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.
Your Strategy, Not Your Opponent's
Even at the pro level, the amount of information players can take in via scouting reports varies. With college kids, particularly those already amped up by the tournament, picking and choosing the right information in scouting is vital. Don't overload.
ALFORD: "We're really looking at the tendencies offensively and defensively that we've looked for all year: how teams are going to prepare for us, how they like to defend ball screens, down screens, back screens, how they are in transition, and so on. You do this sort of thing on both sides of the ball, both offensively and defensively so that you know what a team is going to look like, and try to figure out ways to exploit that within your own system. We'll look at recent games, with heavier emphasis on teams that play similarly to us. We'll view as much tape as possible.
Personally, since the selection I've seen Tulsa's last eight games on tape and am sure I'll continue to go back a little further, and then come back and pick teams that maybe play a little more like us. It's overload with coaches, but once you get to the team and you're dealing with 19- to 22-year-olds, you've got to be really specific. You just give them the things that you want to emphasize going into that game, both offensively and defensively, and keep it consistent with what you've done all year."
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