Is UCLA's switch to a fast-paced style simply a move by coach Ben Howland to counter how opposing coaches recruit against him?
Howland didn't really answer the question when it was asked during his Sunday night teleconference call with reporters. He did, however, offer his pitch.
"If you look at the players that have played (in the NBA) since I've been the coach, we have a lot of them," Howland said. "In fact, this year we have the most. We have 14 players in the NBA, that's the most of any university in the United States. Nine of those guys played for me. They all seem to be doing really well in the NBA. They're all getting second or third contracts. So if you really want to talk about who is preparing their players really well to play at the next level, I think that we can make a very good argument that our players are very well prepared. And I encourage all of you to call the (general managers) in the NBA and ask them, 'Hey, who is doing the best job of all the universities in the country of preparing their players to play at the next level?' "
Other noteworthy quotes:
On Tyler Honeycutt's turnover woes: "He knows. Tyler's a smart kid. He had some really good passes early in the (win Friday). He had three assists in our first five possessions. So he knows. He's got to go for less home runs and more base hits. Once in a while you get a home run. He has a tendency to get turnovers because he tries to do too much rather than just make the simple pass. But we've got to get him to get better. He can make plays, he's a very good play-maker. He sees the floor extremely well. His ability to see is very, very good."
On UCLA's fast-paced style: "I just hope we can continue to do it if we stay healthy. It really helps us. The key to it is having a big that can really run the floor and get down there and be a threat. Reeves (Nelson) really makes the break go because of how hard he runs the floor in transition. I think it's really good for this team because if you get Malcolm (Lee) out ahead and advance out to him on the dribble with Tyler Honeycutt, we've got a couple of guys that can really attack the basket and also make plays for others. It's something that I think will help us. We need to manufacture some easy baskets, either from our defense, creating turnovers, creating off misses and also creating second shots by attacking the glass."
On how long he plans to use it: "We hope to do it for a long time. It's about getting Josh (Smith) in a better condition, in better shape to run."
Howland said he plans to coach another 10 years or so. "I'm 53. But who knows, when you're 63, that might be the new 53.''