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March 24, 2006
THE MODERATOR: We have student-athletes from the UCLA Bruins. We'll open it up for questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Cedric or Jordan, who made the steal last night, still haven't been able to figure that out, Batista?
JORDAN FARMAR: We were both trapping him and swiping for the ball. I think Cedric knocked it loose. I picked it up. I found Luc under the basket. Once and for all (smiling).
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: Final.
Q. Jordan, the aftermath of last night's game, how long did it take you to calm down, what time did you get to bed?
JORDAN FARMAR: It was a really good feeling. I have a lot of family who traveled here, so I spent time with them. They were enjoying it. That was the best part for me, is to see them come together and really enjoy that experience.
After I was done spending time with them, I just went to bed. I mean, I was tired, exhausted. It was an exhausting game. It wasn't too hard to come down and go to sleep because I was drained, so...
Q. What did you do after the game, each of you? Which of you has finals today or have any of you taken finals?
ARRON AFFLALO: I got a few of 'em to take a little bit later.
As far as the game goes, pretty much went back to the hotel and relaxed a little bit.
Q. Did you do any studying or this morning?
ARRON AFFLALO: No, not yet (smiling). Probably be doing some studying when I get back from practice today.
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: I mean, same thing. I mean, we sat in our rooms, talked about it for a little bit. You know, it was an exciting game. After that, you're so emotionally and physically drained, you just go to sleep.
No finals for me, though. I'm a fifth-year senior, done (smiling).
LUC RICHARD MBAH A MOUTE: It was the same for me, too. Just tried to get into the room, walked down the hallway, talking to the other guys, see how they're doing. Finally got settled and went to bed around 1:00. That was it.
RYAN HOLLINS: No finals for me either. Just got back, relaxed, talked to my friends and family, you know, embellished (sic) the moment, got some sleep. I was drained like the rest of our guys.
Q. Jordan and Luc, would you discuss what it may be like to be part of a play that will be discussed around UCLA for a long time?
JORDAN FARMAR: It's a great feeling. You know, anybody on the team should feel just as special, just as involved because without the entire team effort, that play never is possible to be as special as it was.
It feels great. I was just fortunate to be there. Anybody on this team can say the same.
LUC RICHARD MBAH A MOUTE: Just like he said, it feels good. But at the same time it was everybody's effort, you know, just hustling from Ced making the steal to Jordan throwing me the ball. Everybody, it was just a collective effort.
I was just fortunate to put the ball in the basket.
Q. Luc, the first time you played Memphis you were only a few games into your college career but played a lot of minutes. What do you remember from that game? How much do you feel like you've matured over the course of the year? Where have you gotten better as a freshman player?
LUC RICHARD MBAH A MOUTE: I think I've gotten better in all aspects of the game, just like the way we approach it. Memphis, it was definitely an experience for me. I was very nervous during that game. You could see in the first half, I don't think I played my best.
It's going to be interesting to see tomorrow. I'm very excited about that game. I think I matured everything, you know, from playing hard to like doing just the little things I do on the court. I'm excited about tomorrow.
Q. The game with Memphis, do you almost feel like you're a whole different team from that first game? Is it going to be like a rematch?
JORDAN FARMAR: We're completely different. I'm sure they are, as well. Playing in November, everybody's fresh with one another, trying to get on the same page. We've undergone so much growth and maturation throughout the season that it's not going to even be close from our end. I'm not expecting it to be the same from their end either. They've probably grown, changed, matured, just like we have.
It's going to be a different match-up. But I think playing them the first time helps us in the aspect that we got to sense and taste a little bit of their athleticism, the kind of style of play and players they have. Other than that, I think it will be completely different.
Q. Going back to that Memphis game, what do you remember about how it got away early, how much being on the same court with them in that game might help you prepare for this game?
ARRON AFFLALO: Yeah, definitely getting that experience always helps. As far as the game goes, it was our first game away from home. Our personnel's a little different. We had a few guys out still. We're a much different team. We're more aggressive on both ends of the floor. I think if you go back and watch that tape, you can see the passiveness in us, our instincts and our ability is not where it is today.
Q. Jordan and Cedric, you both mentioned being the draining experience last night. How much is left in your tank for tomorrow's game?
JORDAN FARMAR: We'll be fine. It was last night. That's over. Got a good night's rest. Go through practice and get a good rest for tomorrow's game, as well. It wasn't that draining. It was just draining for the time being. It was an exhilarating experience. It just took a lot out of you.
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: Same, I mean. No time to be tired now. This is it, you know. You lose, you go home. We don't want to go home. Like I said, we'll be ready.
Q. Going to the November game, they're certain parallels. If not that game, when do you think you forged the personality that you showed last night, resiliency to look at a 17-point deficit and still do it?
JORDAN FARMAR: I don't know when it was. What sticks out in my mind was losing to our crosstown rivals USC. That sparked something special and a different attitude and mentality around the program. The next practice we had after that was our best practice of the year. We really got into competing and playing as hard as we possibly could. It's just carried through throughout the rest of the season.
I think we have a totally different attitude after that game. No matter what kind of adversity has been thrown at us, whether it's an injury, foul trouble, halftime deficit, whatever you want to put in front of us, we've been able to overcome it by fighting, staying together and playing hard.
Q. Jordan and Arron, can you talk about Cedric and Ryan's senior leadership this year?
JORDAN FARMAR: They do a great job. Cedric is our glue. I mean, he does all the things necessary to keep this team together, to help us win ballgames, whether it's guard the other team's best player, be an extra ball handler on a press break, getting in a rebound. Whatever it is, he does it.
Ryan is doing a great job on the inside giving us some kind of presence. He's really improved on his decision making. He's really finishing plays and doing a great job knocking down foul shots in clutch situations. I couldn't say enough about both of those guys.
ARRON AFFLALO: Same here. Their experience and their composure is the most valuable thing to this team right now. They're talented, as well. They both have grown a lot throughout the season. Their games have definitely developed. They're getting better and better still as seniors. That's very important to us.
Q. Jordan and Arron, one of the things Memphis has done well is they've been able to make runs and pull away from teams. After what happened with Gonzaga last night, talk about your confidence in those situations.
ARRON AFFLALO: Well, we're confident in our defense, just as they are in their offense, their ability to pull away from teams.
We feel we're capable of doing the exact same thing, but on the other end of the floor through creating turnovers and good ball pressure and things of that nature.
If those circumstances did come up where they were pulling away, we're still confident we could stay in the game because we know we play defense for at least 40 minutes.
JORDAN FARMAR: Same thing. We've done a great job staying composed, staying together in tough situations. Last night was a perfect example of that and a good test for us to know that if we do get down or if teams do make a run, it's not the end of the world. We just have to stay calm and make sure we get the stops. That's been our staple all year, the defense. As long as we continue to play at that end of the floor, we'll have a chance to win at the end of the game.
Q. Jordan and Cedric, would you talk about Luc's impact on the team this year. Was he kind of the last piece of the puzzle?
JORDAN FARMAR: I really think so. I mean, I said Cedric is our glue, but Luc is right there with him. He does pretty much the same things. I mean, whether it's guard the best player, get every rebound. I mean, he's everywhere on the court when it comes to understand rebounding. Be a high-post catcher against zones, in the toughest spots to catch the ball, make plays for his teammates, be an extra ball handler on press breaks. Anything that's asked of him, he does. And never complains about everything, just always gives his best effort. Without those kind of performances, we're not where we are today.
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: He's a man that goes about his business. I watch him sometimes from the bench grab some rebounds that, I mean, you'd be amazed the rebounds he grabs.
He does a lot of great things on the floor and I'm proud of him.
Q. Cedric and Ryan, does the way last night's game ended give you the feeling that maybe this is a team of destiny, there's something meant to happen here? Does it bring back memories of the layup in '95? Have you thought or talked about that?
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: I mean, we just hoping all the positives are on our side. Hopefully somebody up above is on our side pulling us to win.
