UCLA interim basketball coach Murry Bartow held his weekly press conference today amid the Bruins’ two-game losing streak. He said the team is “working hard” and “the energy’s good.” While they’re coming off two losses, they are moving forward in good spirits.
When asked about a fall off in back court trapping and whether this was intentional or just the way things played out in their games, Bartow said, “It’s kind of the way things played out a little bit, but we still want to press a good bit...trap a good bit in the backcourt. So, I think you’ll see more of that this week.”
Southern Cal was stripping the ball left and right in the first half last weekend, making Bruin offensive play look sloppy and outmatched. According to Bartow, the Pac-12 is moving to more zone play and the “percentages have dramatically gone up” of teams that solely utilize zone play.
When Bartow was asked about what was needed to make the offense more efficient, he first asked how much time he had to answer the question, which shows just how far UCLA has to go in this category. “We’ve got to pass it better. We’ve got to catch it better. We’ve got to turn it over less,” Bartow said. He continued:
One thing to score more points, we have to shoot free throws better. One thing to score more points, we have to turn it over less. One thing to score more points, we’re taking some contested threes so that’s been a problem. We need to get the ball into the paint more. Not necessarily to pound it into the paint to score, but just get your offense triggered by going into the paint and kind of playing from there. So, I think there’s four or five things if I could just tell you one, I would tell you we have to turn it over less, which that encompasses a lot of different things, but we can’t turn the ball over 20 times on the road and expect to win just you just can’t do it.
When asked about the addition of Chris Smith to the recent starting lineup, Bartow explained, “I think he’s versatile. I think he’s athletic. I think he can play multiple positions. Don’t know if he’ll start or not start in this upcoming game. And, I think he’s a more perimeter player than he is an inside guy. We’ve had him some at the four and some at the perimeter. I think he’s more comfortable on the perimeter. So, we may see him there a little bit more in the upcoming games.” Bartow also stated that Jalen Hill or Cody Riley would be viable options for that position.
On the flip side, the media also asked about the declining playing time of David Singleton, and whether or not that had to do with the flow of the game. “I’m a huge fan of David’s. He’s the best shooter on our team without question,” Bartow said. “He’s a guy that’s very much on our mind. We love him as a player. He’s a phenomenal young guy and I think he’ll play a good number of minutes in the next two games.”
The Arizona State Sun Devils are the Bruins’ next opponent and they had another great non-conference season with success that has carried over into conference play. Bartow specifically cited ASU’s game against Oregon. “They are really talented. The thing that really jumped out at me [is] they’ve got really good players and Bobby [Hurley] does a great job coaching their team but then they’re incredibly athletic,” he said. “It’ll be a hard game.” It sounds like ASU likes to run all over the court and the UCLA Bruins better come up with a game plan to stop them. A couple dozen turnovers definitely isn’t going to do it.
When asked about Moses Brown and his lackluster play during Saturday’s game, Bartow admitted that it wasn’t exactly anyone’s shining moment. However, he had nothing but good things to say about Brown. “He loves to play and he loves to learn,” Bartow said. “He’s fun to coach because you can get on him. You can demand a lot out of him. He’s just a willing student of the game. He loves to watch tape and, so, he’s just getting better and better, but he’s still young. He’s still young. He’s a freshman, but he’s getting better and better.” He concluded, “I’ll be really surprised if he doesn’t play really well at home this week.” Let’s hope that positivity makes its way onto the court and UCLA can get a win on Thursday.
Here is Bartow’s entire interview, with thanks to Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online:
And here are Prince Ali, Jaylen Hands, and Jules Bernard, courtesy of UCLA Athletics: