Alford, Players after Stephen F. Austin

Steve Alford talks about the importance of getting to his first Sweet 16 and what the matchup with Florida could entail...

THE MODERATOR: For UCLA, head Coach Steve Alford, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. We begin with a comment by Coach.

COACH ALFORD: Well, proud of our young men and our basketball team, we talked about it prior to the game and after the game and we started this thing almost one year to the date, almost, about shy by a week, but Aprilfirst. We started recruiting these guys in the locker room and, one, I appreciate them giving us an opportunity to coach them and trust us as a new staff, that's never an easy thing, they have had both feet in from day one and they have worked extremely hard and now to be sitting here with 28 wins and 8 defeats and be part of the Sweet 16 when you had at the beginning of the year 350 schools in this thing and now we're one of 15 others. It's a special thing and we're looking forward to next week and these two guys to my left have had an awful lot to do with it. Kyle and Jordan have been tremendous all year with, one, their leadership and, two, their production and they brought and raised the bar for their teammates and that's a special trait to have.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes?

Q. Jordan and Kyle, UCLA in its tradition and everything, the program hasn't been to the Sweet 16 since '08. What does this mean for you guys to get it back there?

KYLE ANDERSON: Is it means a lot. It's a big accomplishment and we have had a good overall season but our work isn't done, they don't hang Sweet 16's up in Poly so we have to take it one day at a time and prepare for Thursday and get ready to play.

JORDAN ADAMS: Pretty much what he said.

Q. Jarred done, their coach talked in here, he said you guys annihilated them in the transition game and people respect you for that all season but was it particularly in sync for you guys tonight and howl do you think you did on that? Dominating inside, seemed like you took advantage of the size differences.

JORDAN ADAMS: I think it's all about our defense, we're not able to run if we're not making stops and in the second half we were able to get stops and fly out and we had transition layups and Kyle started a few beaks. Once our defense settled in and locked up our transition took over.

Q. Talk about the transition game and the size advantage. Obviously you had a foot of length on their guard.

KYLE ANDERSON: Yeah, we have guys that run like horses out in transition. We're just a good transition team, but like Jordan said it all starts with getting stops and we were able to get one of their best players in foul trouble so it was tougher for him to guard one of our three guards that would be out there.

We did a good job of running in transition and we've become such an unselfish team that it's fun out here to play.

Q. Kyle, since the beginning of the Pac 12 tournament you guys have been on a terror. Was it something that clicked especially in the last couple of weeks for you guys?

KYLE ANDERSON: Our defense. All credit goes to our defense. I think our guys have bought into preparation for what other teams run, you know, we're there for each other, helping, we're doing our best to keep our men in front so it's led to some really good wins and, you know, great defense leads to good offense for us. So we're prying to pride ourselves on our defense.

Q. Kyle, Florida, I know y'all looked at the bracket before the tournament started. Given the history between the two programs and how they played today what's your feeling about going against Florida?

KYLE ANDERSON: They're a very good team. They have a lot of older guys, couple of seniors, juniors, guys who are older. They have been in the program for a long time. You know, they've been the best team in the country this whole time. On a big winning streak just like this game today. We gotta prepare, we got a few days and give all we got. They're a good team, it's going to be a good game. We've been playing well, they've been playing well and it's going to be fun. We gotta have fun with it.

Q. Kyle, how does it feel to get this win, first Sweet 16 appearance since 2008 and really help this program reestablish its legacy?

KYLE ANDERSON: It's a great feeling. This is what guys come to UCLA for. A storied program, you know, this is what you want here. Now we've beat some good teams lately and now we're-- we got the Florida Gators Thursday. This is what I know Jordan and myself came to UCLA for. Like I said before, we're going to have fun with it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.

Q. Steve, what affect did the zone have today and really what affect has it had this season and what do you think your old coach would think about you playing this much zone this year.

COACH ALFORD: Working backwards, Coach probably isn't too thrilled about as much zone as we played but it has been really good for us.

I would say this, he's a big believer in however you defend, do well and we haven't been a great defensive team most of the season, I think we've been an adequate defensive team. We've really been good in transition but something late in the year, maybe the Washington State game, I have no idea but since that game we have really defended well. We have had other games where we have defended well and that zone is a big part of it. We mix it in a lot, we try to mix it in with sub patterns, whether it be with us or the opponent, but I thought we did a good job to told had team to 35% shooting and 60 points. They're well coached, well drilled, but you know our staple is turnovers. This is an unselfish group and it's a fun team to coach because they share the basketball. Probably not another NCAA Tournament game yet today that had 22 assists and 3 turnovers. Our assist/turnover ratio has been a lot of fun.

Q. Coach, yesterday you talked about sort of establishing a culture, reestablishing the culture at UCLA. What does this win in the Sweet 16 appearance, how does it help you do that?

COACH ALFORD: Obviously it's great steps in the right direction. All of the individuals that have, one, played or coached before I coached there or the players that have played there, that culture is there, that tradition is there. You walk that campus, you see-- we get tee shirts all the time or you see things as you walk across campus and it says "champions made here" and that's what that university is all about. It starts at the top academically you build championships in that classroom and it goes right down through the programs on the men and women's side throughout the campus and that's what's fun. These guys are going to classes with men and women that are champions as well and that campus breeds that. For us to be there, to put our stamp on it, win a Pac 12 championship, we're in the Sweet 16, there is only 15 of us out there, started with 350.