You know, we definitely can't take anything for granted. We got to come out and play hard and try to get a victory.
RYAN HOLLINS: Definitely just a tribute to everything this team has gone through, through injuries, Ced going down, pretty much 90% of our team being hurt, just sticking together, drawing our guys closer together, even more close-knit as the season went on. A win like that just feels good, something that was well-deserved. Coach has always told us, we deserve this, this is our moment. We played hard, we worked too hard to give something up like that. A win like last night was definitely big in that sense.
Q. If you could address the fact that Memphis knows that having won that first game, it's very hard to beat a good team two times in a row, especially in a tournament situation. Who has the upper hand going into this game?
ARRON AFFLALO: Personally I really don't try to look back on games too much. We've had situations where we've played teams two, three times this year. That's the worst thing to do, is to get caught up in the way things went last game. I mean, for one, you can't look back on it and learn from that experience.
Those emotions, everything you put into that last game is gone. That was months ago. This is a brand-new game with probably two brand-new teams. In my mind, this is the first game for us.
Q. Arron and Jordan, any other team you've played close to Memphis' athleticism?
ARRON AFFLALO: I don't think from an overall standpoint. We've played some teams with some pretty athletic big guys or some athletic guards. You know, this team is pretty complete. They're long, wiry, athletic all around. We're probably going to have to do our best job of the season of keeping them off the glass, limiting them to one shot, probably stopping their break a little bit.
JORDAN FARMAR: Same thing. I mean, I don't think anybody that we've played compares overall. Alabama, we just played last week, has a lot of great athletes. That's probably the closest thing to an overall team full of athletes to Memphis.
They're a team full of a bunch of great players. Like Arron said, we have to do our best job in transition, negating some of the things they get on the break, really rebound the basketball. It's going to be the responsibility of the guards to get in there and help, Luc, Ryan and Ced, because of their athletic ability.
Q. Jordan, what do you remember about your match-up with Darius Washington? How is your wrist and thumb?
JORDAN FARMAR: My wrist and thumb are just fine. It's not even a problem at all.
You know, like we say, we don't think about individual match-ups at all. That's not in my mind, nor does it matter at all. It's the UCLA Bruins versus the Memphis Tigers. It's not Farmar/Washington or Afflalo/Carney. It's us as a collective unit trying to beat them. That's the only way we go about it.
Q. Luc, you helped create that jump ball at the end there. Do you practice anything like that in practice where coach rolls the ball out and guys have to dive at it? Anything that equates to that in practice?
LUC RICHARD MBAH A MOUTE: I mean, yeah, early in the year, yeah, we always do practice every time there's a loose ball, coach get on us for people that don't dive for the ball. That's something that became instinct. That's what you got to do. A good team have to make plays like that in order to win.
It was just instinct what happened during the game. I just dove on the ball and got it.
Q. Have you watched the Memphis film? If not, will you? What things do you have to stop from Memphis to make it maybe a little better than you did last time?
ARRON AFFLALO: We'll probably get to watch some film probably today. Today's our preparation day. But before even watching the film, offhand I can tell you we need to stop their transition offense, take care of the ball offensively, probably limit them to one shot. Just watching highlights on TV, you can see them getting three, four attempts every time down the floor, tip-dunks, things of that nature. If we want to win, we're definitely going to have to eliminate that.
Q. Arron, last night you banged around with Morrison. Today you have finals. Tomorrow you have a conference Player of the Year waiting for you in Carney. How do you get through this weekend?
ARRON AFFLALO: Oh, that's no problem. You take everything at hand what's ahead of you. Last night came, now it's gone. Time spent on school is spent on school. When you're on the floor, you focus on the floor. Same way for school. I'll focus on my finals tonight. That will be behind me. Then I have a new task at hand tomorrow.
Just approach everything one thing at a time.
Q. Cedric and Arron, could you comment on what Jordan brings to this team, the reason that you feel good about him doing the things that he does.
