Full Transcript: Alford on the Loss

Mar. 27 -- We have the full transcript from UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford's post-game press conference, courtesy of ASAP Sports...

COACH ALFORD: Well, really proud of our team. We've come a long way and obviously this is a tremendous basketball team that we played with a lot of seniors, lot of upper classmen that are really poised for a great tournament, and we wish them the best of luck. I think Mark and his staff do a tremendous job and wish them all the best. We did a lot of good things. You know, both teams struggled making some shots. Both teams had a low turnover game. You're playing in a Sweet 16 game and we have 7 turnovers, they have 5. So, I think you had a lot of student-athletes out there working hard, playing the game the way it's supposed to be played, very smart. We just got beat up on the glass, and that doesn't happen to us very often, but thought the difference we gave up 18 offensive rebounds and that enabled them to get to the free throw line where we didn't. So the board play and free throw line ended up being pretty much the difference in the game. Very proud of both of these guys. They've been tremendous for us all season long, and obviously with Tony, a really good year to build on going into his senior year. We couldn't be more thrilled with that and what Norman has been able to do throughout his career, he represents UCLA the way UCLA is represented. It's all about excellence. Norman is about excellence. He's gotten better every year, and then this year we asked him to go into a different role that he's never played, and that's be a go-to guy and he was that for us tonight. He was that for us all year long. He's going to get his degree here at the end of the quarter, so we couldn't be more pleased with what he was able to do throughout his career, and I know from a coaching standpoint I really enjoyed coaching him.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for UCLA Coach Steve Alford.

Q. Can you talk about the beginning of the second half whenever y'all got it to one and what happened after that, what went wrong?

COACH ALFORD: Obviously they're really good. We had a great run, 6-0 run, to come out of halftime, which our guys have done a really good job of doing things like that all year. So, appreciated that and that was a two-minute game. We went 6-0 and they called timeout, and the next two-minute game was 8-0 them. That's what really good teams do. They can withstand a run and respond, and I think you saw Gonzaga do that. They got pushed back and then they were able to push back on us. That's what really good teams do.

Q. Coach, why are you so impressed with Coach Few and what he's been able to do with Gonzaga in the program over the years and to finally get through to where they're getting to the Elite 8 since the first time since 1989?

COACH ALFORD: He wins like 82 percent of his games. You're in college basketball and you're winning 82 percent of your games, you're doing a pretty good job. Win the league, win the tournament just about every year. They play a national schedule now. They play a very demanding schedule and not afraid to play people. They've gone into home and home with us, among other teams across the country. Look at the consistency of what -- I have no -- I have no idea how many years, but it's been a good length of time where every year they're winning. And, you know, advancing in this tournament is hard. You're playing on neutral floors. You're playing in buildings like this where it's huge, it's a dome. It's very few of these student-athletes have played in a building like this. So all of a sudden you've got jump shots hitting the backboard first. It's different. They've been a very good shooting team. We've had some very good shooting nights and both teams that are almost identical. We're 26 for 67, they're 27 for 67. We make three 3s, they make three 3s. It's very, very similar. The difference was board play and one team got to the free throw line, and I think that was the difference in this game.

Q. Coach, did you anticipate because of the history of this gym, the shooting problems that teams have had in here, that this would be an issue tonight?

COACH ALFORD: No, I didn't -- I don't think you think about that. I think my concerns were you almost got to pick your poison with them. You take away their low post and they make 3s on you. We were able to do a pretty good job of handling the perimeter. They took 19 3s and made 3. That might be a season low for them on makes and percentage. I don't know that for a fact. It had to be one of their season lows. We didn't rebound the basketball. They got too many second shots and that leads to either fouls, getting to the free throw line, or ended up being to easy buckets inside. And, you know, I thought Dom in particular really battled. I like what G.G. -- I thought G.G. and Kevin really battled Wiltjer. I thought we did a much better job on him in this game than we did at home in Pauley. Sabonis and Karnowski, they're a load. They got so many weapons you're not going to shut all of them down. Those two got away from us a little bit there in the second half.

Q. You mentioned how hard it is to advance in this tournament. Just on your guys winning the first two, going into the tournament with the 20-13 record.

COACH ALFORD: I couldn't be more pleased. From where they come from in November and December, we played a brutally tough nonconference schedule with a very young, inexperienced team and that -- I give our coaching staff -- my assistants did a tremendous job of, one, keeping the guys together, and then the players did a tremendous job of believing in each other and trusting one another, that they didn't hang their heads when we had a tough December playing incredible competition. We weren't ready for that competition, to be honest with you, with this team. But that helped them as they grew and matured. They didn't stop believing, they didn't stop fighting, and they deserved everything that they got. And when they got in the tournament, they made the most of it. And to get back to the Sweet 16 with a lot of guys playing a lot of different roles, obviously we're disappointed. We wanted to keep playing, but I couldn't be more pleased with this group. This group has been a blast to coach.

Q. Coach, obviously you can't anticipate a poor shooting night, but once it got going and now that it's over, any doubt in your mind that the background, the situation, kind of got the best of you guys or both teams and then it led to missing some easier shots, too?

COACH ALFORD: That's a hard one for me. I don't want that to be an excuse because both teams had to play in that environment. They handled it a little bit better, not from a shooting standpoint. They were able to rebound more of their misses than we rebounded our misses. The stats are eerily close. The one glaring difference is free throws made and offensive board play. They got -- field goal attempts were about the same. They got six more possessions and offensive rebounds. I would venture to say, without looking at tape yet, they converted on a lot of those and I thought that was the difference. That's what we couldn't overcome.

Full transcript courtesy ASAP Sports.


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