't really think about it as that. We just go along with our business and try to win ballgames.
Q. Jordan, I understand Gonzaga was one of the first schools to recruit you in high school. How hard did they come after you? Were you tempted to go there?
JORDAN FARMAR: They came very hard. It was actually one of my finalists, came down to Gonzaga, UCLA and Florida. They have a great program, great coaching staff, great kids. I like the community.
UCLA has so much more than just basketball. For me, being from UCLA, knowing what wearing that four letters across your chest really means, it was a no-brainer.
Q. Jordan, you said you came to UCLA because of the struggles they had in the previous years. Now that you are turning it around, do you feel like you're part of something special? Is it more gratifying now? What do you think about the future with so many of you guys coming back next year?
JORDAN FARMAR: It really is special. Especially seeing the growth that we've had this year. Last year we were a completely different team. Seeing where we started this year to how we're playing now, how we're really coming together as a family, becoming a unit, despite all the diversity we have on our team, guys from Cameroon, Canada, all over. For us to all come together when we step on the court really feels good.
Q. Arron and Cedric, have you asked for a chance to defend Morrison? If you get that chance, will you relish it?
ARRON AFFLALO: No, it's not really what I ask for, that's our job, whether it's Adam Morrison or whoever the top player is on the opposing team. That's what we do night in night out.
In that fact, we do relish this opportunity.
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: Yeah, same. Same here. You know, we just do what coach asks of us. We take pride in it.
Q. Jordan, I heard you say the wrist will not be a factor when you play tomorrow. Can you tell us what it feels like today. Describe maybe the apparatus that you'll wear during the game.
JORDAN FARMAR: It feels great right now (smiling). It definitely won't be a problem. I won't wear any apparatus. I might have a little tape on it just because it might get sore, just for some extra support. Other than that, it feels great, I'm ready to go.
Q. Arron, talk specifically about playing against a guy like Adam who has had all this national publicity, cover the magazines. What is it like for you to play against a guy like that? What do you want to do with him?
ARRON AFFLALO: I'm going to approach it like I approach every other game. My job is to stop the opposing team's best guard, just limit him as much as possible.
But for one, one of the luxuries of attending UCLA is I get a lot of opportunities to play against pros throughout the summertime. I've gone to a few camps, played with Michael Jordan, Paul Pierce , just numerous pros throughout the summer.
I've had my share of experience just throughout the year. Just be another game for me.
Q. What do you plan to do with him physically?
ARRON AFFLALO: Just play him tough. I'm not trying to get into a one-on-one battle with him. That's not my job. Honestly, I'll probably start on him initially, but we got more than one guy that's going to be guarding him. Cedric Bozeman, probably Luc for the most part. It's just going to be a team collective effort.
Of course, I'm going to try to study his tendencies, with the help of the coaching staff, find out some ways to gain some advantages. Outside of that, I'm going to approach it like every other game.
Q. Cedric, as a senior, what would it mean to you personally to see this program restored to the status that it once had?
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: Personally, it would be a great feeling, just to end my career on a good note. I've been through a lot of ups and downs. I've always been a team guy. Just to see this come to a place like this, it will be great and very special. I'll cherish it for the rest of my life.
Q. A lot of basketball has been played by this team since November. Is there one area that you can define that kind of tells what this team has been about this year?
JORDAN FARMAR: Defense. I mean, that says it all. The way we play on the defensive end. If you want to go all the way back to November, it was nonexistent compared to what we do now. We're such a much better team. We're more of a collective unit. We play for each other. We really care about each other. We've grown and gotten to know each other throughout the year.
I think that's what the biggest part of our success has been. We really care about each other and we're really a family. We play for one another on the court.
Q. Can you talk about Arron's development in the last few years at both ends of the courts, what you saw as a high school player in him and now what he's able to give you guys?
JORDAN FARMAR: As a high school player, I saw him be really aggressive and really confident. Then like I saw last year, we were just trying to learn and contribute in any way we could. Coming in this year, to see all his work ethic and everything pay off, his confidence come back to be really offensive, help on that end of the floor. But also to dominate defensively. I think that's what I admire about him most, he really takes pride in not only being a good defender, but being dominant on that end of the ball to where he takes so many great players out of their game, really gives us a chance to win every ballgame.
