Exclusive Interview: Steve Alford

The new UCLA Head Coach talks to Bruin Report Online exclusively in-depth about his transition to UCLA, the program, the team, his new staff and recruiting...

---******---

For Mac users, if the link doesn't work, click on the link and the Scout.com video player window will appear. Right click on the link "Don't hear audio? Click here to download", and use the option "Save Link As..." Save the audio file to your hard drive and then access the file by playing it with QuickTime Player.




To download the file directly onto your hard drive, click here.

To view in Youtube:




Transcript

Q: okay, here we are with Coach Steve Alford. So Coach, you're sitting in your office and as we're saying, you got a lot of things in boxes here. Still unpacking a bit.

SA: well, I haven't been around. I've spent very little time, you know, actually in Westwood just because of all the travel with recruiting. Being hired right before the Final Four, going to the Final Four, and then recruiting starting right after that. We've been to a lot of cities, a lot of gyms and those types of things and so I've spent not as much time here. It's been a good start because we've allowed Coach [Ed Schilling - Assistant Coach] to try to get things going with our guys here with workouts and those type of things. But I've been on the road a lot. So now, May is getting closer so once the quiet period hits, then I'll be able to organize my office a little bit more.

Q: right, so you said this week, you put in a lot of miles, right?

SA: yeah.

Q: traveling all around. In various cities?

SA: yeah, a lot of different airports. A lot of different gyms. Just trying, as you know, and I'm glad that the NCAA is changing that rule to where four guys can go out. I think actually it gets implemented in July is what I'm understanding so if that's the case, it's a great rule because… we're glad to get April back as a coaching staff because they kind of took that away from us and now it's back. But having three guys out trying to cover multiple events is really hard so you end up going… each coach is going to multiple events so it's hard just to stay at one event and evaluate student-athletes for three days. You kind of have to make your evals a little bit quicker and then move on to the next.

Q: right. Do you think that benefits the elite/high major schools to be able to send out four?

SA: [audio difficulties] obviously, that's a good argument. You know, I know at UNM [University of New Mexico], we'd still have four out so… yeah, I guess budget does come into play. I will say, though, with four guys out, you're not on as many planes, you're not changing hotels and cities and that kind of thing. So once you have four out, then you can basically say, "This guy goes here and stays. This guy goes here and stays." So it's a little bit better versus, you know, one coach getting on three planes. That can get costly as well.

Q: right. So are you doing commercial or are you getting a little help there with some private plane action?

SA: no, we've done all commercial at this point. I think there's going to be a time, you know, if that comes into play of hitting different people and different… you know, whether we get in the fall or we get back in the home visits, we're really able to do everything that we need to do from a visits standpoint, commercial and those type of things, but there definitely could be a need for that in the future.

Q: so, let's rewind just a little… about the hire. The whole process of the hire. It seemed a little bit of a whirlwind hire. I mean, how fast did they come… did UCLA contact you… how much ahead of time were you contacted before they actually hired you and how did that all hit you?

SA: I don't remember the time right now, but it all happened very quickly. Decisions had to be made very quickly, you know, on my end. But I think once it was UCLA and I started looking in UCLA and the opportunities and not just for… not just for my career, but the children, the family, being 48 years old, being in this thing 26 years… or 22 years already. 23 years…

Q: you gave yourself four more years.

SA: yeah, it seems like that probably. But, 22-23 years already in this business as a head coach… to have one of the premier jobs in the country, you don't need a lot. You don't need a lot of time to ponder those things. The hard part was, obviously, leaving UNM, leaving that team. A place that we had built. A place that we were ecstatic about. Very happy with. Six incredible years there. We were averaging 26, 27 wins. We're winning championships every year. We're getting in postseason every year. So we did a lot in six years. So that was the hard part, trying to figure out leaving there because we were so happy there.

Q: from when they formally offered you, how long did it take you before you accepted?

SA: that was within a 24-hour period. So, from the offer to making the decision, it was probably a 24-, maybe 48-hour, but somewhere between 24 and 48-hour period.

