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Bruins take Steve Alford for a test drive, introducing their new Head Basketball Coach to the capricious L.A. Media in Pauley Pavilion

Steve Alford respects UCLA.  He may be a Bobby Knight guy, but he’s a UCLA guy now.  Knight wished him well and supported Alford’s move to Westwood, and Alford will continue to draw on Knight for basketball knowledge, but Alford is no longer a Hoosier — He is a Bruin now.  At his introductory Press Conference on Tuesday, Alford said many things that must have made Bruin-Hater Knight cringe — calling UCLA the pinnacle of College Basketball success, and talking about how those four letters on the jersey mean so much — as Alford assured everyone that he is embracing the challenge, and is fully immersed in the Bruin experience now.

Alford suggested that he will engineer a fast-paced, high-scoring Offense, but cautioned that WINNING is way more important that how many points are scored, and he will do what it takes to get the W’s, possibly at the expense of having a Showtime Offensive attack.

He also suggested that he will employ a Man-to-Man Defense as opposed to a Zone.  The Man-to-Man philosophy is one of the many things he learned from Knight, and will continue to utilize at UCLA.  After continuing to bring up Bobby Knight, a reporter asked him if he was aware of the bad blood between Knight and John Wooden.  Alford showed no recognition of any rivalry or ill will between the two.  He said that he has met and talked to Wooden, who knew of Alford’s loyalty and connection to Knight, and it was never an issue.  Alford says that he OF COURSE has the ultimate respect for Wooden, using positive superlatives to describe him.  When asked to compare Indiana to UCLA, he shied away from the request, stating that he doesn’t believe in comparing schools, or players, but joking that Indiana was in the Midwest, while UCLA was on the West Coast.

The main thrust of Alford’s opening salvo to UCLA fans, and to all the doubters and skeptics, was that he is cut out to handle the pressure and expectations that come with this rarified territory, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  The next two weeks will go a long way to determining if that is true, as he puts together his staff and tries to solidify his line-up for next season.  At least he shows gratitude for the help he is getting, as he was openly appreciative of Shaquille O’Neal coming to the Press Conference to support him.  He’s gonna need a lot more help than that to be successful in one of the toughest jobs in the Business.