Aug. 20, 2012
LOS ANGELES - UCLA head men's basketball coach Ben Howland met with members of the media on Monday afternoon to discuss the team's upcoming week-long trip to China. The Bruins are scheduled to play three games against in a four-day span while in Beijing and Shanghai.
The Bruins depart campus late Tuesday evening before flying out of Los Angeles for Beijing at 1:40 a.m. on Wednesday. UCLA will land in Beijing at roughly 5:20 a.m. local time on Thursday, Aug. 23, where six days of basketball and sightseeing awaits, in both Beijing and Shanghai.
UCLA will face Tsinghua University (Beijing) on Saturday, Aug. 25, before traveling to Shanghai on Sunday, Aug. 26. In Shanghai, the Bruins will face Shanghai Jiao Tong University on Monday, Aug. 27 and the Shanghai Sharks on Tuesday, Aug. 28. UCLA returns to Los Angeles the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 29.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland
on preparations for the trip
"We are going to dress for hot and humid weather. We had an orientation late last week. Our players need to be aware of hydrating well and to drink only bottled water and not local water. We talked about the customs and the kind of things that you want to make sure you don't do, that they may find offensive, but which we know nothing about."
on basketball-related preparations
"I've talked to coaches who have taken teams over there. They've told us to expect a very physical and aggressive brand of basketball. We will be prepared for that. The two university teams that we play, we have very little knowledge of. We are leaving here at 1:40 Wednesday morning, so we'll go to the airport that [Tuesday] night. We arrive at 5 a.m. in Beijing. They will have a little buffet breakfast set up for us when we get to the hotel. We will let the players sleep for about five hours. Then we'll get up to go practice.
"We're going to scrimmage against the teams that we'll play. That's part of what they wanted. They wanted to be part of our practice. This is a cultural exchange. It's not just about us playing basketball. It's about exchanging between the two cultures. We want to be as helpful as we can be to let them learn more about us, and we can learn about them. For me, that practice after a 14-hour grueling flight is not going to be a long practice. I expect to go over and practice for an hour and a half - do some shooting, get up and down. It would be good for us to scrimmage against them."
on scouting the opponents
"We have no tape. We haven't seen anything. The [Shanghai] Sharks obviously, there's a little more information on them. They are a pro team. They have Max, who played at Cal for a couple years at center and has turned into a pretty good player for them. The Americans that play for that team, which is our last game in Shanghai, they are expected not to be there and not to play in that game. It will be just the Chinese professionals."
on UCLA's potential starting lineups
"We'll probably start some different lineups. We are not going to start the same team all three games. We'll have some different combinations. It's been hard to say that a guy has won a starting position when they'll have had 10 practices. As of right now, I don't expect Tony [Parker] to play. He has been out since July 31. It's improving and getting better, but he still has a ways to go. He hasn't practiced since that first practice. I don't want to go over there with him having not practiced and then go in a game and the intensity level is even higher and then he re-injures it. That may change. Maybe he will be OK. But that's only a few days from now, playing a game, so I would say that will be doubtful."
on any overarching goal of this trip
"The practice has helped us get a little head start on the season that's upon us real soon. So that's been a real positive. The big goal on this trip is to have fun. We want our kids to have a great experience - to really enjoy the opportunity to see the culture of China. When you look at China and how it's risen so quickly, economically, over the last 15 years and where it's going and headed and how important they are to the overall global economy, to see their culture and what they've done with their sports programs. With Beijing in 2008 [Olympics] to the medal count this year in the Olympics, they are an amazing people, and it will be a great learning experience for our team. We are going to go see the Great Wall of China. We'll arrive on a Thursday morning, so on Friday we will be at the Great Wall and then to the Forbidden City. The first full day we are there will be a day of sightseeing, and then the following day we will play our first game. I'll tell you what, if you looked at our schedule, everything is jampacked. We are not going to be sleeping a lot when we're there. There will be a lot of activity."
on potential jetlag during games
"We really want to win our games. But we'll use a lot of different combinations. I expect our guys to be tired because of the length of the trip. They do say that it's much more difficult coming back, this way from Asia, in terms of how it affects your clock. We want to try and win every game we play. We won't play a game like it's the NCAA Tournament. If a guy can't go, he won't go."
on style of play and international play
"In our practices, we have been emphasizing trying to push it hard and really get the ball up in a hurry. We are going to play with international rules, which is a big difference. It's a 24-second shot clock. You've got the trapezoid lane. Balls on the rim, you can knock it off. Taking it out quick without the official touching it along the backcourt. It'll be interesting for our players to play that style of ball."
junior forward David Wear
on his expectations for the trip
"I've heard that it's supposed to be a really good experience, a really fun trip. They're trying to make it not all about basketball - there's a lot of sightseeing too. We want to see their culture and how it compares to ours. It will be a good experience for us."
on UCLA's pace of play
"A good portion of our practices is just up and down, fast breaks. We will do half-court stuff for 45 minutes and break down into offensive and defensive stuff, but the rest of our practices are just fast breaks and up-and-down and scrimmaging. We're putting an emphasis on pushing the ball and playing as fast as we can. It's much tougher, conditioning-wise, but it's a lot of fun to play that way."
on summer practices, prior to the trip
"It's a big advantage, just to see where we were from the first day of practice this summer to where we are now. We have made huge improvements as a team. It's basically like having four weeks of practice leading up to the season instead of those two weeks of practice that we've usually had. It's a big advantage. It will help us, definitely, in the long run."
on the addition of UCLA's freshmen
"They've blended really well. They're all really good guys and really good kids. They're part of the family now, and that's how we treat them. We laugh and joke around, and we're always hanging out together. We are a really close-knit team. We all get along. We don't have any issues or arguments. I think that we are a really close team."
junior guard Tyler Lamb
on his expectations for the trip
"I'm eager to go over there and see how they live. It's a great experience to go out there and exchange cultures and learn about each other. Economically, they are a power. It will be a great experience for us and something for us to build upon."
on playing three exhibition games
"It's going to be a good test for us with three games out there. We have been having tough practices, so it will be a good test to see where we stand leading up to the school year and the season."
on summer practices prior to the trip
"It's a big advantage. We have a certain amount of practices and then three games under our belt already. That's going to give us a bigger advantage. We'll have that glue together and go into the season knowing who our personnel on this team is."
on any heightened expectations this season
"We've kind of noticed a difference from the fans. But we stick to ourselves and the team. We know that everything is going to come from within the team and the coaches. But we try not to let that get to us. We just come in and work hard every day and try to make ourselves the best we can."