Q: you get much sleep during that time? I mean…

SA: I haven't had much sleep since that time, you know. At UNM, we had everybody coming back. I thought it was going to be a very calm spring. We had our recruiting done. You know, so now, you take a new job and a big job like this. You've got to… You've got to be introduced to your new team. So they've got to get to know you and your staff very quickly. Had to hire a staff. Duane Broussard [Assistant Coach] was the only guy I brought from my previous staff because Coach [Craig Neal - Head Coach] got the job there and the rest of the guys were able to stay on there at UNM. So that's been a big positive is that my entire staff has jobs. I'm always fearful that when you change jobs, you know, making sure your staff is taken care of. So getting them taken care of was a big part of my first 48 hours of being hired here. And then you have a new team that you're trying to get introduced to. Hire a staff and get them introduced to your team. Then you have recruits that the old staff have signed in the fall. That you're trying to reach out and make contacts with them. And then you've got to evaluate your team and see what your immediate needs are, plus your future needs. So there's been an awful lot to do in about a 3, 4 week period. So I didn't get a lot of sleep, period. I'm hoping May will be a little bit better.

Q: so, with the contract that you signed at New Mexico… I mean, the details I'm not certain about, but it was back-dated… or dated ahead… was that done intentionally on your part because you thought you might want to keep options open?

SA: no. No. I knew nothing about the UCLA situation happening so I think basically it was… it was more… I don't know if it was a mutual agreement or what or UNM just does it that way, but what was it? April 1? I think it was… the term sheet was April 1, I believe.

Q: so, now you have… New Mexico is considered the west, pretty much.

SA: exactly.

Q: I mean, it's a different environment out here, literally on the West coast. With your background being in the Midwest and from New Mexico, coming to this region, do you feel that you know it well? Do you think there's, you know, a "learning curve" of getting to know the area, the region, the recruiting, the whole thing?

SA: well, I think wherever you go, regardless of where you're from, you're going to have that learning curve of getting to know everybody, but we've recruited the West coast very hard. Most of the success that we've had at UNM have become… we got really… we got the top New Mexico kid… and then we really hit Texas and California hard. In particular, the last three years in California, and in particular, the Inland Empire area, Southern California, we've gotten a lot of players out of so we've been able to make and create some contacts with a lot of different programs even been from UNM. So, you know, it is a new area and we're going to meet new people, new coaches and that type of thing, but we've been in long enough that we've developed a lot of connections and ties.

Q: now you talked about the transition of getting to know the current players on the roster. How has that gone and how… I know you've been busy out recruiting but, with the workouts, and Coach Schilling has been doing a lot of workouts, but you've gotten to know them… tell us a little bit about getting to know …

SA: well, they've been tremendous. I've been very impressed just with who they are as people, and that's, first and foremost, the most important thing to us. We want to coach good people and, you know, individuals that are trying to get better as students, trying to get better as players. Have their same ambitions and goals that we have in mind. And I've been very impressed. We don't have a lot of them. There's not a lot of them right now because we need these new recruits to get on campus here in the summer. But the guys that are back from last year's team have been tremendous, and that's not easy. You know, I think sometimes, we just think that that's part of college basketball, but that's not an easy transition just as it's… I hope that the transition for the UNM players have gone pretty well because basically my entire staff is still intact there. So that transition hasn't been as difficult for them. But for the UCLA players, it is. It's a different transition. It's an entire different coaching staff and they have welcomed us. And they've done a great job of continuing to do what they are expected to do. They're going to class. Everybody's grades… They're doing the things that they need to be doing academically and the times that we've been on the floor with them, they've really responded well to… obviously every coach is going to have a different way of teaching things and they've really responded well.

Q: Tony Parker at this point, publically is still up in the air about whether he's returning. What's his status? Have you talked with him for next season?

SA: oh, yeah. Everything that I'm hearing, Tony's been fine. Tony's been tremendous with us so we haven't heard anything as far as anybody else. Obviously, Allerik [Freeman], a new recruit… But we haven't heard anything from anybody else. Everybody seems to be rock solid.

