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UCLA Men’s Basketball Weekly Presser: Moving on From the Stanford Loss

While the Bruins pretty much destroyed UC Berkeley on Saturday, it’s apparent the Stanford loss is still hanging in the air.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at UCLA Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Without actually mentioning the “China Three,” which I guess is now the “China Two”, the media began asking about the changing roles of Gyorgy Goloman and Alex Olesinski while they are covering for two individuals who are going to be out for the year, especially now that they’re getting into league play. G.G. is a fourth year and Alex is shaking off the cobwebs from redshirting last year and both guys are becoming leaders along with Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday. They’re settling in and, consequently, getting more playing time.

Stanford’s win against Southern Cal didn’t necessarily reassure Alford that our loss against the Cardinal was any less disappointing—they’re getting healthy and we always knew they were a good team. Alford actually admitted that we just couldn’t finish the game. Well, yeah.

While it’s still early, Colorado had two upset wins last week, and the media wanted to know if Alford thought the Pac 12 was more wide open than people thought. He brought up the fact that there were multiple losses in the Top 20 and it’s hard to win in college basketball right now, especially if you’ve got injuries. We look healthy right now, but we have two viable opponents coming to town this week that we can’t take lightly.

Speaking of opponents, graduate transfer Justin Bibbins is going to be a key for Utah if they want to beat us next week. He’s not a big guy by any stretch of the imagination. He’s just 5’8” and 150 pounds, but he has put up anywhere from 14 to 25 points in a game this year and is an absolutely outstanding free throw shooter (this will kill us—we can’t keep up with a guy like this is we don’t figure out how to shoot from the line). Sedrick Barefield is another Ute guard that can shoot well and also transferred to Utah this year. Utah is very sound on defense and run multiple schemes offensively, so Alford made it a point to say that we will need to be on our game this week if we want the win.

In my opinion, we need to worry about free throws and finishing games. It’s clear that we’ve shown sparks of excellence, but a basketball game is 40 full minutes. And as Stanford proved, if you can’t finish, you can’t win.

The subject of Stanford was brought up again and Alford didn’t seem to want to discuss that game a whole lot. He said there was nothing wrong mechanically or endurance-wise. We just couldn’t make foul shots. Not sure I’d agree—there’s got to be something wrong if we can’t consistently shoot from the line. But I digress.

Jaylen Hands is a quick player and can break down defenses, but he needs to be able to move on from the high school game. He’s doing a better job of setting up shots and learning what the half court game is all about, and all three freshmen are learning from their mistakes so they can be a key part of UCLA’s success moving forward.

Aaron Holiday is no doubt a hard worker, and has moved from the sixth man position to being more of a leader. He actually spent part of the summer working out with his brothers, and while he has always had skills, he is growing as a leader. A growth mindset and looking at the game differently have had an extremely positive effect on his place on this year’s team.

Here is the full video, courtesy of UCLA Athletics:

And here is Aaron Holiday, Thomas Welsh, and Prince Ali, from UCLA Athletics:

Go Bruins!