Alford met with members of the media for the third consecutive Monday before players were made available and participated in a series of group photos, including the annual team picture on the center of Nell and John Wooden Court.
UCLA’s head coach began his day joining Nan Wooden and other members of the Wooden family at Vip’s Café on the birthday of late coach John Wooden. Vip’s Café, located in Tarzana, Calif., was Coach Wooden’s favorite local spot for breakfast. Coach Wooden was born Oct. 14, 1910 in Martinsville, Ind.
“It was a great experience,” Alford said. “There was a lot of his family there. I got to spend time with them. I got to see the booth that he sat in, and all the pictures, and obviously a lot of memories and stories of him having a lot of breakfasts to start his day there.”
Following a series of team and group photos on the center of UCLA’s court, the Bruins continued their third full week of practice.
UCLA opens its regular season against Drexel in Pauley Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 8. Game time is 9 p.m. The Bruins will host a pair of exhibition games against Cal State San Bernardino (Oct. 30) and Cal State San Marcios (Nov. 4). Both of those exhibition contests will begin at 7:30 p.m.
UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford
Media Day Quotes – Oct. 14, 2013
“First and foremost, I give our SIDs [sports information directors] a lot of credit trying to organize media day in honor of Coach Wooden and hosting this on his birthday. Our hope is, moving forward, that UCLA men’s basketball will always be able to hold its media day on the 14th of October, at least as a small way of honoring a great man and, obviously, a great coach. Happy birthday to Coach, and we are glad that media day and, somewhat, the start of practice is happening on his birthday.”
on his morning at Vip’s, Coach Wooden’s favorite breakfast spot in Tarzana
“Yes, my first experience there. It was great. It was good. Coach has got those Indiana ties, and that’s what was fun when I ordered crispy bacon. They knew exactly what I was talking about. Coach actually used the word brittle. I didn’t use the word brittle, but it was kind of the same because in the Midwest we do like that crispy bacon. It was a great experience. There was a lot of his family there. I got to spend some time with them. I got to see the booth that he sat in, and all the pictures, and obviously a lot of memories and stories of him having a lot of breakfasts to start his day there.”
on being compared to Coach John Wooden as UCLA’s head coach
“I would never distance myself to anyone like that. You can’t be compared to that guy. Obviously, we are both from the state of Indiana and we both grew up in Indiana. I would tease him if he were here today that he went to the other school in Indiana, but we grew up in Indiana. I followed him and he was somebody that I looked up to a great deal as an elementary kid, not so much as a player because he was done playing, but that was in his hey-day as a coach. And, as I got into coaching and got to really know John Wooden the man, it just solidified everything I’d known about him as a coach and those types of things because of his character, his integrity and who he was as a person more than just who he was as a coach. When you are the head basketball coach at UCLA, you can’t help but to get some of those comparisons. But there is no comparison. Whether it’s me, or whoever it is, trying to compare the head basketball coach here to him, that’s a really difficult and probably unfair comparison just because of who he is. I just feel honored, and it’s a humbling experience – I’ve said it since day one – that I grew up wanting to play for Coach Knight and to have that dream come true and to be an Indiana boyhood kid growing up I never in my wildest imagination when I took over the head coaching job at Manchester College, a small division three school in northeast Indiana, did I ever think that I’d be coaching at the same place Coach Wooden coached. I feel extremely blessed.”
on the Indiana basketball background defining him
“When he grew up and then later when I grew up, it was one class. It was one state champ. What really taught him early on and I know it taught me early on, no matter how many high schools, there might have only been, I know when I graduated there were 350 high schools, competing for one state championships. When he grew up it was less than that, maybe 250 or 300, but in the state of Indiana there was only one championship. So, you learned. You learned how to compete and you learned that there were a lot of people in the dance but there was only one state championship. Now, it’s changed because they’ve got class basketball and every year there are four or five state championships just like there are in a lot of states throughout the country. That kind of system really helped somebody like me. I learned the competitiveness that not everybody gets the blue ribbon. There’s going to be different shades of ribbons, but there is only one champ. I learned that at a very early age about competing to try and win. That history in Indiana, I think, really helped me and that was a lot of fun.”
on comparisons between Coach John Wooden and Coach Bob Knight
“Well, both big-time winners. Obviously, there are differences in style and that type of thing. The comparisons are the likenesses that I’ve been able to see in my playing career and coaching career and knowing them both. They knew who they were. They were very comfortable with who they were. They taught that system. They really believed in their system and because of that, their players believed in that. The outside can disagree with why things are being done, or in recruiting with who is being recruited, but they never wavered. They knew their system, their knew their style and who they wanted to coach, and they never wavered from what they believed in. That consistency and fairness to the players really showed in the way the players, if there’s another comparison, knowing the guys who played here under Coach Wooden and, obviously, knowing the guys who played under Coach Knight, you’d go through that wall for either man. That’s how much the players really believed in the coaches.”
on an update regarding Wanaah Bail and Isaac Hamilton
“No. We are continuing that holding pattern, especially with [Wanaah] Bail because that has been in for a while. We are just waiting to get word. Nothing has changed from last week.”
on not being able to have either player cleared yet
“I hope not for a while. That’s the nice thing is that we are early. It’s the 14th of October. That’s what we were talking about as a staff. Friday is really supposed to be the official start date if you look at the previous rules that I’ve had for 23 years. The weekend closest to October 15th. So, we are ahead of the game. But so are other colleges and universities as far as offense and defense and those types of things. We are not totally anxious, but with that said, as far as ahead where we are, Wanaah is that far behind. He’s not getting to do those things on the court. Now, Wanaah is doing a great job of watching the offense and defense and those principles. But it’s like riding the stationary bike. It’s not the same as the conditioning on the court. Neither is going through the offense and defense against your teammates. We need to get him out there practicing, so he’s got two things – obviously the eligibility and just making sure that he’s 100 percent healthy before he gets out there.”
on Zach LaVine tweaking his ankle
“He turned an ankle, but he wore that [boot] to class once because he practiced the very next day. He did not miss any practice and hasn’t missed any. I don’t see a serious injury there at all.”