Q: so… to your impression is… Tony is returning next season?

SA: yes.

Q: okay.

SA: yes.

Q: so if you get everyone who's committed, you'll have nine scholarship players, I think, next year.

SA: correct. I've lost count. Yeah, I think that's correct.

Q: yeah, I think it's nine.

SA: I think that's correct.

Q: have you ever managed a team with just nine? And what do you do with something like that? Does it change how you coach?

SA: I know we lost… when we got to New Mexico, we inherited a tough APR [Academic Progress Rate], and we lost a scholarship there. So we might have had only 10 or 11 on scholarship there. But, you know, through walk-ons and things, we'll manage a team that'll be somewhere between 12 and 15 players. And that's what's normal for us. I don't want to get much over 15 players. And obviously, the scholarship situation, you can look at it two-fold. It's…. you know, short-term, would you like to have 12 guys on scholarship, maybe? Yeah. But what it does do, it opens up the 2014 and -15 class that we can more quickly do the things that we're wanting to do with recruiting because we're going to have a lot of scholarships.

Q: now, without a true point guard on the roster, do you foresee Kyle Anderson taking over those duties offensively?

SA: well, I haven't… obviously, we're going through that eval situation right now.

Q: sure.

SA: but Kyle can play that position. My son Bryce can play the point position. He's been a point guard his whole life. So he is a true point guard. He's been obviously a scoring point guard because he's had to do that high school but…

Q: kind of like his dad.

SA: yeah. Yeah. I hope. He's had a great career, but… I think that will evolve. That will take care of itself. I think we've got really good guards. I like what… I think Zach [LaVine] brings to the table. He's a terrific guard. I think Noah [Allen] is going to be a tremendous guard as well. I've always played freshmen so… and the freshman here last year got a lot of good experience. So, most of our guard play, other than Norman [Powell], is going to be freshmen and sophomores.

Q: right. So, what happened with Allerik Freeman?

SA: I think he wanted to… to be honest with you, I think he wanted to be strictly a point. He seems to be very interesting in point. And he hasn't played a lot of that. And so I just think in the discussions, it was hard to just commit to all that. And it was a new staff. You know, he was recruited by Coach [Ben] Howland and that staff and we don't know what was talked about in those discussions. So… he's from the East coast. And whether he wants to get back closer to home, I don't know. But we had great conversations. Really seemed like a terrific kid. Loved talking to his people from back home. It was terrific. It was very mutual. And we've even told him if we can be of assistance at all in helping him find another spot, we'd do that. So, I think it was a mutual thing that he just... he felt more comfortable trying something different.

Q: you talked about your son Bryce. And I know you've coached your older son.

SA: right.

Q: what kind of unique challenge is it to coach your son on the college level?

SA: yeah, not only coaching my sons, but having two sets of brothers. We might be unique of anywhere in the country…

Q: oh, that's true.

SA: having the Wear brothers and now the Alford brothers. We may be the only program in the country that's got two sets of brothers.

Q: so you can only recruit brothers.

SA: yeah, yeah, yeah, so... so that'll be a unique situation. But we've had Kory in our program the last two years at New Mexico and that's just been a tremendous joy, knowing you can come to work everyday, and… I was a coach's kid. So my lineage in coaching and playing started way back with my father when I got moved up to the varsity as a freshman. I kind of learned right away, you know, what being a coach's kid is all about. And there is. There's some uniqueness to it, and… but it was the best times of my life. To be able to play high school basketball and play for my father and have those memories and enjoy those things together as a family was special. And the first two years with Kory had been outstanding. Kory's wanted to get into coaching. So I think that's going to be fun for him. And now, his brother Bryce will join that group so… looking forward to it. There's always challenges…

Q: sure.

SA: those things always happen. But I think I'm really prepared for that just because I was a coach's kid in the beginning.

Q: talk a little bit about the staff you've hired. Your three assistants.