A pretty good accomplishment already knowing that there is so much parity in college basketball. Now you get to that point and that margin and that opportunity is right there in front of you and you just want to play well and see what happens. Hopefully our guys will have a good week-- it's a quick turn around for us, playing on a Sunday, traveling on Tuesday, playing on Thursday. It's a tough turn-around for us and we're going to play arguably the best basketball team in the country right now but it's good to see us back in that mix and back in that discussion. That's what's been a lot of fun.

Q. Steve, are you-- you weren't a part of any of it, but have you been made aware of the Florida/UCLA last eight years, three times in the tournament that sort of tradition. I know it's not the same players although it is the same coach with Donovan.

COACH ALFORD: Right, right. No I'm just learning all that, all I can tell you about Florida other than they're extremely well coached and when you talk about cultures, they've got a terrific culture there and a culture of winning and doing it on the national stage.

So we know it's going to be a very, very difficult contest with a will the of challenges but we've got three or four days here to try get things in line, get a good game plan and we got-- that's what's neat about our team. We got some things that make you think about match-ups, because there is not another team in the country starting a 6-9 point guard. You saw that tonight. All of the sudden they start the game with 6-4, power forward guarding him, go all the way down to a 5-9 point guard trying to guard him. He's really difficult to match up with and he creates problems. He rebounds the ball, starts transition game, moves the ball, and his defense has improved dramatically and I've said it all along, in the last-- if you don't believe it, in the last three weeks I think he's proven in my opinion he's the best point guard in the country. When you've got that kind of guard play and playing a team that hangs their hat defensively like Florida does you gotta take care of the ball and that's been a strength of ours all season, we have averaged 10 turnovers, all season so that's a strength. And we're going to have to do things well and play well but we're glad to be back in that picture and have another chance.

Q. I forgot what I was going to ask you.

COACH ALFORD: Just make something up. (Laughter.)

Q. The defense-- that's what I was going to ask you. The defense and the fact that-- what kind of turned the switch for you guys defensively?

COACH ALFORD: I think, one, being a new program there is a lot of things when you're trying to establish your own culture and way of doing things, there is a lot of things you're putting in and there is a lot of things you're emphasizing, whether it's-- what we're trying to do academically, how we're trying to represent ourselves in a community, how we want to play offensively, how we want to play defensively. There are so many things to put in, in such a short time that the players could probably see-- this is an offensive bunch to begin with, that's just who they are and that's why they like playing up-tempo, getting out and running, we're great in transition. We share the ball so well. I think all those emphasis, defensively it was starting to beat 'em up too much. For whatever reason-- I do believe the Washington State game might have had something to do with it because we were playing really good basketball, we go to Washington state, we don't play well and when we got back those practices and going into the Pac 12 tournament, we have had five straight games of really defending the way I thought this team could defend, because we're athletic, we're physical, we're long, we got great length, and our man and our zone has improved dramatically in these five games. I don't know if that was the game, I don't know if they just divided defensively was going to be the last emphasis they took on. I'm not for sure, but they've done such a food job of listening and trying to get better and I think we've gotten better.

Q. How much did you emphasize defense after that game?

COACH ALFORD: We haven't had to emphasize it as much after the game than before the game because they've been doing it and now they're seeing the results of it. Look who we beat in that stretch, the Oregon team that came into that game winning 8, 9 games in a row, then we play Stanford that is fighting like crazy to get into the NCAA Tournament, so we're going to get their best shot and then we're playing Arizona, arguably one of the two or three best teams in the country going into that game, we have to beat Arizona and we come into the tournament we play Tulsa who won 11 in a row and now the next team 29 in a row and in all five of those games defense has had a lot to do with our win.

Q. Steve, I know it's about the team first, but is there any sort of personal gratification or relief for you at getting to a Sweet 16?

COACH ALFORD: No, I think the-- I've said all along it's a humbling experience being at UCLA. Extremely proud, extremely blessed, just to have the opportunity to be in an institution like that and all the tradition. Everything that UCLA stands for, it's top of the food chain when it comes to that. So you either look at those things as burdens or you look at it as blessings. From day one upon the hire when Dan gave me and the staff the opportunity that's one of the first things I told my staff, we're going to understand-- I've known Coach Wooden a long time since elementary school and we're going to wrap around this as a blessing and we're going to tackle it and do everything we can to build champions. We shouldn't be here if that's not what we want to do and to win a conference, one or two things out in the conference to win, one of those championships, and now be one of 15 other teams standing, that's a terrific season but as Kyle said our job is not done. Now we have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us. Hopefully we can relax, I thought we were anxious to start this game, they settled down about 10 minutes in and hopefully we can settle in quickly against Florida and hopefully play well.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for Coach?

Q. Coach, you mentioned three turnovers tonight. What have you seen over the last three weeks in terms of ball security in high-pressure situations?

COACH ALFORD: I didn't know how much we could improve because we have averaged barely 10 turnovers a game which is-- as fast as we played, I know it wasn't chronicled early in the season but to play the way we play and put pressure on defense, to only turn the ball over 10 times is a great credit to our young men. It takes a lot of effort and concentration. Here you're in an NCAA game and we turn the ball over three times. Playing a team that denies everywhere, pressures everywhere, two different presses thrown at us that I know of, two different zones, a 3-2, a 1-3-1, and then we got man to man pressure to deal with, and we turn it over three times. That's a big key to what we too. We give ourselves a chance to score and we have so many guys that can score that's a big strength for us. To play the teams that we have had to play in our league that do a good job defensively and still take care of it, that's got to be something that we continue to try to work on because it's a big strength.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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