VIDEO: Alford on the Gators

Steve Alford talks about how Florida compares to Arizona this year and what specific challenges the Gators present for the Bruins...

Steve Alford:

On how much fun he's having:
Lots. A lot a lot. It's fun to be playing this time of year. With this team, it's a lot of fun. There fun to be around, they're fun to coach and they like each other. There is a good locker room feel to it. I'm really pleased. It's really difficult in the first year to blend all that, so I think they've done a nice job.

On playing the top overall seed:
We've got a lot of issues, overlooking isn't one of them. We're playing a very good basketball team. They're extremely well coached. They've been there. These are guys who've been on the brink of the Final Four, on championship runs, and now they're seniors. Four of the top five guys are seniors. They get it, they've been through it, they've been through a lot of close games. We're playing another team with an incredible win streak. The thing that's been good about that is that's what we've been doing the past few weeks.

On if they've brought up the past losses to Florida:
To be honest, we haven't said much about that. That's not something we've talked about. We've been really focused on the game. The motivation is going to be there regardless of past history between the two programs. These are two teams that have had really good years. They won the SEC, we won the Pac-12 Tournament. They've been ranked No. 1 a lot this year, we've been hardly ranked. One team has been on people's radar, the other one has kind of been flying under a bit. The motivation will be there, it's about whether we can execute the game plan.

On their similarities to Arizona:
They're very similar to Arizona, but with a press. When you look at their skill level and physicality and just how they like to play defensively, a lot of ball screens, more than Arizona. Very similar teams, a demeanor that they understand winning just they press more than Arizona.

On being an underdog:
I didn't even know we were favored in the first two. We just do what we do. We've been telling the guys all year long, control the locker room. When that ball gets tipped, it doesn't matter who's the favorite, or who the underdog is. That's what I appreciate about these guys, we're 36 games in and their motivation is still good.

On what's changed on defense:
I think it's just clicked. In one year, there are a lot of things of emphasis, offense, defense, what we do in the classroom and community. There is so much to do. The guys have been terrific and it's taken them a while to emphasize defense. Whether that was losing to Washington State or whatever it might be, we went to the Pac-12 tournament and we left there a much better team. We're playing some really good offenses. You look at the five teams we've beaten, they have a different approach to offense, but they can all score.

On Florida's bigs compared to Arizona's bigs:
They're similar. A little bit more ball-screening. With their pressing, they can get in transition and open floor more. We have to do a good job of handling the press. We had three turnovers in the NCAA Tournament, that doesn't happen ever. We're a good ball handling team. In this game, we're going to give ourselves a very good chance. If we don't handle it well, it will be a long night for us. Young does a very good job protecting the rim.

On their ball security:
You look at the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, we're averaging less than 10 turnovers a game. You get late in the season, and guys get a little more fatigued, tired in film sessions. These guys seem to be more energized and that tells me they have great chemistry and they like doing what they're doing. It's a great culture that is being created and we're playing well right now.

On their defense:
Our hands are up, we're being more active with our feet, and it's our demeanor. We have a different demeanor. Earlier it was trying to get it off the glass, now it's a demeanor and attitude to get a defensive stop. If you miss against us, we're pretty good with the ball in our hands.

On what UCLA fans should expect to see:
Hopefully what they've seen all year long. Hopefully we've gotten better. This has been a team that has grown all year long. I don't think we were a perfect team in December and I don't think we're a perfect team now, but if you're a Bruin fan, you should like what you see. We're playing extremely hard, unselfish, they play together, they like how they're playing and they're winning games. They've won 28 games and the Pac-12 championship so I think they'll enjoy following this team. I know as a coach, I'm enjoying it.

On the quick buy-in:
I've said from day one, it's about the players. The players aren't going to make year one, but the future. It is about the players and that's why I'm very pleased about them. They've listened and executed on the court. And Im very pleased with that effort.

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