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UCLA Men’s Basketball Presser: Bartow Has Some Baffling Favorites

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Interim UCLA basketball coach Murry Bartow apparently does not like “safe” players.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Oregon
Coach Maury BArtow’s favorite UCLA players on defense, Jules Bernard and Prince Ali
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

I have watched a lot of UCLA Bruins men’s basketball press conferences. Most of them are full of coach-speak and reading between the lines to get information. So, right off the top, let me give interim Coach Murry Bartow credit for being more forthright than most coaches.

But what the heck? Bartow loves the aggressive play of Jules Bernard and has bonded with Prince Ali, but he seemingly thinks David Singleton is too safe?!? I mean, I am used to coaches bragging about players and being over the top. That’s fine. But, criticizing a player for not making mistakes, are you kidding me?!?!

In the presser, Bartow explains how he loves Jules Bernard and how Bernard is his type of player.

I love Jules. . . . He’s just an incredibly spirited competitor. He is going to fight hard defensively, he’s going to make some shots. Does he make some mistakes? You know he likes to put his head down some and get to the rim and, every now and then. he makes some mistakes. . . . At timeouts, he is on the edge of his seat. . . . [That said] I love his aggressive nature. . .. Very much my kind of guy. The type of player I like to recruit.

While Bartow really likes Jules, he is not blind to his faults:

Sometimes, he gets kind of blinders on. Once he makes the decision to drive, he’s going. Three guys might converge on him and maybe there’s a guy open in the corner but he just gets his eyes set on the rim. . . . Some of it is basketball IQ. . . . A little bit of a feel thing he can gain some of that as he gains some experience at this level.

Some here like Markybcool might argue he is blind on Prince Ali.

He [Prince Ali] needs to play better. {But] Since I got here I have been calling him my guy. We hit it off. Great relationship. I have to see sudden improvement out of him. Played pretty well in PAC 12 . Unfortunately, he has not played as well the last five games. For him to get the same amount of minutes he’s got to play better.

Honestly, this was the last question, but it seemed like he really liked Ali and wanted to give Ali every chance. Five games is a significant portion of the Pac-12 schedule. It is really sad because there is, in my opinion, a great alternative to Prince Ali in David Singleton.

While he seemed very high on Jules Bernard, he seemed less so on Singleton saying his minutes depend on how Wilkes, Hands and Ali were playing. Now, I would argue, if that were true, he would be playing 30+ minutes over Prince Ali.

Bartow said of Singleton:

David, much more of a shooter [than Jules Bernard]. . . . Deadly shooter. . . . Thrown into tough role with Tyger’s injury. David is much more of a two but now he is become kind of a combo. . . . He is very smart.

Okay, so far, so good, but then, it gets into the surreal. David Singleton has seven turnovers in 419 minutes. For a guy handling the ball for as much as he does, that‘s phenomenal. Yet, Bartow seems to dislike Singleton’s style.

Very safe. . . . I want him to play with a little more reckless abandon. Very robotic at times. . . . Hardest worker on team. . . . Very solid defensively.

Okay, seriously, what the heck? I get it. You can’t have five “safe players” but, gee, a great defender and the best pure shooter on the team, which this team needs and you criticize him? I think he just gave a great reason why Singleton should start next to Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands.

A few more notes on Bartow’s interview:

Ben Bolch asked the big question. Did Athletic Director Dan Guerrero say try to win or work on player development. Bartow balked at answering: “I don’t remember specifically what Dan said.”

Here’s Bartow’s complete interview, courtesy of UCLA Athletics:

A few quick notes from the player interviews:

  • Kris Wilkes talked about how he was not surprised that David Singleton spent the night at Pauley.
  • Jules Bernard spoke about how David Singleton and him compliment each other.
  • David Singleton mentioned how Jules Bernard and him are friends and working together. He spent the night at Pauley working so hard that he feel asleep.

Here are the player interviews, also courtesy of UCLA Athletics:

Free David Singleton!