Kevin Love, the incoming freshman post player, has been in Los Angeles since July, and updated us on his experience so far.
So, how are things
"Very good. Very good."
You've been going between UCLA and Oregon the last few weeks. Getting things settled before schools starts?
"Yeah. I just wanted to go back home to clear my head a little bit. I worked out a bit. But I wanted to see my family before things started to get crazy. But now I'm back here, working my butt off. So, I'm here now until I go back home for Christmas, really."
This will be the longest you've been away from home?
Are you prepared for it?
"Absolutely. I think my parents have built a good foundation for me to prepare me for this. I'm doing great. In fact, I've got to go to the grocery store, since I'm living on my own. I have to cook for myself, and have a good diet. Have to get to places on time, run my own life."
So, you're living with your brother in Westwood. Why that instead of living on campus?
"I wanted to be away from all the distractions. This year is all about being focused, goal-oriented, team-oriented. I want to win a national championship and I don't want to have any distractions."
You've started individual workouts, correct?
"We can have our individual workouts for two hours a day."
And the coach can work out four guys at one time?
"Yeah, I think that's right."
When did the workouts start?
How are they working out for you?
"Very well. I'm getting in shape. We're doing a lot of running, getting up and down. We're playing. We can play as much as we want, get as much court time as we want. They've been going well."
What coaches have worked you out?
"Coach Duncan, Coach Garson and Coach Howland."
Coach Daniels hasn't worked you out?
"No, not yet. He's been gone."
Out during the contact period?
"Exactly. I think he's out recruiting now."
How has it been in the program of strength and conditioning coach Doc Kreis?
"It's been phenomenal. We keep everything confidential and secret. But he's been the best thing for me. Doc has been so influential for me. It's been a great fit for me in the weight room. Everyone is telling me now, 'Hey, who's been working with you?' I'm like, it's all Doc. Doc Kreis. He's a motivator. We get down and dirty and get it done."
You mean, people have seen you lately have noticed a difference physically?
In what way? Leaner? More muscle mass?
"Everything. Leaner and the muscle mass. People have brushed up against me and said, 'Wow, you're so much stronger.' And I don't need anyone to tell me. I feel it myself. I'm getting so much stronger, by working hard and being on that program. Being on Doc's program have gotten me so much stronger."
Has the team been running informal pick-up games, too?
How have those gone? How do you feel playing with the guys?
"I'm just trying to feel them out a little bit. I haven't played with the guys too much before. I played with them on my official visit. Then played a little pick-up with them in the Men's Gym since. But I'm just trying to feel out Darren Collison a little bit, since he's running the point for us, and then all the other guys. I can tell we're going to have a shot this year. We're going to have a special run."
How do you feel about some pre-season magazines ranking UCLA #1?
"I like to say, like everybody, it's where you end up at the end of the year. Being ranked #1 before the season starts is a tremendous honor. But when it comes down to it, it's all about March."
Many have tried to project a starting lineup. Could you see yourself starting alongside Lorenzo Mata?
"Yes, I definitely could see myself starting alongside him. It all depends on what Coach Howland wants us to do. I know he's going to put all of us in the best positions for us to succeed. So no matter what he does it's going to be the right thing for us."
Practice starts October 12th. Between now and then, what is your schedule and goals?
"For myself, I want to keep working out and getting in shape, working out with Doc. I also work out in the morning for about an hour and half, except on Sundays. And just eat and diet right. Getting in shape for when the season starts. As the team goes, we'll just keep working hard and be the best we can be before October 12th so it's an easy transition for us."
Coach Howland has taken UCLA to two final fours without much of an inside scoring presence. Do you think you can bring that to this team?
"Absolutely. I think I can definitely add that scoring in the middle. And I think that will open it up for Mata and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Alfred Aboya, and everybody who plays inside, because of my passing. I can make such a threat - shoot, pass, score - whatever it is. Also for off-side wing guys, or Darrren spotting up at the top, or even the guy on my side if they drop down and double. Everything will work out well I think. If they come to double me then there's going to be someone wide open that will make for easy buckets."
Howland's emphasis has always been rebounding and defense. How do you foresee this team being in those two aspects?
"I think we can be better than they've ever been. I think this could be a special team. We lost Arron Afflalo, an All-American last year. But we have enough guys, and enough leadership, to be a very special team. We'll see what happens at the end of this season. I think we have all the right tools to be a great team."
I know you could probably praise all of your new teammates, but is there someone you think could really surprise this season?
"I'm trying to keep a secret on it, but...Russell Westbrook. He's going to blow up. He's going to be a great player. He's going to be something special."
There has been some buzz about him over the summer...
"Yeah. Everybody's not going to know what to expect. Everybody is over-looking him. He's kind of the best-kept secret for our team. When he comes out, people are going to be like, 'Who's this guy?' Russell Westbrook is a known name around the UCLA campus, and it's about to be around the whole country."
You went to the BYU football game. And you plan on going to the Washington game?
"Yes, and I know we're going to bounce back after last week. We'll be fine."
Do you want to get out there and play?
"Yeah. Doc has some NFL guys come in and they ask me why I didn't play football, but basketball is my sport."
You might be a good offensive tackle...
"Yeah, maybe. Take out some of the anger I have."
Did you ever play football?
No, my parents wouldn't let me. But I did play baseball, though."
Going to the game, hanging out, how important is that to building team camraderie?
"That was always a big thing for me when I played with SCA, the Southern California All-Stars, and my high school team. It brings the team together. You have to hang out with your team on and off the court, so it makes for a good mix on the court. So we'll try to go places together as a team and build that camraderie and it will work on the court for us."
I know it's early, but has the experience at UCLA so far measured up to your expectations?
"Absolutely. Especially since I've been here since July. It's been better than anything I've expected. It's great down here. You know, I'm from L.A, and to come back here and to see all the places, like where my dad grew up in Inglewood, and to see where my mom lived. It's a great environment."
How has the social life been so far?
"School hasn't started yet, so it's been a little dead. Everthing else is great. You can always do something here. It's not like Oregon, where you have certain nights where you're not doing anything and you have to stay at home. Here you can go out any night and do whatever you want. It's been great."