Steve Alford

Bruins Alford, Alford, Ball and Leaf After Big Win Over Arizona

Feb. 26 -- UCLA's Steve Alford, Bryce Alford, Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf talk after the big win against Arizona Saturday...

UCLA head coach Steve Alford
opening statement
“I thought we’ve been growing defensively. Everyone wants to keep talking about our defense, but bottom line, we are a really good basketball team. There are teams out there that aren’t close to us offensively but no one wants talk about their offense. I really honestly believe that our guys have improved the most on that end in the month on February. I’ve said it, Arizona beat us at home, we lost to USC, and we were able to get our guys attention. They’ve been terrific all season long of just getting through things and getting better. We’ve just improved things in the month of February. It’s been a long time since UCLA has had an undefeated February. I’m just proud of our guys. To go through the schedule that we’ve gone through and we are 26 up and three down and this is as good of an environment as there is. We have a win at Kentucky and at Arizona in the same year is pretty special.”
on adjustments at halftime
“If there were any adjustments at halftime it was just challenging our guys on the backboard because I think we were down six at half. I told them a lot of that had to do with the fact that we did not shoot the ball particularly well and we got into a little bit of a hurry. In the last five minutes of the half we got into too much of a hurry. Halftime was about settling them down and challenging them on the backboard knowing how much of a physical fight this was going to be. I thought our guys showed a lot of toughness.”
on avenging three previous losses
“That just doesn’t happen in sports, especially in men’s basketball very often, when you’ve lost three games and you’re able to respond and get three wins against those teams. That’s probably what I’m most pleased and most proud of our guys about is the fact that we lose at Oregon, we lost at home to Arizona and you lost to USC and now before we get to the Pac-12 Tournament we’ve avenged all those losses. Our guys were very focused today. I think that was 40 minutes of playing really good basketball.”
on changing to a zone
“We’ve been mixing things up. We’ve gone through February mixing things up with things like pick and roll coverage, going from man to zone. We got into a pretty good rhythm in our zone in the second half and I thought we got a lot of key stops. We got that lead and once we got that lead and built it to nine or 10 points we thought about going out of it but when Lonzo [Ball] got that quick foul to start the second half the last thing that I wanted was for him to get a fourth foul and then mess with a different sub pattern with him out of the game. So I thought it was crucial for us and we did a good job in it.”
on being ready for March
“I think we are ready. We still have two games here as we get into March to finish the regular season. Obviously it will be emotional week with Senior Day coming because we have such great seniors. We are really proud of our guys. If we can finish this thing off, we can get 28 regular season wins if we do what we can do here. We are on a roll going into the Pac-12 Tournament and into March and you want to be playing your best basketball and I think we are playing our best basketball as a team right now.”
UCLA senior guard Bryce Alford 
on avenging all three previous losses
“It shows how smart our guys are and how good of a job our coaching staff has done this year. We’ve learned from our mistakes, no one is going to be perfect throughout a college basketball season. You’re going to make mistakes We had a bad stretch at Oregon and had our worst stretch of the season with the losses to USC and Arizona. We just watch a ton of tape. We have a ton of high IQ basketball guys so we just learned from it.”
on improving defensively
“Everyone has been killing us on our defense all year. Anytime we get killed on an area you try to work on it. We are a very hungry team. We know we’re not perfect and we have a lot of work still with a long way to go. But people have been killing us about it and I think we were pretty good on the defensive end lately.”
on changing to zone defense
“I think we do a good job of making them stand a little but while in the zone. I think that was a big key in the second half that we made them take the air out of the ball a little bit in the second half and forced them into some jumpers. They got to the line a lot in the first half and in the second half, I don’t know the numbers, but I don’t think they got to the line nearly as much. We’ve been working on a 3-2 zone a little bit and I think more than anything else we were active.”
UCLA freshman guard Lonzo Ball
on wanting to avenge previous three losses
“Every time you go on the court you should want to win. This one is a little bit sweeter because they did beat us the first time.”
on defensive improvements
“We’ve improved a lot defensively. The zone was affecting them tonight and credit to coach for having us work on it.”
on knowing in the game what will work defensively
“When you’re getting stops that’s how you know. And we were getting stops with the zone tonight.”
on peaking at the right time
“Offense is still there and the defense is picking up. We think we are getting better and better every day. And that’s all you can do going into March.”
on home atmosphere helping for road games
“Being home is great. We have a lot of fans and are a tremendous help to us in what we do. We appreciate it.”
UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf
on any extra incentives in game
“Definitely not. Arizona is a heck of a program with great coaches. The only thing that made this game more fun is that it was number 4 versus number 5, it’s a rivalry game, it was in their house and they beat us earlier. That’s what made it a lot of fun. It was a heck of an environment and fun to play in.”
on home environment helping tonight
“Our crowd has been great this year. Every game is rocking. So when we step to the free throw line and the crowd gets loud we are used to it.”
on playing like team wasn’t going to lose
“We’re are an extremely confident group and we want to win more than anything. I think we go out with the expectation of getting a win because we are so competitive.”
on second chance points
“I think they out rebounded us by 12 in the first matchup so that was something we looked at and wanted to make a team effort. I think Bryce [Alford] had maybe his career high tonight so it goes to show that team rebounding is really a big deal.”
UCLA junior center Thomas Welsh
on not showing any nervousness
“They are a great team, we know that. This is a tough place to play but we just wanted to focus on doing what we do and playing them as hard as we could.”
on offensive rebounding
“I just tried to crash the boards as hard as I can and just try to keep possessions alive for us. I don’t think it was a point of emphasis for the team but it’s one thing that I always try to focus on is extra possessions and extra opportunities for our scorers.”
on pride in improving defensively
“That’s what it’s going to be for us if we really want to be a great team. We have to keep improving on that end. We’ve been working on being unselfish, getting into a stance and help the helper. Already being ready to make those rotations and easy baskets.”

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