UCLA vs. Western Kentucky Post-Game Press Conference Notes
NCAA MEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: PHOENIX
THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you'd offer a few comments.
COACH HOWLAND: Well, that was another exciting game for all the Bruin fans out there. I want to keep you guys awake and on the edge of your seat, so you're welcome.
But, seriously, Western Kentucky did a great job of speeding up the game in the second half. We did a poor job in the second half at times in our shot selection when we were up 15, up 17, up 18. And we gave them the ball back when they would come down and score.
We got in foul trouble there and they got to the line early. But I thought at the end we showed some poise, even with Darren fouling out and with two of our starters with four fouls each in Westbrook and Shipp. We did make some silly fouls we would like to avoid in the future.
I thought James here had a really great career game thus far. We're expecting more, James.
But 18-12 is a nice game. For those of you who don't know, he had his shoulder surgery this past -- when was it? What month was that? July? August? August. So he was out for four, five months with a shoulder. Came back in mid-December. I decided at that time because we were healthy with Roll we were going to red shirt this guy. When Roll went down, we brought him off his red shirt so it was an emotional roller coaster for James. But his parents were supportive. He was supportive because he wanted to do what was best for the team.
It is kind of fun to see a guy that does the right things, get rewarded by having the game of his life here and helping his team get on to the next round of the Elite Eight.
Q. Given where you were in December, how does this feel to come in and have a night like this tonight?
JAMES KEEFE: I mean, this is why I came back, you know? In December, it was rough red shirting and seeing my team play, wish I was out there. And then coming back, but this is why I came back, you know? We had foul trouble and you needed depth to go far into this tournament. And it was great that worked out.
Q. There was foul trouble which obviously is why your minutes increased. Did Ben indicate to you going into the game because of the size advantage in the post that you may be playing a little bit more?
JAMES KEEFE: I mean, we have great big guys. We have five big guys that can play any amount of minutes depending on foul trouble. I mean, with that depth, we just trade off who plays, who doesn't.
Q. I'm just wondering if there is a point in this season after you came back and you started playing, it seemed like you started a little slow, that you kind of started feeling a rhythm and like you were all the way back.
JAMES KEEFE: I wouldn't necessarily say there is a certain point, but, I mean, there are games that when I was in there, I felt great, you know, coming in, making things happen. And then sometimes it just wasn't there.
But especially in the post-season, it has been a good opportunity with some foul trouble, with the injury to Luc, which was a bad thing but kind of helped me get in there and get in the flow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Howland.
Q. Coach, could you talk about finally finding that scoring option besides Collison, besides Love to finally help you guys without Keefe's points or Shipp?
COACH HOWLAND: I thought Shipp did a great job today. He hit the big 3 to give us a nice lead in the first half. If you look at his points, he had 14 points. Those were all -- he didn't get any free throws except one where he was purposely fouled in the last minute and a half. His 14 points were huge. I thought he made a lot of nice plays helping us against the pressure. It was nice to see him play so well.
You know, I'm sitting here and we just take it for granted, Kevin Love did have at 29 and 14, which sounds like a pretty good line to me. I thought Luc's minutes were critical. We did a good job defensively on Courtney Lee. He is 7-29. So that's pretty good defense.
Now, Brazelton is another story. He really took advantage and made 26 points, I think in the second half. So he was a problem for us.
But overall, our defense, especially in the first half, was incredible. 18% they shot in the first half. They ended up shooting 47 the second for a combined 34. And, again, we outboarded them by 15 rebounds. And a lot of their offensive rebounds were long rebounds because they take 24 3s against a team that don't zone a possession like us.
We were happy to get this one under our belt. Western Kentucky is good. I am just really pleased that we were able to finally get our composure when they were making that run at us. Obviously, we would like to have Darren in the lineup. This is the least amount of minutes Darren Collison has played the entire year.
Q. What was going through your mind when you're up 21 at halftime and seemed like they were dead, then all of a sudden 63-59? The momentum and the crowd and everything seemed to change?
COACH HOWLAND: I tried to impress upon our guys at halftime that they weren't giving up, they weren't going away. This is a team with a lot of fight, a lot of character, a lot of toughness.
And we really, again, made some poor decisions that helped fuel their come-back with some quick shots. I think when you look at some of the shots -- I won't have a chance, but some of our shots with big leads early in the second half were really ill advised and help lead their come-back by giving them the ball.
But, you know, you probably haven't watched us all year. This is very typical of us. We like to make things exciting, you know, make me lose hair (smiling).
It would have been a lot funner to actually have played as well as we did in the first half in the second half and had that kind of game going away. Against teams at this level, that's not going to happen. You're not going to see blowouts.
Q. Can you talk about the Hilltoppers, their full-court press seemed to give you a lot of trouble that second half?
COACH HOWLAND: I thought we got tentative instead of being attacking. When we attacked, we did a good job. We had a lot of opportunities in the first half. I am like an old-fashioned guy. I like the jump stop. You never see it in the NBA, so it is hard for the players to watch those guys and go "that's a great play."
But the old jump stop sure helps against teams that press and pressure. And they actually employ it very well. I think Brazelton, that coach, Darrin Horn, does a great job. They are a very fundamentally sound team.
Q. I was wondering if you had a chance at all to see much of the first game and what you think of the matchup against Xavier.
COACH HOWLAND: I have had no chance to see Xavier. I had my two best assistants being able to scout games, one with West Virginia, one with Xavier. Donny Daniels has them. Now it will be go home, digest them. This is kind of typical of a Pac-10 weekend now where you got to get it all done in one day and that's hard, especially since we have to come back here and spend an hour and a half with you guys. It makes it even more difficult.
But we'll do our best. I know Sean Miller because he is a graduate of Pitt University. I knew his father when he was the head coach at Pitt out at the high school Blackhawk, I think it's called. And Sean is a great guy. We have a mutual friend who we're both very close to, the trainer -- the current trainer at Pitt is a guy named Tony Salesi who is one of my best friends in the world.
It was funny, the other night -- I can't remember when it was. I think it was Sunday -- I called Tony and someone called me and I called him back and Sean was just on the phone with him. So Sean was a great point guard at the University of Pittsburgh. He's been and had worked for some great coaches along the way. They're very, very well-coached. I recruited Drew Lavender. He visited Pitt when I was head coach there. I know how good he is.
They're very, very sound. They play great man-to-man defense. We've got our hands full. We understand that.
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