Earlier this evening Bruin point guard Darren Collison had a teleconference with the media because he was in class when the media gathered for the weekly press conference on campus. The following transcript is courtesy of the UCLA SID office.
on his hip injury
Collison: "As of right now, it feels a lot better than it did yesterday. I came in and got treatment this afternoon. At the time, it was really sore and it was sore during the Saturday game. It's just something I have to get through. Coach Ben Howland said that I'm going to have a lot of injuries throughout my career and as long as I push through it, I'll be fine."
on his offense improving
Collison: "I think the more games you have under your belt, the more comfortable you are in the game. I'm getting. I'm getting back to playing, but I'm also getting more rest during the games. It's just about me getting more games under my belt. I thought I was really coming along in the Washington game, until I got hurt in the second half, and I really got to prove against Washington State that I was ready."
on Washington State's finish with seven consecutive three-pointers in the final 1:22
Collison: " "I've never seen anything like that before. I'm just thankful we came on in the first half and put it on them. In the second half, they hit a barrage of threes and we were lucky to hold on with our free throw shooting."
Collison: "We all played against him. Russell (Westbrook) was on my team during the time we played him. O.J. (Mayo) is a good player. We understand what he can do. It is going to be a fun matchup. But we aren't thinking about guarding him individually, we are looking at it more as team play."
on going against Russell Westbrook every day in practice
Collison: "You just have to play your hardest in practice and give it your all. Russell [Westbrook] is going to do the same thing. It's just like my freshman year against Jordan [Farmar], all you can do is try to get each other better by playing your hardest in practice. All we are trying to do is push each other and get each other better and get ready for the games."
on the key to guarding O.J. Mayo
Collison: "I think the most important thing is to take away easy shots and try to make it hard for him. He's going to shoot the ball and he's going to score, but if we can limit his shooting percentage, we should be alright. We are not going to be able to stop his scoring entirely, but if we can make him take tough shots and contest every shot he takes throughout the game, then we should be cool."
on both games with USC being very tough and close wins
Collison: "I thought last year's SC team was very mature. With Nick Young, Gabe Pruitt and Lodrick Stewart, those are guys that had a lot more experience than in previous years. This year, they are a lot younger than last year and we are the team with the veterans. We know what to expect. It should be a close game."
on how this year's team has improved over last year's
Collison: "I think we have a better inside presence. Our inside presence last year wasn't nearly as good as this year. Lorenzo Mata-Real and Alfred Aboya really worked on their game during the offseason and along with Kevin Love, we have a better inside presence. That presence on the inside opens up our outside for me, Josh Shipp and Russell Westbrook. I think the inside presence is a key for the season and a key for this game coming up."
on USC's foul tactics on Lorenzo Mata-Real last year at Galen Center
Collison: "I didn't realize what they were trying to do. After I saw Alfred Aboya running across the court, I figured it out. Tim Floyd is a smart coach and he's going to try and do whatever it takes to win a game. It should be real fun and interesting to see what they are going to bring at us on Saturday."
on how an emotional win against Washington State helps the team
Collison: "It gives us a lot of confidence. Beating a team that was undefeated and beating them at home, it gives us a lot of confidence. We played the best game we've played all year against Washington State. We had to play that way to beat a team like Washington State. As you know, Washington State is not a bad team. The way we played last Saturday is the way we need to play against any caliber team. We are trying to win a championship and we know we have to work hard and put effort into it like we did against Washington State."
on how realistic it would be for a team to go undefeated in the Pac-10
Collison: "It's definitely realistic, but it's not our number one focus. Our number one focus is to beat USC. We are going to do this one game at a time. That's how we approached it last year and that's how we are going to approach it this year. We can't look ahead because we know that every team in the Pac-10 is good and they can beat you on any given night. So we are going to take it one step at a time and try and give it our best against SC."
on playing one game a week like this week and like football
Collison: "That would be great. That would be so great if we only had one game a week, but unfortunately, this is basketball and we have two or three games a week. It would make it a lot better because if we only had one game a week, we would have more time to prepare for that team and we would have more days to rest. But with two or three games a week, you don't have a lot of preparation time and with the injuries you have, there's not much time to rest."