Steve Alford's Wednesday Teleconference

Steve Alford talks about the trip to Missouri and the statuses of Wanaah Bail and Travis Wear as they recover from injuries...

Is this the right time to be stepping up in class?

Well, we play this schedule obviously and we're fortunate we've been able to win our home games. We thought that was going to be crucial, to get out of the gate with a new transition and new style, and to get that done, and go to Vegas, and win two neutral games against a Mountain West opponent and a Big Ten opponent away from home, that was a good thing for our guys. Now you've got your first true road test, obviously against an outstanding Missouri team that doesn't lose home games too often and has an outstanding non conference streak as well.

Would you have changed anything in the non conference schedule if you had had control?

That I have no idea, because the schedule I was working on was New Mexico's. But if you look back at the schedules I've played and the teams that I've had, we like very difficult opponents and a difficult schedule. The players that we're recruiting want to play the best of the best. WE were able to add Drexel, which was a great, way-too-tough of an opener. But a very good opponent. We added Duke. And then we added Weber State as a late addition for a team that dropped out. We added them and it's going to be a very good game before Christmas which is a very dangerous game. You'll see with our future schedules and the difficulties that'll lie there. I've never been one to hide from opponents. We've always tried to find teams that will be difficult opponents.

How did it feel to finally have some depth last night, and is that coming at the right time?

I'm sure glad we didn't play Santa Barbara two and a half weeks ago without Trav and without Wanaah. We're getting into some teams now that are not only a little deeper and a little better, but that have size. We didn't have great size two and a half weeks ago. We knew we were going to start the season without Wanaah, but we practiced nearly 30 practices with Trav, so for him to miss the games that he missed, I thought our guys did a nice job of making adjustments. Now we are deeper, and we have a pretty set nine man rotation.

Do you think Bail will be completely ready by conference?

I don't really have a timetable for when he'll be at his full capacity. Wanaah hasn't played for close to two years, easily a year and a half. It's going to take him a little bit of time. It's just like Trav missing three weeks—he's not at 100% either. It takes time. When it's a year and a half off from playing at this level, that's going to take some time. We're going to be patient with him, because we do have depth now. But I think Wanaah gives us something in a 6'9 kid in that he's a good defender and can really run the floor. As he continues to pick everything up, I think he will really help us. Hopefully he'll be up to speed by conference. I think he'll be much more comfortable a month from now.

How close is Travis Wear to 100%?

He's close. I think he just needed to get a few games under his belt, after being out three weeks. But any time you have surgery, that's going to take some time. Hopefully we can get his minutes up.

Is there a point where you may have to consider starting him?

Yeah, but the thing is with Travis, he's a great team player, and he's very unselfish. He was in the starting lineup to start the year, and then we couldn't start him because of the surgery. It speaks volumes of what he is as a person and who he is as a teammate because he knows we're playing well. He doesn't want to disrupt something that's working right now, and I think he wants what's best for the team right now, which is for him to come off the bench.

Do you have to look at Zach LaVine potentially starting?

It's a long season, and there's different things that happen. We're not going to mess with something that's not broken though. Right now, Zach's playing about as well as you could ask a freshman to play through eight games, so he's getting good minutes, he's making good shots, he's making good decisions. When he comes in with Bryce, and you get to bring in two guys like that off the bench who are playing well, that really adds to your team when you have a good bench. Right now, we've got a really good bench.

Are you surprised at how efficient your team has been offensively?

I think the early start to practice helped us. We had more practice, we had a two week start on things. We had a good summer too. We were able to be around the guys this summer. We just spent a lot of time with them. That's probably one of the biggest things our staff has tried to do. To start the season 8-0, I think honestly more than the points, it's been taking care of the basketball. We're a relatively young team, so having this turnover ratio, that's nearly 2:1 as a team, that's something we've been very pleased with.

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