March 25, 2008

Howland getting team ready for Sweet 16

UCLA coach Ben Howland held an impromptu teleconference on Monday to catch everybody up on the latest happenings of his sweet 16 bound basketball team. The following is part one of a two-part series.

Howland: "First of all, I apologize for not being available yesterday. I was spending Easter, which is an important day in my life, with my family. I apologize, but I really didn't know much about Western Kentucky. We have a better feel for them now to comment on any question on them. So let's open things up for questions.

You have had a lot of experience with a lot of success in the tournament success here, you personally and the Western Kentucky doesn't necessarily and there is several other matchups in the sweet 16 that have guys that have guys who have been to the final four or have really gone far in the tournament and there are guys who are younger or haven't had that much success. Do you feel that gives you any kind of an edge at all since you personally have been through this a lot the last couple years?

Howland: "Well I think (Western Kentucky head coach) Darrin Horn could beat me at this point in a one-on-one game. So I would lose there for sure. He was a good player. I was looking at some highlights.

"I don't think it is that big of a deal to be honest with you. I mean he's a very good coach. I think that it comes down to the players and how they execute and most people are doing the same preparation, the same things they do throughout the year.

"The kids make the plays. The coaches just get the big bucks.

What have you learned of Western Kentucky? How do they play and what do they do well?

Howland: "First of all they're a pressing team that runs and jumps all the time. They run and jump and double team the ball, both in the backcourt early, they will also do it once you cross half-court, and they will double off on ball screens.

"Every time you screen on the ball they're going to double it and try to pressure that guy and force turnovers. They play primarily pressure man-to-man defense where they really get into you and make every pass hard to complete. Once you have the ball in your hands they are really into you trying to pressure you to force you into turnovers or getting sped up and force you into making bad decisions.

"They have a great pair of guards. Courtney Lee is a NBA player. He has a NBA body. He's just a big time player and then their guard Tyrone Brazelton, is really, really good. He is very, very quick. He's (Brazelton) about as quick as anybody I think we have seen all year, just watching him on film.

"They execute very well. They have a long kid inside, Jeremy Evans, I think his name is. He's a good player. He has more blocked shots on the year than anybody on our team, Jeremy Evans, he's a good player. He's long, and he's athletic.

"Ty Rogers is the kid who is a very good three-point shooter. They shoot almost 40 percent as a team from three so they are a very good three-point shooting team and they cause you a lot of problems and get a lot of easy baskets with their turnovers that they force.

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