Friday, March 30, 2007

Press Conference Notes Final 4: Afflalo and Shipp

By Bruin Basketball Report

Q&A with Arron Afflalo and Josh Ship

Q. Arron, you've talked at the other locations about how difficult
it was for you, last year's Florida game. With that and the rematch
aspect, also the fact that Florida has a lot of players who came back
specifically to be here, is there a greater sense of desperation in
this game than there might be in other semifinals or big games?

ARRON AFFLALO: Well, obviously we have the memory of last year. But
this is a brand-new team, brand-new personnel. They've grown a lot and
matured a lot, have gotten a lot better. So have we since that point.

This is not a rematch; this is UCLA versus Florida from the '07 season.
We're really looking forward to competing against. the No. 1 overall team.

Q. Before the season, everybody was talking about how Darren was
such a key in replacing Jordan. Why has he been able to excel at the
level he has?

ARRON AFFLALO: First of all, Jordan was very
good, as well. He played the game with a high IQ. He was a mature floor
leader who was willing to take some big shots.

You know, Darren has a certain competitive spirit and some natural
athleticism, some natural quickness that allows him to do some
different things for us as a team, and that extends on the defensive
floor and on the offensive end as well.

Q. You were here last year. You understand the unique nature of
getting this far. What does it take? What does a team have to have to
survive this format with the quick turnarounds?

JOSH SHIPP:  For me, my experience was a little different because I was sitting watching last year. But, I mean, the team, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication,
sacrifice, luck at times. It's just a lot of things that go into
getting back here.

All the teams that make it here are good teams.  It's definitely going to be a war out there in the next couple games.

Q. Not really as UCLA players, but guys into college basketball, do
you think the NCAA tournament and the Final Four specifically are
better when there isn't one of these Cinderella stories?

ARRON AFFLALO: You know, as a fan, I know I enjoy both. I know the
Cinderella teams are exciting to watch. You can see their competitive
spirit, the joy they create, not for only the university, but within
the communities that have a lot of underdog situations. They play for a
lot more than just the game usually.

But in a stage like this one where we have a lot of powerhouse teams,
it's good for the basketball world as well as the outside world simply
because it is so competitive and the games are going to be great. It's
just good basketball.

JOSH SHIPP: He pretty much said it all. I enjoy watching teams get
knocked off. Hopefully it wouldn't happen to us (smiling).

Those guys, they deserve to be here just like any of the other teams.
They work just as hard as we do. When they upset, I mean, they're good
teams and they prove themselves out there. Like I said, it's just a fun
experience watching that.

Q. Arron, last year when they defeated you, celebrated after the
game, what do you remember from watching that? Did you feel any mixed
emotions, sadness or jealousy, maybe even a little happy for them?

ARRON AFFLALO: Well, definitely wasn't happy (smiling). I had a lot of
anger, a lot of pain as well. You know, I'm a guy at those point in
times, me personally, I have a lot of humility about what I do. It's
just a little different to watch other people celebrate against you. It
brings about some different feelings.

But those times are gone. They came out. They came out and competed.
They played very hard. We didn't put forth the effort that night that
we needed to. They were well deserving of that championship last year.

Q. Arron, obviously a lot is made of your coach's film work. If you
listen to him up here, he's obviously very detailed. Have you, over
time, learned to kind of take what you really need to know into a game
and not get really consumed and caught up with all the information he
gives you? How easy is that?

actually. You know, we have to take in each and every detail because
those are the little things that make us good as a team. The minute we
begin to overlook those, start focusing on the bigger picture, will be
the time that we lose, and generally is the time we have lost. Paying attention to detail has been an important thing for us.

Q. As a player with such a great reputation as a defender, have you
been impressed by what you have done in this tournament? The field goal
percentage, points allowed. Has it impressed you and Coach Howland?

ARRON AFFLALO: Yes. But in the end, we have the personnel to play that
type of defense. The way Josh sees the floor on that end,
the way Darren can pressure the ball, my willingness to try to stop
whoever, the physicality and the mobility of our bigs allow us to play
a certain type of defense that has really worked for us throughout the
whole season.

Q. When your coach was in here earlier, he described you as having
your hands full with Florida. Went into great detail about how dominant
they are, how strong they are. Does he take a different tone with you,
give you a sense of confidence about your chances?

SHIPP: I mean, he's pretty much the same way with us. I mean, Florida
is a great team. We know that. He reminds us every day in practice.
Just watching them on film, they have great bigs, they have great
outside players. So it's definitely going to be a hard game for us. I
think the main thing he tries to focus on, the little details that are
the key for us to winning games.

Q. A lot of championships are determined different ways. Can you
imagine this tournament, a basketball championship, being decided a
different way than it is now? What would be some of your ideas?

ARRON AFFLALO: I really don't have any because I really enjoy the whole
tournament experience. It's just a lot of excitement, it's a lot of
anxiety, some different pressures because it's all or nothing. It
causes great players to do great things and great teams to do great
things. You appreciate it for the entire three weeks. There isn't four
more deserving teams than the ones here.

Q. Arron, by the time most teams get here they have a go-to player
who has led them here. As you look at Florida, who do you think would
have the ball with 10 seconds to go with the score tied? Who do you
think is their best player?

ARRON AFFLALO: Well, you know,
they're a pretty versatile team. They have a lot of confident guys who
are willing to make plays. I mean, just assuming with 10 seconds left,
chances are you want the ball in your point guard's hand. Taurean Green
has done a great job of leading them as well as being an assist man,
keeping the composure of the team.  That's not to take away from what
their bigs do offensively.  I just think in those situations he's
probably their guy.

Q. Considering where you were born, where you grew up, grew up
rooting for, you're almost sort of destined to be in this role, weren't

ARRON AFFLALO: Yeah, you know, I was born at UCLA. I
guess it's not coincidental. I'm from L.A. from Compton. I'm enjoying
this experience, trying to take pride in not only defending my school
but defending our city and defending everything that we stand for as a
West Coast team, as an L.A. team, for everybody in the UCLA family.

Q. How much attention, if any, can you pay to the other national
semifinal, and do you have just a passing curiosity as a basketball fan
of seeing two seven-footers go at each other?

mean, we're really focused on our game. That's a tough question to
answer. All our attention is going to Florida, and hopefully we can win
that game and then look forward to the other team.

ARRON AFFLALO: It is going to be a joy for a lot of people to see those
guys go at it. Like Josh said, it's strictly preparation for what we
have to do.

(photo credit: AP)



Post a Comment

<< Back To Bruin Basketball Report Home