Pac-10 Men's Basketball Coaches Teleconference
Feb. 24, 2010
Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller
Talk about Derrick Williams’ season as a freshman, in particular, from the outside looking in, it appears he is most remarkable about how consistent he has been.
“Yeah you know, Derrick’s one of the pleasant surprises on our team. When you look at recruiting and you think about things to learn and lessons you have probably heard, many coaches say that sometimes ratings are over emphasized or inflated, and Derrick is a good example of that. I think of the five players that form our freshman class, you can make the case that he was the least heralded of the five, yet the impact that he is making, to me he is certainly a heavy favorite to be our Conference’s Freshman of the Year. In large part, any success we’ve had this season, whether it be a long time ago in Maui, in a great tournament, or some of our toughest non-conference games, certainly inside the Pac-10 he’s answered in such a big way. I’ll also say that the reality for our team, as great as Derrick’s been, this is a year of learning defensively. He’s had his rough moments on that side of the ball, perhaps more than on offense, its one of those things that sometimes you live with because of the role that he has on this year’s team, but for me to say anything other than Derrick has been extraordinary, would be a misrepresentation of what he’s done this season.”
Defensively, you expect that from a freshman...
“You do. We don’t have a lot of depth inside, we are not the biggest of teams by any stretch of the imagination and Derrick has been forced to guard many times the other teams’ biggest most physical inside player and thats a tough task for any freshman, and I think Derrick, if there’s a silver lining to that experience, you’d like to think that all of the lessons that he learns, game in and game out this year, will probably benefit us in the win-loss column more in the future, than watching him go through it.”
You have Cal coming up, you did a really good job on Jerome Randle in your first meeting,. What is it about him that makes him so effective and such a difficult guy to defend generally?
“Your know Jerome Randle is one of my favorite players thats plays in the Pac-10. I love watching him play from an offensive perspective. I don’t know if are many guards that bring to the table what he does for Cal. His shooting percentage is remarkable when you look at what he’s shot from 3 throughout his career and this year what he shoots from the foul line, what he can shot inside the arc for such a small player, and the way he makes his teammates better. He is a really really special player and watch a guy in his last year in college and he is certainly playing for a Pac-10 Championship. One of the things to me that makes Cal so difficult to deal with is him.”
Jim Calhoun of UConn came out last week and said officials in the Big East are working too many games. Is that an issue in the Pac-10?
“I’m kind of the new guy on the block and I am probably not the guy who deserves to answer this question, but officiating here has been very good from my estimation. I will say, to me John Adams, who is clearly in charge of the officiating’s future in the NCAA. I had an opportunity to get to know him when I was at Xavier because he was close by in Indianapolis. He’s really taking a lot of issues seriously and I know he is working extremely hard to make our game better from that perspective. The one thing I will comment on is the game is in really good hands with him being in charge of the future of officiating.”
Do you think officiating should be nationalized with him in charge of it and not done conference by conference?
“I don’t know. I hold him in high regard, like probably a lot of coaches who have gotten to know him. I think whatever vantage point or view that he gives you, to me the game should go that direction because he clearly is very intelligent and has worked endlessly. I know he isn’t looking at anything in the past to just automatically make it part of our future. He is looking at reasons to make our game better and make the tournament better. He the guy, to me, who really deserves to be in charge. We have the right guy in charge and I think he will make the game better from an officiating standpoint, if it needs to be, and I know there are some terrific officials but in my getting to know him, he does an excellent job and I think in the future things will move in a positive way.”
What do you think of the Player of the Year so far in this Conference?
“Boy thats a good question. I think you would have to look at the Conference Champion to have a really good feel. I really think there are some terrific players in our Conference and sometimes because of the balance on this year’s league schedule, and maybe our lack of non-conference success as a Conference, I don’t want the players in our league to not get the respect they deserve. Landry Fields and Jerome Randle are two players that we are going to play against in the bay area this weekend, not that both teams don’t have other terrific players, but I look at those guys as seniors and I’ll put those two guys up against any other players in the country in any other conference, in terms of their ability level at their respective positions and their experience that they bring to the table. They are both terrific players and they both deserve national recognition. Playing against Quincy Pondexter the last time we did at Washington, I put him in the same category. Those are guys in their last year, who are doing excellent jobs for their teams. Not that there aren’t other good candidates but those are the three guys of probably 5-6 that come to time who, in their last year, that really do a great job for their teams.”
