Basketball Press Conference Round Up - Josh Smith Minutes, Defense, and a Little Offense

Coach Ben Howland addressed the media after UCLA's exhibition win against CSUSB on Sunday and answered everyone's pressing questions about Brendan Lane, Anthony Stover, Joshua Smith, and of course, defense.

What's going on with Brendan Lane's minutes?

He is not ahead of the four guys that are playing ahead of him.  It's just based on how each game goes, right now he is the fifth big guy.  He brings a good attitude everyday, works real hard, he's had some physical problems finally getting under control including a problem with his back again this summer he's figured out ... but he's not ahead of Josh, Reeves or the Wears. The 4 is what he's best suited for and he can play some 5.

Anthony Stover:

He's still trying to come back. The trainer told me he had a real good day yesterday in terms of them working together and rehabbing.

and

It'd be nice to get Stover back. I think his length is the length that bothers more people than anybody. Josh has good length and size combined but we do have a lot of length.  Stover is the kid in the program that changes more shots and is able to alter shots better than anybody.

I can't wait for the Anthony Stover block party to start up again.

Some quick bits about Loyola, Joshua Smith, and more after the jump.

About LMU:

Their two guards are very good.  Ireland, the starting point, very quick, athletic, change of pace, change of speed... Good personnel, they're well coached.  This will be a tough first game for us.

About the starting lineup and Smith not starting:

It's always subject to change. It's not set in stone.... A lot of times officials are trying to set a tone and I don't want him (Smith) picking up a quick early foul. You saw Travis got into foul trouble. He picked up two quick fouls, I played him with two fouls in the first half... and he's playing pretty well with four minutes to go and make sure he didn't get his third, and then he got his third right away.

Josh is fine with it, he's going to play his minutes, and he played well.

The Bruin Road Show logistics for the team during the conference:

For Thursday games we will go to school, do shoot around here, pregame meal, we'll leave here around 3:30-4 and get down there early.

(I bet it still takes an hour to get down there.)

About the defense and areas of improvement:

Way too much standing, too much relaxation and relaxing defensively.  We got to do a better job with our shot selection, we shot 39% from the field, some of it was our being rushed, we had a couple of shots blocked,  really contested, we've got to make better decisions. We had two or three air banks from two or three feet in on layups where we were going too fast or just misreading the play.  It's the first game jitters, playing in front of people too, the adrenaline flowing, going too fast. When you slow down things seem to open up a lot more.

About free throws for Josh Smith:

He's going to get to the foul line a lot because he gets fouled a lot.  I mean he's just a load to handle... he's going to be at the line and I think his free throw shot is much improved from where it was a year ago at this time. He has a lot of confidence in his foul shot and he's really shooting them well.  A really nice compact stroke, it looks really good... anything above 70% is great for him.  Derrick Williams got to the line 9-10 times a game last year and I could see Josh getting that many times.

Take note, opponents: Hack-a-Josh is a perfectly fine strategy... except he makes free throws.  Beat us with guard play.

There is still one area that Howland would like to see Josh work on:

One thing I want him to do better is sometimes he dribbles right in the middle of the paint when he gets the ball. I would like him not to dribble and catch it so he can go straight up and catch it without dribbling it. It slows down his release a little bit and people are able to react to him a lot quicker.

When asked about our guard play:

I thought that Lamb did a very good job defensively for the most part in that game. He'll have the role of taking on the other team's two guard a lot of the time. Zeek got in foul trouble in the second half and had a couple of fouls that were ill advised, reaching in, we go tot keep him out of foul trouble, in particular when we're not with Jerime. That was a factor in the game. We had 14 turnovers, and we want to keep that down if we can.

When asked about David Wear's defense:

I thought he got extended out a few times defensively and he got driven on two occasions in a row, where he's got to learn to have little more of a gap. Overall he did a good job.

Finally, with Tyler Lamb's offense:

I think Tyler will score consistently. The other night he was playing in front of his family and friends. He took 6 shots in 34 minutes but he's going to have an opportunity to score on a consistent basis.

There was also a quick bit about Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt and Howland with a quick comment about the "defections" in the spring, but he said they've made their choices and he won't address the choice they made, although you can sense he wasn't happy about them leaving.

Go Bruins.  It's a busy time for UCLA Athletics!

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