Howland says Muhammad criticism was 'overblown'

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA coach Ben Howland said the criticism directed toward freshman Shabazz Muhammad was “overblown” after Muhammad’s bizarre behavior at the end of Thursday’s buzzer-beating 59-57 victory over Washington.

Television replays showed Muhammad adamantly clapping and stomping his feet while calling for the ball in the final seconds, and then refusing to celebrate with teammates after Larry Drew II hit the game winner. “SportsCenter” highlighted Muhammad’s actions during its recap of the game, showed him walking past the celebration without even looking at it, and Muhammad became a subject on sports talk radio and television shows on Friday.

Muhammad said after the game that he simply didn’t want anyone to get injured, so he didn’t join the dog pile. Howland applauded Muhammad’s reasoning on Friday.

“I think it was overblown, I really do,” Howland said of the reaction to Muhammad’s seemingly selfish behavior. “It was another thing that was blown out of proportion. He was very happy. And I think he was right, my first concern after the game was that I was worried someone might get hurt. You’ve all heard about guys getting hurt after a winning shot. It’s happened.”