You think being a Champion is a part of it? Being on a better team is definitely part of winning the award?
“My perspective is the Conference regular season champion, especially in the Pac-10 where you truly play every team twice, and you have a balanced schedule that the team that wins in, the leading score and the best player on that team has to be a heavy favorite.”
Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek
With such a big game potentially looming on Saturday night at Cal, and coming off such a big win you had the other day, any concerns about Thursday’s game at Stanford, with the team not being as focused as you would ideally like them to be?
“Not at all. We would never subscribe to that type of thinking. We know we are going to have to be really really good to be competitive on Thursday against Stanford. They are an outstanding team, they are playing really well right now and all of the games in this week count equally in 1/18 of your Conference schedule.”
Your team beat them so easily last, its human nature to look ahead, no concerns about that?
“Not at all. Our guys had to do everything they could to hold onto that win. They cut the lead dramatically and outscored us and out performed us significantly in the second half.”
Do you have a personal philosophy when it comes to voting for the Conference Player of the Year? Whether that players team has to win the title or at least be in contention. How does Landry Fields not fit into that thinking?
“I think you try to limit the number of perimeters and rules you put on it and look at the circumstances and facts, and they are unique each and every year. Having said that I think Landry Fields most certainly is a very strong candidate. He has had a remarkable season. He has done everything for Stanford on both ends of the floor and he has obviously had a great career for the Cardinal.”
Wondering if you or Derek Glasser received any kind of apology or follow-up from Coach Miller or Kevin Parrom for the incident the other day at the end of the game?
“Sean I think as you know apologized after the game. He has done that publicly.”
As far as you are concerned, are you done with it, is it over with?
Looking back at the first time you played Cal, what stood our about them? They played pretty well in that game.
“They did. They were very true to themselves. I thought they were a really tough team for us to defend. Jerome Randle almost set the tone the first possession of the game when he hit a three-pointed from between the circles.”
They were able to get the ball inside the zone pretty effectively, is that something that surprised you? They are not typically an interior team.
“They are a good offensive team. They have guys who demand constant vigilance, they have guys who demand a second defender at times. They are a really good offensive basketball team and they are a difficult team for us to defend, whether it be inside or outside. I watched a lot of talk about their guards and rightfully so. I am sure you are referring to the fact that Jamal Boykin had a tremendous game against us as well.”
Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent
When you look at USC, what sort of coaching job has been down there, to keep them in the thick of things, even with nothing to play for postseason?
“I think he has done one of the better jobs in the Conference because they have played hard. They are a very good basketball team that is very well coached. They have a certain style of play that bothers people. So I think he has done a tremendous job with all of the notoriety and everything that came their way towards their program early on. He’s done a nice job of calming that team keeping focused.”
Oregon State Head Coach Craig Robinson
As the regular season winds down, how much of a big deal is it for your team to position itself not to have to play that first night in the Pac-10 Tournament?
“Yeah, thats a great observation, but its really important for us. Not that its not important for other teams, we just feel as a staff that having an opportunity of winning four games in a row is a lot different than winning three games in a row. If you look at the way the league has sort of shaped up, there are teams who have have that kind of a streak and we certainly haven’t, but we feel we can put together a three game streak, thats first and foremost. Secondly, its harder for teams to prepare for us with a 24 hour turnover, than it is for us to prepare for them.”
The difference in your two games last week was pretty stark, what happened Saturday against Stanford?
“Well I think it was definitely stark, but not surprising. We’re still, even at this late stage, still as a team who can beat the #1 team in the league. Have to understand that the next game, becomes your hardest game and that’s sort of learned behavior and we haven’t really been in that position this late in the season with this group of guys ever. They are used to being at this part of the season, the season’s over with. That is something that we as a staff are trying to really focus on and get our guys sort of experienced in putting together really good back to back games.”
Do you anticipate having to do anything special to defend against Dwight Lewis who has been playing great basketball as of late?
“Oh yeah, well we really have to focus on him. Its been a while since we played them and he also didn’t play that well against us and we want to make sure that he doesn’t really get on track against us. So we are going to be really trying not to let him get going.”
I wonder if you can comment on the two men they have up front, Alex Stephenson and Nikola Vucevic, the kind of problems they present for your team as they are really starting to click.
“Yeah, I think I said this when we played them before, they have one of the longest front courts we see in the conference this year and Stephenson in particular is extremely physical and an imposing presence back there, so its going to be tough for Roeland and whoever is going to be playing in the middle there. I certainly can appreciate Vucevic’s skill level, I mean he hit a couple of big outside shots against us in the first game, and he is just as capable of doing damage on the inside.”
Do you have a personal philosophy when it comes to voting for the Conference Player of the Year? Whether that players team has to win the title or at least be in contention. How does Landry Fields fit into that mix or not fit into that mix?
“Thats easy. The first thing I look at is if he is one of the best players in the league. That’s what I look at. It doesn’t have to be the team who wins the Championship, if he is one of the best teams in the league, I like to look at that. Number 2, I like to look at, you can have the best player in the league on the worst team, how has he helped his team this year. That is really important to be cause I feel like this is is really a team game. Thirdly, how well that player has done against us. If you look at those three categories, that puts Landry certainly in my mix of guys who I am considering.”
On the squad still being mathematically able to win the regular season Conference title
“I am a pragmatist so I am trying to deal with the more realistic outcome or what could happen to the negative, but you are certainly right we are trying to win these last four games because we could still win the Conference.”
On how no one team has really separated themselves from the pack
“It sort of kind of borne out the way I thought so, so it’s not much of a surprise. With the mass exodus of really good players it was going to be an opportunity to be competitive in every game. One of our goals, which we are still working towards is making the NCAA Tournament. One of our secondary goals was to be competitive in every single game we played in during Conference play. To my surprise, we have been just about and its been great for our program. It hasn’t been great for the league, and we may only get on team into the Tournament, or a couple when we are used to getting more in, but its really been interesting to see how all of the programs have dealt with this parody. I think based on what I’ve seen of games on tape and on TV they have all potentially been really good games until one team pulls away for another.”
Four of the teams eligible to win the Conference have an under .500 record, how does that affect the Conference?
“Thats an observation that I’m not sure on, but in my opinion Cal has a very good chance of making the tournament, whether or not they win the Conference tournament or not, so I think its in all of our interests that someone other than Cal play well, because that gives us the chance of getting another team in. I’ve really just been paying attention to our finishing schedule, but if anyone above .500 can really make a run here is their last four games and put them in position to be on the bubble, then it gives us a chance to get a third team in, because if one of those below .500 teams wins the tournament and you have two teams who could earn an at-large bid. I think it is remote, but it is mathematically possible.”
On some of the pros to other postseason tournaments like the CBI
“I’m obviously a huge fan. The benefits right away that I can see with these newer tournaments that it gives teams that are below .500, like we were last year, a chance to continue playing. Two, I think I was the poster boy for the extra practice last year but we needed it and it turned out to be really beneficial for us last year. I know its at the end of the season and your guys are tired of hearing from you and you are tired of seeing them, but the extra work with your entire team is invaluable. Thirdly, for your seniors, most of these kids, this will be there last basketball and you want to keep playing and if you want to talk about what is best for the kids, I would advocate having seven different tournaments at the end of the year and make it like a bowl kind of thing and I throughly enjoyed our guys having an opportunity to continue playing last year.”
On some of the cons to other postseason tournaments
“I just skipped over the drawbacks because we had so much fun last year. But some of the negatives are economically you have to have a place where you are going to draw people if you have a home game because there are some guarantees there with the tournament. If you have to get on the road if you area from a smaller market or you are a mid-major team and you have to go from one road game to another, you are going to miss a lot of class time and expend a lot of resources. Then there is also the fatigue factor after playing a long season and not making the NCAA Tournament, for some folks that is a hard pill to swallow. I remember back when I played at Princeton, coach would not let us play in the NIT. When you are used to going to the NCAA Tournament and wanted to make that the goal, and if you didn’t get it then its time to go back and start from scratch. So those are some of the drawbacks. I still say the playing outweighs all of that.”
USC Head Coach Kevin O’Neill
With eight teams still mathematically alive to win the Pac-10 regular season title, including the Trojans, what does that mean to the squad?
“Well it was a goal of ours from the beginning obviously. It would be a huge thing for our players to be able to do that but we know we have a lot of work in front of us. Obviously Cal and Arizona State are in the drivers seat at this point, but for us we have eight hours of basketball left, four games. So for us that is all we can play for at this point and we are going to take it one game at a time and see what happens. No matter what happens our players have done a great, great job this year in the face of adversity. I am proud of them and I hope we can keep on winning.”
On if there is any discussion amongst the team about the sanctions
“We don’t talk about it at all. When this all came out I told them at that the last thing we are going to do is talk about it. We are going to practice hard every day and play hard in every game and try to give ourselves the chance to win every game which we have. So our guys have been great in terms of how they have carried themselves through all this stuff.”
On Dwight Lewis’ defending, especially against Klay Thompson over the weekend
“I think Dwight has become a really great defender. He has done a really nice job against a lot of good players in this league. We basically told him to lock into Klay [Thompson] and when he does that he is very efficient at it. He has become a very solid defender and has been guarding the opposing team’s best player every night and he has done a great job of playing guys hard.”
On the game last Saturday at Washington State
“Well we actually played pretty well on Saturday. We couldn’t make any shots, but we had won four in a row and you know how that goes. Its human nature and happens at every level, players soften up a bit. I think we were very tired from the Washington game. Mike Gerrity was exhausted and Washington State played well enough to win. We are at the same place that we were a week ago at a game and a half out so we are going to need to play great basketball this week.”
On having a beautiful new arena on campus
“Its a great recruiting tool. Our facility to me I think recruits itself. Once we get guys here on campus and they have a chance to see the facility, it is just great. I think it will help Oregon’s recruiting as well. Whenever you have a state-of-the-art facility, that is what kids want to see. They want to see the facilities, what kind of weight room you have and what kind of locker room you have. So it helps immensely.”
“When Gerrity got two early fouls in the game at Washington, was it a tough choice on not to sit him“It was. We really don’t have a lot of choices. He had to play a lot of the game with foul trouble. We had to go with him because we don’t have choices. Ordinarily if a guy had two fouls like that I would have sat him the whole half. But we really just tried to piece it together and stay together long enough to win down the stretch.”
“On if Washington should have gone after Gerrity after he was in foul trouble“Whether they would have or not, I told him not to touch anyone. Thank goodness time ran out. If Washington had three more possessions we would have lost that game. If it wasn’t for Gerrity is would not have come down to the last two minutes. It would have been over with midway through the half. “
Washington State Head Coach Ken Bone
Has the defense progressed to his liking
“At times it has. I don’t think it was that good against UCLA on Thursday, but it was good against USC on Saturday. I think it has been a little bit of a roller coaster, but I think we have shown signs of becoming a little bit better here in the last month. Defensively, I wish it was a little more consistent.”
What needs to happen against Washington to prevent another lopsided Husky win
“We need to play better in both halves. We played pretty well over there in Seattle in the first half and I felt in the second half we were pretty poor on both ends of the court. We are practicing this week and hoping to perform for a whole 40 minutes, rather 20 [minutes].”
On SO G Abe Lodwick’s play against USC
“I think he got confidence early by making a couple of shots and he kind of fed off that confidence. He really played with a lot of energy and did a nice job.”
On having his brother behind the bench the last time Washington State played Washington
“I was so wrapped into what was going on the floor. I knew he was there. I saw him right before the game. I would say that basketball has been much been our life. Our dad coached basketball for a number of years and we grew up watching right behind the bench watching his teams play. My dad was right behind the bench in the first row and I think my brother and his wife were a couple rows behind the bench. That’s just the way it’s been in our family for a number of years. Our conversations have mostly been about the game of basketball one way or another, right or wrong. It was nice to have them both there. At least in the first half. The second half I wished they had been home.”
What is he most proud of, of his brother’s coaching accomplishments
“The fact that he has not only had success winning some ball games here and there, but he has done things the right way. He has been fair with kids and I think he is truly a teacher, not just in basketball by teaching guys how to be better rebounders or execute the pick-n-roll better. He really enjoys his profession of being an educator and teaching in the classroom. I think it’s impressive the fact the he is always working with kids and it’s not like basketball is the highest priority. He’s hoping to influence kid and trying to be a good role model for them off the court as well as on the court.”
Is the hardest part of the coaching profession having to move around with your family
“It hasn’t been too bad. We have stayed in the Northwest for the whole time. Our kids were in Seattle, then Vancouver, Wash., when I was at Portland State and now we are in Pullman. It hasn’t been too bad moving around.”
On FR F James Watson
“He really did a great job. He brought a lot of emotion and energy to the floor which is what we desperately needed. We didn’t play with much energy in that UCLA game on Thursday. And James is just a live body, but that’s what we see everyday in practice. I mean he is extremely active. Kind of like a relentless player and he is doing a good job.”
With Saturday’s game possibly being uptempo, will he switch his rotation around
“I can see us playing a few different kids on Saturday, then we played this last weekend. SO G Abe Lodwick didn’t even get in the game Thursday and he actually started on Saturday. I would assume he would play some quality minutes. FR F James Watson will be in there. I would be surprised if SO G Michael Harthun doesn’t get in the game and he did not play last Saturday.”
How is the health of SO F Charlie Enquist
“He is doing better. As a matter of fact he is going to be in the gym with the trainer for a little workout in about an hour. He is a question mark for this weekend.”
Recruiting wise, how important is this game for athletes in the Northwest
“It wouldn’t hurt, that’s for sure. I think anytime you can perform well in areas that you are recruiting, it can only help. It would be nice to play well here in the next couple of weeks and compete well against the Oregon schools and Washington.”
On not having to play the opening round game at the Pac-10 Tournament
“There’s no doubt about it. It’s harder to win four games in a row then it is three. I would agree with coach [Craig] Robinson.”
Is it something talked about or do you not look at far ahead
“We can’t look that far ahead. I hate to keep going back to last weekend, but it’s a jackal and hyde situations, where we played as bad as we could play Thursday night against UCLA. We didn’t execute well and we didn’t play hard. And then we turn around and beat a really good USC team less than 48 hours later. I think a lot of the reason we were able to beat them was we played with a lot of energy and effort. And so right now my bigger issue is getting our guys to go out and play hard which will just give us a chance to compete and win.”
Is it a function of youth or should effort be coached
“I think it’s youth. I really don’t have a definite answer for that because our kids get along well. I looked at that right away. Are we getting along? Are the kids and the staff getting along? And that has been great. I mean we have a great group of kids. At this point, I am just chalking it up to the youth. At times we have been very inconsistent.”
When team plays SO G Klay Thompson for his jump shot, does he have a plan B
“His counter is trying to drive it. If he doesn’t have a shot he tries to drive it. Last year he shot, I think it was 31 or 33 free throws on the season, and this year he has shot 160 free throws.”
On SO G Klay Thompson struggles last week
“I think it was just an off week. Going into practice yesterday and watching him shoot, drilling shot after shot after shot. We know he can shoot, but teams have done a good job. Teams have done a nice job of getting up in him. He is still our leading scorer when you look at the stats. He is averaging 20 points a game on the year. We understand that he has a target on him as soon as the game starts. He has not shot the ball well in the last month on so as he did early in the season. He still a great shooter and somebody we want to get the ball too.”
On SO G Klay Thompson’s comments about coming back to school next year
“He and I haven’t talked about that at all. We have never talked about that. I have assumed he is coming back because he is a sophomore. So I have assumed he is coming back for his junior year, but him and I have never talked about that.”
Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
On his team play last weekend, sweeping Oregon and Oregon State
“Well, I thought out guys did a good job both offensively and defensively. We valued the basketball and took good shots and our defense, in both games, was just really solid.”
Thoughts on the College Basketball Invitational (CBI)
“I thought it was a tournament that we had some success. We came up short, but I thought our guys played competitive. We went to some great venues. We played at home. We played Wichita State at Wichita State and had a really good win out there. I thought it was very competitive.”
What was the team mood like playing in the CBI
“I was great. Our guys wanted to continue to play. I thought that was great. They weren’t finished playing. We thought we were playing some good basketball down the stretch of the season and they wanted to continue to play for a tournament championship. “
California Head Coach Mike Montgomery
On winning the school’s first conference title in 50 years with the Pac-10 being down this season
“Well, we are just trying to win as many games as we can. We are in the best position we have been in for awhile. I still think 18 games against the same opponents is the best way you can possibly have for a competitive schedule and competitive environment and competitive balance. We have certainly had some disappointment and things we have to deal with personnel, so we are just trying to do the best job we can. Every question ever asked starts out being negative so I don’t know how to answer those questions, mostly.”
Dealing with the expectations of winning the league and being ranked in the Top 15 to start the year
“Well, I don’t think that had anything to do with how we played. I know we had some significant loses in personnel. I know we have had the second toughest schedule in the country or third or eighth or something. The four teams we lost to on the road were all ranked in the Top 10. We were minus personnel in those games so I don’t know if we competed or presented ourselves the best we could. What everybody else wants to think, we get on the practice floor and practice everyday.”
Thoughts on playing Arizona State on Saturday
“The way we prepare for everybody. Actually, right now we are preparing for Arizona. That game has significantly less impact for either of us if we don’t do out jobs on Thursday night. Thursday night is out priority now. You don’t do anything different for anybody. You look at what they are doing and how they are successful and try to take away their strengths as best you can. Minimize the players that are playing well. At some point it is going to come down to how your playing and executing in what you do.”
With a veteran team, will they be focused on Thursday and not look ahead to Saturday’s game
“We have four seniors. I don’t know if that’s an extraordinary thing. There are a lot of people who have seniors and have key players for people. The Saturday game is not a factor for either of us if we stumble on Thursday. You have to win at home. We have to games left to do that. We have had a hard keeping focus game after game after game. We play well in one game and the next game we don’t play as well. A lot of it has to do with lack of focus or lack of energy or whatever. We have our hands full. We had the same situation with Washington Washington State a couple of weeks ago where we played really well against a Washington team, then Saturday we struggled.”
On playing Arizona who beat them the first time
“I think Arizona is really good. I think they have done a great job. I think Sean [Miller] has those guys playing really well. They are really playing well defensively. The have a senior leader [Nic Wise] who is really playing well. He had 30 points against us last time. I would suspect that we can’t let that happen again.”
Thoughts on his team’s at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. Do they need to win the Pac-10 Tournament to get in?
“I don’t pay any attention to that.”
Does the Pac-10 Player of the Year need to come from the team who wins the Pac-10 title or a top contender. Where does Stanford SR G/F Landry Fields come into the mix
“It depends on how you evaluate it. Most Valuable Player of Player of the Year is how you view that award per say. Landry Fields is a player that is certainly in consideration because he has been consistent all year long. He is a very very good player. I think in one way you can’t blame him if the surrounding cast has not enable him to finish at the top of the league. Landry is certainly one of the better players in the league.”
How would you compare Landry Fields to Stanford players of the past 20 years
“Well, your talking about some guys that did something special in terms of what there team did. [Josh] Childress’ team was 30-1. [Todd] Lichti was a four-time All-Conference selection. I don’t think those guys were MVPs, as I can recall. Fields has just done a marvelous job. I can’t go back and compare because I haven’t coached him. He is an awfully good player and it’s really insignificant where he stacks because of the job he is doing with what he has.”
Was Landry Fields on your radar when you were still coaching at Stanford
“I can’t recall if he was on our recruiting list or not to be honest with you. [Anthony] Goods I home visited and [Lawrence] Hill we home visited. The Lopez twins we visited if they could get in, but I don’t remember Fields specially.”
What did they do against UCLA that worked so well this year
“Well, they switched to zone of course and that changes the dynamic of how they have played in the past. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the other kid were really physical. For on ball screens you had to prepare for a mugging. They would double down on the post very aggressively. They were just much physical defensively, then they are right now. Which is why he switched to the zone . I think it’s a different mind set. He probably feels they are better with the zone, given their personnel. It takes a little bit of your aggressiveness away. In a zone you have to be patient and shoot from the outside. The other thing they did was they would attack you.”
With a UCLA team that is down, how does that effect the Pac-10
“I don’t think it effects the Conference on the west coast. I think a national perspective it does. We have talked about this over the years. Consistently, people don’t pay much attention to us. I’m not sure if they watch us or follow us all that closely. The comments that are being made are from people who hear somebody else making a comment so they just follow up by saying the same thing. With UCLA not being as good as they have been, it effects them because they naturally assume the league is not very good. Then if you lose to them and UCLA is not very good then that just makes it worse.”
Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar
What does it say about the Pac-10 that with two weeks remaining eight teams are mathematically alive to win the Conference
“That same word keeps coming up, a lot of parity. There are a lot of teams that are even. There are only a couple of teams that have a lot of experience in terms of seniors. I think it’s kind of even across the board.”
With the youth of the league, have player matured through the Conference season
“I think they are. Player here and there on each roster are starting to play good basketball. Also, a majority of the teams have everyone back who were either ineligible or injured from earlier in the year.”
Four teams who can win the Conference have losing records, your thoughts
“Again, the teams that do have winning records there is not a big gap between the teams that have winning records and losing records.”
Do coaches in the Pac-10 feel that referees are working too many games
“To my knowledge, that has not come up. In our meetings, I don’t remember that coming up of guys working too many games.”
His approach to a rivalry game after winning or losing the first game
“I think either way, obviously when you lose you probably look a little closer to see what you could have done differently or the adjustments you need to make. When you win you want to make sure you are still moving along. Our approach whether it’s the first or second game, in a lot of ways, is the same. You have more information the second time around because you were able to match up with each other.”
On playing poorly in the first half against Washington State and better in the second half
“What I really remember from the first half was Washington State really came out focused and aggressive. They kind of put us on our heels early. They came out smoking from the outside and they were making shots. I think that made a difference early on in the game. We have to make sure early on that we are not the ones on our heels.”
On his teams performance against USC on Thursday and Saturday’s performance against UCLA
“It’s interesting. Cal plays against Oregon State and has a tough time for whatever reason. They have not been able to beat Oregon State this year. And I think last year Oregon State gave them problems as well. For that particular game, Cal’s record shows they are the better team, but yet head-to-head they have a hard matchup for them. I think that had something to do with our game against USC. I think they are a tough matchup for us. They are longer and do a great job of guarding us. They are just a tough team for us to play against. I think that has something to do with what happened on Thursday.”
The contributions of JR F Matthew Bryan-Amaning
“For the last half dozen games, Bryan-Amaning has done an excellent job for us. He is getting six rebounds a game and is getting 12 points a game. He has done a really nice job defensively by plugging holes and giving us a little more presence in the paint. He has really been a good complimentary player down the stretch.”
With Pac-10 teams having no McDonald’s All-Americans how will that impact the league two or three years down the road
“First off, I don’t remember that happening very often. Secondly, I don’t know if you can say that. I think the coaches and the programs in this league do a really nice job of recruiting. I think even if there is not a lot to choose from locally in any give year. I think coaches will do a good job just because someone in your area doesn’t come doesn’t mean that you can’t get anyone. Some of the reputations of the coaches and programs allow them to go out and get some really good basketball players.”
UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland
What does it say about the Pac-10 that with two weeks remaining eight teams are mathematically alive to win the Conference
“That there is a lot of parity in it. Obviously anybody can beat anybody or any given night. I still think Cal is in the driver seat. They have a veteran team and they are very good. But anybody can still win it.”
Has the youthful players and first-time contributors have they matured during Conference plat
“Yeah. For example with our team, Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson have improved throughout the year. Those are our two leading rebounders, statistically. There are some good freshmen. Obviously, [Derrick] Williams down at Arizona is a great freshman. There are some really good freshmen in this Conference.”
With Pac-10 teams having no McDonald’s All-Americans how will that impact the league two or three years down the road
“I think it just goes in cycles. It doesn’t happen very often that California gets shutout with at least one McDonald All-American, but this year was this case.”
What do you take away from your trip to Washington and Washington State
“We played well on Thursday and that was an important win for us. Then we played as bad as we can play on Saturday and did not handled the defensive pressure that Washington put on us and you have to credit Washington because they played great. It was there last home game of the year and [Quincy] Pondexter is having a great year and got them off to an outstanding start by scoring 12 of their first 14 points. But it was a situation that it was very disappointing how we played on Saturday after playing pretty good on Thursday.”
Thoughts on playing well against Washington State
“I thought we did a good job and we were smart and patient with the basketball. They didn’t apply the same kind of pressure that we received Saturday. We played better defense. We did a better job in our zone. The thing that hurt us, which has plagued us all year, was too many turnovers especially on Saturday which led to too many easy buckets for our opponent.”
Status of FR F Reeves Nelson
“Reeves Nelson has a minor tear in his left eye. He got hit against Kansas the got hit again to open the cut above his eye. The other eye he had a tear that had to be surgically repaired with a laser yesterday. He is questionable this weekend and a decision will be made tomorrow when he sees the doctor.”