Tuesday, April 04, 2006

UCLA Post-Game Press Conference Notes

Indianapolis, IN
UCLA Bruins Basketball Team
Post-Game Press Conference Transcript
April 3, 2006

THE MODERATOR: Coach Howland, we'll start with your opening statement, please.

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Well, we're obviously disappointed that we lost the game tonight. It was a great opportunity to have a chance to win the national championship in the last game of the college basketball season of '05/'06.

You have to credit Florida. I thought they were terrific tonight. They did an outstanding job of dealing with our pressure. They only had six turnovers for the game. That's a very, very important stat because we were trying real hard. We came out, and I thought we got a little sped up by their pressure in terms of not shot-faking at the end of some plays. We got some shots blocked early in the game. I think we had seven shots blocked at halftime. I don't know how many we actually got back. But usually you either want to get a block, get fouled.

We'll learn from this. I mean, our players that are returning in the program are definitely going to have grown a lot from this season. Again, I'm really, really proud of their efforts. These two guys right here have just been terrific all year.

A special thought to our four seniors, Cedric Bozeman, Michael Fey, Ryan Hollins and Janou Rubin. They've just been terrific helping build this program because of their work ethic, attitude, commitment to team first. So I'm really proud of those seniors in particular. All of these kids.

We had a great year. We came up in the national championship game short. My message to the team is that, you know, our goal is to get back here again next year and win it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Arron and Jordan first, please.

Q. If both players could talk about Florida's defense tonight.

ARRON AFFLALO: They're a very good defensive team. You know, Corey Brewer is a heck of a defender, standing in front of the ball. Their bigs are great shot blockers. They played to perfection tonight.

JORDAN FARMAR: Yeah, same thing. I mean, they did a great job both ends of the floor. You know, left us relying on dribble penetration. Once we get in there, it either was a blocked shot, they changed a lot of shots. That's just what their two bigs bring to the table.

Q. Arron, talk about the first half. You had trouble offensively. You just mentioned that Brewer is a good defender. What other things were giving you guys problems on offense?

ARRON AFFLALO: You know, nothing for me personally. You know, sometimes we rely on our defense to get offense for us. Just had to let the game come to me. Maybe I was trying to hunt the ball a little too much, and as a result took myself out of the flow. I had a couple opportunities in the paint. Probably just need to slow down, shot fake, do some things better, to get my shot off.

Q. Both players, I don't know if you've heard about Coach Wooden's condition, when you heard about it, how that's factored into your thoughts.

ARRON AFFLALO: Our coach talked to us about it before the game. We were pretty focused on the game, though. But, again, you know, our heart and everything we do on the floor is always a tribute to him, whether he's healthy or not.

JORDAN FARMAR: Same thing. We heard right before the game. We found out that, you know, he would be okay. He was admitted with his family's consent. It was their wishes.

We heard that, we just tried to maintain our focus and go out and play.

Q. Could you talk about how physical Florida was. How surprised were you that Florida was able to be as physical and take you guys out of a lot of things you like to do offensively?

JORDAN FARMAR: They do a great job. I didn't think we were out of what we like to do. Once shot clocks went down, late in possessions, we were doing the same things we've been doing all year, just later on. Once you get to the key, they had people there contesting. They did a great job rebounding, as well.

Offensively, they were very poised and strong and ready for everything we had to throw at 'em.

ARRON AFFLALO: Same here. You know, they were just -- you know, outside the physical aspect of it, they were well-prepared. Whatever they did, they were able to do it very strong. They knew what to expect tonight and they executed. You know, they're definitely, you know, well-conditioned. Their guards, they play very strong. Big man played very strong.

It's just a little incentive for our returning guys to really strive to get that much better for next year.

Q. Can you talk specifically about Joakim Noah, just sort of the type of player he is, specifically on the defensive end.

ARRON AFFLALO: You know, he's very good. First of all, on offense, he has the ability to go outside. He's not a stiff at all. He's able to make plays from up high, which caused us a few problems today.

Defensively, he's just long. You know, he has the ability to change shots if he's not blocking 'em. He plays with a lot of energy. You know, he played very well tonight.

JORDAN FARMAR: Same thing. I mean, he's long with good timing. He does a good job of staying on the ground, you know, not going for shot fakes, using his length to his advantage.

He does change a lot of shots if he doesn't block them. He had six blocks tonight. He definitely was a factor.

THE MODERATOR: Arron and Jordan, congratulations on a great season. We'll let you get back to the locker room.

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Good job, guys.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach Howland.

Q. Could you speak to the balance that Florida showed and the depth. It seemed like that's been a consistent theme throughout this tournament, tonight obviously, too.

COACH BEN HOWLAND: I think they averaged five guys in double figures on the year, if I'm not mistaken. Taurean Green, although he was only one for nine, zero for seven from three, I thought he did a great job handling the ball, handling the pressure. He had eight assists, only one turnover. He did a very, very good job.

They're obviously an outstanding team. They won the national championship. They played in all phases. Their defense was terrific. They did a great job defensively. We got sped up. We got a little hurried. We had opportunities to actually come into the paint and stop, but we were moving too fast. They got a couple from behind where they were pressing, pushing the ball. We talked about it.

Again, you know, that's Brewer really running the ball down and doing a great job. Again, you have to shot fake against a guy like Noah. We had opportunities where we had him angled and didn't shot fake. You know, again, I thought our guys were probably a little sped up there, especially early in the game.

Q. Is it possible to list three or four things going into this game you were really hoping to accomplish. Could you mention what those might have been?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Going into the game, we wanted, number one, to take away their transition offense, which I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job. There was a couple of threes, one on the far left wing by Humphrey. Humphrey made eight attempts, all eight were threes. He was four for eight. He's a good player. He had 15 points and didn't turn the ball over.

But we wanted to take away their transition offense. We wanted to do a good job once they got in the halfcourt of trying to double the post.

Our rotations got a little bit slow. I thought they hurt us. They did a good job of tackling -- attacking the double teams in the post. In retrospect, maybe we should have tried to play them one-on-one in there. They were really good inside. Both those big kids shoot 60% from the field on the year.

Offensively, we wanted to try to attack their press and push it, try to hurt them at the other end. We had some opportunities that were missed opportunities. Again, you have to credit them.

I thought probably the fourth thing is that we had to do a better job in terms of blocking out and not giving up second shots. Especially in the first half, they had some second-chance opportunities. We got beat a couple out-of-bounds plays early for layups. A lot of mistakes.

Usually the team that makes the most mistakes is going to end up being on the wrong side of the win/loss column. Again, credit Florida. Florida was terrific. They were very, very well-coached. They have outstanding players. This is their night. Unfortunately for us, that's the case.

But UCLA is going to be back.

Q. How much did the threat of the three spread out your defense and affect your defense?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: Well, they're obviously a great shooting team. Any time you shoot 39% on the year from three as a team, that's outstanding.

The in-out game works hand-in-hand. In other words, you know, it would be a lot easier to guard those three-point shooters if you weren't so worried about their big guys inside. If you didn't have three-point shooters, it would be easier to cover down on those guys and make it tougher. So they have very good balance.

Q. You told the players about Coach Wooden right before you took the floor. What did you say to them? Is there any way to adequately sum up what he means to your program?

COACH BEN HOWLAND: What I told them, actually before we took the floor for the second time at the 32-minute mark, we came out, I told them just basically what was announced. I got a little emotional.

But that didn't affect our performance tonight. What I said was that Coach Wooden has been admitted to the hospital. He didn't want to go. Sounds just like coach. His family made him do it. He's going to be fine based on all the information we have. I was really hoping we would play really well tonight so he and his family could enjoy that in the hospital room that he was in tonight.

You know, in terms of what he means to the program, he's the patriarch. He is why this program is where it is. It's one of the elite programs in the country and has been since he started that job in 1948. It's continued.

Has it been to the level he had it his last 12 years? No. Will anybody ever get a program at that level? It will be very difficult to win 10 in 12 years.

But I don't want to diminish what our team accomplished this year and our players, what an outstanding job they did all year long. I mean, our players have been absolutely terrific this year. Those kids are just great kids, great human beings, outstanding basketball players.

The biggest thing when you get beat and you lose a game, especially a game of this magnitude for the national championship, but any game, it's learning from and responding to defeat, disappointment. How you respond to that means everything.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much. Congratulations on a great year.


(ASAP Sports)



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