Howland Comments On UCLA Staying "Healthy" & Smith's Conditioning Efforts

Gary Parrish, the senior hoops writer for caught up with Coach Ben Howland recently. Coach Howland per Parrish's report is still having "a little trouble walking" five weeks after his Achilles tendon surgery and "keeps the crutches laying around just in case he must turn to them on a bad day." Still Howland continues to strike optimistic notes as he looked for silver lining re. the rash of surgeries the team has had this off season:

"An injury-riddled summer is better than an injury-riddled season," Howland said, and you must admit he has a point. "We just need to stay healthy once we get into September."

And on the conditioning efforts of Josh Smith:

Howland didn't want to get into specifics about Smith's weight or body fat percentage, saying only what we all already know -- that there has been a conditioning problem -- before opting to focus on the positive. Howland said Smith isn't where he needs to be now, but that he's getting closer, and that he's going to be counted on to contribute immediately.

"I expect him to play a very important role," Howland said. "That's why this summer is so important for him, and he's working his butt off. He's working three times a day. He comes in at 8 a.m. every day and rides the bike or runs on the treadmill for an hour. Then he comes back at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., too. He's doing good. He's really looking to get into good physical condition."

Let's hope Josh keeps at it. It was pretty well known last year that he was not happy with the off-season efforts of Jerime Anderson and other players. So I think it is a positive sign that Howland is sounding enthusiastic about Josh. Howland is one of those guys who will not BS around. Parrish added:

Howland will be bouncing around the rest of the month trying to gain commitments from Class of 2011 prospects who will join David and Travis Wear (transfers from North Carolina) for the 2011-12 season. Assuming that also happens, the worst will indeed be behind the man who established the Pittsburgh program before rebuilding UCLA's, the worst both in terms of that mid-June surgery and basketball in general.

Fingers crossed.


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