Men’s basketball coach Steve Alford gave his weekly press conference yesterday at Pauley Pavilion. We all knew it was coming and the Bruins were handed their first loss of the season in a battle to the end in Eugene last week. Frankly, I’m glad our first loss wasn’t to Clown College or in the first round of the tournament. Our weaknesses on defense were definitely highlighted, but Steve Alford said they were happy to bounce back against Oregon State and come home with a win.
Oregon State kept the game at a slower tempo and Alford admitted it was not a good shooting game for the Bruins, but the team is learning to trust each other more on defense. He said the guys are getting used to communicating more and gave the example of the pick and roll, which involves multiple people in one defensive scheme. Unfortunately, the increased trust on defense has led to a slippage in board play and UCLA is about to face an opponent that is really good at defending the backboard and it is a large part of what they do.
The media asked Alford about Isaac Hamilton’s recent slump and what they are doing to help him through it. Isaac is apparently a very meticulous and organized individual (down to towel folding) and the coaches are just trying to get him to relax. He and Bryce both do not have the same pressure as last year where they were required to score and score big every night. Alford considers is a positive that Isaac can have an off night and the team can still come home with a win. At this point, the goal is just to get Isaac to settle down and relax while on the court.
With regards to the upcoming game against Cal, the media brought up sophomore forward Ivan Rabb and the match up with T.J Leaf. Alford said he feels Rabb is as good as any other big man they’ve faced and that he will match up well with Leaf. He also noted that Cal has strength in their senior guards Jabari Bird and Sam Singer. Fifth year guard Grant Mullins also transferred in and replaced Jaylen Brown who is now playing for the Boston Celtics, so Cal is not exactly hurting in the talent department. They are a physical team and play well defensively, so it will be up to the Bruins to keep the game at a faster tempo and be efficient in half court play.
There are still two nagging injuries on the UCLA roster, that of Prince Ali and Alex Olesinski. Alford feels that an announcement will be made as to whether or not Prince Ali will redshirt by this weekend and, even though, he selfishly would like to keep him on the roster for later in the season, he ultimately wants to be fair to his players. As far as Alex goes, he may be available to play this week, but his status is still up in the air and he is leaving the options open for both individuals.
Here is the full video of Steve Alford, courtesy of UCLA Athletics:
And here is Bryce Alford, Lonzo Ball, and Isaac Hamilton, courtesy of UCLA Athletics:
That’s a wrap for this weeks press conference.