Ben Howland's Tuesday Press Conference

Ben Howland

Head Coach <b>Ben Howland</b> talks about a player's season-ending injury and how it will affect the team and the coach's newfound rotation...

Head Coach Ben Howland conducted his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon.

"I just found out about a half hour ago that we've lost Janou Rubin for the season. He had an MRI don last night on his knee, which was bothering him. For the Oregon State game he couldn't play. The swelling went done and he said he felt fine. He gave us 16 very good minutes of defense and helped us win that game against Oregon. When the MRI came back this morning, our team orthopedist, Gerald Finerman, told us he has a defect in the lateral femoral conidial. He has three pieces of bone chips floating around in his knee right now. He'll have to have surgery here immediately. He's expected to miss the remainder of the season."

Does he have any eligibility left?

"No, he redshirted already. In fact, this will most likely end his career as a basketball player at UCLA because of the point of the season it comes in. I feel badly for Janou. I just told him up in the office. He didn't know until a half an hour ago. It's tough, too, because I thought I had figured out what we were going to do now, playing those five perimeter players, with him giving us thirteen or fifteen minutes a game, playing hard and playing smart. So it's a setback for us, from a standpoint that we were feeling good about how we had just played, and now unfortunately we have to move forward without him."

If he didn't have the surgery, could he still play?

"No. The expectation would be that a piece of bone could get locked into the joint, and it'd be a problem, and it would continue to get worse. We figured it probably happened at practice. In talking to Janou, it might have been last Wednesday or Thursday. He's not even sure. There wasn't one significant incident that he remembers."

So if he tried to play he could damage it further?

"Right. He won't be playing anymore. He wants to try to play basketball in the future."

Which knee was it?

"The left."

How does this alter your thinking about the rotation?

"What it means is...Dijon played all of his minutes in the game on Sunday at the four spot. What it means is that he'll have to play minutes for us at the three. I still have to force myself to rest those young kids. That means we're going to have to get more minutes out of Matt McKinney, Ryan Hollins and Josiah Johnson at the four spot, and try to 10 minutes a game, plus, out of Dijon at the three. That's also with the expectation that Brian Morrison can give us the minutes he did this last weekend, which is 24 or 25 minutes a game. He's coming off his best weekend of the year, and he feels good about himself. It means more opportunity at the four spot for some guys with Dijon having to play on the perimeter."

Is Josiah ahead of Ryan right now at the four?

"Uh, I wouldn't say that. But one of them is going to have to play a big role, and that will be based on practice this week, who performs today and tomorrow."

Do you think it will force you to play zone a little?

"Uhhh, no."

Is this the first week where Morrison looked like the player you thought he'd be?

"He shot it well, so he did those things that we expect him to do. But he played hard defensively, and helped us there defending their little point guard Aaron Brooks at times. So his role defensively, too, is very important for us."

Do you think he played well defensively because he was shooting well?

"I don't know. I think everyone played defense well because we really emphasized it on Sunday."

How do you get the defensive effort consistently out of your team like they had against Oregon?

"Play guys less minutes, and really substitute, to get them to play with energy defensively. If you get tired, we're going to sub for you."

Do you think the freshmen will have trouble adjusting to the slower style of Washington State?

"It is a different style, in that they're very, very patient. And they're very physical. I watched their players on tape. One thing that is really noticeable is how much bigger and stronger their returners are. Look at Shami Gill's body, or Chris Schlatter, from a year ago, you notice a significant difference in just their body. They're much stronger than they were a year ago. They pound you. They're a physical, tough team. They beat you by out-toughing you, and wearing you down physically, defensively, and offensively from their aspect from making you play long periods of defense.  Their kids can also get hot. Thomas Kelati is a very good player, and he can get going, and Jeff Varem. Those two kids are matchups for everybody."

Do you think their physicality means you'll have to play Ryan or Josiah more at the four spot?

"Yeah, we're going to play them more at the four spot from the standpoint of losing Janou more than anything."

Can Ryan survive in a physical game like that?

"Yeah, he's going to have to. He's going to have to play more physical and be more assertive with his body."

How much did you talk to Brian about his shooting this year? Had he lost his confidence or was he pressing?

"No. Brian's biggest thing is just taking good shots. If you go back and look at the film from the past weekend, most of his shots were good shots. He was a little more patient, letting it come to him. That's the key. When good shooters take good shots there's a good percentage they're going to go down."

How do you go about preparing for Washington State and Washington, when both of them play extremely opposite styles of play?

"I don't even think about the second game. All we're concerned about is the next opponent, which is Washington State."

Do you think the freshmen learned that much between the Oregon State game and the Oregon game?

"I think part of it is bouncing back, being disappointed with the defeat. It's how you respond to adversity. That's a key in sports, and it's a key in what we try to get these kids to do, to bounce back when you come off a loss, even against a good team like Michigan State or Oregon State. That's what we did. We played hard, and that was the key for us on Sunday. We played very, very hard, and there was a lot of toughness."

How do you think Dijon Thompson has handled playing the four spot?

"Very, very well. I think Dijon has been our best player. He's really played confidently. He's shown the ability to make plays for others at the four. He had four assists in the game on Sunday, and in reality, it very easily could have been eight. We missed some open looks off of great passes from him. I'm really, really happy with how he's playing right now. Since he's been at the four the thing that's been the most pleasing and satisfying is his post defense has been good. For a guy who hasn't played a lot of post defense his first three years in college, he's done a very nice job. He's doing a good job rebounding. He's our best rebounder. There's no question there's an advantage for us when he's at the four because it makes us a better team offensively, having four quote-unquote guards out there at the same time. He's a difficult matchup."

Now that you've seen the film, what'd you think of Michael Fey?

"We did a better job of getting him the ball. We obviously talked about it going in. He had 41 shot attempts his first eight games, and 23 over the weekend. That's a positive, and I think he gained some confidence on the road trip. He did a good job for us. I thought Lorenzo Mata also played very, very well for us over the weekend. He had 14 rebounds in 30 minutes of playing time. If you back and watch the game against Oregon, his minutes were really significant. He did a really, really nice job."

Last year when Washington State came to UCLA and won, it was the first time ever. Is that motivation for you this year?

"We're plenty motivated. It's a Pac-10 game. It's the home opener. That's the key. We're very motivated, and I think we'll continue to want to win this game."

BruinReportOnline.com Recommended Stories


  • In celebration of UCLA's third-straight win over USC, now's the time to sign up for Bruin Report Online. In fact, for a limited period if you purchase a subscription to BRO you'll get TWO MONTHS for…

  • Build yourself a sky-high left-over turkey sandwich, cover it in a creamy sauce of hate, and get ready to scream!

  • Nov. 24 -- We talk about the big win over USC, what it means for the program, and what next year could hold for UCLA, given some of what we saw against the Trojans...

  • Nov. 24 -- Check out all the previews, analyses, and interviews from the week heading into the Stanford game...

  • Finding just the right present for that special someone can be a challenge, so we’ve compiled a wide variety of hunting, fishing and outdoor gifts that you—or Santa—can deliver this Christmas.