Steve Alford's media availablity today had one thing you knew was going to be a focus and one shocking revelation that most of the media seems to be missing.
"Defensively we're contesting shots. Which we really weren't doing three weeks ago."
Ponder that for a second. Isn't one of the most basic parts of basketball defense "contesting shots?" We weren't doing that until three weeks ago, well into the season, according to the coach! What happen at that time? Norman Powell called out the team in his Oregon post game speech where he said this isn't "h-o-r-s-e" and told the players they need to contest shots.
Steve Alford just admitted for the entire season that neither he nor his coaching staff could make HIS team play basic defense by contesting shots. It took the relatively quiet but true senior-leader Norman Powell to call the team out to make them play basic defense.
Wow. How much is this guy getting paid? Isn't this one of the basic parts of the job? Thank you Norman but holy cow Steve.
On other topics.
- Thoughts and prayers with Coach Smith's family. He praised Coach Dean Smith and North Carolina.
- Kevon's hip is great and no issues.
- On Stanford and UC Berkeley. Steve talks about them as being similar and in both cases "they got hot." He never mentions UCLA's play as a cause of problems but instead harps on the great atmosphere at Berkeley. He mentions how the offense is playing better. He says we are playing better and seems happy with the two games. He says that in multiple ways in different times during the press conference.
- He goes on to say we did not lose to UC Berkeley because of "technical stuff." It was free throws and things like that.
- On never sweeping a road trip. He seemingly takes the blame for last year and says this year it is because the players are learning.
- Steve emphasizes that fatigue was not a factor in the UC Berkeley loss or Stanford near-collapse. He says it was a big issue in the Colorado trip. He even says at another point the players "legs came back."
- He then discusses the go-to-guy and says "maybe that's still in process" "Norman is going to be at the forefront of that" and then he lists the rest of the team and adds "I think the guys are still working through that." Clearly to Steve this is up to the kids. Maybe Norman can give another speech.
- On the NCAA Tournament. He goes into coach speak and then says "We've done a lot of good work in the last two weeks to set ourselves up" to put us in "the mix." We have won "6 out of 7 with Tony."
- On the last shot. "He got a great look" he says of Bryce's last shot. Didn't call time out because he feels it gives the defense a time to get set. (I guess this is consistent as he DID call a time out against Stanford to set the defense.) He does say on Isaac being wide open under the basket "You make that pass, you don't know if you get a shot off. "
The Bryce Interview is actually funny because he contradicts his Dad. In Steve's defense he is using coach speak a lot. Bryce says the problem against UC Berkeley in the first half was a "lot of quick shots" like we did "early in the season" and did not "move the ball around." Bryce is blunt on the NCAA Tournament and says this is "playoff basketball for us." Bryce is also gracious on the last shot admitting he didn't see Isaac but it "probably would have been a better look" if Hamilton could get the shot off.
Coach Norman Powell in his Interview says: "These guys are focused" now. No doubt due to Norman's efforts and calling them out. Last year Kyle Anderson was the coach on the floor and it looks now like Norman is trying to step up.