home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


October 11, 2018

Steve Alford

San Francisco, California

Q. Did you alter the way you did your non-conference schedule this season based on the fact that they got in largely based on the strength of their non-conference schedule last year?
STEVE ALFORD: No, our schedule, I liked how we've scheduled, and we couldn't change it a whole lot being we already had finishing home and home with Cincinnati, and then we're in that Champions Classic every year with Ohio State, Carolina and Kentucky, and then we're always in an exempt tournament, and this year's exempt tournament is in Vegas with Michigan State, Texas and Carolina, so we're going to play two of those teams. And then each year we have to start a new home and home, and this year we started a home and home with Notre Dame, which that's a home and home we've really been looking forward to just because of the history of the two schools.

We're going to play -- what's that come out to? -- a minimum of five Power Five schools. I think if you're playing five, that's a pretty good non-league schedule. I'm not sure I want to play more than that in the non-league.

Q. How relieved are you that Kris and Jaylen are here today because obviously they both could have --
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, it's not so much relief because it truly is in the spring, it all flips. It goes from being about the team to what's best for the individual, and I thought both of them did a very good job of just doing that process, of -- that's why you do it. You do the process, you get the information you need. They got the information they need.

I think Kris might have been a little bit closer, but as I tried to tell him, you've got a box with 30 teams in it, if you're going to put your name in and stay in, you'd like to at least have half of that box where there's some guarantees because you're never going to be able to predict draft night, and if you've only got one or two teams that are interested and then somebody drops in the draft and they take that person that they didn't think was going to be there, you're going to be out of luck that way.

I thought he did a really good job of taking all the information in, and then when they announced they were coming back, I thought both of them had a really good summer of, the information they got, they put to use in their workouts. They've both gained weight, they both have gotten stronger. Defensively they've got a different mindset. It ends up, when they come back, it helps us as college coaches because it's another voice that maybe what they've been being told, they hear that now from the highest level.

Q. What do you envision their roles with this team?
STEVE ALFORD: Well, obviously Tyger, that was a huge loss here early in the season because we thought that with Tyger, we could obviously have Jaylen on the ball and then take him off the ball; now probably what you'll see our team look a little bit more like, we'll still get him off the ball, whether that's with Chris Smith or others, but Jaylen will probably take on more of a look of an Aaron Holiday a year ago where he's initiating a lot of our offense, throwing the ball ahead, entering the offense, those type of things as our primary ball handler.

But I think he's still going to be one of our better scorers because he shoots the ball, he scores it well.

Kris I think has a chance to be one of the top scorers in this league and one of the -- I think when you look across the country and you start looking at next year's draft, I think both of these guys are potential first-round picks, and I think Kris has a chance to -- he was on the cusp this year, and I think going into this draft, he could be a lottery pick.

So I think both these guys are key parts to what we're doing, obviously, but their leadership is going to be huge for us because we are tall, we're long, I think we're as athletic as we've been.

Hopefully we keep our depth. We've lost a little bit of our depth with injuries, but we've still got eight guys that have not played a second of college basketball. These two guys are going to be instrumental in our leadership of helping these young guys understand what it's like to play.

Q. Is there any doubt about Shareef long-term, career I mean?
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, he'll absolutely be back. Obviously any kind of surgery is -- that's always something you're always concerned about. But everything he's been told, everything we've been told, the long-term is very, very good for him.

This was something that basically a birth defect and something fortunately that was found, and Shareef has done a tremendous job of giving an awful lot of thanks to our trainer, our doctors, our medical staff. That is definitely something that needed to be found and was found, and now it can be corrected through surgery, and he should be full go once all that rehab is over. There's not a timeline yet of when it's all going to happen, but it is something he should recover from.

Q. Is there a date for the surgery?
STEVE ALFORD: Not yet, no.

Q. What was your reaction to Brian Bowen, Sr., being asked about UCLA was involved in any sort of a payment?
STEVE ALFORD: Not really much of a reaction. I've just seen the blurbs that have come out, but I know how we run our program, so I've had no loss of sleep or those type of things of knowing how our assistants go about anything. In fact, I had a meeting I think it was Monday, again, just thanking my staff for how they've gone about it, and when I say go about it, it's about how we recruit each year as a whole. Very, very appreciative of how we're going to -- we're going to lose games. We're not going to get all the recruits and those type of things, but those guys know we're going to do it with the utmost integrity and character in mind, and I'm very, very confident our staff has done that, so very pleased with how that's going.

Q. Brian Bowen, Sr., clearly had his hand out when he himself testified. Was there ever any overture he made to you guys?

Q. Can you say if Shareef -- the surgery, you said he would definitely be back. As soon as next season? Is it more long-term?
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, that's the plan. I don't know, I probably can't get into all the medical stuff. I've got to be careful there. But just Alex Olesinski is going to be out for a while with his foot surgery that he had, and he'll be back sometime the end of non-conference. Tyger is out for the year, Shareef is out for the year, but both Tyger and Shareef, the plan is they'll be back.

Actually Tiger's is probably longer. Tiger's is an ACL injury, and everything we've been hearing, it'll be sometime mid to late summer probably by the time Tyger really starts doing some things because of the nature of his injury.

But Shareef, if the surgery -- when it happens, I think then that's something that he should be back sometime early summer is our hope with starting up workouts and doing the things he needs to do to get back.

Q. Can you say if there's a difficulty involved in the surgery, what is involved and what it entails?
STEVE ALFORD: I'm not probably -- I can't do that, right? I don't think I'm privy for that. I just know he's going to have the surgery, but I don't know to the extent of it.

Q. Those two guys out, how do you envision the rotation?
STEVE ALFORD: That's a good question because we're kind of going through a lot of that now, because we've had some minor injuries, as well, Cody Riley and Kris Wilkes has been out a week. He's supposed to be back this weekend. It's been a really tough first two weeks of practices for whatever reason. I hope that once we get all those guys back -- we were looking at probably -- it's the first time I think in a long time we've had 13 on scholarship, and we were talking about that, that we really had, through our summer workouts, probably looking at 13 guys and trying to figure out, one, how do we play that many or how do -- who's going to get the lesser of that, and now you've got Tyger and Shareef, you drop that to 11, and Alex Olesinski is going to be out a while. I still think the 10 guys that are actively practicing and going through things, our plan is those guys are going to get minutes.

Q. What's going on with Alex?
STEVE ALFORD: He just twisted a knee in practice, but he should be back in the next week to two weeks.

Q. In Riley do you sense a hunger --
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, they've had very good summers, and Jaylen has been tremendous -- I think both Jaylen and Cody give us the ability to -- we can switch a lot because they're long, athletic bigs. You've heard me mention it's the biggest team I've had in my 28 years. I think we've got eight guys over 6'8", but we're also very young. We've got eight guys that haven't played a second of college basketball. So that's a give and take. But I like the athleticism.

We're moving from a Tom, who was so efficient, and you could pick-and-pop with Tom and do a lot of things offensively, to where now with Cody and Jaylen, continue to play the way we've played offensively, but I think we're a little bit more versatile defensively in how we can guard, whether that be in zone, whether that be in man. We're just longer, more athletic, and guys are more versatile. Our bigs can guard guards, and both Cody and Jaylen are like that.

Q. You talked about Tom and Aaron and those leadership points --
STEVE ALFORD: Yeah, and I'd throw GG in there, too. I think GG has had a great off-season. I think he's going to end up with Westchester with the Knicks organization in the G-League. GG was a four-year guy, Tom was a four-year guy, Aaron was a three-year guy, so they've been through the wars of college basketball and just experienced guys. They knew what road games were, they knew the magnitude of a home game, the back-to-back of a home game. I think young players get that mindset home games you just win, you win that Thursday game and all of a sudden Saturday you lose. And those guys had that understanding the ebb and flow of college basketball, and we don't have a lot of that. Our experience, really, you're looking at Prince Ali, Alex Olesinski, who's hurt, and the two guys in the room, Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes when it comes to minutes. Now, Chris Smith has had some experience and that kind of thing, but there's not a lot of guys with experience.

A lot of what we've done here or will do in October, even through our closed scrimmage, exhibition game and even leading into the non-conference, we've just got to really zone in on getting them as much experience as we can early.

But in regard to this year's leadership, I think Kris and Jaylen have an awful lot to do with that. Now, Prince and Alex are guys that we're going to lean to on leadership, but when you look at guys that I think are vocal guys and have the personality to lead, these two here in this room are going to be a lot put on them.

Q. With the Adidas thing, you guys used to be with Adidas. Does any of that strike you as consistent at all, when you were dealing with them, anything like that ever happen?
STEVE ALFORD: No, I've not dealt with it, but I was with Nike almost my entire career all the way through New Mexico, and then was with Adidas for my first four years at UCLA, and now the last two years with Under Armour. I've gone -- and when I was at Indiana, we were Adidas, and when I played in the league I was Converse. I've hit all the shoe companies. But as far as the trial and things like that, I don't have any comment on it.

It's all of the -- the whole thing is unfortunate to our game, and we just hope that we can get some closure and move forward, and our game becomes better because of it, but as far as my dealings and stuff with all the shoe companies I've been involved with, everything has been very, very good.

Q. Is it possible, as some of the testimony is saying, that some of this is even happening behind (indiscernible) companies trying to get a player for a certain coach on a certain team and the coach doesn't even know about it? Is that possible?
STEVE ALFORD: I guess anything's possible. That's a hard question because it's kind of hypothetical from my standpoint. All I can speak is for us and for me. To my absolute knowledge of our program and not just program at UCLA but over my tenure that I've had at each of my stops, none of that has happened to my knowledge.

Q. You mentioned closure; how long do you think it'll take --
STEVE ALFORD: That's hard, too. Obviously the trial is going on, so I don't even know the length of it. I don't know when decisions are going to be made. But you're at the federal situation now, and then ultimately you'll get NCAA involvement and things. It's hard to see when that deadline is going to be because of when the information gets to the different hands, and then how the different hands handle the information.

I wouldn't -- it would be all guesswork as far as a timeline. I think all of us coaches and all the programs across the country just -- we hope closure is sooner than later and the adjustments in our game can be made that's only going to continue to enhance a great game that we already have and enhance that further down the road.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297