UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford
December 16, 2013
on the upcoming matchup against Duke
"There's always a little extra when you are playing at Madison Square Garden and you get a matchup like UCLA and Duke. I hope that we prepare and get ready for every game the same way so that guys get consistence in hwo we approach things. With that said, it’s over the holidays and this is a game that we scheduled so we are excited about this game. It gives us about as good of a measuring stick as we could get. We have had Missouri, our first road test, and now a top 10 or 15 team in the country. It gives us two really good litmus tests of really where we are before we go into conference play in about two weeks.
on his view of Duke had coach Mike Krzyzewski
“One of great respect. He played for Coach Knight, so I’ve got great respect for him, from his heritage. And then as a coach, as somebody who has been at one place – I’ve been in this business for a long time, and to stay at one place is not easy. To have the consistency and success over decades that he has had, graduating his players and doing it the right way. He’s one of those guys that I follow from afar. I’ve watched not just a lot of films that he’s made, but an awful lot of game tape over the last 15 years of the Duke way of doing things. There is great respect on my end of how he goes about running his program.
on the process involved in lining up this game
“I can’t remember who the exact contact was. But we were contacted, and Duke’s name was brought up with a possible neutral game in New York City that was very appealing. Obviously, it’s a long way for us. It’s a great distance for us to cover here. But to be able to play Duke in a neutral building and to get our guys in Madison Square Garden to take somebody like Kyle [Anderson] back closer to home is always big in recruiting, when you’re recruiting nationally to get guys back closer to their homes. So it’s just a great game and a game that was already needed for our schedule that was already done. We felt like we needed a game like that.”
on Duke freshman Jabari Parker
“He’s been tremendous, obviously, for a freshman to be putting up the numbers that he is putting up. It speaks volumes. There are not a lot of freshmen doing that. He’s very skilled. He can beat you in transition. He can beat you in the low post. He can shoot the three. He can beat you in just a variety of ways.”
on how UCLA plans to defend Jabari Parker
“We are still going through that. There will be multiple guys defending him at the same time. But, it’s not like you can send two or three guys at him. You’ve got guys like [Rodney] Hood and [Quinn] Cook and a variety of other guys. They are making eight threes a game. They do a very good job. I think Coach Krzyzewski over the years has done a masterful job of understanding spacing. I’ve always thought, in my background, that the most important part of offense was spacing. Duke has as good of spacing as anybody that we’re going to play all year long. So, with that you have to guard more wood. When you guard more wood there is a lot more room for mistakes. That’s why our young defensive team is going to be put to a great maturity test with how far we have come in the last 10 games.”
on Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
“He has been very consistent. There have been subtle changes to where he knows what he believes in. Off the floor and on the floor, offense and defense, and he has stayed true to those things and he has recruited that way. Once he started to have success, he got some of the best players in the country. He has consistently over time put his mark on the program, and they have consistently been winning and that is not easy at this level.”
on the program that Coach Alford intends to build at UCLA
“We are 10 games in and barely months into what we are trying to put into place. I will say, I am ecstatic with what our guys are doing. They are listening. They are teachable and coachable. They have been tremendous on the court, off the court, done a tremendous job in the classroom. But we are young. We are taking small steps in the right direction. What we are trying to instill in our young men right now is to develop habits. We are in that period of the year, one third of the way done, a third of the way through our season. You are going to develop habits now that are going to be good or bad. You are not going to be able to turn on a switch. Over the next two weeks, we have to develop habits so that once we get into conference play we don’t have an ebb and flow of inconsistency. We know who we are. We know our identity, and we have created very good habits at both ends of the floor."
on UCLA guard Kyle Anderson
“I think there were a lot of questions at the beginning of the season, and we are only 10 games into it. Offensively, we are top 10 in just about every category offensively, we are averaging about 90 points a game and shooting the ball at a high level. But, I think the biggest not so much surprise but something I’m most pleased with is how we are valuing the ball. We are averaging 19 assists to 10 turnovers. There aren’t a lot of teams in the country doing that. We are going to get a big test this week [with] Duke’s pressure defense. It gives us a different defense to attack but we have a lot of guys. Kyle, his assist to turnover ratio is 8 to 2. Bryce [Alford] coming off the bench is like 3.5 to one. We are really doing a good job valuing the ball, and that always starts with the guy who has initiated your offense and Kyle’s had a lot to do with that."
on possibly bringing guard Zach LaVine into UCLA’s starting lineup
"Unless I’m going to go really small, Kyle is going to start, Norman is going to start and Jordan is going to start. Those three guards are terrific. Zach has gotten off to a tremendous start in his freshman year. But Norman is playing extremely well, Jordan is our leading scorer and Kyle is our catalyst in running the how. I’m not really ready to go to a small four guard lineup. I like our pace and I like our rhythm. I really want to see our team mature defensively right now."
on UCLA guard Kyle Anderson’s versatility
“He’s very versatile and we still play him at the small forward spot or big guard spot when we go to four guards and we sub. He immediately goes to a big guard when we have Bryce and Zach. We knew from day one that we wanted to put him at the point guard position. It gives us something very few people in the country have and that’s somebody who is 6-9. You are preparing for a 6-9 point guard. Now you may think you can get up in him, but you have to prepare for somebody who is 6-9. We can post him. We can do an awful lot out of him. We can see over people. He thinks pass first. We have wanted him in that position since day one. Through 10 games, he has done an outstanding job proving that he can play that."
on playing at New York’s Madison Square Garden
“Well, it’s not New Castle Chrysler Fieldhouse, but it’s one of those special places that I grew up watching. Sunday afternoons, you come home from church and I can remember sitting with my family watching the NBA games. At that time, way back when we wore short shorts, TV coverage was a little different. There was one game a week. And that was on Sundays. You could almost bet every other week that the premier game was going to be at the Garden. As a youngster, you grew up understanding what the Garden was all about. I was very fortunate to have played UCLA in the Garden. Reggie Miller’s team beat us in the championship my sophomore year in the NIT Finals. So I got a chance to play in Madison Square Garden. And then a few years later I had the chance to play in Madison Square Garden in the league for four years. It’s just a very special place because of the players and coaches and the tradition that’s gone through that building. It’s nice to know that there is enough tradition in our country in basketball to where you still have buildings like that where you still have basketball being played in them because it’s such a special place.”
on UCLA guard Kyle Anderson’s ability to hit the three-pointer
“Kyle’s next step, growth when it came to his offense, was the ability to make shots. He didn’t really have a hitch, but it was a very slow release. He’s done a very good job at working on that so that it’s a one-piece release. Once he starts it, he goes with it. He’s got the elbow lift. It’s hard to block his shot or get to his shot. We have tried to get with him to not lean back on things. He’s shooting the ball at a really high level right now. That’s going to make our offense roll because if you have to worry about Kyle Anderson at the three-point arc, you are going to have a lot of concerns. He does so many good things inside the arc. [His shot] It’s all one motion. I think looking at him preseason, it had a little bit of a hitch to it and now it’s all free flowing. He’s got a lot of confidence right now. He feels good about it, because it’s all one smooth happening. I think that he’s got that right now.”
on what he would like to see from the game against Duke
“We have to mature defensively. The habits that we have to form and work on are on the defensive end. We have to become tougher-minded. We have to be concerned about getting more stops. We took some steps forward with Prairie View. We had 30 really good minutes defensively and then 10 where we kind of went through motions. We can’t do that. We still have work to do. We saw progression from Missouri to Prairie View, just attention to that defensive end. If we can do that against a team like Duke, then that is going to really help us in January and February.”