Q. Arron, what makes Adam Morrison's game so tough to cover?
ARRON AFFLALO: You know, for one, he's 6'8" and he can shoot the three. That combination is definitely intriguing. Just gives him the ability to play all over the floor.
Q. Jordan, you were talking about the importance of defense. Could you describe how Coach Howland has gotten you to play this way? What is it he's been able to instill?
JORDAN FARMAR: He always preaches it, and he always has been. I think for us, it's just a case of seeing it work. I mean, when we play, the way we have been playing now, seeing how we're winning championships on the road, in hostile environments, just how good it feels. I mean, it really feels good to really play defense when everybody's playing together, when you know that if you're playing your hardest and you get beat, someone is going to be there to help you out, and you're going to do the same for them.
It's really fun. All anybody on this team cares about is winning. At the end of the day, if that's what it takes to enjoy yourself, get wins in the process, that's exactly what we're going to do.
Q. Can you imagine anyone ever going for 40 against your team?
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: Oh, man (laughter). You know, we take a lot of pride in our defense. To see one man go for a multitude of points, you know, that's pretty -- that's kind of tough. Hopefully that doesn't happen against us. Hopefully we can do a good job.
ARRON AFFLALO: The same here (smiling). No, again, he's a good player. He's the focal point of that team. He's going to get his shots up. Sometimes you can't keep great players down. The most you can do is try your best. It's proven that a great offensive player usually, when he's on top of his game, will outplay a great defensive player. They just have the advantage of knowing where they want to be where the defender does.
Hopefully that just doesn't happen to us. I think with the collective effort, we don't anticipate that happening.
JORDAN FARMAR: I think the same thing. We really take pride in our defense. Teams in general haven't been scoring 60 points. For one man to go for 40 would be an extraordinary performance. You know, at this stage in the game, so much on the line for us, I think that's where it comes into play, that we're not going to let that happen.
Q. Were you coached on what to say and not say before you came up here? If somebody did go to 40, who would get choked? I mean, what would happen if somebody went for 40?
ARRON AFFLALO: It hasn't happened to us before. I can't really answer that question for you.
JORDAN FARMAR: We haven't been coached on what to say. At the same time, in film sessions, you will hear rewound and rewound and rewound over and over and over again if you let something like that happen. No one's come close to 40. Anything that's out of the ordinary does get shown in how bad, lack of effort we were playing defensively.
I think that's the key. Every time someone got up on us is because we weren't really focused and playing hard the way we are now and the way we will be tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Players, thank you very much.
On stage we have head Coach Ben Howland from the UCLA Bruins. We'll open it up with a brief statement from coach, then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Welcome, glad to be here. Questions.
THE MODERATOR: That was easy.
Q. What do you remember about the time you spent at Gonzaga? What was that like? Best memories of that time?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I have great memories of my 10 months at Gonzaga. No. 1, I was working for my best friend, Jay Hillock, who is a GU grad, and it was his first year as the head coach, having been Fitz' assistant. That was special to me because I've known Jay since I was eight years old. Obviously it was special to have had an opportunity to be there when John Stockton played his sophomore year. We had a lot of good players. I think we ended up 15-12 that year. We beat Washington at home, at GU. I remember I had a beautiful apartment right on the Spokane River, right over there across from the park. John Stockton's parents, their house overlooks the park on the backside of Jack & Dan's. Across on the other side of the street, I forget the name of the main street there, I had a two bedroom with a beautiful walk-out deck overlooking the river, right on the river, for $195. You don't find that in LA every day.
But I have a lot of great memories. I loved my association and relationship with Fitz, learned so much from Fitz being around him, talking basketball. We had a great staff. Bruce Wilson, Joe Hillock, Jay, myself. Steve Delong was my trainer. Just stepped away from the men's program here in the last year or two. I remember his wife Kay. I have a lot of great memories of my year. That was my first taste of being a coach at the college level. I.
Also got my Masters degree at Gonzaga. I actually have the paper to prove it. Appreciate that. So I have a lot of great memories.
To see where the program is now compared to where it was, I think Steve talked to Jay the other day, and I was wrong. The recruiting budget there was not $10,000, it was $7,500. Doing everything you had to do to skimp, save big and borrow to make ends meet. I think we made up the two-for-one books and used to go out as a fund-raiser and do the two-for-one fund-raisers, try to bring in a little extra money.
