Alford’s first Tuesday presser of the basketball season was something of a travel log. While last year’s team traveled to Australia in the preseason, much of the regular season was local travel to places such as Anaheim and Vegas (although Alford omits the Kentucky win). Not so this year with travel during the year to China, Kansas, and New Orleans.
Alford always talks about how young the team is which is kind of his “coach speak” for early season mistakes. However, this year practice started earlier giving the team more time to get ready. Also, his starting lineup is NOT young by the standards of college basketball:
Center: Thomas Welsh (Senior)
Power Forward: GG Goloman (Junior)
Small Forward: Kris Wilkes (Freshman)
Guard: Jaylen Hands (Freshman)
Guard: Aaron Holiday (Junior)
This means UCLA is starting three upperclassmen, experienced for this era of the one and done. He did say that he was going with “G.G., really, because of his experience, to give us a little bit more experience as we start games.” I think this means there is a really good chance Cody Riley is the starting four by the start of Pac-12 play.
UCLA won the secret scrimmage over Long Beach State but needs to work on rebounding. That’s a disappointment in that we are so long.
In other news, Jalen Hill is dealing with a minor injury and will miss the first two games.
In the player interviews, Holiday says the right thing about playing with Jaylen Hands, although he mentions in practice they usual play against each other. (This troubles me, you want your key guys playing together. This could be an issue with two point guards.) Holiday does say, “I am more of a scoring guard and he (Hands) is more of a passing guard.” The team will be more of a “slashing team” and “play defense better.”
Kris Wilkes emphasized defensive length and “show[ing] more on defense.” Cody Riley is big, does not look like a freshman. He emphasizes the difference of practicing against guys of the same ability versus high school. Tom Welsh is hitting threes and Riley is working with Welsh on shooting threes.
Looking forward to seeing these guys play tonight!