Men’s Basketball coach Steve Alford met with the media today in a relatively routine press conference. He was first asked about what the team is improving on, and while I’m glad Alford recognizes the need to improve on defense, I’m not sure the improvements are as great as he says they are (see: second half against Cal). He stated that they have gotten better at pick and roll coverage and they are also improving on board play. They are about to play Colorado and Utah on the road, and both are very physical and play well off the glass.
One member of the media asked an interesting question that I thought may have been difficult to answer but old Steve had an out. They asked how he felt about the addition of Utah and Colorado to the Pac 10, and whether or not he thought they were positive additions. He was able to tell them that he’s only been in the conference for four years and they have been in the conference five and of course gave the obligatory coach’s response about having respect for both programs. He said it’s all he knows and he also played against Utah in the Mountain West, but we all know 0-3 Colorado isn’t going to put up much of a fight on Thursday (God help us). He did point out that he prefers playing 18 league games and getting into league play after the wrap up of the football season, and offering big non-conference match ups for people to watch while football was still playing. I thought that was a nice nod of respect for a fellow Bruin program and I get the feeling that Alford may actually be a football fan.
On the subject of Colorado, they have an experienced line up of seniors and they are all measuring in at 6’5”plus, so they will have size on their side. Our freshman have never been to these arenas, but I’d say playing in Australia and Kentucky has helped move our freshman along. The media specifically asked if traveling was a challenge for T.J. and Lonzo and Alford merely chuckled. Come on, guys. But he also added that those two kids left an imprint of winning on their respective high schools and they have brought that attitude with them to UCLA. Can we have those guys on the sideline for a football game, please?
Additionally, team chemistry has definitely been a positive for the Bruins. Bringing in freshmen in June definitely helped, and the veteran team members welcomed them with open arms. Everyone was aware of what these individuals could bring to the program, and they were encouraged from day one to contribute. I love the attitude of bringing everyone into the fold regardless of age. Putting someone like Holiday on the bench and playing a freshman is not a move that every coach would make, but it has clearly benefited the team and no one seems at all put out by it. He noted that there are clearly three point guards that have the potential to score 20+ points per game, which has added to the success of their transition offense. Almost all of them have a positive assist to turnover ratio, which is definitely not something every program can boast.
Here is the entire video, courtesy of the UCLA Athletic Department:
And here is Lonzo Ball, Bryce Alford, and Thomas Welsh, courtesy of the UCLA Athletic Department:
That’s a wrap for this week’s media availability.