SA: well, that's probably what I'm the most excited, other than the team that we have coming back, I'm probably the most excited about that. I was able to get Duane Broussard to come over with me from New Mexico. He's been with me for the last five years, and he's terrific. He's from Houston, Texas. Played basketball at Bradley. Very close with Danny Granger of the [Indiana] Pacers because he was responsible for Danny at New Mexico so… great family, tremendous family, his wife and two children. And so he fits the bill of being a family guy first. That's very important to my program. Coach Schilling is somebody I've known for a long time. We've written a book together way back when I was at Manchester College and he was the head coach at Park Tudor high school in Indiana.

Q: really? What book.

SA: "Guard Play."

Q: is it still out there?

SA: [audio difficulties] might be able to tell you that, but we actually did a small book together. We're both coach's kids. We're both from Indiana. He played for his father, I played for my father. He played at Miami of Ohio. He's coach at Memphis under [John] Calipari. He's been a head coach, which I think it's always important to have… I've learned the experience of… if you can have a head coach that's sat where you've sat, that helps you and he was the head coach at Wright State before going into Park Tudor [high school], and he's had a great career. Won a couple of championships. State titles at Park Tudor. So, getting him on staff has been tremendous. Just a great man. And then David Grace [Assistant Coach] was somebody that I've known a long time. With my time at New Mexico, David's been with Oregon State and I think he's done a tremendous job in recruiting to Oregon State, especially the California and Arizona area. And that's obviously going to be a very big part of what we're concentrating on with our recruiting. A military background. Very disciplined individual. Hard-working individual. So excited about what he brings to the staff. And then, keeping Tyus [Edney] on as somebody that… last national title. You know, I call him "4.8". 4.8 in college basketball so he's referred to 4.8 around here. He's a very integral part because he understands UCLA basketball. The culture of UCLA. And we really want to get the former players much more involved. Really, being a former player at Indiana, I know how much… how important that is to a program of appreciating the past. And there's no greater past anywhere in college basketball than UCLA so we want to reach out to those former players, show them appreciation. And I think Tyus will have a lot to do with that…

Q: sure.

SA: … in the coming years. And then Kory Barnett's going to be our video coordinator that will start sometime this week or next week. Grad assistant at Indiana. So we're getting from the Indiana program. I think he'll do a great job with our video stuff that we're wanting to kind of change things up here as far as video stuff goes.

Q: I know you've been spending a lot of time recruiting since you've been here. Because the recruiting period started, then the evaluation period. So, generally, how has the reception been for West coast kids to your staff and to you?

SA: I think it's been tremendous. You know, those four letters say a lot. So… and we're learning that. And, you know, it starts with UCLA. It starts with those letters, but you've got to represent it as well. And I feel like we've hired very good people that can go out and represent UCLA the way UCLA needs to be represented and hopefully whether it's high school coaches, AAU programs, the kids themselves, as they get to know us, they're going to learn that they have a staff that really cares. Not only cares about UCLA and cares about this program, but cares about them as people. Not just a number on their back. Or a name on the back. You know, it is a lifetime investment. We truly care about what happens. Why they're at our institution. And then, how we can take care of them when they leave here.

Q: in analyzing your roster and looking at 2014, what do you see like positions of need in recruiting?

SA: obviously, the first thing that really comes out at you are bigs.

Q: sure.

SA: You're losing the Wear twins. And you lose the Wear twins. And Tony's the only big that's on the roster so I think, first and foremost, that that's got to be of heavy interest. Point guard… I think point guard is another area of interest. And then, the swing positions. The 2 and the 3. I think, if you look at it scholarship-wise and need-wise, bigs might be the most important. Point guard and swings follow under that, but I can see a 2014 class that basically has all those things in it.

Q: sure.

SA: I hope you're going to see a couple of bigs. I hope you're going to see a point guard, and I hope you're going to see two really good swings.

Q: yeah, I mean, you might have six to give.

SA: exactly.

Q: you will have six to give.

