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Quotes from UCLA head coach Steve Alford
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

on responding from Saturday’s 18-point loss at Washington State
“As a coach, I had to watch the tape. So, I just watched it, but you know what, in all due respect I don’t want to take anything away from Washington State. As I told the team after the game, I thought they [Washington State] played well, they played hard and they deserved to win that game. That was the frustrating thing from our end. But, sometimes that happens. In my 23-year career, I think every year there has been one CD that I’ll throw away, and that was the one. It just so happened that it ended up being the last regular season game. Just watching it live and then on tape, it wasn’t us. We did miss a lot of shots. But it just wasn’t us. It wasn’t our character as a team. I’m hoping that that’s just one of those one-game things because we have not played like that all year.”

on anything that he did not see live but noticed watching on tape
“I think, for one, we missed a lot of shots. I think that watching it live I thought we took some bad shots, but then watching the game on tape there were not a lot of bad shots. We just missed a lot of shots. And then they went on a run against us at the end of the first half. And like we have done a lot, we’ll come out of the second half and make a run. We cut it to four. But then they made another run at us, and we never responded. We have always been a team that responds. For whatever reason, we did not respond in this game. And was the thing that kind of came out of the tape. They went from six to eight to 10 to 12. We never did have our resolve to come back and be resilient like we have all year when we have gotten down.”

on splitting another road trip as UCLA inches closer to the NCAA Tournament
“Well, we went on this trip hoping that we could get two wins. I’m not totally sure, but you look at Arizona and another team managed to sweep a two-game deal. I thought it was difficult getting home wins, but it was very difficult to get road wins. We finished 5-4 on the road, which had we gotten all of our home games and gone 8-0, then you’ve got a chance to get a championship. I don’t think it was the road, we lost two home games – one to Arizona and one where we had a couple of guys out [versus Oregon] – if we had taken care of all the home games, then 5-4 would have been enough. It wasn’t like it was a disastrous road season, but we wish it could have been a little better. That is what it is. To be 5-4 in this league on the road, it is not the worst thing. I just wish we had had a two-game sweep so that we could go back to that. As a coach, now you look at something different. You know, that’s what I was hoping we could fall back to as we got into the tournament, but I don’t have that, so I’ve got to figure out what to go to next.”

on the urgency to win in the Pac-12 Tournament
“I think the guys are energized. I think our guys had two days away from things. It’s a long journey going through the Pac-12, the non-conference slate, the travel, all of that kind of stuff wears on you. This is the first year, and I’ve been in this for 23 years, this is the first year where we have started as early as we have. We are nearing 100 practices. I took Manchester to the Final Four of the Division III national title game and we didn’t have 100 practices. I’ve been to the Sweet 16 and have been to the postseason a lot, and we’ve never come close to 100 practices. To get to this number, you have to be careful. You have to make sure the guys are still mentally and physically very fresh and excited. I think they’re going to be. Because they know that we are one of those teams – and there a lot of those teams out – but there is a lot of parity, we are one of those teams that where if we get hot, we are going to be a tough out. Part of getting hot is being confident and being loose and having that discipline of doing the right things on both ends.”

on preparing for either Oregon or Oregon State on Thursday
“Well, the coaches have split. I’ve got coaches working on Oregon and Oregon State depending upon who their scouts were during the year. We get a live scout at 6 o’clock tomorrow. We’ve got all of our tape broken down and ready. You don’t get a lot of prep time. We are not going to really know until about 8 o’clock. And we want to get our guys down. So we will probably meet with the guys at probably around 10 o’clock. We’ll meet with our coaches before we present to the players and then we have the morning to go over some things as well. You only get about 25 or 30 minutes to shoot. And I’ve said this before, I’ve been in a lot of these tournaments. That first game in these quarterfinals always benefits the team that had the chance to play the night before because they’ve been in that environment. Now, as you move forward, the bye helps you. But I don’t think it’s an advantage having a bye going in the quarterfinal round because that team you are playing played the night before in that environment. So we will take the shootaround. It’s a fairly early shootaround, but we will get the guys up and get a shootaround in just so they have got 25 minutes to shoot in there.”

on not having to travel between games in the Pac-12 Tournament
“Well, we know where we are staying. That’s where everybody stays and we stay there. It’s a tournament where you don’t have to worry about the travel. We don’t need to worry about things, and we can just get everything done right there. That makes it nice. It’s March. Guys are finishing up. We knew we could not win a conference championship going into that last week. I thought we played really well at Washington. And then we just didn’t play well at Washington State. I think the guys are going to have a really good mindset going into the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. With that said, again, there are a lot of teams just like us, where the margin of error isn’t great. We’ve got to be who we are and we’ve got to play well. But if we are who we are and we play well, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

on managing distractions in Las Vegas
“When we went there earlier in the year, we were able to stay where we wanted, to stay off the strip and out of the casino and those types of things. So, I think that makes things a little bit easier. Now you are staying in an environment on the strip and you are in a casino and you have got 12 other teams there. Yeah, I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said that the distractions are not greater from that. And, it’s March. There is pressure. You are now in two tournaments – the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament where if you lose you will not get another chance. You’ve got to win to keep playing in this tournament this week and in the tournament the following week, we’ve got to keep winning to play in that. There is some finality to it if you don’t do the job now. Those can be distractions as well. That’s why we want to loosen the guys up a little bit and make sure that they’re enjoying this time. Sometimes you get so wrapped up that it becomes a little bit of a grind. I want the guys to enjoy this.”

on UCLA’s new adidas jerseys for the Pac-12 Tournament
“I like them. We looked at them before the season. I didn’t have much time, because it was right after I got hired. But it’s something that adidas likes to do with the Pac-12 Tournament. It’s something that’s different and new. We’ve got new home uniforms and road uniforms. Hopefully we will be in white the whole time. We’ve got both sets of uniforms that are different. But again, it’s March. Hopefully this gives our guys that extra [motivation] – these are new shoes, these are new uniforms, it’s not like what we have been wearing that last month or two. Hopefully this builds into the energy that we are trying to bring.”

on UCLA struggling when Jordan Adams has trouble scoring
“We have lost eight games, and in those eight games Jordan has been a factor. We knew going in, and he has proven over the year how big a key he is. It’s not always with scoring, but he is our shooting guard, he is our scoring guard. We’ve got to do a better job as a team and as coaches to make sure that we are screening and cutting and getting things set up for him to get some easy baskets. He’s getting some tough assignments now. But then it helps that our bench has been good and consistent all year. That helps relieve a little pressure. Kyle’s numbers are up and Norman’s numbers are up, so that has helped ease some of the pressures. We are obviously a much better and different team when Jordan has been clicking.”

 


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