Sunday, April 01, 2007

Press Conference Notes Final 4: UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

Arron Afflalo
Josh Shipp
Coach Ben Howland

COACH HOWLAND: They have an outstanding team, University of Florida. You have to credit them. They did a great job tonight controlling the backboards and also defensively. They've been an outstanding defensive team here the last two years, holding their opponents under 40%. You have to, again, credit them. They have outstanding players. They're very, very well-coached.
That all being said, we're very disappointed about losing tonight and being here for the second straight year without bringing home a championship. But I'm also really, really proud of our players and the great year that we've had, the character that they've displayed throughout the season. Just really, really proud to have had the opportunity to coach such a great group of young kids this year.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Arron or Josh first, please.

Q. Arron, could you talk about how difficult that was to sit on the bench that much of the first half.
ARRON AFFLALO: Yeah, well, you know, that wasn't the disappointing thing about it. It was the fact that I couldn't be on the floor to help my teammates. They did a great job of fighting and staying together and playing strong. It wasn't really about me being on the bench.
Obviously that took me out of my own little personal rhythm a little bit. I really wanted to be there for them and be that aggressive leader for them on both ends.
I committed some bad fouls, put my team at a disadvantage.

Q. You were able to hold every team you played in the tournament until today to 55 points or less because you're such a strong defensive team. Talk about what Florida presents as a challenge for you defensively.
ARRON AFFLALO: When we got down, we had to get into a scrambling situation a little bit more in the second half. Because of that, they got some open looks and some breakdowns.
I thought we did a pretty good job defensively in the first half. We had their offense well-schemed. We were well-prepared tonight. It was about going out there and performing. We have a few lapses, did some different things which kind of turned the game for us. In the second half, they were able to get a lot more easy buckets.
JOSH SHIPP: I mean, pretty much what he said. We had the game plan that we had them well-schemed. We just didn't go out there and execute like we planned.

Q. Did anything they did surprise you? You said you had them well-schemed. Were there any surprises they came up with in this game?
ARRON AFFLALO: Not really. You know, we knew their plays. We knew 'em inside and out. We had about a week to prepare for them. I'm pretty sure they expected our double-teams. They did a pretty good job of passing it out, especially in the beginning of the second half.
But outside those few mental breakdowns, you know, they're pretty much a team they expected them to be. They performed well. They're well-deserving.
THE MODERATOR: Arron and Josh, thank you very much for coming down. Questions for Coach Howland, please.

Q. All last week you were talking about Florida being maybe one of the great teams of recent college basketball history. After getting a chance to see them now for the second straight year, is there anything they do that makes you even feel more so about that?
COACH HOWLAND: They're very, very impressive. It will be an interesting game Monday night. I have not had a chance to really study Ohio State at all because everything was geared towards Florida.
But in terms of Florida, I mean, as I said coming in, they have no weaknesses. They have a great inside attack. They have outstanding perimeter shooting. They're very good defensively.
Really, we were down six at halftime with Arron three fouls playing five minutes the first half. It was our inability to score that caused us the most problems, to score inside. Again, you have to credit their defense.
We shot 39% for the game. You have to shoot and do better than that to beat a great team like Florida.
We held them in the first half to zero offensive rebounds. They had 10 turnovers to our one turnover, yet we're still down six because of our inability to score.
But, again, I'm really proud of our team and the great year they've had. Really proud to have had such good kids to coach this year.

Q. You were up against it enough playing a good team like Florida. Some of the calls that went against you seemed really weak, that the referees made, especially some right under the basket. Can you comment anything about that, being a part of the problem for tonight's game?
COACH HOWLAND: Not really. I don't think the officiating -- it was unfortunate Arron had three fouls. I'm not going to put any blame on the officials at all. I won't -- you know, that's not the case. We were beaten by a great team tonight. You have to credit them.

Q. While it's a great accomplishment to get here, do you think there needs to be any tweaking of the system to get you over the hump? Do you think down the road, any examination from these last two years needs to be done?
COACH HOWLAND: We were beaten both years by Florida, last year in the national championship after beating a very good LSU team in the semifinals, and then again tonight by Florida. You have to credit them, a great team.
Yeah, I'll always look to go back and try to learn and see what we can do better. Our biggest inability, and I take responsibility for it, is that we didn't attack their switching man defense very well.
We've got to do a better job of being able to get better spacing and also to not be so reluctant to throw the ball in the post. We didn't have that many post feeds.
They are a very long and athletic team inside. I was just looking to see, they blocked six of our shots tonight. Again, we're playing against, I really do believe, one of the better college teams that has been around in a while when you look at what they've done over the last two years.
You're talking about two lottery picks inside. Brewer is going to be a top-20 pick when he decides to come out. I love Green and Humphrey as their guards. Richard coming off the bench is a great player. You got to credit them.
But, yes, to answer your question, we're always looking to tweak and to try to get better at what we're doing.

Q. Not to comment specifically on the referees, but it seemed early on they were calling a close game as opposed to more of a loose game. Did that hurt your style? You're a vigorous defensive team. Did that hurt what you had hoped to have? And the second question, look ahead to next year.
COACH HOWLAND: I really thought I answered the officiating question, so I'll skip that answer.
Yeah, I'm excited about our team next year. We have no seniors in the program. I'm thinking that we're going to be a very good team and competitive next year, especially with the addition of Kevin Love, who is one of the top players in the country, if not the best kid in the country. He gives us a very good inside presence.
Then also we're getting the Los Angeles city Player of the Year in Chase Stanback out of Fairfax who did a great job again leading his team this year to the state championship and city championship for the first time, city championship time I think for 20 years in Fairfax.
Our players are hurting right now. They're deeply disappointed. We have great, great kids, high character. You know, we've got to bounce back. Again, there's only one team that's going to be truly happy leaving Atlanta, and that's going to be whoever wins the game Monday night.
We were there as the bridesmaid last year on championship night. Obviously we would have liked to have gotten past Florida. Again, credit Florida. They have a great team, very well-coached. Outstanding players and outstanding coach.

Q. Could you talk about how when Arron goes out that early you have to change rotations? What's the do
mino effect of losing a guy like that?

COACH HOWLAND: We're losing our leading scorer and our best defender, perimeter players. Obviously it's a lot to overcome when Arron is not in the game. I thought we did a pretty good job of it for the most part to only be down six, again as I spoke to earlier, and to have the ball coming out of halftime there.
We cut it to four there a couple times. Then they went on a nice run and that hurt us. I have to go back and examine the tape and look at those plays.

(photo credit: AP)



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