Lavin's Comments

Head Coach Steve Lavin answered questions in the weekly Pac-10 conference call, including some that addressed the recent rumors of an early resignation...

In light of the most recent controversy, what'd you do yesterday with your team? 

 

"First we met with the team to clear the air, to set them straight on the misinformation in regards to me resigning.  At no point was I considering resigning or doing any soul searching about resigning.

 

"So, then we had a pretty good practice. We continued to work on our deficiencies.  We're fortunate enough to have Jason Kapono and Ray Young, who have experience with slow starts and seasons where we've recovered and had strong finishes. Obviously we're running out of time. We're into conference play now. We have to improve shot selection, be more patient, allowing ourselves the ability to get fouled, not be so perimeter oriented on offense, on defense do a better job of containing dribble penetration and boxing out.  It's tough to win in college basketball night in and night out if you're not getting the ball down in the blocks."

 

How do you impress upon your players to improve shot selection?

 

"You have to teach them to turn down looks to get better looks.  And there are so many different ways to get the ball into the paint. Not only through traditional post feeds or post entries, but other ways that you can use to manufacture points. They just have to be willing to make that extra pass."

 

What's the status of Marcedes Lewis?

 

"He's a tremendous basketball prospect. It might take him a while before he's in basketball condition. I couldn't say what his status is at this point. I wouldn't be able to say how much of a factor he'll be in January or early February. But down the road possibly this season or further he'll have an impact on the basketball program."

 

With everything that's happening, how do you get yourself up and motivated every morning?

 

"It's just another bizarre chapter in my twelve years at UCLA.  I never considered resigning.  Whenever anyone asked about it, I was always emphatic about it, that I would never resign. I don't know who these anonymous confidants are, speaking on my behalf about what I was thinking. My confidants are my parents, coach Keady, Pete Newell, John Wooden. Each year is challenging at UCLA. Sometimes you're not able to distinguish a year from the other.  But I enjoy coaching and teaching in that environment.  It presents good teaching opportunities, to teach the players about real life instead of just basketball.  To try to thrive under conditions that are tough. That gets me going every day."

 

Has this year been tougher than others?

 

"They're all the same. When you're the head coach at UCLA, you go through it. I watched coach Harrick for five years. It's like the head football coach at Notre Dame, when you struggle or lose games, it's tough, and we're not playing very good basketball. Our job is to get them to play better. Hopefully we'll have a breakthrough. If not, we'll continue through to the end of the season."

 

Do you think the lack of support from the crowd at home is a big factor this year in terms of your status?

 

"I think it's a moving target every year. There's a different reason every year why you aren't doing well. It's a moving target. This year it's attendance. If you win basketball games, everything else takes care of itself. When you lose, it's the boosters, or the alumni, or attendance that are going to be factors when they discuss a coaching change. Attendance this year is the result of us losing basketball games. I fully understand that. It's a big-time business and that's the bottom line."

 

There will be a coach to follow you at UCLA – sometime, eventually at least. What would you tell the next coach as some advice?

 

"I would just say to really enjoy it. It's been a great twelve years. Obviously this year we've struggled some.  But I'm still optimistic that the future of the program is in good shape. We have some good young players and some good players coming in. It's been a real enjoyable twelve years.  You look at the people, the friendships with the staff and the players. And it's a first-class university. I think on a daily basis you can only do what you're capable of. Keep your sense of humor. Don't take yourself so seriously. Take the job of coaching and teaching very seriously, but not take yourself so seriously.  Don't get defensive or thin-skinned and focus on your job."


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