UCLA men's basketball guard Johnny Juzang and guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. were the two players made available to reporters prior to Monday morning's practice.
Juzang talked about his consistent scoring ability since the Bruins' return from their COVID break, as well as playing five games in 10 days and finally getting fans back into Pauley Pavilion. Jaquez also talked about the impact of having fans back in the stands, as well as how he's managed to hold up after so many bumps and bruises over the past month.
Five games in 10 days after month off?
Yeah, it's definitely a challenge, but nothing we're not up to. We're just focused on winning every game, however they are spaced. But got to get the job done, so.
Players stepping up? Surprising?
Every night, anything can go any type of way. What matters is just we come together as a team and figure it out to get a win, however we got to do that is how we got to do it. But yeah man, it all comes down getting that win, so we'll figure it out.
Electric atmosphere? Similar to Villanova?
Yeah, definitely should be a fun environment. Probably similar (to Villanova) – in my guess, but what do I know. The big thing is the fans being back. We miss them. And it changes the whole energy, so we miss having them there and we love having their support. That's the thing, having them back. We missed them while they were gone, for sure. So having the den back, and just having all of the Bruin community back is seriously like huge. We were not happy about it, not having fans. Like, really we weren't. So it's great having them back.
Consistency? Being in flow of the offense?
Yeah, I think just when you play with different.... Well first of all, I've had some great opportunities with my teammates finding me. The coaches, just getting things to click. It's kind of just like, I think, playing with approaches, going into the game just finding presence, really being present in the game. I don't know. I think getting comfortable, especially after our break. I mean it could be a lot of things, but I think the biggest thing has just been my teammates have been finding me, and getting to that point in the season where you just get that flow a little bit. But I don't want to make it seem like it's all me. It really is a team effort, and that's why I said the coaches. It's like the whole program. It's everybody.
Watch games during pause? Surprised by Arizona?
They are a talented team, they play hard. We're excited for the matchup. It's gonna be a good one, fun one. Two big programs, both doing well. We're ready to compete, battle. What we're ready to do.
Arizona surprise you?
No disrespect or anything, but I wasn't really thinking about them very much, or anybody else for that matter. So I can't really say that I was surprised or anything. They got a new coach, so I guess I didn't know what to expect as much. But they are doing well, and tomorrow is going to be a fun one. It's going to be intense, that's for sure.
Confidence level on the team after two grind-it-out wins on road?
We're feeling good. Being able to compete and come up with good decisions and plays down the stretch is always good. Those moments where you're thrown into those high-pressure, competitive close games, those are always good to experience. So, with that, and we're going to have a good practice today, good shootaround tomorrow, everybody is locked in, and I think that's just the main thing. Really a sign of confidence, everybody is locked in and focused, so I think that's the biggest thing going into this. Good sharp mentality.
JAIME JAQUEZ JR.
How are you feeling? Been banged up quite a bit?
Yeah, I know. It's kind of like the most I've ever been through injuries since I've been here. I've just been trying to get as much treatment as I can, trying to get my body prepared. I'm feeling a lot better right now, and just looking forward to this game.
Thoughts on Arizona game?
I'm excited. I know they are going to bring the intensity. I know we are as well. We're excited, it's going to be a packed house hopefully in Pauley tomorrow, with their being fans. I think we're all just excited getting ready to play.
Role in counteracting their rebounding?
One of the challenges is that they are pretty huge. They got some seven-footers on their team, the challenge is gonna be just boxing out and being able to box out, grab the rebound, or box out your guy to make sure he doesn't get it. So we have one of the guards run in and get the rebound. Really just boxing out I think is going to be a major key in this game.
I think she'll be there. Parents told me they were coming, so I think she will.
What kind of atmosphere are you expecting?
I feel like it's going to be a great game, one for the books. We've got two great programs. UCLA and Arizona. Sort of rivalry, always going at it. I think it's just going to be one of those games that we talk about for a while.