I think Fitz' nice courtesy car was a beat up Plymouth Valiant, if I remember correctly. I think he was the only one that had a courtesy car provided, the athletic director. The program has come a long way. I would be remiss to be sure not to continue to remember Father Coghlan, for all he's meant to GU's athletic prominence now. The one thing that they've proven when you have success in athletics, more than any one thing is that it increases applications for admissions. Applications for admissions go up, increases the pool of the quality of the student that you're able to choose from as a university. That's proven. If you research it, you'll see. I'm sure that Gonzaga over the last 10 years has probably increased their applications for admission quite a bit from where it was, say, 10 years ago. I'm telling you right now, success of the basketball program. So it all works together.
That happened at UCLA, for example, all these Wooden years. Our average GPA of incoming freshman at UCLA is 4.2 out of 4.0. They turned town six to seven thousand straight A students at UCLA. It's the most applied for school in the United States of America.
Doing it right the right way, I will say, too, having continuity in their program, from Fitz, to Dan, Mark, how it's just continued on with that great continuity, has really helped that program in terms of stability, and they do it the right way, with great kids. That's exactly what UCLA has done, what we try to do as well. That's why you have two teams that are very good teams still alive in this thing.
Q. What did you see in Arron in high school that made you believe he could defend how you would demand he defend?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I made a call to a couple of people I trust in this business when I was involved with the job. Who do we need? Who is the primary guy we got to go after? Because of my ties to Southern California, I have a pretty good network of people that know high school basketball and really know the game. One of them would be Frank Burlison of the Long Beach Express Telegram, in terms of knowing players, knowing high school kids. He's probably the best guy out there, outside of a coach. Potentially Bob Gibbons.
Arron. I knew Rod Palmer, tried to recruit him at UC Santa Barbara. I spoke with him. A lot of different high school coaches I spoke to. There's no question, Arron is a great competitor, tough, hard nosed, plays both ends of the floor, has continued to improve, which is what all good players do.
Q. Would you talk about what it means to you to be the caretaker of the UCLA legacy and how aware are younger generations of what happened back in the day?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: You know, it's really special for me because there is a dream come true. I grew up watching the UCLA era of John Wooden as a youngster. It used to be that games weren't on television live. They were tape delayed on KTVA Channel 5, Dick Enberg calling the game is who I remember the most. It was really special because I'd get in trouble once in a while. Our TV room was a built-on in the back of our house. Fortunately, my dad's room was at the other end of the house so I could have the TV on and sneak in there and sometimes they wouldn't know. I'd be nine, 10 years old watching Kareem and Lucius, all the way through. From Curtis, Sydney. You can go all the way back. I remember all the players. Larry Hollyfield, Turkovic, Greg Lee. Special remembrance for Greg Lee, just went through open heart surgery last Friday, had a heart valve replaced. Talked to him yesterday, he's doing great. 54 years old. He offered to shoot our foul shots for us.
It is special for me because to me this is the greatest tradition and history of tradition in all of college basketball. I don't know how many people are living their dream, but I'm one of them.
Q. How aware are the younger generations of all that?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: We did what I thought was a special thing. I had our team, our whole team, come to my house this last fall and invited all the former players so we could get to come back and have a barbecue at my house. We had Bill Walton, Greg Lee, Lucius Allen, Don McClean, Rod Foster. We had Eddie Sheldrake from the '46 team, Bill Sweek, John Valley (sic), Don McClean, Marcus Johnson, 80 different former players. Because I really do want our players to understand and embrace how lucky they are to be a part of such a special fraternity and unique fraternity that is truly an honor to be a part of, and that's to be a player at UCLA. They get it. They totally get it. They understand.
Q. Did Jordan do everything in practice yesterday?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Yes.
Q. Any trouble shooting?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: No. He shot well. He was I want to say 7 for 10, 3 for 5 from three in yesterday's practice. Alfred led us in rebounding with nine.
