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March 9, 2016

Steve Alford

Las Vegas, Nevada

USC - 95, UCLA - 71

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement, please.

COACH ALFORD: Yeah, it's been a really difficult two and a half months. And it falls on me. This is where the buck stops and starts. I've just done a really poor job of getting to these guys over the last two and a half months. It's been the least amount of wins one of my programs has produced since -- I think I was 14-16 my first year at Iowa, which has been about 17, 18 years ago.

So just done a really poor job in league play. I thought we had some momentum going into league play. But really from the start of league play until obviously the conclusion of our season right now, I've just done a poor job of making sure we develop and get better. And most of our teams have really improved and gotten better when we get into league play and we get close to March.

It's been a while since one of my teams has performed like this, and we've got to really look at it here in the off-season as coaches because we just did a very poor job of getting to these guys. We've got to get that culture back like we had it for two years here with two Sweet 16s and a Pac-12 Tournament. Because this league's season was totally unacceptable, and I take full responsibility for that. We'll give the guys a couple weeks off and then we'll get back to work and get this thing back to where it's got to be.

Q. Steve, there have been a lot of fans that are clearly upset. Some have called for your job. What would you say to defend yourself at this point?
COACH ALFORD: I'm not defending myself. I didn't get in this business to defend myself. If I'm a fan, I'm upset too. It's not a defense. If I'm a fan, I'm upset; I'm a coach, I'm upset.

It's my responsibility. And the product that we've had over the last two months was not the product that I wanted. It's not what the coaches want, it's not what the team wanted.

We've had a very good start to things. There were only five programs in the country that have been to Sweet 16s or further in the last two years. So this is a bad year. It was a bad conference season. It was a bad two and a half months. Bad year's probably an overstatement. It was a bad two and a half months, bad league play. And that's what it was.

I think I've got the players' attention. We've got a tremendous recruiting class coming in that we're excited about that I think will help. We lose Tony, he's our only senior. So it's back to work. It's getting us back to the level of excellence that is required.

But I think we've had a very good start to things and we've accomplished some good things. We've just had a really bad two and a half months, and I take full responsibility for that. As I told the team, I'll take full responsibility moving forward of how we change it back to where we expect things to be done.

Q. How much of that goes to the reputation of the Pac-12, the difficulty?
COACH ALFORD: How much does what go?

Q. How much credit is due to the opponents?
COACH ALFORD: Oh, we had a great league. We didn't pick the right year to have a down year. We lost Kevon Looney, an outstanding stretch four for us, especially defensively, and a really good, big, experienced guard in Norman Powell. And our weaknesses defensively were in those two areas.

Had to play big, big a lot this year, which is not our system or style. It's not how we want to play. I don't think we're built to play that way. Those aren't excuses, just reasons. Then we were in a really, really good league this year, so put all those things together and not being very tough, you end up having a conference season like this. Still not acceptable, and it's still not something that we take lightly.

That responsibility is mine. And we just couldn't find the right buttons and the right things to press to get this team to play at the level they've got to play at. Hopefully there's been a lot of maturity and growing through all this, and hopefully we'll do everything we can to rectify things.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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