Dec. 19, 2002
FOXSports.com: Tell me a bit about the last game, the disappointing loss to Northern Arizona. What happened in the second half?
Jason Kapono: Yeah, it was a tough loss. Anytime you lose, it's tough to swallow, but especially against a team that you are "slated" or are kind of counting on to beat. We should have taken care of business. We let the little lead we did have at halftime slide. We just didn't come out with intensity and the level of play that we needed to build a larger lead, and they countered us. Northern Arizona played extremely well and we just didn't execute. We couldn't get stops. Their freshman point guard had four three-pointers during that critical stretch. One of the things we learned is that we have to be able to get stops. Not everyone is going to play at the up-tempo speed that we would like. We're going to have to settle down to do better in those nail-biter, half-court type of games. We're going to have to learn to execute better both offensively and defensively.
FOXSports.com: Now you have Kansas on Saturday, and they've struggled a bit so far this season as well. What do you expect from the Jayhawks?
Kapono: Well, first of all it's a very big game. It's a chance for us to get back on the winning track. Even though Kansas is a bit down, they are such a storied program, and they are always in the Top 10 or Top 5. They're a well-respected team. We know since we had the chance to play them last year (an 87-77 Bruin upset of then number-one ranked Kansas), we kind of know their strengths and what they like to do. Hopefully we can use that past knowledge and come out and avenge the loss we had at home last Tuesday (vs. NAU).
Kapono: Fey and Hollins are definitely making progress. They're getting used to playing college basketball, the daily grind of it and what not. It's tough ... you can't expect them to come in and play extremely well right away. It's always going to be tough for freshmen -- they're going to hit the wall. They're staying positive though and they're hanging with it. I don't think we should expect them to score 20 points and grab 10 boards every night just yet. As long as they get better and they can help us along the way, then they'll prove to be beneficial aspects to the team.
FOXSports.com: The team has gotten a few players back in the lineup recently (Sophomore power forward Andre Patterson and sophomore point guard Ryan Walcott.) Has it been easy getting those guys back "in the flow" and what do they bring that you guys might have been missing earlier in the year?
Kapono: Andre is a very active player, he plays very hard and gets a lot of blocked shots and boards. That's one thing that we've lacked -- a defensive presence that can crash the boards. He gets a lot of tips, and hustle points, and that's what we need. He's very active. Ryan is more like your jitterbug point guard, that can push and create offense for guys like me, who can shoot. They've gotten back into it pretty well, 'Dre has only missed three games, and Ryan only missed two. Hopefully everyone will stay on board for the rest of this journey.
FOXSports.com: What are some goals you set for yourself and for the team in this, your senior year for UCLA?
Kapono: I mainly just want to start WINNING. I really haven't felt like this in awhile. Seeing the way the team has started off, I've got to step my game up and be more of a leader. I've got to bring more to the table. Even though teams are going to key on me and try to take me out of the game, I'm going to have to persevere through that and find a way to help this team win. We've had enough growing pains in the early part of this year, so the sooner we get back on this winning track, hopefully that will cure all the ills we've felt so far.