CEDRIC BOZEMAN: I mean, personally, this has been my first year actually like really playing with him a whole season. Last year, I was out. I mean, just to watch him from the bench even last year, he's a guy that has the ability to make plays at all times. I mean, he has a lot of confidence. We have a lot of confidence in him. He's our quarterback. We're going to ride him till the wheels fall off.
ARRON AFFLALO: Same two words, confidence and leadership. Those two things combined is the makeup of a good point guard.
Q. Arron, what are the classes you have finals in tonight?
ARRON AFFLALO: Sociology and history.
THE MODERATOR: Players, thank you very much.
Questions for Coach Howland.
Q. Where do you get your trap? Many influences? Philosophy you use on your trap?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Are you talking about trapping of post players, trapping in the press? That was just a mad scramble at the end down to try to create some turnovers. We started really extending our defense beginning of the second half. The traps in the back court didn't come till the last three or four minutes.
It takes a lot of energy to play that hard. Just impressed with how our players fought back. But that trap's just basketball.
Q. If both teams are so different from when you played in November, how much do you take away in preparation for tomorrow from what happened in New York in November?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Oh, you definitely try to learn from any time you've played someone. They handled us easily. Memphis State is the most athletic team in the country, and the only one that can even have a qualm with that would be LSU. All you got to do is watch the tape. These guys are incredible athletically, just great players. 33-3. They outboard their opponent by seven a game, they hold their opponents to 38% from the field, they shoot 35% from three, which I always equate to 52.5 from two. They've got a lot of weapons. They have unbelievable depth.
They handled us very easily the first time we played them. Williams is a great player. They have at least three, four NBA players minimally, the guys we'll see down in the NBA down the road. You know, could be five.
They're a very, very well-coached team. Calipari, his track record speaks for itself.
Q. How key was it last night to keep them off the line, especially in the last few minutes and keeping Morrison off the line for the game?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Some people question, why weren't you fouling? We were down five with a minute, 30 to go. My philosophy is that's a two-possession game. Instead of fouling, they're 78% Gonzaga from the foul line, third in the country going into the game. You foul them, you're giving them points.
We talked a lot about not fouling. Don't foul. Jordan made that one reach from behind, which was not the kind of play that I would have wanted him to make. I think they put it back to seven at one point there. We made some mistakes. Darren Collison got on the side of Raivio, he went in for a layup. We still, with all that, found a way. That's just a testament to our players.
Q. How many of your players are taking exams and how does that work in regards to monitors, that sort of thing?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: We have a proctor that is with us who proctors the exams. We've had most of our finals that were done prior to getting here. We have had a few kids that have had to take exams both on Wednesday and again today. But for the majority of the team, they were done prior to Wednesday.
Q. Some coaches like to save their timeouts till the end of the game. You seem to like to use them throughout. What is the philosophy of when you use them?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: You know, it depends on just a feel for the game. For example, a couple times -- we had spent so much energy getting back, at one point there Roll made his three, I called a timeout because we were just exhausted from extending our defense. They got it back to 12.
I guess the only one who really understands the method to my substitutions or my timeouts is me. I don't know if I could explain it to you. You just -- the only one who understands is Bill Grier. He thinks it's good. So ask Bill.
Q. From a coaching perspective when you win a game the way you did last night, do you feel maybe there's some magic with this team, something meant to happen, or do those wins scare you a little bit?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I think this gives us an opportunity to feed off of this. We fed off of the Cal win being down 11 at halftime. Upon winning that game, securing a share of the PAC-10 championship. We played five games in a row from that point forward. We were dominant with our play. That's my expectation, that we're going to feed off of this win and it's going to make us better going into tomorrow.
We're going to need to be better, a lot better, to have a chance to beat Memphis.
Q. What did you do last night after the game? Did you go back -- have you watched the entire game over again?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I haven't watched. On the bus on the way back, I did see the last minute, 58. I went back to the hotel, took a quick shower, got a quick bite, then we were watching film till a little after 4 this morning on Memphis.
