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Tuesday's Media Availability: Is UCLA Basketball a Lot Better Defensively?

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Yes, UCLA had one of its best games defensively but for the year?

Assistant Coach Ed Schilling(right) filled in for an ailing Steve Alford at Today's Media Availability
Assistant Coach Ed Schilling(right) filled in for an ailing Steve Alford at Today's Media Availability
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Alford had Hernia surgery and missed today's media availability. Norman Powell gave the nice interview wishing the Coach well and getting a "win to make him feel better." We join in wishing him a speedy recovery.

In his place was the drillmaster of UCLA Assistant Coaches, Ed Schilling.

The quote of the press conference was:

"Last year we were able to just out score people. This year we are probably playing a lot better defensively. We just don't have quite the firepower obviously that we did last year. . . . Last year relied on basketball IQ to steal the ball.  This year we have to grind it out."

Not sure the numbers bear that out:

By Kempom

Adjusted Offense this year we ranked: 49, last year we ranked 13

Adjusted Defense, this year we ranked 78, last year we ranked 45

To me, it just looks like last year we were a lot better. I am sure others can add their thougths

Schilling On Zone.

"The ability to change defense has helped our defense." Schilling personally became a big zone guy because it allowed him to focus on skill development in high school and pro training.

Schilling on Kevon Looney

Schilling talked about Kevon's improvement from 3 and how is learning to get shots. The sarcastic part of me wants to make a joke about how he is learning to get shots when there are no plays called for him.

On Defense he talks about how good Kevon Looney is in the 3-2. He also talked about Kevon learning to play zone for the first time. Kevon is the key to playing the 3-2 which was not an option last year.

On Tony Parker

Tony needs to get right mentally, adjust to the more aggressive double teams, and stop fouling. Schilling elaborates on how on the mental part defense especially that Tony has to get in post defense position early. He said the fouls were the problems.

Inside Out the Key to Offense

The inside out discussion is interesting as well. Schilling says, "Everybody shoots the ball better when you have an inside presence. You have guys closing add on you as opposed to draped on you. . . . Tony is a huge key."

Schilling gave a bit more substance in his comments than Steve usually does. And yes, I guess one could argue UCLA came off its best game defensively. It has not erased in my mind the debacle of Oregon where they shot 62%. Since Tony Parker missed that game, in the abstract it is fair to say that Tony Parker and Kevon Looney are a trade up on defense from the Wear twins. The more interesting person on defense may be Isaac. Isaac has some very good games and terrible games. Jordan Adams last year was a master of the steal, while Isaac has had some good games such as against Randle of Stanford.

But at the end of the day, if this is a better playing defense, it is certainly not as good as last year's team overall. And if this team is defense first, it is interesting that their worst defender leads them in minutes. Moreover, will Steve Alford realize the number one reason it is not as good on offense is the point guard position? Not saying Aaron Holiday is the next Kyle Anderson or even Larry Drew II but I hope he gets the chance to show his potential.

Go Bruins.