March 30, 2007
Shipp sails into the final four
One person who is really looking forward to Saturday Night is Josh Shipp. He was in street clothes when the Bruins hooked up with Florida a year ago and one can only wonder what he would have been able to bring to table on that fateful Monday Night.
Once again the Gators are in the way of another banner, but this time UCLA will have a different cast of players and one of them will be Shipp. He met with members of the media on Tuesday.
What do you think it is going to be like coming out of that tunnel in Atlanta on Saturday Night?
Shipp: "It's going to be fun. I'm going to enjoy it."
You were an offensive weapon the team did not have last year. Do you think it is going to be your roll to be that third scoring option?
Shipp: "I'm the type of guy that will do whatever it takes for the team to win. If they need me to score that night, I'll do that. If they need me to rebound that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do whatever it takes for the team to win. It doesn't matter."
Do you anticipate this game being more a of wide open game? Because Florida likes to get the ball up and down. UCLA can obviously play that way
Shipp: "Yeah, definitely. Kind of like the Kansas game. It was kind of a frenzy out there. A lot more turnovers by both teams than was expected. I think it is definitely going to be a high paced game. Hopefully we can limit our turnovers and maybe connect some of those baskets."
Coach has talked how Lorenzo Mata is playing his best basketball right now. Can you describe what those first couple weeks on campus was for him?
Shipp: "Lorenzo is kind of coming into his own. I think his confidence level is real high. I think he's gone against some great players in the tournament and he's helped shut those guys down so his confidence level is definitely building.
"I think when we all came in as freshmen we were a little timid. I think he's gotten that experience. He's been here three years now. He's grown as a player and as a person."
Lorenzo doesn't look like a UCLA player with the tattoos. You look at Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that's what you think of a UCLA center. Is Lorenzo changing the image?
Shipp: "I don't think he's changing the image. I don't think it is possible to change the image of UCLA. I think the tradition is so great that it is always going to be remembered the same way.
"Lorenzo is a good guy. I don't think the tattoos really mean anything. It is something that he believes in and we don't discredit that or anything. He's still going to be the same player."
Does Lorenzo bring a different type of toughness to the position than maybe other UCLA centers?
Shipp: "I think he kind of does. I mean all the centers here were tough. They combine that with finesse and I think that Lorenzo is just trying to follow in those guy's footsteps and try to be the best possible player he can be."
Nobody beat you as thoroughly last year or since as Florida did. Were they quicker, more physical? What was different? Nobody else has been able to do what they did to you
Shipp: "I think Florida just played a great overall game. I think they had the answers for everything we did. It is tough to say. We went back and watched the film and they just did everything right that game. It was just one of those games for them.
"I think this year is going to be a little different. I think we are going to be well-prepared for things that they do. I think a lot of the guys are really excited for this game and I think it is going to be an all out war."
When you hear guys back there saying they don't know who Coach John Wooden is, and that he's just some old guy, does that make you think that maybe they aren't taking you as seriously as they should?
Shipp: "I didn't really hear about that. They know who Coach Wooden is. That is definitely, I think, a slap in the face. I think they are just playing around. Those guys are a group of characters. We take it for what it is.
"We have a war to play and go out there and battle. We are going to give it everything we have. They are the hottest team right now. We're just proud to be in the Final Four and have the opportunity to play Florida."
Is it hard to take a team you beat pretty badly that seriously the second time?
Shipp: "In anything it is hard to beat a team twice. Like I said they had a great game, but this year is a totally different year. It's not like it's the revenge game or anything like that. We are just looking forward to be able to play them again."
Are you better than you were last year?
Shipp: "I think we are a better team."
In what ways?
Shipp: "Just our team chemistry and just how hard everybody plays."
What is the bigger keys for you guys to win this game stopping them on the outside or controlling the inside game?
Shipp: "We are going to have to do both. It is going to be all out war. Hopefully we can force them into taking tough shots and force them into some turnovers.
Will getting Joakim Noah into foul trouble be a good thing?
Shipp: "Yeah, definitely they have two great bigs and we are definitely going to try get in foul trouble."
Watching from the bench last year is it easier for you to see what Florida did and know what you guys have to do better?
Shipp: "Kind of and kind of not. I kind of got caught up in the emotion of the game just like everybody else so I was disappointed and had that sour taste just like the guys.
"This year is a totally different year. We are scouting them and going through their stuff and I think we're going to be ready."
What does it mean for you because last season you were kind of on the outside looking in for you this year to be back to the final four as a main player in the situation?
Shipp: "It means a lot. Last year was definitely tough watching. I felt I could have helped the team but my body wouldn't allow me so it was definitely tough that I couldn't do anything.
"This year is a totally different year. I feel good about what the team is doing right now and I think I can help out. We will see what happens."
You said the chemistry may be better this year. Can you define why that is?
Shipp: "I think a lot of guys are so unselfish they don't care who gets the credit. We all just want to win games."
The basketball team is the flagship program at UCLA but there are a lot of other great sports programs at UCLA and the school is coming up on its 100th national championship. Are you aware of that at all and wouldn't it be fitting for the basketball team to get that 100th for the school?
Shipp: "We are aware of it but we don't talk about it. If it happens it's going to be great. It's going to be special if it is the basketball team with the great tradition here."
Do you guys attend any other sports?
Shipp: "I try to go to the volleyball games and soccer games
Why the Volleyball games?
Shipp: "(laughs) What you are insinuating
I don't know
Shipp: "I have a couple on the team and I go watch them. We are family here and we try to get out and support everybody."
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