UCLA Bruins interim basketball coach Murry Bartow met with the media today and, while the loss at Oregon State was disappointing, there has been a lot about Bruin basketball that could at least give fans a sense of hope.
Bartow opened by saying, “I like a lot of the things we’ve done over the last couple of weeks. We played really well against Stanford, I thought we played really well against Cal.”
As far as Sunday night’s game against Oregon State, he said, “We did a lot of great things against Oregon State. We were leading the game with about 11 minutes to play. We just didn’t finish it the way we wanted to, but our guys are still excited.”
When asked about the team’s focus after the loss in Corvallis, Bartow offered, “Play with speed, play with pace. I thought offensively we’ve been stagnant at times. so we’ve really tried to stress ball movement and zipping the ball around and . playing with a little bit better pace. I thought Oregon State’s defense had a lot to do with that, but I just didn’t think we had the kind of a pace that we wanted to have. So, better player movement, better ball movement and, hopefully, we can try to get cleaner shots....” To me, this sounds a lot like a coach taking at least some ownership for what’s happening on the court.
The media also questioned Bartow’s decision to sit Kris Wilkes the last four minutes of the first half, which led to Wilkes’ four assists in the second half, hinting at a more “team-oriented” approach. “I love him as a player,” Bartow responded. “He’s a great kid and a hard worker. I think that the biggest thing with Chris is he can really score and I call him a bucket getter. He can really go get you baskets. The big thing, right now, that we’re trying to sell him to is that we want him to score. We want him to shoot it a lot, but he’s got to be efficient in his shots. We’ve got to make sure that he’s getting good looks. I think I can do a better job helping him run some things maybe more specifically to him....We can do a better job of running him off screens and getting him better looks. We want him to take a lot of shots. He’s just got to be more efficient”. So the coach is taking responsibility for coaching. That’s refreshing and it actually sounds like a guy that could do something with these kids.
This week’s game against the Southern Cal Trojans is on Saturday at the Galen Center and anything can happen. “They’re really talented,” Bartow said. “Their inside game is good.” Bartow mentioned that Southern Cal plays a mix of man and zone defensively and they can mix it up on offense and he specifically called out Bennie Boatwright as a player that could “easily go for 30.” Freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. is listed by Southern Cal as questionable, but the Bruins are preparing to face him if he returns.
Here is the entire interview, courtesy of Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online:
And here are all of today’s player interviews, courtesy of UCLA Athletics. Moses Brown, Jalen Hill, and Kris Wilkes are each interviewed.