VIDEO: Alford after Gonzaga

Dec. 14 -- Head coach Steve Alford talks about the improved effort in the 13-point loss to Gonzaga...

Opening statement:
No one hates to lose more than I do, but I actually feel better about this performance than I did on Wednesday. That is the encouraging part. We have had a couple bad starts but I don’t think this was a bad start. I just think we didn’t make shots. This is in my opinion the best team we have played all year. We got down 10 points early, they made shots and we didn’t make shots and this is a hard team to get in that kind of hole against. I think after that we played pretty well. We played pretty steady basketball. We got Isaac and Norman going in the second half which really helped us. I liked our young bench coming in and giving us some effort. They didn’t back down going against a very experienced team. Kyle Wiltjer and [Byron] Wesley, two transfers, combined for 44 so they have a lot of experience and are a very good basketball team. It was encouraging. We don’t like losing but I am more encouraged after seeing our guys fight and some of the things we did in this game more so than after watching the tape on Riverside.

On facing such an experienced Gonzaga team:
They have composure. They have been there. They have kind of been there and done that. We have a lot of guys going through it for the first time, and they have a lot of guys who have been in this situation in good, tight, physical games. They know where to go with the basketball, and they don’t panic, and they play with great poise. Offensively they are really tough to guard because they have so many guys that can make threes. They had five guys that made threes tonight, and people will tell you their strength is inside so you are trying to guard them inside on the blocks, and they are so big, physical and very talented. Those bigs are talented. So you have to worry about that, and by the time you worry about that someone knocks in a three. So from an offensive standpoint, they are really good inside-out, and they really battle defensively with those experienced guys that understand time and score and the necessity of when a stop is really needed, and I think they do a good job at that.

On problems early on:
We haven’t seen that all year, not even in Carolina. This team was big, they’re physical and they do a really good job. It’s like I said, I thought the first 10 minutes, I liked our effort, I liked our intensity; we just didn’t make shots. We shot 32 percent in the first half, 52 percent in the second half, so you know, we figured things out. Our guys kind of loosened up and made some shots in the second half, shots that in my mind were pretty similar to the shots we were getting in the first half. We needed to have a first half to where we were even at the half, a one possession, two possession game. Being down at 11 fairly early in the second half, that really puts you in a hole against a team like this.

On scoring from the bench:
You can only do so much, and GG (Goloman) is not ready to be a scorer. Noah (Allen) is not ready to be a scorer. Wanaah (Bail) will be in there; he’s working hard, but he’s not a scorer. Thomas potentially could be a guy, I think as he develops. I was very impressed with Thomas tonight because he battled. He battled, he played confident, he had three blocks in 15 minutes. I don’t want to put the pressure on. It’s not like I don’t want them scoring, but I don’t want to put the pressure on them. That’s not what’s going to give them minutes, because they’ve got enough on their plates. I do think Thomas, down the road, is somebody that’s going to be scoring more. Right now GG and Noah, they’ve got to do some of the other things. I don’t think we’re going to get a ton of scoring from our bench. I think if we’re just talking scoring, it will definitely be our starters.

On playing better in the second half:
It’s experience versus inexperience. I don’t know how you account for it any other way. Gonzaga’s starting the game ranked top 10 in the country. They’ve been there, they’ve done that, they’ve played in games that people are giving their best shot for. These guys haven’t. This is a first for our team to do that. I’m not saying it was nerves, but anxiousness, you saw that a little bit in shooting. I’m sure that had to do with handling the basketball, feeling yourself out a little bit. Then in the second half, we scored 47, we shoot 52, we got to the free throw line finally, and we didn't turn the ball over. Those are encouraging things. I thought the key was we got in a hole the first half and this was a hard team to get out of a hole against.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories