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.
Enjoy the Spotlight
For many teams, particularly those with younger players (given how many top-line teams feature prominent freshmen and sophomores, that's a huge chunk of the field), the intense spotlight of the tournament can be a challenge. Large as the stakes may be, it still needs to be fun.
ALFORD: "One thing we've started doing throughout the year is showing our players highlight tapes. We want them to go into this tournament feeling good. It's really hard getting into this thing, the parity is so great. We want them to know they've done a lot of good work to get to this point, and feel very good about what they've done. You can definitely get wrapped up in all the pressure, which is why we try to do some things to loosen it, whether it's showing a highlight tape then showing them a blooper tape and involving coaches in the blooper tape.
I think it's different now, because of social media, and that there are so many people who have an opinion of who you are as a player, and who you are as a team. There are just many more opinions than there used to be."
Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images