Thomas Welsh (Blair Angulo)

UCLA Center Thomas Welsh Believes Defense Is Key To A Great Season

Nov. 17 -- UCLA center Thomas Welsh spoke to the media about the Bruins' uptempo offense and the need to get defensive stops in order to have a great season...

On if he was rushing his shooting during the game against CSUN on Sunday:

"Not really, no. I didn't really feel like I was rushing. I was definitely missing more shots than I'm used to -- 15- and 17-foot shots are the ones I feel I can make pretty consistently. Watching over the tape, I did notice I was speeding myself up a little, so going forward it's something I'll keep in mind when taking those shots in those situations. ... Probably an early-season thing, just trying to get my feet back under me again and getting the season. It definitely hurt to start like that but I have confidence in myself and I've watched a lot of tape so I feel I'll be able to bounce back from that."

On how fun it's been for him to play in this uptempo offense:

"It's great. Lonzo (Ball) is a lot of fun to play with. He's a great point guard and guys like Aaron (Holiday), Bryce (Alford) and Isaac (Hamilton), too, are incredible to play with. They really distribute the ball well and are great scorers. We have a really great offense this year with a lot of guys that can score, and we've got Alex (Olesinski), Prince (Ali) and Ike (Anigbogu) that are hurt right now, so we've got some reinforcements coming in before too long. It should be a great season for us. We do have a great offense. Pushing the ball does help us a ton. If we can get some work done on defense, we should put ourselves in a good position to have a great season."

On the upcoming busy stretch:

"It's still basketball. It's still 40 minutes. Same ball, same court, just a different opponent every time. We shouldn't focus on the name or anything like that, it's about going out there, learning and getting better every day. That's the only thing we try to do."

On if playing a fast tempo is difficult given his size:

"It's great that we started pushing. Being 7 feet tall, obviously I'm not as quick as Lonzo getting up and down the court, but it's about conditioning. Over time I'll probably adjust to it a little bit better. We do push the ball very well. I feel like I've played well so far but it's definitely something I can improve on as well."

On how his role can change when Anigbogu returns next week:

"That's a great question. He brings a presence defensively and he's physical down low, so it will be great to have him back because I think he'll have a big impact for us this season. I don't know how my role will change necessarily. I'm guessing he and I would end up splitting minutes at the five spot, but it will be great to have him back because he's fun to go up against in practice. Me playing against him makes me better and him playing against me makes him better, so hopefully we can continue to help each other improve."

On how versatile this roster is given all the lineup combinations the first week:

"It goes to show our versatility on offense. We have so many guys that can score and so many guys that can just play basketball with high IQs. It shows how versatile we can be and that we've got great minds that can be effective for us."

On how much he pays attention to the entertaining style:

"When you've got an exciting player like 'Zo and the No. 1 play on Sportscenter, it does make it more exciting for fans to come out and watch the games in person or watch on TV. We still play basketball. Obviously atmosphere and fans can change, but what's on the court is what really matters and we try to get it done every single day. It's great to have this UCLA fan base and be able to play in front of these fans."

On how realistic it is to play good defense given all the possessions and tempo:

"That's the thing. We do get a lot of possessions offensively, but because of that we give them the ball a lot more. It's one of those things where we feel we can score and push the ball, but if we really want to be great we have to play defense. That's where it's going to start and where it's going to finish for us. If we can get stops I think we'll be a great team."


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