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April 7, 2006Coach Ben Howland sat down with the media Wednesday (April 5th) and spoke about Monday's game against Florida among many other things. His young team came so far against all odds and gave UCLA fans more thrills this season than was expected. All in all, it was a great season and gives Bruins fans hope for another banner sooner than later.
(Due to a malfunction with the digital recorder we missed the first question. The question was about Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's. As I recollect, Coach Howland said that Luc is a good shooter and he's going to develop a great outside shot and that he had one but lost his confidence during his freshman year. Coach predicts great things out of Mbah a Moute. The following is where we picked it up.}
Howland: "Luc can shoot better than that. Luc's biggest challenge and he'll get great at it, Luc is going to be an incredible player, anyone who questions that is
Is Luc going to be a four next year?
Howland: "He'll play both. He's going to play the three and the four. The only difference in really what we do, seriously is the way we defend, who he defends.
"That's why we're going to be able to push the ball better, pressure further out, press some especially on free throw situations."
"I'm not telling you anything we're not going to do so you're are going to see it all. We're going to get better."
"I can't wait to get Josh Shipp back out there. Because he was the best a year ago getting out on the floor."
"Sometimes you start to see guys leak out a little bit, but you have to fight that till the end because we have to be a good rebounding team to win."
"That's going to be a real conscious effort to get up and down. Learning to play that way sometimes is your ability to play really good half-court defense. Our half-court man-to-man defense was as good as anybody's here the last month of the season."
"What no one knows is how good these kids are being able to digest information in a short amount of time. Incredible amounts of detailed information about what they're running, how we're playing it, what the personnel is, and what the tendencies are."
"Like we did a bad job, Joakim Noah was going right, Noah was going right and we didn't take it away, he was going right. That's what Leon Powe does and that is what certain players do every time and we did not do a good job of certain things."
"Even though we knew it and that wasn't like us over the last two months of the season."
How do you see James Keefe plugging in next year?
Howland: "James is going to be a very, very good player and he's going to be able to play, I think, a very important role for us and if he develops like I think he will, as a freshman, he could be one of our better rebounders from day one. He has a real motor and he plays extremely hard and he's been very well coached by Jerry DeBusk, who is one of the better coaches in Southern California at the high school level."
"Jerry (DeBusk) is a longtime coach and has a great program and James (Keefe) fits in as a person. He's a great kid. He's a very good student."
"It's going to be fun for him his sister is going to be a senior here next year and he's going to be a freshman so we're excited about things."
How about Spica?
Howland: "Spica is a very strong kid. He's a good player. I mean he has the skill level where he can face up, yet he can score with his back to the basket
Is he (Spica) more of a four or five?
Howland: "Both. James (Keefe) right now is a four and we're hoping that he can play some minutes as a three for us, but he's strictly a four right now that's where I see him (Keefe), and that's what's interesting we have guys who can play multiple positions."
"For example Luc (Mbah a Moute) is going o be a multiple position guy and Josh (Ship) is going to be a two or a three and he can play multiple positions. He can handle the ball somewhat like a point. Josh can almost play three positions."
"Arron Afflalo has to improve his ball handling skills and we talked about that today (April 5th) when I talked to him about all these NBA information's."
"I talked to Arron's Dad and going to talf Jordan's (Jordan Farmar) Dad when I'm done here that we're meeting next week to discuss what is about and we will sit down and talk."
Do you feel you never saw the Alfred Aboya that you were hoping to this season because of his injury?
Howland: "I thought Alfred at times, I mean at Washington I saw the Alfred Aboya, I mean what was he that game, 15 points, 10 rebounds? He was incredible. He's a kid who has been playing center his whole life and he's been asked to play power forward this year. He can play both, but he's going to get better and better."
"Remember he missed all the practice time early in the season so I mean, he's going to get there."
"One thing that I didn't mention that I'm extremely proud of is our team GPA is, after all the class we missed, at the end of the day here, we just got it today is 2.67, which is very, very good. That's our team GPA here at UCLA for the quarter."
"Let me tell you, I'm really, really proud of that. That is a credit to our players, to Kenny Donnelson and the great job that he does, just the outstanding job that our academic support does here at UCLA. There are so many people work for that respect, but mostly the players and their dedication."
"That is great, a 2.67 GPA. I think it is actually higher than it was the first quarter."
What will your team look like next year?
Howland: "Hopefully they will look more like Coach Wooden's teams. That's who we want to be. I don't know if we will run the high post offense but you know that's who you want to be."
You recruited both Noah and Al Horford
Noah didn't look that good when you were recruiting him
Howland: "I thought he looked really good. He was young and he was long."