One of many crutches
One of the most egregious examples of Alford blaming his players for his poor coaching came after the loss at home to Colorado this past January. Alford was asked by Los Angeles Times beat writer Ben Bolch about the lack of shots taken by the third leading scorer, Thomas Welsh. Here are Alford’s responses.
Alford: Obviously you would like to get him more when he’s the one making shots, but I don’t know what you want me to say.
When pressed further on the issue by Bolch.
Alford: I don’t get him shots. It’s not me getting him shots. I’m on the sideline, they don’t let me come out here — but that’s somebody that we always want to play through more and we’ve said that.
Try to imagine John Wooden – shoot, even Roy Williams or Bill Self — essentially saying, ‘What do you want me to do about it? It’s not my fault!’ when asked about something that didn’t go well in a game.
This last example is frivolous, but still revealing. Leading up to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Alford was asked a puff question about a silly prop bet of who had better hair, him or Villanova‘s Jay Wright. Alford could have played this a number of different ways, any of which would have shown more humor and grace than what he said: ‘I get critiqued a lot of different ways so it might as well be that, too.’ This does not sound like someone comfortable with the visibility and expectations that come with leading a blue blood program.
None of this is compatible with UCLA’s Main Thing. None of this is conduct you would expect from the coach of an elite, top-5 all time program. In refusing to own his mistakes, to honor and protect his players, to act with a modicum of poise, Steve Alford diminishes himself, and he diminishes this program.