By Ivan Santana, UCLA Sports Information Writer
Taking on the UCLA Basketball legacy is no small task, but freshman Kevin Love has embraced the Bruin tradition and all the expectations that come with it. After leading the Bruins to their first win of the season, the highly anticipated center proves that he knows what it will take to be remembered with the Bruin greats.
Question: How has the transition from high school hoops to Division I basketball been?
Kevin Love: I have always pushed myself in high school to play bigger and better players [in summer tournaments], so I'm a bit more prepared for the physical nature than most others. I would definitely say the speed and defense of the college game are the biggest adjustments I'm making. The reason I came to UCLA was to work on playing defense. Coach Howland is the best teacher of defense in the nation. There are different rules from high school to college that I need to pick up on. There are a lot of big things like hedging on screens and little things that I'm learning. It has been a tough transition but I'm improving everyday in practice.
Q: Coach Howland has been known to conduct very effective practices. What have you learned from the first few weeks of practice?
Love: I learned that if you can survive Coach Howland's practice you can survive anything. If you can survive going up against Alfred [Aboya] and Lorenzo [Mata-Real] then you can survive anyone. Coach is very intense and 100% focused the whole practice. It is a serious practice; I think he runs the best show in America.
Q: A lot has been made about the influences from past NBA greats on your game. Your dad, Stan Love, played at the University of Oregon and in the NBA. What have you learned from your dad and his era of basketball?
Love: I've learned how to take an old school approach to the game. I used to watch all those guys growing up and couldn't get enough of the old school super star tapes. Their skill oriented approach is just something I have intertwined into my game. It's kind of a coincidence that my middle name is Wesley after Wes Unseld. Their style is something that I try to show in my game along with the new school stuff that I have.
Q: There have been plenty of pre-season magazines and analysts chiming in on the expectations for the Bruins this year. What are your personal and team goals for the upcoming basketball season?
Love: As long as the team comes first and we keep winning games and we try to win the Pac-10 and we get to San Antonio and win a national championship, then the individual stuff will come. Individually, I would like to do the best that I can and help my team as much as possible. I can't really pinpoint anything I want to do; I really just want to be help my team win.
Q: The Pac-10 is undoubtedly the strongest conference in the entire nation this year. Who are you looking forward to playing in the conference season?
Love: I am excited to play everyone in the Pac-10. A lot of teams are going to be great.
I will say that I am really looking forward to going up against the USC Trojans. The UCLA-USC rivalry is always huge.
I can't wait to go up against the Lopez twins at Stanford or the duo of Devon Hardin and Ryan Anderson up at California. There are so many good big men and so many tough teams in the whole Pac-10 that I am looking forward to playing against all of them.
Q: What teams are you excited to match up against in the NCAA tournament?
Love: I hope the best teams make it to the Final Four so we can really see who the best team is at the end of the year.
Q: What was the highlight of your first collegiate game? [The Bruins defeated Portland St. at Pauley Pavilion, 69-48. Love registered 22 points and 13 rebounds in the winning effort.]
Love: I'd say just getting that first win out of the way because that's when it all counts. I'm a team player but I felt I had a good showing as an individual. I've got to give all the credit to my teammates and my coaches.
Q: UCLA basketball has a chance to have a historic season this year and even you aren't sure how long your career as a Bruin will be. What impression do you hope to leave for the fans from day one?
Love: I'm not here for records. I'm here to help my teammates the best I can. I hope people see that I embraced the UCLA tradition and hopefully that will lead us to win a national championship so we can bring home #12 [national championship] for UCLA basketball.