This week the press conference before Saturday’s game against Kentucky focused on Thomas Welsh. First off, let’s highlight Thomas. Thomas Welsh describes the advantages of passing into him in the post well:
I think I can make good plays out there. Whether it is scoring in the post, finding cutters, or at the very least its bringing in the defense kind of compacting them a bit.
It is worth noting that Welsh has been a Kentucky killer over the years. Some brief stats for Welsh against the Wildcats:
- 3/24/17: 18 minutes, 3-5FGs, 9 points, 7 rebounds (fouled out in a loss)
- 12/3/16: 19 minutes, 5-7 FGs, 14 points, 8 rebounds (fouled out in a win)
- 12/3/15: 36 minutes, 8-11, 21 points, 11 rebounds (win at Pauley)
- 12/20/14: 16 minutes 1-4, 1 rebound (worst loss under Alford, 8 first half points)
If you throw out Welsh’s first game in which UCLA got destroyed 83-44, Welsh’s stats are pretty amazing against Kentucky 16-23, 70%, and a rebound every 2.8 minutes. That is real dominance. Welsh being in foul trouble really hurt in the tournament.
Steve Alford’s favorite theme is the problem of the ball sticking such as it happen in the last four minutes of the South Dakota game. Alford’s coach speak in response is a bit tough to swallow.
“We are still young in this season and learning and that kind of thing,” Alford said.
Barf. They are not young anymore. This team is approaching conference play. Please stop. On the more substantive details of how to deal with the last four minutes and similar meltdowns due to the ball not being shared, Alford said:
But, just trying to practice it and just trying to emphasize it in the film so and we'll do that here [and] when we get to New Orleans. We haven't had a chance. Yesterday was a day off...a mandatory day off. We had a good practice this morning with a lot of energy...a lot of effort. A lot of the film [review] will take place on the plane and then in the hotel...stuff that we put together of “This is what it looks like when the ball is moving and being shared.” and “This is what it looks like when it's not.” You know, so guys are gonna see that because, sometimes, when you just hear it from a coach it just doesn't sink in as much, but when you can actually see it the old adage, “film doesn’t lie,” doesn’t lie.
But the real highlight of the interview was the recognition on the importance of Welsh and, more specifically, playing through Tom Welsh
The more the ball touches Tom, it presents problems for the defense. Because he can score from 21 feet, he can hurt you in the post, hurt you midrange, and he is a good passing big man.
Here’s to hoping the offense remembers to play through Welsh and that Welsh stays on the floor and out of foul trouble.