SA: yeah.

Q: philosophically, what's your recruiting approach do you think at UCLA? Do you lock down the west? Do you look at it nationally? How do you think…

SA: well, looking and evaluating UCLA and the history of it, one of the first things that really came out to me when I started looking into it, the top 20 scorers of all time at UCLA, 19 of them are from California. Only Lew Alcindor came from the East coast.

Q: right.

SA: And that doesn't… you know, that doesn't mean we're not recruiting… we've got three really good players on our roster right now that are from the east in Kyle, Tony, and Jordan [Adams]. So, I think UCLA recruits nationally. I think there's no question we can recruit nationally and we will recruit nationally, but I do think we have to do a really good job evaluating and building relationships here in the Los Angeles area and in Southern California and the entire state of California because there's so many good players. There's so many good high school coaches and programs. And we've got to cultivate that and make sure that we're recruiting in-state kids as hard as we possibly can.

Q: before you took the job, when they offered you the job and you were considering it, did you look at, say, 2014, 2015, on the West coast, did you evaluate the talent there?

SA: a little bit.

Q: did you really?

SA: a little bit. I knew from UNM because I knew how hard we were going to recruit in California at UNM because we had some recruiting classes that were coming up. We were going to have three or four seniors on our team, moving forward. So that 2014 class was going to be big for us at UNM. We had already gotten another player from California. Tim Myles had already signed with us at UNM, coming into this year. So, we knew we were going to get into California in the 2014, 2015 class now. Now this level… I think when I started looking into it a little more in depth, the 2014/15 class in California is an elite level of class. I think that's pretty intriguing knowing that pretty close to home, you've got a lot of elite players.

Q: sure. so much is made, and more is made every year about style of play. Not only in recruiting, but in… especially in LA. Entertaining. Entertaining the fans. How do you describe your style? Do you think… do you change your style? If you're at UCLA, you're getting a higher level of player, a higher level of athlete. Just going forward…

SA: yeah, I would hope that we've always played an exciting style of play because if you just look at attendance figures, people have come out. And winning does that. Winning kind of induces the style as well. Makes it more entertaining to watch as you win and hopefully that's going to be established here with our program. But subtle changes. I think… we've always wanted to be uptempo offensively. We do a lot of teaching on how to play the game. How to use screens whether it's pick-and-roll or off-the-ball screens. A good complement at inside-outside play, but a heavy emphasis on transition. I think the game's still about getting easy scores. So how you can attack defenses as quickly as possible to get easy scores is going to be important. Utilizing the free throw line. My teams have always… I think all six years at New Mexico, if not all six, five of them, we made more free throws than our opponents shot. That's indicative of an aggressive offense. Attacking the rim. Attacking the basket. Playing fast. You know, you've got some rules out there that could be changing. There's a lot of things on the docket that change the shot clock from 35 to 30 possibly. I remember, when I first interviewed about that, they thought I didn't like that change. I don't mind that change. My comment was, I don't believe in the argument that scoring will go up and shooting percentages will go up by reducing the clock by five. I don't agree with that argument. As far as moving it up from 35 to 30 to make it… to help scoring go up, I don't know if I buy that argument because kids still have to figure out what shots are good. and you still have to make shots. And, truth be told, over the last five to 10 years, you don't have as many kids makig shots. And that's one of the reason that scoring's gone down more so I think than style of play. I do like the shot clock being reduced in that it should create more possessions.

Q: that's what I was going to ask.

SA: and for a team that likes to run and a team that likes possessions and a program that we run, that's favorable for us. We do like that.

Q: if you're a more talented team, it would make sense that you want more possessions.

SA: yeah, you want more possessions. And so I think we like that. But, you know, as far as style of play, we want to be uptempo. We want to force the action. We want to put pressure on defenses. We've been able to do that at UNM and Iowa. We've been very aggressive as an offensive mindset so I don't see that changing. We won't be passive. We won't milk clock. We won't do any of those things. We're going to try to create as many possessions in the game as we can.

