Ask Steve Alford about UCLA basketball and he’ll talk about the weather.
Alford, the Bruins’ first-year coach, was asked what he knows now about the UCLA job that he didn’t when he was hired. His answer seemed to be something out of a Los Angeles tourism board brochure.
“I thought the weather was really good. I had no idea it was this good,” Alford said. “It’s fun coming to work each day. I don’t worry about the rain. I don’t worry about the weather.”
Leaving him plenty of time to worry about other things, like who will run the Bruins’ offense.
The only senior lost from last season was point guard Larry Drew II, who set the UCLA season record with 256 assists. It leaves the Bruins with a big hole to fill. Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, played the spot when Drew sat last season. Freshman Bryce Alford could be in the mix, as well as freshman Zach LaVine.
Alford wasn’t sure who would do the majority of the work. What was clear is he doesn't need a label maker for Christmas.
“We never really label guys,” said Alford, who coached the last six seasons at New Mexico. “I have never labeled guys. When look at my teams at New Mexico, you could say we played three point guards some years. One year, we had a point forward. Last year, none of our three guards were prototype point guards.”
Alford pointed out that “Bryce can play a lot of positions. Zach could play a lot of positions. Noah [Allen] can play a lot of positions. I know everybody likes labeling kids. I have never been big on labels.”
Anderson was on-board with the label-less philosophy. He was second on the team, averaging 3.5 assists last season, but also averaged a team-high 8.6 rebounds.
“I want to go out there and be the best basketball player, whether it’s point guard or power forward or center,” Anderson said.
“Maybe,” Anderson said.
That works with the Alford plan.
“More than labeling, I want to see where these guys fit in the offense and where we can use their skills set best,” he said.
That could include non-traditional lineups.
“I usually don’t label guys,” Alford said. He said that his teams don’t often use the center, power forward, swing guard, shooting guard and point guard lineup.
“The way we run the system, offensively and defensively, they don’t need to be labeled,” Alford said.
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