Last year as a freshman, Ryan Hollins came on strong in the second half of the season, starting the last 14 games and averaging 6.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a game. He enters his sophomore year fresh off a summer playing for the US Junior National Team and talked with BRO and the rest of the media Thursday at UCLA basketball media day about weight gain, development and playing for the US.
So what's been some of the post instruction you have been learning?
Hollins: "We've been working on our footwork and the basics of basketball. We can't really compare it to last year. We work on repetition, post moves, drop steps on the baseline, sweeps (popping out to the perimeter)."
How has the weight program gone?
Hollins: "I feel good. I worked real hard. I didn't really have any goals, but I put on some weight and feel a lot bigger up top."
How was playing on the Junior National Team?
Hollins: "It didn't do anything but help me. I went out to the tryouts and just played hard and good things happened and I made the team. I feel like I came away with a lot of experience playing overseas."
You're not a freshman anymore, so are you feeling like a veteran yet?
Hollins: "Naw, I'm still one of the youngest guys on the team. But, I feel like I have more of a chance to take a role with the direction we are heading this year, and I am definitely looking forward to that and taking charge and helping the team out a lot more."
You spent part of the year on the bench, but came on towards the end of the year and showed what you could do. How has that played into this season.
Hollins: "I'm definitely coming in with a lot of confidence and leaving everything from last year in the past, from not playing as much as I wanted to, and just starting over, and I'm looking forward to what I can do."
How much can your size help down low?
Hollins: "Everytime we get a chance for an easy basket, we'll take it. They want to use my athleticism and size for putbacks. I want to do that more this year."
Brian Morrison spent his first two years at North Carolina, but transferred to UCLA following the 2001-2002 season. After sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, Morrison is eligible to play for the Bruins this season. He talks about transferring, almost leaving for Washington and getting to play for two of the greatest programs in college basketball history.
You had to sit out last season because of the transfer. How tough was it sitting out?
Morrison: "I think it was a good experience for me, as far as seeing the game from a different perspective and working on my weaknesses."
You went through a rough season at North Carolina, and then your first year here, the same thing.
Morrison: "It was a struggle last year with our team, but we're ready to turn it around and have a better year."
How did you end up at UCLA after leaving North Carolina?
Morrison: "The coaches called me, and wanted me to take a visit, they liked what I did and offered me scholarship."
How do you like the new staff?
Morrison: "I like them a lot. They are a good staff and we've done some individual workouts with them. I'm excited. I haven't played in a year and a half, so I'm very excited for that."
You almost left UCLA at the beginning of last year to go to Washington, but stuck it out. Are you pretty happy with that decision?
Morrison: "Oh yeah. I love being here at UCLA. I want to have a good season. I feel like I have a good opportunity and Coach Howland is going to give everyone a fresh start and that's all you can ask for."
You grew up in Pac-10 country (Seattle), and now get to play up there a couple times a year.
Morrison: "It gives me some confidence because a lot of the players I played against in high school are in the Pac-10, where on the East Coast, I didn't know a lot of those players."
At North Carolina, you played both point guard and shooting guard. What will your role be here?
Morrison: "I'll play wherever. I just want to be on the floor."
You played at North Carolina, with all of their history. And now you get to play at UCLA with all of its history. What's that been like, playing at those two storied schools?
Morrison: "I feel very blessed just to be able to do that. Not very many people have gotten the chance to do what I've done."
Physically, you haven't played in almost two years, so do you feel in game shape yet?
Morrison: "Yeah. I've put on 13 pounds since I came. I was 178 when I played at North Carolina, and I am 191 now. But I feel just as fast and just as quick"
They talk of new season...