Q. How do you feel about rematches? Do you feel one team or the other has the upper hand in Round 2?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: You know, this is a game where you have I think two outstanding teams. Memphis is the No. 1 seed. Memphis, I don't know where they are in their RPI, one, two, three or four. As I've said, I think they have four or five pros. They're very well-coached. They're an outstanding team.
It's going to be a fun game I think for college basketball fans. We're hopeful we're going to come out and play our best game of the year.
Q. Do you have a feeling in a way about a rematch?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: We see it all the time in our conference. You play a team, usually in our conference you play them twice every time. Although Dave is supportive of going to a 16-game conference because he thinks it would be good for the RPI. The coaches are trying to support Dave on that.
It's the second time we're playing them. I think both times have improved dramatically from when we met in November when they were just so dominant. They've definitely improved. We've improved. There's two good teams. We're excited that we're still playing.
Again, I have to continue to go back to what an outstanding team we beat yesterday in Gonzaga. I think Gonzaga is just terrific. They're so tough and so well-coached. I turn on the tube, listen about how they blew it, everybody killing them. I just hate to see that, to be characterized like that.
Our team did something really special in the last three minutes of that game. It's an unbelievable finish to a game. Let's give Gonzaga due credit. They had an unbelievable team and year and the greatest player in the country in Adam Morrison. Mark Few is the winningest coach in the last seven years percentage-wise with the exception of Duke. They do an incredible job with that program.
Q. You said a couple times you think you have the best guards in the country. Could you elaborate on what makes you think Jordan and Arron are the best standard in the nation.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Results. They're getting results. They're sophomores. They're very, very good players. Arron I think is just an incredible defensive player. That's where you have to give Ced a lot of credit. Last night Ced had to go to Morrison because Arron, uncharacteristic of him, got in foul trouble. He played with four fouls and almost got a crazy fifth foul. I took him right out at mid-court. I was really, really frustrated that he wouldn't recognize that that wasn't what you would want him to do, reaching for a ball at mid-court. He didn't foul, but he came just really close to the edge.
Arron brings it every day. Arron brings it every day at both ends of the floor. He has such pride in playing good defense. He takes it personal. He's just a winner. You know, you go back to the Cal game, he had 21 points in the second half against Cal. Absolutely put us on his shoulders in that comeback.
Jordan is just a great competitor. He's so smart. You hear him up here talking. His intelligence translates also to the basketball floor. His leadership, his ability to make plays for himself and for others. Now, you got to remember, last night we're down five when he makes the runner on the right side lane, just an unbelievable shot. We get a stop. Jordan makes the steal, makes the pass. Luc makes the incredible catch, finish.
The most exciting play of the game was Luc diving on the floor for the ball from behind. That really characterized that comeback last night, that one sequence. Not only the steal, the finish, the dive on the floor for the ball, possession UCLA. I thought it took a little long to get the ball back in. I think there was a lot of stunned people both on the floor and in the stands.
Q. The first game was 88-80. Both of you are now so much better defensively. Where do you see the pace of this game?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: 88-80 is not indicative of the game. They crushed us. They had us down 20 at the half. I was watching that game this morning. It was not indicative of what the game was like. They handled us easily the first time we played.
We've got to do a better job of trying to get back in transition because if they score 88 points tomorrow, they're going to win.
Q. Could you elaborate on that. What do you think is crucial for you guys to do to improve on that performance and be as good as you say you need to be tomorrow?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Transition D, block-outs, contesting shots, taking care of the basketball, limiting our turnovers, attacking their press, executing offensively, reading the switches, knowing who you're guarding because they always are coming in and out with new players because they have such depth within their lineup. I mean, their leading minutes per game is 27 minutes per game. In other words, they don't even have anybody who plays 30. They're coming at you in waves of athletes and players. They have a lot of things going for them.
Q. Do you have a drill that approximates what Luc did last night in causing that jump ball? Are they ready for your brand of toughness when they come into the program?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: We try to recruit kids that have toughness to begin with. We're not looking for guys out there that we're going to try to make tough once they get to UCLA. You got to have toughness to start with. Toughness translates to being really good. Not just in basketball, but football, tennis, golf. How tough is Tiger? Whoever you want to talk about that really is great, you know, mental toughness, physical toughness.
This is about recruiting. It's about recruiting good players. You're talking about Ced, Jordan and Arron, they're McDonald's All-Americans. Luc is probably a kid who was under-recruited. It was South Carolina, Virginia Tech and UCLA. I stack him up as being one of the top freshmen in the country right now based on his performance. That was his eighth double-double of the season this year. He might have had nine. I think he actually got shortchanged on a rebound somewhere along the way where he had nine rebounds. He's incredible.
You look at our team, we're young. Darren Collison came in and really got us going to get back in that game last night with his energy, attacking the basket in transition. I thought he did a good job. Mata's minutes, to come off a broken leg for two months, coming back, helping us. We have a lot of guys contributing to what we're doing right now.
Q. Knowing that you expect your team to feed off that win, do you still have to do anything to make sure the emotions get high again in such a short turnaround?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: No. That won't be an issue.
Q. You were at Northern Arizona at the time, but did you see or do you recall the Edney against Missouri?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Oh, yeah. They show it all the time. Funny, I have a friend of mine in your profession who was talking about that with some kids today in high school. They know what you're talking about. 11 years ago. A typical high school kid was seven.
But Ed O'Bannon was here. He was in our locker room after the game last night. He was a part of that. That was against Missouri in Boise, Idaho, second round. They continue to show that to this day. That was just an incredible play by Tyus. When I first recruited Darren Collison to UCLA, I think he can be Tyus Edney in time. I'm really believing that as this season has gone forward. That was a great win. For Coach Harrick, Mark Gottfried, Lorenzo Romar, Steve Lavin, that was a heck of a staff. That really propelled them forward.
Q. Have you had time to reflect in all of this on the fact that you personally, it's the first time you're going to the Elite 8 and what it means to you?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: For me personally, this is new territory. I'm excited about that. It's the opportunity to play again, to advance on this tournament. That's what this is all about. That's why one of the big -- one of the big reasons why I wanted to be the coach at UCLA because I think year in, year out, because of our recruiting base, because of the tradition, history of this program, the opportunity to recruit great players who are great kids, that we're going to have a chance to do well in this tournament year in and year out.
That's why you have to love college basketball and the NCAA tournament. This is the greatest time of year. It's the greatest sporting event in all of sporting culture in this country. Everybody from all over the country involved. Everybody's involved in this. There's great interest in it. It's just exciting. It's pure sport and it's fun.
Q. Could you comment specifically on Rodney Carney, your impressions of him as a player, what his future in basketball is?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Well, he has a long future in basketball. I mean, he's just an incredible athlete, 6'7", shoots the three so well. Half his shots are three's. I think my assistant, Ernie Zeigler, prophesied something. He will win the dunk contest next year in the NBA. He is unbelievable. I can't even imagine how far he can take off from. He's like he's flying. He defies gravity.
I think if Darren Collison were to stand there, he's one of those guys that could jump right over him. I'm sure he can. I'm talking about do the split leg thing and go right over, 6-footer. He could probably go over a 7-footer.
That all being said, his athleticism, when you talk about his ability to shoot the three, I mean, he has a beautiful stroke with range. He is a lottery pick. It's a done deal. All those NBA guys are frothing.
He's going to be playing basketball for a long time, being very successful at it, as he's been for John.
Q. Switching the subject to freshmen. You depended on three or four freshmen on your team. Can you talk about the freshmen classes on both teams, how much impact they have on this game.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Well, for our team, it's been all year, you know, five of our top 10 players, nine players, have been freshmen. They've played an incredible amount of minutes. When you look at what a typical freshman probably plays at the high major level, Mike Roll already has played 550-plus minutes. Part of the adversity of losing Ced, losing Josh, gave him more opportunity. He took advantage of it. I really have a lot of confidence in Mike.
