Interim UCLA Bruins men’s basketball head coach Murry Bartow began his weekly presser yesterday stating that “Our guys are excited. We had tough last week finishing up the regular season but it’s kind of a new year starting now.” With the Pac-12 Tournament starting today, the question is: “Which team will show up?” Will it be the team that beat Oregon in overtime or the team that lost to Liberty by a mile? They will begin the tournament playing Stanford tonight, so anything can happen.
According to Bartow, they’ve got to “figure out a way to win that one game and how to survive...advance...get to the next round”. Sounds optimistic. He even said if they made it to the end, they’d probably be tired, but adrenaline would keep them going. This really doesn’t bode well for the big dance if they somehow pulled off a tournament win.
Coming out of the gate strong in each game will be essential, as this team has started off weak and found themselves way behind just a few minutes into regulation. While they’ve tried different defenses, nothing seems to work. Bartow doesn’t seem to know what the problem is. “Early in games at times, we have not made good plays. Maybe our focus is a little bit off. Our concentration is a little bit off....We’ve been distracted a little bit....” He praised the second half effort of David Singleton, Jules Bernard, Kris Wilkes, Alex Olesinski, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley against Utah, saying that it was probably the best effort he’s seen all year. But, clearly at that point, it just wasn’t enough.
Bartow also alluded to the fact that, while the team has had more success playing zone, there is more energy and accountability when they play man-to-man. In the end, he says we’ll see a mix of both.
It was confirmed that Moses Brown will play despite a sore achilles tendon and he will start tomorrow night. Prince Ali is still out. He practiced on Monday but, based on the situation, he will not play in the tournament.
Here is the full video of Coach Bartow as well as player interviews with Jules Bernard, Jalen Hill, and Jaylen Hands. Thanks to Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online for sharing the video of Coach Bartow and thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News for sharing the player videos.