UCLA head coach Steve Alford has experienced March Madness in just about every way possible. He was a starter on the Hoosiers' '87 title team and he's brought small, medium, and large schools to the big dance. In his first year in Westwood, Alford led his Bruins to a 26-8 record, a second place regular season finish in the Pac-12, and a conference tourney title earned with a win over #4 Arizona. Friday, UCLA takes on Tulsa in San Diego for the Round of 64. It will be Alford's eighth appearance as a head coach in the national tournament and he's ready to go.
We asked Alford what he's learned over the years and how that has informed his strategies for this Bruins team. He gave us his six rules for surviving March Madness.
Don't Look Forward
Filling out your bracket at home, it's easy to look ahead at potential matchups – particularly the exciting ones. For tournament teams, it's a no-no. Cliched as it sounds, the structure of March Madness allows teams to take things game by game. Advance through the first weekend, and there’s plenty of time to break down tape on potential opponents for the second.
ALFORD: "I've got three coaches, so each coach will be assigned one of the [three potential first weekend opponents]. One coach gets Tulsa, one gets Stephen F. Austin, one coach will get VCU, and then they scout just like they would during the course of the year, as far as watching and preparing tape, and preparing a scouting report. Obviously Tulsa is first, and if you don't take care of that, you're done. So I've spent all my time with the Tulsa scout this week, and if we're fortunate enough to win that game then late Friday night I'll get with the next (one)."
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