Q. How much does Coach Wooden's shadow kind of hover over the program yet to this day and what impact does that have?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I don't look at it as a shadow hovering over it. This is his program. It is John R. Wooden. He is the greatest coach in the history of basketball. What he accomplished at UCLA in terms of wins and losses will never be equaled again in college basketball after the span of his last 12 years in coaching anyway.
But what he has set the bar, which is even higher, is to be a quality person and to be a humble person, to be giving of yourself to others first. He is such a great example for everyone of the type of human being we should all strive to be. To me that's what I really appreciate most about coach, is the greatest college coach, basketball coach, ever, is truly a better person than he was a coach. That's incredible to say. That is true. Anybody who knows him and has spent time with him, he is so unselfish. He's busy. One of the reasons I think at 95 he is sharper than most of us in this room is because he has never, ever slowed down. He's always taking meetings, meeting with people, going to breakfast, speaking to groups. I mean, his ability to recite poetry and recite things that happened 50 years ago, all the details of his memories and things that are special to him, are unbelievable.
Q. As someone who values defense so much, could you describe the challenges that Adam Morrison presents defensively, and generally how you like to approach him.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Well, he's a great player. Adam is college basketball player of the year, leading scorer in the country, who can score in so many ways. He can score from three, he can score off the bounce, he can score in the post, he rebounds his own shot as well as anybody. He's a very good offensive rebounder. He runs the floor and gets down quickly in transition either on the wing or coming to the ball in the middle of the floor. He can create for others. He poses a lot of problems. There's only a handful of people that are playing the game in college that would even be talked about in that same light. It's a real challenge for us. There's no question he's a great player.
One of the things I think makes him special is the fact that he is diabetic. To go through and grow up with juvenile diabetes and to have to check your blood, inject insulin for your lifetime makes you tough. He is tough. He is a great competitor. Bottom line, he is really, really tough. His lessons in life... I know firsthand, my daughter came down with juvenile diabetes (tearing up), so I know what it's about. She came down with it at 19. I'm not sure when he contracted it. It's a tough deal.
Q. Can you talk about guarding Stockton when you were a graduate assistant.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Well, I tried to guard him. That's the key. I tried to guard him. My key is that we had a guy named Phil Tanke (ph), who is from Barstow, a junior college player. He came to Spokane and wasn't feeling the weather. He was used to the desert. He left in like October. It might have been after the 10-mile run that the players are required to do every fall. I'm not sure he enjoyed that.
I was thrown into the mix just out of necessity because there was nobody else. So I used to run the second team. Tim Rough, Jason (indiscernible), myself, Dale, I think Melvin Bonds used to play a little bit. I can't remember who the other guy was. You know, we did a good job.
I was wanting to compete and win every day. The only way -- fortunately Jay's system, we had a bunch of slow guys except for Johnny and Tim. We played mostly halfcourt, so it was easier to hold, grab and foul as opposed to when you've got Johnny between the top of the keys. Once in a while when that happened, it was over for me.
Q. Had UCLA established any connection with Farmar or was that you going in there?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I think they had looked at him, done a couple of games they had gone to see. So, yeah, there was some interest on UCLA's end. Obviously, it really ramped up because (indiscernible) last year was really in limbo. I don't think Jordan was looking that hard at UCLA at that time. We were really, really fortunate. That was a huge signing. My first two recruits at UCLA were Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo. I think they're the best guard tandem in the country right now in college basketball. This thing is all about recruiting. Why are UCLA and Gonzaga playing in this game? More than any reason, really good players.
Q. Picking up on your phrase "easier to hold, grab and foul." When Morrison was in here, he described all the defenses. He summarized one of them as the beat-the-crap-out-of-me defense. Can you see where he's coming from with that?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: He gets away with a lot himself, too. If you watch the films in terms of sometimes he'll grab onto a guy, then act like he's being fouled. He's just a smart player. That's what smart players do.
He's been to the foul line more than my entire frontline plus Mike Roll, Janau Rubin. I'm talking about Ryan Hollins, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alfred, Mike Fey, Ryan Wright, Mike Roll and Janou Rubin. Eight scholarship players. He's been to the line more than all eight of them. Or my top three players in terms of getting to the foul lane, Richard, Jordan and Arron have taken 350 combined. He's been there 307 times. I would say he gets treated very fairly in terms of the officiating based on what's happened thus far.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach. Good luck.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Thank you.
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