Q: in the half court, it's a motion offense?

SA: yeah, I would say it's a lot of the Coach Knight motion tendencies, obviously sped up because you've only got 35 seconds right now to deal with those things. So there are a lot of pro sets. From pick-and-roll offense… really a transition game that flows in to understanding how to play, as I like… is the way I like to explain things. It's not true motion. It's a lot of dribble-drive. A lot of… whether it's bigs posting, or utilizing ball screens to mismatches, you know, in a 35-second clock, after transitioning, it becomes utilizing mismatches and going at weak defenders. And we try to do that and I think we've been very successful. If you look at just the last six years, we've ranked 1, 2, or 3 in offense in the Mountain West Conference. Offense has been a big part of it, but then also, if you look at it, we've been 1, 2, or 3 in defense. So when you have that good combination and balance, you have a chance to win. And win championships. And we've done that.

Q: so key to that also is obviously a good point guard who recognizes those mismatches pretty quickly and can get the ball…

SA: decision-making within your guards are very important, and we start teaching that from day one of just understanding… guard play is about decision-making. Where the ball needs to go, who needs to get it, at what place, at what time on the floor. Getting the proper ball rotations and ball reversals. Having a good inside-outside punch. All those things come in. And taking care of the ball. I've always thought a system… if you like to run like we like to run, you have to be a good rebounding team. I don't care if you play man or zone, you've got to do a good job on the backboard and our teams have always been a very very good rebounding team. We've had a plus rebound margin for I don't know how long now in our program, dating way back. So that's always a key to being… if you're always taking the ball out of bounds, that's hard to really create a lot of transition play.

Q: sure.

SA: you can, but it's not as effective. So, a lot of our offense starts with how we do defensively on the backboard.

Q: and defensively, is it strict man? You throw in some zone?

SA: you know, we've played some zone. I've been pretty much man. I can see us maybe playing… could start playing a little bit more zone. We'll have to see that.

Q: also because of the personnel that you've received?

SA: not just personnel but depth. You know, this could be a year we don't have tremendous depth. So I could see us maybe look at playing some zone this year a little bit.

Q: alright. As you know, UCLA spent a good deal of money renovating Pauley Pavilion over the year.

SA: it's beautiful.

Q: is there some pressure… do you feel pressure coming in, to fill those seats? Is there any kind of… initially coming in next season?

SA: well, I think there's pressure just to being a head coach in college basketball. There's pressure everywhere. UCLA, I think that gets ramped up even more just because the history and tradition here that you're trying to represent. And so, I think you're always going to feel that. I think what helps me… I've been under pressure since 15, 16 years of age. The high school gym that I played in seated 10,000. It's the largest high school gym in the world which is strictly used for high school. I don't count the field houses out there that 15 different high schools play at. New Castle Chrysler High School is the only school that plays there. It's the largest high school gym in the world. So I wanted to fill that. In my last two years as a player, we filled that regularly. We had 8 sellouts, 9 sellouts my senior year in high school. So you get 10,000. I can remember playing Friday night in front of 10,000 and then Saturday night, the very next night, playing in front of 10,000. Playing in front of 20,000 people in one weekend as a high school player. There's a lot of high school kids that will go their entire four year career and not play in front of 20,000 people. And I did that in one weekend. And then go to Indiana. And the pressure of playing for Coach Knight. The pressure of playing at Indiana University. I was on the Olympics here in LA in '84 and a lot of people said, "You were on the team because of Coach Knight." I was the youngest member of that team. I was 19 years of age, just came out of my freshman year. I end up starting the gold medal game with Michael Jordan in the backcourt. I worked my way into the starting lineup. That was pressure. A lot of those other Olympians didn't feel as much pressure as I had to feel because I had that…. I had that stigma of "oh, you're on the team because of Coach Knight. He's your college coach." And so I had to get over that and handle that pressure to the point I had a great Olympics. My stats were good. I ended up making the starting lineup on a team that was loaded by future Hall of Famers and great professionals so… I ended up playing four years in the NBA. And then getting into college coaching with no assistance. I've never been in a system. I've been a head coach now for 23 years. And to get my start at Manchester College and then Southwest Missouri State and then the University of Iowa and then UNM and now coming to UCLA. I've been under those pressures of… and just about each of those spots was a rebuilding… UCLA is not really a rebuilding. It's more about understanding the excellence and the tradition here and putting a product out on the floor that can meet those type of requirements. Expectations are going to be what they are, but you know, at UNM, we renovated our building for about $60, 70 million. And we're top 25 in attendance. So, you know, we want to put a product out on Pauley, not so much about or worry about the money that was spent on renovations and those type of things. Pauley needed to be renovated. It's beautiful. It's a state-of-the-art building now. I think it's just now a matter of being respectful to the UCLA fan base, whether it be students, boosters, whatever, that it's our responsibility to put a product out there that is exciting and that we're good people with good players. That UCLA on the front of their jersey means something. And the fans appreciate that and they want to come to Pauley to watch a group of young men that are playing very hard and playing very unselfish. And hopefully that means, if we can do those things, hopefully that brings winning as well.

