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January 10, 2007USC head basketball coach Tim Floyd remarkably has his team tied for the Pac-10 lead.
Sitting at 13-4 and 3-1 in the conference, the Trojans have played four ranked teams in their last five games and defeated three of them. Next up is a tough test against the No. 3 ranked UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center on Saturday.
On UCLA's quick guards:
Floyd: "When we played Oregon, that to me was almost a duplication of the kind of speed and quickness that really created tremendous problems for us. All game long we never really did get them under control. Literally we had to make every shot we took. We shot 55% and won by two, which is a bad sign, and it was because of those guards.
"We are going to have to think of different ways and different people that can give us some kind of contain ability on a great guard in (Darren) Collison."
On zones being a more regular part of the defense:
Floyd: "We used them for ten minutes against Oregon and it was the most miserable ten minutes of this year. I can tell you this, we didn't work on it today. Our bread and butter has been our man defense, we just have to try and get it better."
Why they played so much zone against Oregon:
Floyd: "It wasn't by choice. With (Michael) Roll out there now, it makes it that much more difficult to play zone. He is as good of a shooter as there is in the country."
On Oregon providing a blueprint to beating UCLA:
Floyd: "Make every shot. That was the blueprint because UCLA is a great team. When you shoot 55% and win by two it means you are not doing some other things right. That is what we are doing, trying to do those other things right. We have to get back to where we can guard and rebound."
On Taj Gibson's production level staying high during conference play:
Floyd: "We learned a great deal about him when we played Washington. He had an outstanding game against what I believe is one of the top four or five front lines in the country. He showed us that he can play against length and against size. I think he is a keeper.
"He is in instinctive player, he is instinctive to the glass, much like (Luc Richard) Mbah a Moute is. He anticipates and those are things that aren't taught. His hands are also very, very good."
On Gibson being a big part of UCLA's focus:
Floyd: "Sure, we know they are going to double him from the time the game starts. We are really going to have to play out of those doubles."
On Gibson's shot blocking ability:
Floyd: "Those are instincts and some gifts like his length and anticipation. He's been outstanding for us and we have to get it back to where he is thinking double-digit rebounds. He only had five against Oregon State and I think 8 or 9 against Oregon."
One reporter pointed out that Gibson actually had 13 rebounds against the Ducks.
"Oh, was it 13? Well that's pretty good."
On the team having so many question marks now being 3-1 and tied for first in the conference:
Floyd: "We just haven't gotten to the last turn yet and we have not got to the last quarter pole in the horse race either. The thing we have been able to do of late is get them to play. That sounds corny enough but we couldn't get into play offensively for a long stretch of the season. We are doing a better job, we are advancing the ball up the court versus putting too much pressure on our point guards to have to meet the pressure at the 10 second line. I think Daniel (Hackett) did a terrific job for twelve games. He just did a terrific job and that experience is immeasurable. He had a lot on his shoulders and he is a tough guy that wants responsibility and he is bright."
How Gibson has helped the overall defense:
Floyd: "We gave up a higher defensive shooting percentage last year because of second chance opportunities. Often times those are easy baskets. His blocks have led to a better defensive field goal percentage and his presence in general."
Gibson turned the ball over much more frequently early in the season:
Floyd: "He had a lot of high turnover games but a lot of that was because our team was so perimeter oriented. The ball never went inside and so if he caught it, it was a reward the first 12 games of the season. He was like, 'Oh my God, I've got it!" and he tried to do too much. He has done a better job of allowing the game to come to him."
On Gabe Pruitt returning to game speed:
Floyd: "He is just getting better and better every game. He didn't have to score a bunch against Oregon State and Gabe has recognized the difference in his role. He is probably not going to score as much for our team this year because his role is different. We have other guys who can make shots and part of his responsibility is to know who has needs on the court and to be able to address those. That makes him more of a giver than a receiver."
Coach Floyd feels Pruitt is going to be a point guard on the next level.
Expectations of Lodrick Stewart against UCLA:
Floyd: "Who knows what to expect. We know he will be closely guarded and that they have great pride in their defense and their ability to take guys out of games. Who knows how the game is going to progress."
On expecting to run a small lineup with Dwight Lewis starting:
Floyd: "I don't know what we are going to do. Versatility is something we have and I think that is good. We probably won't make that decision until game time and we will practice all areas this week."
On the team progressing since Kansas without Pruitt:
Floyd: "I thought we played extremely well at Kansas other than the turnovers. I thought we showed great grit and determination. We have made progress in our turnovers as they have just dropped dramatically, probably from 19 or 20 a game down to about 12 a game. That is why we are more proficient on the offensive end. We are getting more shots and as a result of getting more shots we are scoring more points."
On the team playing more ranked teams and turnovers still dropping:
Floyd: "It shouldn't be the case, should it? That has just been of late though, the last four games. It has been a process but that doesn't mean that we can't revert because I still have vivid memories of the turnovers during the year."
On the 48.8 shooting percentage for USC compared to allowing their opponents shooting under 35%:
Floyd: "Our offensive field goal percentage versus our defensive field goal percentage is a good stat and is always the first stat I look at. That has been a constant and defensively we have been solid."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates on Trojan basketball.