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UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin talked to reporters about the Bruins’ 73-61 victory over Colorado on Wednesday, including the status of guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., the tale of two halves defensively and the importance of guard Tyger Campbell on offense. 

MICK CRONIN

Opening statement

I know you guys are gonna ask, obviously Jaime took a hard fall. All our doctors did all the stuff, they actually cleared him but I just wasn’t comfortable. I had to get Mike Lewis out to watch him warm up and I’m always going to err on the side of safety when it comes to my players, so I just didn’t feel comfortable about it, win lose or draw. That’s your job as a coach. Sometimes you’ve got to save the players from themselves. You know, that kid would run through a wall – and he says he’s fine, he passed all the concussion tests and all that stuff but he fell pretty hard on his head, so sometimes that stuff takes a while, symptoms can show up two or three hours later, so I just thought it was the right thing to do. Once in a while, I do something right.

Effort to go to Myles in the paint, shot 5-of-6?

Yeah. Well, he’s got 12 points, 10 rebounds and 14 deflections, so he’s got a UCLA triple-double. What I told him was, that’s what I want to see every game, so for him, being included in the offense and having things demanded of him, I think he’s been such a nice guy his whole career, people have just kind of accepted who he used to be and my message to him was coming here, you know, I don’t accept that from any of my players. I came here to try to win a championship and I want every guy to become a better player and make the NBA or play in Europe or do whatever they want to do, so he’s getting pushed at every turn like he never has before.

Tyger?

Same thing.

Went on a run and he responded?

Well, he’s got to do that and the same with him. See, I’ve seen that guy in practice. Now, some of their strategy was to force him to be a shooter, that was their game plan. I’m not telling you any secrets, it was very clear that was their game plan and I like the fact that he didn’t even think twice because for us to become the team that we can become, we get everybody healthy, we get Peyton’s confidence going, you know, Tyger’s got to be guy that’s capable of that and if you have that game plan, he’ll just go get 21. I accepted that he was a young player for two years, grooming him, giving his best effort, but not anymore. He’s got to try to be one of the best players out there, he’s got to take it personally. Like, what happened in the Gonzaga game in that matchup can’t happen—not for us to be who we want to be.

Working with Myles an ongoing challenge?

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Oh, every day. But you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day so today you saw the culmination of a lot of hard work. You know, Darren Savino should have been a head coach three years ago when I left Cincinnati. He should have gotten that job. Now, Wes Miller is my friend and I’m doing everything I can to help counsel him and I want nothing but for the best for him, but Darren’s as good as there is. He has no business being an assistant, he does an unbelievable job developing players, so you’re seeing a lot of his work with Myles paying off.

Continuation of defensive effort against UNLV?

Well, in the first half. In the second half we gave up 38 points. Now, obviously, they’ve got good players, Colorado is well-coached as a team, but Tad’s going to call a timeout and he’s going to try to adjust, he was big, he went small, obviously no Jaime we’re playing makeshift lineups but we’re getting better defensively. We’re still not quite all the way there yet, I think part of it is Johnny and Tyger played too many minutes, and it’s new for Myles, playing 28 for him. I think for us to be defensively, we’ve got to probably play nobody more than 30. Guys get tired, that’s what happens. You see what happens on the defensive end.

Second unit in the first half?

Yeah, I thought that was a big part of why we were able to put the run on them, keep trying to push the ball, keep trying to use our bench. Jaylen Clark did a lot of good things, he does a lot of things that don't show up in the stat sheet. It's just a process, Peyton's still a young guy, the physicality gets him at times. He just wants to do so well, so bad, to help his team. Trying to find Jake, he got five minutes tonight, trying to find him minutes is tough with Dave and Johnny. But I do think that, going forward, for us to be who we need to be, it's hard to have guys play that many minutes and be really, really good defensively, but that's probably an excuse. I can give Colorado credit, they had not quit in them, I thought Tad made some great adjustments

Good to see you guys do well defensively in the first half without Cody Riley?

Oh yeah. Well, first of all, if we can get out of this and get Cody back with only one loss, I'm taking that. And if you had told me we were gonna beat Colorado by 12 and Jaime has no points and no rebounds and gets banged on the ground, I'd have taken that. But I think it makes you better. If we can get out of it, it'd be awesome, I think it's obviously gonna help Myles and Kenny's development. Jaime not playing tonight was not good for my blood pressure or heart, but it was good for Peyton, Jaylen Clark, those guys to get experience. I think that makes you better. I try to keep my eye on who we need to be in March.

Interaction with Jaime?

Well, actually, he said he was fine. And I sent Mike out – Lewis – out to shoot with him and get him moving a little bit, and Mike came over and said, 'You know him, he wants to play, I don't think he looks 100%.' That's all I needed to hear, cause I told Mike if he don't look right, tell me. So I told TJ Wolf don't put the starting lineup in til Mike gives me the word on Jaime.

Washington COVID situation, game against Arizona canceled?

That's a shame. It seems to be becoming a problem, I see a lot of NBA guys dealing with it. It's unfortunate, we all need to be careful, everybody get their extra shot, do everything you can. As much as we all want to turn the page, I just – I said it the other day, I was talking to my dad back in Cincinnati cause I kept seeing the NBA guys pop up, these guys are all vaccinated. It's just ... it's a concern. So I don't know what the protocol is, from the Pac-12 Media Day, supposedly, it was gonna be a forfeit, but I don't know if I'm right on that, to be honest with you, I'm gonna have to check. So I don't know where that's at. I know that we would need to play cause we wouldn't play again until Marquette cause we have finals, so it'd be a long break for us. But again, when it comes to that stuff, you just hope all their guys are ok, their coaches. I obviously know what you just told me, somebody mentioned it walking in. I just hope it doesn't become a – when it comes to the COVID stuff, pray everybody's OK, hope it just doesn't become a massive problem, right, for all the sports. You know, it's tough.

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