Q: sure. There's kind of a long running argument along those same lines about expectations at UCLA. Whether they're out-of-whack. Whether they're… for a major program… whether they're not necessarily on the same level as a Kentucky or a North Carolina. What's your impression of the expectations? Before you got here and now that you've been here for…

SA: well, the facts are the facts. UCLA is one of the ten winningest basketball programs in the country, all-time. We've won more national titles than anybody else in the country, all-time. We've produced more NBA players than any other program in the country, all-time. So those are facts. So when that happens, I would hope that those expectations… and really, myself, looking at this position, it was a position I felt like if we did the things that we needed to do in recruiting and program development, UCLA was a place that every year, you should be in the talks and you should be setting yourself up to put yourself in a position to win a national championship. Doesn't mean it's going to happen. The ball's got to bounce your way. You've got to create some good breaks. You know, I think if you look at everybody's national championships including UCLA's, there's probably several of those eleven that they got a couple of breaks along the way that happened.

Q: 4.8.

SA: there's probably some others that they didn't win that they didn't get the breaks. Indiana in '87. The championship year. The last national championship at Indiana that I was a part of. We were beaten by LSU in the Elite Eight. We were totally beaten. And some odd things happened. An airball from straight on got tipped in. Then you go to the national title game and if Syracuse makes free throws, we're beat in that game. So you got to get some things that are sometimes out of your control that happen and set up the ability to make a tough shot to end the game and that sort of thing. but I would hope that expectations at UCLA are you're in that talk and that your staff and your players are working hard every year with ambitions and goals to try to a national championship. Doesn't… it's not what I'm promising. It's not what… but it is something that intrigued me to come here, to have the opportunity to play and to compete for a national championship.

Q: your view on practices being open to public? I think they were at New Mexico, weren't they?

SA: no.

Q: no, they weren't?

SA: no. They weren't. We normally have specific days that will be open and we haven't gotten to that point as far as planning that far out.

Q: right. These were things fans were concerned about.

SA: yeah, we'll have days of… whether it's public, open to public, open to students… I always have a faculty day. I like for them to see what players go through that's a little bit different than just the normal student. That's why they're student-athletes. They're going to class ever day. They've got that. and now, here's what they also do for 2, 3 hours out of the day. We obviously will have media days and those type of things. Whether that's going to be open every day, I have to look into that. That's hard because… it's just like, do professors open up their class every day? No. You've got to be able to concentrate. You've got to be able to do your job. And players have to learn. And we try to use our classroom… it's just another class they take. And it's an extension of what a typical professor is doing in their classroom. I don't need distractions in our classroom when we're going about teaching. But we will have different times during the weeks and months where we'll open it up and do different things with the public.

Q: okay. Good deal. Thanks, Coach. Appreciate it.

SA: I appreciate it. Thank you. And that's The Tonight Show.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories