UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin talked to reporters following the Bruins’ 100-79 victory over Long Beach State on Monday, highlighting his team’s poor defensive performance and expressing his overall disappointment despite the end result.
First of all, I thought – congratulations to Joel Murray and Colin Slater, those guys played great, give them a lot of credit. I’ve been doing this long enough that you have to give other people credit, so good for those kids. This game is not gonna ease my pain of horrendous defense, but you’ve got to give those guys credit for scoring.
What worked on defense in the second half?
Not a whole lot. I would say they maybe they ran out of gas. Right now, defensively, I don’t like one thing we’re doing on the ball or off the ball or talk in transition. That’s my opinion.
Averaging 93.7 points per game?
We better. We better. If I had a pair of sneakers, I think I could score on some of our guys tonight and I turned 50 this summer.
Jules Bernard again?
He’s a really good player. Right now I don’t need some contribution, I need some leadership, some accountability. I mean, I know everybody’s happy we beat Villanova but the game was at home. To me, that game shouldn’t have even come down the way it came down. We’ve got a lot to learn.
How do you even attack Murray and Slater when they're shooting like that?
Well, when you let good players get started and give them layups, then the basket gets bigger. But we don’t have a lot of great one-on-one defenders—we have to play team defense, so the answer is team defense. You can’t let guys play one on one, you’ve got to make them play one on five, which we did not do a good job of.
How sustainable is winning when your defense is at this level?
Completely unsustainable. Completely. You cannot win on the road if you don’t defend. You’ve got no chance on the road if you can’t defend.
What was the message to the guys after the game?
They know when I'm extremely upset, there's three options. You try to teach and coach, then that doesn't work, you got to option two and that's scream and yell. Then option three, run in practice or sit in the game. So we're on option three.
Have they looked better in practice than in the games?
No, no. I think we're – they know we can score, so I think we don't have the right mindset, which is where I come in, it's my job. It's my job. And I just told Peyton Watson, Jaylen Clark, David Singlet, Kenny Nwuba and Jake Kyman, 'If you go in there and not turn it over and play defense, I won't put em back in, I promise you.' I got a lot of issues, but being convicted to what I believe in is not a problem. So right now, just trying to search for somebody who can actually guard the ball, help when you're supposed to help, follow the scouting report defensively. But it's a work in progress. But again, you gotta give them credit, keep going back to that, you gotta give their guys credit, coach Monson credit. I mean, we still did win by 21, but you gotta give them credit.
Small lineup with Clark and Jaquez worked?
Uh, yeah, obviously it's not a lineup that we practice a lot with, but Jaylen Clark, he's plug and play, so he plays way bigger than he is. Just trying to match up with their speed, we were having a lot of trouble, as you could tell, with their guards. Their guards had a lot of speed. So when we did that last year when we needed to against teams that were really fast off the dribble, so that's why you recruit a guy like Jaylen Clark, cause he can do it and he wants to do it. The difference between him and a lot of guys, he wants to do it. He values defense, rebounding and assists as much as he values scoring a basket, which is why you have to have him on your team. It's invaluable in basketball, invaluable.