UCLA men’s basketball coach Steve Alford held his weekly press conference, and while I really wanted to title this article, “What the $%#@ Happened in Oregon?”, I didn’t think that would be very appropriate. The media started in by asking about how we seem to be getting off to a slow start in games as we did against both Colorado and Oregon. Without really giving much of an answer, Alford said they are discussing starting games at a quicker pace. Excellent. I hadn’t thought of discussing doing things the right way.
Missing three players came up yet again and Alford actually said that is no excuse—they are going on the road with eight scholarship players and they’ve basically paid the price for poor play. They haven’t been consistent on defense in the last three games and they have, in fact, gotten worse.
One thing they do well is play in transition, and playing slower tempo games actually hurts their style of play. They’d rather play up-tempo but in order to do that they have to get the defensive stops. Alford said they’re still a “work in progress”, but if you ask me they’re running out of time. This quote stuck with me because I thought the “work in progress” part of the season (at least for elite teams) ended right around Christmas. But, then again, under Alford, UCLA has never been an elite team. Even with last year’s cornucopia of talent, we still couldn’t make a run in the tournament.
A little further in, he mentioned that they want to play quick but they can’t be hurried up and actually mentioned Coach after this comment. I had to cringe—this just didn’t sit well with me. You have to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk.
Alford said their toughness is being challenged and, since they have two suspended players, injuries, and illnesses, when they travel they don’t have the right numbers for practices. While he said this is an excuse for “soft play,” I feel like he mentioned it to get some sort of sympathy for it. He actually said their toughness has slipped and the last three games are a lesson to be learned from.
Here is the full press conference, courtesy of UCLA Athletics on YouTube:
And here is the video of Aaron Holiday, Alex Olesinski, and Prince Ali, from UCLA Athletics on YouTube: