VIDEO: Alford after Azusa
I thought the second half was much better than the first, and that’s what we really wanted to see. I was really pleased with it. We are playing a team that worked really hard. They were undersized. With the size difference on them, we were guarding 6-4 and 6-5 post guys that were out on the floor and that’s not easy for some of our bigs. So, I liked what we did there. We had a lot of guys, whether it was the freshmen in the lineup for the first time, or Tony and Bryce in the [starting] lineup for the first time. They got new roles. You’ve got Isaac, who had not played in a game in front of anybody in about 18 months. Noah and Wanaah, two guys who didn’t play a lot last year. So, just a lot of newness and I think you saw that tonight. And I think that’s why you play exhibition games. But to get to 80 points and shoot 40 percent, we were not a perfect team by any stretch on either end of the floor, but I thought there were some good things. I thought that some of the younger guys began to relax more in the second half.
On the defensive rebounding:
Well, they shot 75 times and shot 59. When you shoot 75 times, there are going to be a lot of rebounds. Yeah, I was upset that an undersized team could get 20 rebounds. They were undersized, but they worked awfully hard. Tony and Thomas are not used to blocking out 6-4 and really guard, type of guys. They did a really good job. We still out-rebounded them, even with that shot differential. We had five assists and nine turnovers at halftime. But we flipped that, and it ended up being 15 to 12. I didn’t think that in the first half we valued the ball as much as we usually do. We had a freshman who got a double-double, who got 12 rebounds. Tony, I think, had one rebound at half and ends up with 10. So, there were some pretty good things that happened with nobody getting 30 or more minutes.
On what the win gives them:
I just hope that moving forward, that they can get more confident. I told them at halftime that we weren’t doing a lot of the things that we have been practicing. We got out of character a little bit with roles. And they did a much better job in the second half. You could see some anxiety. There was – Thomas Welsh not missed a 12-foot corner shot, I swear, in three weeks. You know, but this is the first time in Pauley in front of the fans. Noah has been shooting lights out from three in practice, but this is the first time he’s played in a long time. It was just a fun environment. And I’ll tell you this, I really appreciate our student section. I mean, for it to be Halloween, to be an exhibition game, the student section was tremendous. We moved the seats down, which I think is going to help. I thought that the energy, for it to be an exhibition game, was much, much appreciated. They’ve got two weeks here to get rested, and we’ll really need them at our first four home games.
On the team's inexperience:
There’s a lot, playing together, Isaac has never played in Pauley. He has only practiced here. It’s only the second time that Bryce has been in the starting lineup. And the other time, was because of a couple suspensions. That’s new for him. Tony didn’t start very many games last year. Norman, going out for the first time, being the senior leader and not having guys like Kyle and Jordan and the Wear twins, where he knew he didn’t have to be Mr. Everything, so that’s a little new for him. And then you’ve got the freshmen playing for the first time. So, with the newness, that is going to wear off. We really settled odwn. We were able to work a little more free in the second half instead of the jitters in the first half.
On UCLA's tempo on offense:
That’s got work to do. I think that Bryce gets it, because he was playing with Zach [LaVine] and they really got it. That was good, as far as pushing the ball and throwing it ahead. We are a little bit new with Kevon, and getting it and going. That is a new element to us. I thought there were times where that was really good. We really try to place Isaac a lot when we took Bryce out, obviously at the point. That’s something that he’ll catch on to. I thought we got a little slower, and I think we want to stay at a high level the whole time. Guys just have to get experience. Kevon was tremendous on the backboards. Maybe it’s where Bryce is out and Isaac is in at the point, it’s about learning that role. Bryce has still played considerably more point in practice than Isaac. We need to get more work with Isaac there in practice. When they were both in there, the two of them were really good. It’s when we were subbing, offensively, I think it’s going to come. Whether it’s Bryce in there or Isaac in there, there were a lot of new guys in there with them. I think we will continue to develop.
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