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UCLA Men’s Basketball Weekly Press Conference: Just Who’s Running the UCLA Basketball Team?

UCLA head coach Steve Alford has no control over his team on the court.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t even know where to start with this week’s press conference. Either Alford is just being brutally honest or he’s a complete idiot.

Or maybe it’s both.

After getting embarrassed by Colorado 68-59, fans are really starting to wonder what the heck is going on with this basketball program. It’s becoming obvious that last year’s talented players were covering up mediocre coaching and that Steve Alford isn’t the man for the job.

The media started right in with asking why Thomas Welsh went 9-10, then didn’t take any shots in the last five minutes of the game. Alford responded,

“I don’t have that front of me, but if that is true, we obviously want him getting more shots...I don’t know what you want me to say.”

How about something along the lines of, “I was aware that happened and we’re working with Tom so he can be set up to make shots in crucial stretches of the game” or even, “That was definitely a breakdown in our offense”. My favorite part is that he actually seemed unaware.

He went on to say, “I don’t get him shots. It’s not me getting him shots. They don’t let me come out here [on the basketball court]. That’s somebody we always want to play through more and we’ve said that, and Tom’s been very efficient for us.”

But the bottom line is that this begs the question. Steve Alford still has the title of Head Basketball Coach at UCLA. He has the ability to call a timeout and tell the guys who are on the floor to get the ball to Welsh. If he can’t get Welsh more shots, who exactly is in charge of UCLA Basketball?

UCLA closed the gap to four at the end before the offense fell apart in the final stretch. Alford was asked if that made the difference in the outcome of the game. He disagreed that Welsh’s lack of shooting was the difference maker.

His explanation was, “the ball game was our first half was so bad”. Really? UCLA overcame the bad first half to cut the Buffaloes’ lead to four and he’s going to blame the loss on the first half? Well, that makes sense if you’re trying to make Alford’s lack of control a non-issue, I guess.

He goes on to talk about good defense and then starts making excuses for why the offense broke down and, frankly, some of it went in one ear and out the other. I can’t listen to that much coachspeak in one sitting.

The media asked about “teachable moments” and, in a roundabout way, asked Alford if he’s a fan of yanking guys when they start blowing it. He sugarcoated it and just said he’d sub guys and use the bench as a motivator, but there were really only eight guys available due to illness and injury. He wouldn’t go into details, but, apparently, Ikenna Okwarabizie is injured and unlikely to make the trip to the Oregon schools this weekend.

There is a father-son connection at Oregon State with Stephen Thompson Jr. on the roster and Stephen Thompson as an assistant coach. They asked Alford if he misses Bryce and he said he misses Bryce everyday. We miss his free throws, too.

Here is the full press conference, courtesy of UCLA Athletics:

And here is the players’ media interview, from UCLA Athletics: