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March 13, 2018

Steve Alford

Aaron Holiday

Thomas Welsh

Dayton, Ohio

St. Bonaventure - 65, UCLA - 58

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the head coach of the UCLA Bruins, Steve Alford, and student-athletes Aaron Holiday and Tom Welsh. Steve, if you would like you can start with an opening statement.

COACH ALFORD: Well, great job by Mark and his staff. We haven't been held down like that offensively very often. For two teams that kind of had a season where offense was probably their strength, it became a defensive game.

And I thought we were really good defensively. I thought we did the things we wanted to do to Mobley and Adams, two really good players. And so I think that really gave ourselves a chance. We just had too many turnovers. We've been a team over the last month that's really handled the ball well, and we had a lot of live-ball errant passes today that I think the difference in the game was 30-to-3 in turnovers.

And that's hard to overcome especially in an NCAA game, when you give up that many points. And it takes that away from your offense. We had 10 fewer shots. In most games this year we were getting more shots than our opponents. So credit their defense, but we were very uncharacteristic with our offense.

But I'm proud of these guys. These two to my right have meant so much to our program and our culture. You got to see what kind of players they are. They're better people. They're better young men. And that says a lot because they're terrific, great players. And I really appreciate what they've given to this program both on the floor, off the floor and in the classroom. They've been first class in everything that we've asked for them.

So unfortunately March, there's a finality to it and we've reached our finality today. But these two will end up having great careers beyond college. And they'll go on and be highly successful just because of the people that they are. And I really appreciate what they've meant to our program.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tom and Aaron.

Q. The turnovers, again, Steve mentioned very uncharacteristic of you guys, was it a focus, was it something that the Bonnies were doing, what do you attribute those to?
AARON HOLIDAY: We just came out, they're a lot longer than you think. They're a small small team, but they guard pretty well and they use their length to their advantage. Most of the pass I threw up they were able to recover. They close gaps pretty quick. That's pretty much it. They're pretty long and they got deflections.

Q. Aaron, down near the end, did you lose your cool a little bit? The elbows up and stuff what was going on there in those frenetic moments?
AARON HOLIDAY: They were grabbing me, so I used my arm to get them off of me.

Q. Aaron, can you talk about working out with Jay last year for the Atlanta Hawks? Essentially you shut him down tonight, just 2-for-16 from the field. How did seeing him in the past help you in guarding tonight?
AARON HOLIDAY: We didn't really do that much in the workout to where I could see what he could really do. But I watched film on him. I watched a couple games on him, and I just tried to study and see what his tendencies are.

Q. Thomas, like Aaron said, they were long even though they weren't that tall. Did you guys have trouble with the quickness of their zone, especially in the first half?
THOMAS WELSH: Yeah, they did a great job of helping and recovering and stealing balls when we passed it. But give a lot of credit to them because they made a lot of great plays and forced us into some bad turnovers. Yeah, they played very well tonight.

Q. Were you surprised by their intensity? Were you able to match, do you think you failed to match their intensity at some points during the game?
THOMAS WELSH: I personally wasn't surprised by it. It's March, it's the tournament. Of course, I mean, like Coach was saying before, there's a finality to it. So we lose and we're out and. Of course, every team knows that going in, so they want to give it their best shot, give it their best effort and you have to expect that going in. You have to try to match that and do the same.

AARON HOLIDAY: We obviously knew that coming into the game. They finished second in their A-10 league. It's not easy to do in any league. We knew how tough they were going to be. I felt like we matched them pretty well. We just turned the ball over too much.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. How effective do you think their zone was, you touched on that earlier but in terms of --
COACH ALFORD: You've got to give them credit. They did a very good job with it because I think we had an 8-, 10-point lead out of the gate with them playing man. And we knew they played zone. They've been 85 -- about 85 percent man, 15 percent zone all year. But we had the flip of that today.

But when it worked, they were able to just stay with it. And I think that's where the first half it really cost us, because we gave their zone more momentum because of our inability in the first half. I think we had 11 turnovers in the first half and maybe nine in the second, if I'm not mistaken.

But 20 turnovers and 10 less shots, and that's why I know our defense was pretty good, because they got 30 points off our turnovers, which is our offense. So our defense, I thought we did a lot of good things in half-court defense, which was encouraging. I think these guys have grown and matured a lot.

But for whatever reason we just couldn't get in rhythm offensively. I thought we got into forcing things and we tried dribbling through two and three people, we're passing through two and three people. Just very uncharacteristic. We tried to get the ball inside. We weren't able to do that.

I thought in the second half we moved much better and the ball moved a lot better. And we had a tie game with 1:10 to go. And Adams, who I thought we did a really good job, made a big shot. I think he was probably 1-for-15 at the time. That takes some nerve with a minute to go in the game.

So credit to him. Makes a huge shot. And I don't know if we got a shot up after that. I think in the last minute we turned it over two or three times. And so it really came down to that last minute and we just didn't execute very well.

Q. Most teams, when they get ready for St. Bonaventure, they prep mainly on Adams and Mobley. How did Stockard's play catch you maybe by surprise tonight, considering he had just missed an important game with a hamstring injury?
COACH ALFORD: No surprise. You've got to pick your poison. And you've got Adams and Mobley who have consistently averaged 40 points. And Stockard had been somebody who has really been averaging 10 and 11 all year long. In the last four games I think he was averaging 23. He was in rhythm. Then he misses the last game, I think, to a hamstring maybe.

So we knew he probably would be back. But you've got to give him credit. He played really well. And that's a tough matchup. But we knew those were their three big scorers. And two of the three guys we pretty much eliminated, not eliminated but well, well below their averages. That's why I say defensively we gave ourselves a chance.

It's hard, especially in the tournament setting, if you're going to turn the ball over 20 times, that's putting a lot of pressure on your offense and your defense. I think our defense responded, but when you miss 20 opportunities to shoot the ball, it's going to affect your offense.

Q. It would be hard to ask Aaron to do any more than he did.
COACH ALFORD: Absolutely.

Q. Do you think this is a case of being too dependent on what he does?
COACH ALFORD: We've asked a lot. That's what we're down to. We had to ask a lot out of him. We had to ask a lot out of Tom. We didn't have that depth. And they've just been terrific all year.

And Aaron's been terrific all year. And you saw that again tonight. Here's another example of what we expect him to do but, oh, yeah, by the way, he guards the other team's best player.

And that happened again tonight. And I don't know if Adams has had a worse shooting night all year long. So, again, Aaron, yeah, 10 turnovers, uncharacteristic out of him.

But it's not because of his effort. And what we've asked out of him, the way he's defended this year, the players, the best guard on the other player's team has been tremendous. His leadership's been great. We just couldn't get in rhythm, him or anybody else, offensively.

Q. Is it hard for you to see both their college careers end like this?
COACH ALFORD: It's one of the hardest things in coaching, because Tom's been with me four years; Aaron, we'll wait and see. But in my opinion he's a first-round pick, and so he's got some decisions to make.

But G.G.'s been with us for four. Ike three. Alec Wulff four. We've got a couple of managers in our locker room that have been with us four years. That finality, that's what we talk about all the time, March is exciting. Everybody wants to get here and you fight like crazy for five months to get it done, but there's finality to it because you're only promised one game.

And so it all hits you very quickly. And I'm sure we'll think back over the next several days of what they've meant to our program. But without even thinking, this senior class has meant so much to us.

They're all going to graduate on time. Managers are going to graduate on time. It's just been a special group that have helped build the culture that we wanted to build, on the floor, on of the floor, in the classroom. And I just appreciate their efforts so much.

So it hurts. It stings. It will sting even more, and I've done it enough now, 27 times, that that finality, when you don't get to coach that group again, you don't get to coach that group of young men, that stings, and it hurts, not just because over the last five or six months, but over the last four years, a lot of these guys you've been in the weight room with them, out on the track with them, you've been doing individual workouts with them, you've been in film sessions. And now that comes to an end very quickly.

Q. Is there any chance maybe these younger players, this is the first time you've been in a play-in game, they didn't take it as serious, the whole -- they thought this wasn't the real tournament, is there any chance any thought like that at all?
COACH ALFORD: No, I don't think so. They know this is the tournament. They know it was just our seeding. You get an 11 seed and you gotta play your first game in Dayton. And it happens quick.

You don't get to play on a Thursday or Friday, you've got to play on Tuesday. And so that's probably the toughest part about the play-in situation is that Selection Sunday, selection is on Sunday.

You find out 4:00 who you're playing, 3:00 who you're playing, and sit down in two or three days to prepare and have the excitement of the NCAA Tournament. You're on a plane the next morning and playing the next day. That's the hard part. First time I've been in it. That's the most difficult part, the team doesn't get to enjoy the excitement of being in the NCAA Tournament.

That's obviously why the importance of tonight was. But, no, they had a very serious approach. Our practices were great. You obviously don't have a lot of them, but our film sessions, they were point on, I know that just from the effort they gave defensively. Now, we've got some young players that I hope they've learned a lot of watching Aaron and watching Tom and watching G.G.

We've got a lot of young players that have to have really good offensive seasons because they're very talented, but there was a lot of growth that took place this year. And now that maturity has to happen. When you go from freshman to sophomore, I think this is a group that's really got to mature over the summer and do the things they've gotta do to get better.


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