Rich Howell Unplugged following Jerusalem’s devastating loss to Holon, “It’s all on me”

It’s clear that Rich Howell cares a lot about his basketball and his team Hapoel Jerusalem. The center who is arguably the best Israeli player in the league opened up on a myriad of topics right after the loss to Hapoel Holon. The big man took the time to talk after a disappointing semifinal loss to Hapoel Holon and held nothing back by taking the blame for the loss, although that may be so far from the truth. You can see how the loss is haunting Howell from his tweets below and how much Howell holds coach Oded Katash is very high regard. He also looked ahead to his very near future and his not so distant future as well.

“I missed those two free throws and they were crucial and also the turnover that I had. I thought I saw Stratos Perperlogou wide open and I figured I would hit him for the quick 3-pointer, but the pass was a little off. I’ll take this game on myself. It was a lack of focus especially at the critical moments of the game and that’s something I need to work on and improve myself. I think we played good and we fought our way back into the game, but I think it was the little things, like I said it’s all on me, that’s my fault.”

Howell is always a player who makes sure to show up for money time, but sometimes things go a bit amiss, “Anyone who knows me knows that I show up for the big games. The ball just didn’t bounce my way. I should have been a bit more active on the offensive end. It’s the little things, making the right plays and being focused. That stupid turnover that I threw Stratos kind of really sealed the deal for us and like I said, I take full responsibility for that.”

Coach Oded Katash’s game plan was playing a short rotation to the surprise of many as captain Yotam Halperin and guard Kalin Lucas didn’t get a minute of playing time whereas Yogev Ohayon who had been out for a number of months did get in for 10+ minutes. Howell reflected on who the leader of the team is, “I definitely think playing Kalin and playing Yotam helps us a lot. But at the same time I go with our general and that’s Oded Katash and whatever he thinks, is right. We don’t have to question that, we believe it and tonight he felt that he didn’t have to go deep down on the bench and that’s ok. I think the group of guys we had on the court on any other day would have gotten it done, but today it just wasn’t our night.”

Howell certainly didn’t hold behalf the self criticism and kept taking the blame all on his shoulders, “If I play bad I’ll be the first one to go tell people. Or I’ll say in a group chat that I’m sorry for the way I played and I’ll make it up. It was on me, I made a lot of stupid turnovers and a lot of stupid decisions. Like I said, this is something you live and you learn from. I’m going to sit down with coach Oded and have a talk as to what he wants from me. And we will go from there “

The center could leave this summer and sign with a Euroleague team, but its clear that he has an extra special relationship with the coach. I remember the day it was announced that Katash was taking over for the Reds and I spoke to Howell following an Israel National Team practice and he was elated with his appointment. It’s clear he has a passion for both the man on the sidelines and the city itself, “I love Jerusalem and I love Oded Katash. I’m going to see what happens, but probably before I get out of here we will talk and see which way things are gonna go. Everything is in up the air right now. It’s exciting but it’s bitter sweet right now as I wanted to play on Thursday.”

As we neared the end of our conversation, Howell brightened up and flashed a huge smile when I asked him about the Israel National Team’s game coming up against Greece and Great Britain at the end of the month, “The plan is to play with the Israel National Team as I have a duty to fulfill. I guess that’s the good thing about playing on the National Team, I have another two weeks of basketball and it’s kind of a therapy. I can get my mind right. At least I know the coach.”

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