The media met with Head Coach Steve Alford after practice today, and immediately asked about preparing for conference play. There are only three games left until the team hits the road in Oregon, and Alford explained the importance of taking the next “120 minutes” and improving both defensively and offensively before they get a break. Tomorrow’s opponent, UC Santa Barbara, will present a 3-2 zone defense that UCLA has not had much contact with this season, and Ohio State will be another athletic Big 10 opponent they will meet up with in Las Vegas this weekend (road trip, anyone?). He’d like better transition defense and also better half court pressure on the ball.
Additionally, Alford praised the team for their high basketball IQ, and their ability to make in-game adjustments on the fly. He later says he is actually surprised they are able to do something like that so early in the season. He credits the eight men in the rotation with being winners that are selfless and have trust in one another.
On the injury front, today is supposed to be a big day for Thomas Welsh. He is progressing and questionable for tomorrow, and according to Alford, is more viable for the weekend. Prince Ali is still rehabbing, and the injury is taking longer to heal than anyone thought. He was practicing non-contact yesterday (and back to dunking), and is progressing and in no pain. This time next week there will more than likely be a conversation about the future, meaning discussing the possibility of redshirting.
In discussing last weekend’s game against Michigan, the media referenced comments made by the Wolverines that UCLA had to take “a lot of tough shots”. Alford said that maybe last year they were forced to take a lot of tough shots due to the lack of personnel, but that is no longer the case this year. He said he watched the tape and they were just taking good shots they make all the time.
Finally, Alford seems very happy with the evolution of the team thus far, and is happy how they are progressing offensively. At this point, they need to build on that defensively and continue to progress.
Here is the full video of Alford’s press conference:
And here is additional video of Bryce Alford: