Yesterday, UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford joined radio host Matt “Money” Smith and UCLA Legend Don MacLean on FOX Sports Radio’s ‘The Petros and Money Show’. Alford talked at length about the goings-on of UCLA basketball and even took some time to address some of the negativity surrounding his decision-making. Both Smith and MacLean led an interview that seem to bring out more of Alford’s character in his conversation. Having three of your players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft the day before might be a big part of that.
Alford went on about the talent that Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine had and how their skills will be an asset in the NBA, but he was also not afraid to answer the tough questions. Smith had asked about the criticism of him having three first rounders, and not make it past the Sweet 16 while Connecticut had one player, Shabazz Napier, taken in the draft yet were able to win the championship.
For our first year, to be able to go through a season like we did, implement our style, and I’ve told you, its a great credit to our players to be able to do things we were able to do. But just because we got three first round picks, yeah people may say that, but it is not going to take away from the success that these young men had as a team this year. We did some pretty special things.
Smith also brought up the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders‘ comments about LaVine leaving early and how some perceived it as a dig (or trying very hard to make it a dig) when Saunders said, “It was a tough situation at UCLA with the players they had. He was there with Coach Alford’s son.” With perceived nepotism to his son Bryce Alford, the Bruin head coach has taken some heat for this. To that, Steve Alford replied:
Well there are probably always digs at me, but Flip is not digging at me. Flip and I have a very good relationship… This was a team that got along very well, played well together, guys had opportunities to showcase themselves and play in a very good system… I’m always going to put the guys out on the court that give us the best chance at winning.
It was a very insightful interview into the mind of the Bruin head coach. He has a plan for this Bruin team and it does not stop at Sweet 16s. That was noted when Alford threw some confidence around saying:
Consistently, we are knocking on the door of national championship type of play.
That is yet to be seen, but he is heading in the right direction. Alford was the first UCLA head coach to go 8-0 in his first season. He took UCLA to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008. He also has the #3 recruiting class in the nation (according to Scout.com). So far, things are looking good in Westwood. Listen here for the full interview on the ‘Petros And Money Show’.