VIDEO: Alford after Riverside

Dec. 11 -- Head coach Steve Alford talks about the need to get off to faster starts after beating UC Riverside 77-66...

Opening statement:
We knew it wasn't going to be an easy one. They came in winning four in a row and four of five. We knew it was going to be difficult; it's not easy on our guys who are young and inexperienced. I'm just really proud of what they did in the second half. We did not play particularly well in the first half, and I thought in the second half we played with a little more toughness and with a little more energy. Lessons learned - we've got to do that for 40 minutes. But there are lots of teams around the country getting beat by teams they probably think they shouldn't be getting beat by, and we've been able to go through this non-conference with a lot of inexperience and still get the wins. And now we're 8-2 and now we go through a stretch where we're playing ranked opponents. The next five games beyond are going to be against incredible opponents who are ranked and very tough. Hats off to Riverside. I thought they played extremely hard and did a lot of good things, but at end of the day we got a double-digit win, we held them to 32 percent (shooting), we outrebounded them, and we did a lot of good things.

On their first half:
I wasn't pleased again. I hope it's not a habit. It's been toughness. We turned the ball over 16 times. I thought we were a little more careless tonight, especially in the first half. In the second half the turnovers were more aggressive turnovers, and if you're going to turn the ball over, do it aggressively. I just challenged our toughness again. If we're going to reach our ceiling, it's about getting tougher. A lot of these guys are going through this for first time and a lot of them are going through it for the first time in new roles. We've got a very unselfish group, but they just don't talk enough. We've got to become a more talkative team.

On slow starts:
These two games we've had slow starts. We had a lot of stress on the defensive end, and I don't know why we were so stagnant in the first half. We didn't get many shots up; they had 21 more shots than we did. That's not characteristic of what we want. We'll see if that's a trend. I hope it's not. We have a nationally-ranked Top 10 team coming in on Saturday, and our guys waited a long time to play a ranked opponent. We've got them in our building, so we've got to play well.

On only playing well against big name teams:
From a coaching standpoint, you can't do that. It's a lesson our young guys have got to learn. I've put heat on Norman and Bryce; they have to help these other guys and know you don't do that - you don't get up for a Riverside one way and a Gonzaga another way. What happens when you do that is what's going on across the country where you have Incarnate Word beat Nebraska and Michigan lose back-to-back games. If you're only going to get jacked up for a team because of a name across the jersey, then you're only going to play well so many times. We're trying to get consistent; we're trying to get tough. We've got weaknesses, obviously, but if we can get really get tough, get some nastiness to us, that water is going to rise, and the tide going to rise with this team. If we don't develop that toughness, we're always going to be this kind of team right now.

On Kevon Looney:
He's an outstanding player, very consistent. He's a double-double waiting to happen. You don't see that from freshmen too often. I'm obviously glad he's on our team. You have people preparing for him, and he's still getting double doubles. Tony Parker was also really good tonight. That's the Tony we need: 16 and 16. That's an impressive double-double. 16 and 16 you're getting some work done. Alex Larsson fouls out in 16 minutes, and Tony had a lot to do with that. Without Larsson, they're small, and that opened it up for us.

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