The media dove right into the press conference with a question about finally getting (some) respect in the form of better projections in the tournament. Alford said he likes where the team is at right now, and they know full well they don’t have control over anything except their performance. They are proud of the wins they have so far, with five of those coming against top teams in the country.
With only two games remaining and senior day on the horizon, Alford admitted to having a little extra emotion going into senior day this year for obvious reasons, but also because Isaac Hamilton started the same year Alford came in. He seems very proud of both Isaac and Bryce and has seen them both grow tremendously in their four years with the program.
When asked about the unbalanced schedule (playing both Oregon and Arizona twice, but both schools only playing each other once), he responded by saying it is yet another thing they don’t have control over, but recognized that if both Arizona and Oregon had played twice, you’d have another team in the Pac 12 with three losses. Their main concern is playing good basketball, especially going into the Pac 12 tournament weekend.
A member of the media asked a question about the stress surrounding this time of year, and how different it feels as opposed to last year. Alford went on through quite a lengthy explanation about how he is more concerned with preparing his players for life after basketball, and making his players better people after having gone through their four years in the UCLA program. While recognizing he is in a business that values winning, he also recognized the human aspect, and really, the true teaching aspect. I have to give him props for that.
Alford was also asked about Bryce and what makes him the most proud. He brought up the fact that Bryce has been the most critiqued player on the team, and they both knew that would happen going into Bryce’s freshman year. He said that Bryce went into the program a young man and is leaving the program a grown man, and thinks the criticism actually had a positive affect on him. Bruins Nation is definitely no stranger to that.
The subject of Markelle Fultz (Washington) came up, and how it will be to have him and Lonzo Ball on the court at the same time. Fultz is another exceptional point guard out of Washington (who is questionable for the last two games of the season, by the way), and Alford acknowledged his talent and how they will have to keep their guard up on this guy. He can easily hang 25 points on the scoreboard, but Lonzo is also playing at a level rarely seen, and he’s healthy, fresh, and ready for the postseason. Additionally, he gave Lonzo props for the affect he has had on the program as a whole, and how his main concern is making the entire team better. Aside from Fultz, all around defense against Washington is going to be key.
Finally, there was one last father-son reference made to Bryce’s three-point numbers and how close he is getting to Alford’s collegiate numbers. Dad shot over 90% from the foul line and made over 100 three pointers in his career in Indiana. We can only hope that Bryce continues to put up huge numbers to best his dad’s statistics.
Here is the full video of the press conference, courtesy of UCLA Athletics: