Coach Cronin, Campbell Meet With Media on Wednesday
INDIANAPOLIS – Bruins' head coach Mick Cronin and sophomore guard Tyger Campbell met with reporters via Zoom on Wednesday morning, one day prior to the team's "First Four" NCAA Tournament matchup against Michigan State.
Cronin, in his second season as The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach, helped UCLA compile a 17-9 record and a 13-6 mark in Pac-12 play.
Campbell, a 5-foot-11 guard from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was named a first-team All-Pac-12 selection earlier this month. He earned first-team NABC All-District 19 honors on Tuesday. Campbell has averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 assists in 26 games for UCLA this season.
UCLA arrived in Indianapolis on Monday evening, after having learned of the 68-team tournament field during the hour-long Selection Show on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Los Angeles. The Bruins went through the NCAA-mandated isolation process (COVID-19 protocols) upon arrival on Monday night and practiced at Purdue's Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind., at 9 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday.
"When you play Michigan State, you've got to be worried about three things," Cronin said on Wednesday's Zoom call. "You've got to be worried about their rebounding. You've got worried about how hard they play and be ready for the intensity and the physicality. And then transition defense. The other stuff, you know, you have your stat sheet. You know that [Aaron] Henry is their leading scorer. You know that Coach Izzo is a Hall of Fame coach, so he'll make the adjustments during the game."
"We have a good team. We've caught some really tough breaks lately and hopefully, you know, things will turn in our favor where we can win three in a row this week. That's kind of how I look at that."
Coach Cronin, speaking to the media on Wednesday pic.twitter.com/LG09CxauAE
— UCLA Men's Basketball (@UCLAMBB) March 17, 2021
Thursday night's matchup (televised on TBS at 6:57 p.m., PT) will mark the third straight season in which UCLA has faced Michigan State. The Bruins lost to Michigan State two seasons ago (Nov. 2018) at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Last year, UCLA dropped a 75-62 decision to the Spartans in the final contest for both teams at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational (Nov. 2019).'
"It was really cool going against a great coach like Coach Izzo," Campbell said on Wednesday's Zoom call. "Last year, you know, Michigan State always plays hard. They always get out in transition. They give it all they have. They play with a lot of toughness. Playing against them, that helped us a lot. We took what they did back and added it to our game, and obviously our coach teaches toughness. It was just good to play against another program that instills that in their players. We learned a lot from that."
"I think we've been ready for a couple days now, even before coming out here, but it's exciting to be out here. We're excited to take on Michigan State this Thursday."
Tyger Campbell, on preparing for his first game in the NCAA Tournament pic.twitter.com/cWhmjVt0aY
— UCLA Men's Basketball (@UCLAMBB) March 17, 2021
The Bruins are scheduled to practice at the Indianapolis Convention Center on Wednesday, the team's final on-court tune-up before facing Michigan State on Thursday.
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Below are portions of Wednesday's Zoom call with Coach Cronin and guard Tyger Campbell:
Coach Mick Cronin
on if he was able to see Coach John Wooden's statue at Purdue on Tuesday night
"Our practice time that we were given was for 9 p.m. last night, so we bused up to Mackey [Arena] and we got there and it was pitch black. You know, everything here is pretty regimented. I saw Coach's name in the rafters of the arena. We were ushered in and taken to practice and then ushered out. So, no sightseeing."
on not having as many fans, or a spirit squad, or pep bands in attendance at these games
"Just like the rest of year, it's all different. I mean, it is what it is. But it is better than the alternative, right, like we'd all said. I'd remind everybody that we just wanted to have our season so that the kids could have a chance to chase their dreams. So, it's different, no doubt about it, just like the regular season was different."
on what it is about Michigan State's program that he would like to emulate
"Well, to me, Coach Izzo represents everything that is good about college basketball. He has run his program the right way for a long time and I think he cares about the development of players as people, before the basketball side of it. He's everything that is right about coaching. My dad is a retired coach, you know, so that is how my father was. Our profession becomes commercialized as the money has gotten a certain way. So I don't know what the term would be. Some people would say, you know, whether Coach Izzo is old-school, I wouldn't use that, I would say there are certain coaches that deserve to have the term 'Coach.' To me, it's Coach Izzo. I would never call him Tom. To me, 'Coach' is a reverent term because of the way I was raised. Coaches care about their players. So that is what I've always seen, and then obviously, long-term success through hard work – no shortcuts. That is what I see in their program and that's what I've always thought he is about. You know, the things that I was raised on by my dad and taught with what the profession is all about. That's just what I see when I look at Coach Izzo and his program."
on if having played Michigan State last season would help with preparation
"I don't know. We see a lot of people and it doesn't mean you're going to beat them. Some people you see and you can't beat them. Some people, you keep beating. I think more important is going to be made shots on Thursday night. You've got two teams who are pretty evenly matched. I'll take made shots over the fact that we played them last year. Made free throws, as well."
on what he has seen from Michigan State off film and analysis
"When you play Michigan State, you've got to be worried about three things. You've got to be worried about their rebounding. You've got worried about how hard they play and be ready for the intensity and the physicality. And then transition defense. The other stuff, you know, you have your stat sheet. You know that Henry is their leading scorer. You know that Coach Izzo is a Hall of Fame coach, so he'll make the adjustments during the game. He's got a different kind of team this year because he's played many, many different lineups. They can change at the top of the drop of a hat and go with different guys. There are a lot of personnel for our players to digest because they play so many guys. Obviously, some of that, he's been searching and some of that is strategy to match up with his opponent. But that part does make it tougher on our players. We really have to pay attention. They have a lot of personnel and they can play different lineups."
on the experience of being "holed up in" a hotel and being in the NCAA Tournament this season
"Yeah, but it has been that way all year. We don't eat as a team in our [team] room. We get our food and go back to our room. That's been nothing new for us. We have done everything we can to stay Covid-free and safe. We don't do anything but sit in our room, other than if we're getting together to watch film, which we couldn't do yesterday because we were in quarantine. Once we got out of quarantine, we got on the bus and went to Purdue, which I didn't mind, because to get our guys in the arena where are going to play is a good thing. Michigan State plays there [in the Big Ten]. They're going to be a lot more comfortable there than us. So I was happy that we got to go there. Today we are practicing in here in Indy and then our shootaround [tomorrow] will be here in Indy before we bus to the game on Thursday night. But look, for us, it is nothing different. As far as just staying in your room and staying safe, we have been doing it all year."
on the team's mood and level of excitement for the NCAA Tournament
"I think we've been ready for a couple days now, even before coming out here, but it's exciting being out here. We're excited to take on Michigan State this Thursday. We're just getting ready for that."
on what his team learned from last season's loss to Michigan State in Maui
"It was really cool going against a great coach like Coach Izzo. Last year, you know, Michigan State always plays hard. They always get out in transition. They give it all they have. They play with a lot of toughness. Playing against them, that helped us a lot. We took what they did back and added it to our game, and obviously our coach teaches toughness. It was just good to play against another program that instills that in their players. We learned a lot from that. This year, we'll watch the game from last year and study some film and hopefully be ready on Thursday."
on how he approaches his first opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament
"I'm really excited to play. I'm amped up to play. It's a great opportunity for my team and I. But I'm really just trying to take it like any other game. But I say that, not saying that I'm not going into this game without more intensity or without more attention to detail, I just want to go into this game like it's another game – relaxed, calm and cool and collected. But yeah, of course I'm excited. I'm jacked up. I'm ready to play. But I'd like to treat it like another game."
on addressing a recent four-game losing streak, including last week's game against Oregon State
"Well I feel like I've been saying it all season, but these last four games it has really been obvious, but we just need to put together 40 minutes of playing hard. We get into the end of games and we kind of, you know, go back and forth with teams. They get the edge and we aren't really playing with the intensity that we have been all game. So I think it's about putting together 40 minutes of playing hard, no matter who is on the court."