You look at Darren Collison, he's playing 20 minutes a game. Obviously, Luc is a huge factor. Alfred Aboya, came off of two knee surgeries, both in July and in October, has done an incredible job bouncing back from those, really has given us a lot of depth. Ryan Wright is going to be an outstanding player, our freshman center from Toronto, Canada. I was looking at him from behind the other days, he's 250 pounds. He has one of those Dorsey bodies. He has a body that won't quit. I remember him in AAU ball playing for the Baltimore team, coming out of that area. He's always been a good player.
Their freshmen are a year or two older because they went to prep school, which is an advantage. Basically they have an extra year of maturity and age on them. I think that's always an advantage. I had a lot of players like that at Pitt. Carl Krauser graduated at age 25. It's always an advantage when you're 25 playing against a guy 18 mentally if not physically.
Q. You mentioned Luc quite a bit. How does somebody who goes from wanting to be the next Michael Jordan and a guard turn into one of your best interior players and rebounders?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Really in my system, our (foreman?) Is like a guard. My expectation is he handles the ball like a guard, he can shoot the ball like a guard, he can pass the ball like a guard, he can dribble the ball like a guard, he can switch on to guards defensively, yet he can guard bigs. That's what you get really big players that are multi-positioned, guys that can do things at multi-positions. That's when you're talking about Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan can guard a one, two or three and play one, two or three on offense. Magic Johnson played one, two, five, including five in the championship of his rookie year where they beat the Sixers. He can guard a one through four typically night in and night out and play obviously offense any way you want.
You talk about Pippen, McGradys, Kobe, that's what great players can do. Guys that have length like he does, but yet have the quick feet and the school level.
Q. Back to freshmen productivity? Are they better because the great upperclassmen leave early or because of the AAU competitions prep schools? What makes freshmen so much better now?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I just think players are getting better, we're evolving. Look at the average NFL player compared to 20 years ago, or the average NBA player, the average college player. Players are bigger, faster, stronger, quicker. They're more involved early in organized teams. There's more competition at an early age. They're being pushed earlier. There's more in today's than 20 years ago specialization. You don't see as many kids playing three sports. You either play football or basketball in most cases. You see it some, but not nearly as much as 20 years ago. There's a lot of reasons. Human beings are getting bigger, faster, stronger, quicker. It's nutrition. There's a lot of reasons why.
You're talking about weight training, core training, nutrition. There's so many aspects that are being really looked at. The Europeans I think were ahead of us. I think our sports professionals in all areas have really caught up to it in a lot of respects.
Q. Since we're talking about going back in time year, you talked about Dorsey. Do you remember Rodney Carney when he was a guy who wasn't that recruited? Do you remember him at all during that period?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: No, I wish I did. I wish I knew him. I would have loved have recruited him obviously. I know he's out of Indiana, if I'm not mistaken. I don't even know what AAU program he was with. He wasn't with one? John probably had him tucked away somewhere, secret recruit, knowing Cal.
Q. How does a guy like that get overlooked?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: If he wasn't in AAU programs, he wasn't seen. Overlooked is one thing. Being seen and overlooked is another. If he's not out there being exposed to the coaches and all the recruiters that get a chance to go through and see all these kids, that's different.
I'm just amazed, like the kid from Bradley, O'Bryant, he's from Blaine, Minnesota. Gosh, what a great player he is. I watched that tape first last night. I saw them with some highlights against Pitt. There's so many good players out there, guys that develop. But, boy, is he a good player that probably wasn't as highly recruited as maybe you would think based on watching him play, both Carney and O'Bryant.
Q. Talk about that concept of whether you worry that your team is emotionally drained from last night or whether you see that as a momentum thing.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I see it as a momentum thing all the way. We're going to feed on that win. We're going to feed on that emotion. We're going to feed on it. It's making us better. I equated it to the Cal win where we were down 11, came back and won. Really from that point forward -- I think Jordan is right, after that SC loss, I think that really motivated us to take to it a new level. I thought after that Cal win, which was a great win, we upped it up a notch. That's what we're going to need to do to have a chance to have success.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts...