New Nevada basketball coach Steve Alford closed on a new home in Reno on Tuesday, so he's been a busy guy. But he made some time for the "College Hoops Today with Jon Rothstein" podcast Tuesday and dropped some interesting morsels of information as the Wolf Pack looks to fill out its 2019-20 roster, notably by trying to retain Jordan Brown, who is considering a transfer to Arizona, Arizona State and Saint Mary's, among other schools.
Here are some of the top quotes from Alford's stint on the podcast. You can listen to the full episode via the tweet at the bottom of this page.
On whether he's planning for a season with or without Jordan Brown
"Right now it's still with him. We're in contact. They're obviously home right now on break. We start summer school June 10, and we hope JB is with us. We've had great talks with the family, and I know his teammates love him. He's a great teammate. I think this is a perfect spot for him when he looks at how we've used T.J. Leaf and Kevon Looney and the Weir twins and those type of players who have played for me at that position. They've had a lot of success. They've developed and played in a position that's a lot of fun because they get to do things like rebound and bring the ball up, play in the post, play on the wings, shoot threes, and this is all, I think, what JB wants to do, and he'd be in a really great system with really good guards, and if you're a big you need good guards around you. And I think he's got all of those things here and has a fan base that I think understands he didn't get to play a lot last year, and it was an old team he was playing on and around and now it's his turn. And right or wrong, we've told him this is his team, he's going to be marketed that way and he's going to be one of the main guys on our team that we're going to go to."
On how Brown would rank against a guy like Drew Gordon
"He's got that opportunity. He was a proven high school player and a McDonald's All-American, but regardless of how you're rank and how you're ranked, it's about going to that next step and proving it. That's what we're excited about with JB. He has all that opportunity and like a Drew Gordon or T.J. Leaf or Kevon Looney, who were McDonald's All-Americans at his position, we've tried to show him this is a system that has worked for those guys and they've flourished in this system and we hope he'll come back and do that as well, but obviously that's his decision. But like all players who come out of high school, you have to prove it. Like Coach (Bobby) Knight told me (at Indiana), my first practice, he hit me in the back of the head with one of his rings and said, 'So, you're the Mr. Basketball this year?' He said, 'Good, that means nothing. It's a new season, new level and now you have to prove yourself all over again.' I was fortunate I had a coach who kept me accountable that way. There's is a lot to say about what you do in high school, but once high school is over it's about what you do at the next level."
On the roster he inherited at Nevada
"Really good guards. Some of them haven't got to play as much as they'll play this year. I like our back court. Lindsey Drew coming back was huge because he's played more than 90 games and I think he's the best point guard in the Mountain West. He's a proven winner. He plays on both sides of the ball at a very, very high level. It starts there. Having Jazz, Jazz is a premier shooting guard in our league. He scored 25, 27 points on one of my UCLA teams in an Anaheim tournament that we were fortunate to beat his team, but he had a great game against us and can really shoot the ball. Nisré (Zouzoua) is a guy I think will have a breakout year this year because he's another senior who can really, really shoot it. Jalen Harris is a very athletic guard that I think can play a lot of guard positions and give us the athleticism we need in the backcourt. K.J. Hymes, I've been very excited about his development. I really like his size and athleticism. We're really waiting to see what's going to happen with Jordan Brown. He's a huge piece to what we like and need. Allowing him to play 30-plus minutes and putting him in a position that's more natural as a stretch big where we allow him to do more things is essential to what we're doing, and we're starting to fill in the roster with some really good recruits who can help us."
How the Nevada job is different now compared to six years ago
"It's night and day. That's probably the most exciting part about it and the reason why I was greatly interested. One, the administration is great. I love how the administration is set up. Doug Knuth is a terrific AD and he's very supportive and has the same vision that we have. Coach (Eric) Musselman did a great job of bringing Nevada to a level they have not been in winning and the national stage. Top 25 for three straight years. (Sic: Actually two.) You have a town that's hungry, a town that loves basketball. It's a basketball town with really great people. I've been really impressed in my first five weeks. It's has an Albuquerque feel. When we were in Albuquerque, once we tasted success there, you're playing in front of sellouts every night, the attention is great, the facilities are great, the area is great. Reno-Tahoe is a speculator area and the vibe and what you feel around here is very exciting."
On the Mountain West's decline since he last coached in the conference
"There's been a transition period like a lot of leagues went through with what I say was the buying up of teams. When I left for UCLA, that was starting not just in the Mountain West but across the country where the leagues were changing. When I left, San Jose was not in the league. Fresno and Nevada had just gotten in the league. BYU had just left the league. There was a transition period with the Mountain West and a lot other leagues finding out where you're going to slot and where you're going to fill in now that the Power 5 was established, and it's taken some teams and administrations and leagues some time to figure that out. I think we're on the right page. I think the Mountain West has had that period to figure out how to do things. We have a lot of good young coaches in the league. There's been a turnover in coaches. Unfortunately, I'm like a dean now. I'm one of the older guys. I never thought that would happen where I was the older guy, but I'm one of the older guys and more experienced guys, but I like the direction. It's really just about figuring that out when all of the leagues started changing and people were jumping different leagues. But the Mountain West is on more solid ground and there's no reason why this league annually shouldn't be a two-, three-, four-bid league."
On how this job compares to his job at New Mexico
"That's why I'm excited about this feel. I just thought it was great fit. The people of Albuquerque were a great fit. We we were all about red and silver and we had a great facility in the Pit and it was in a community that loved basketball and loved basketball being played the right way. It was the right fit. I probably would have never left New Mexico or Albuquerque unless it was a high, high, high place like UCLA where it's one of those situations where it's hard to say no for anybody. At Nevada, it's eerily similar. Great facility, great people, great town, basketball knowledge, and now instead of red and silver it's silver and blue. An awful lot of similarities. The difference is I was following a situation where a coach had been fired. You either follow somebody who has been fired or follow somebody who left for another job. The only difference I've seen is taking over a program like that versus this one on an uptick. Now it's about keeping it here and moving it forward. We've lost a lot of players. When Muss left, they were coaching the oldest team in college basketball and a lot of those guys are gone."
On how he's reflects on his six-year tenure at UCLA
"Just blessed. I've talked to my entire family about it. It didn't always go the way you scripted or the way that you hoped. But I feel very blessed that we had that opportunity. I loved Los Angeles. Something as simple as following the Dodgers, who won six divisions when we were there. It was exciting watching them and being in a town that's a pro town, 10 professional teams. We had never experienced something like that. Being in a great city, great area, I feel blessed that I had that opportunity. I am a college guy, I think, but that was a great six years and I enjoyed it to the fullest. I'm ecstatic that now I'm in a college town and an area where the university is not just known in this area but there's a lot that goes around that makes the city of Reno tick, and I'me excited to be a part of that."
On what he wants out of his non-conference schedules
"We want to schedule as difficult as we can. We have the great home crowd and we have to play our home games because of the revenue we generate at home. Not a lot of places can say that. We want to attract good home-and-homes. This year we have Utah at our place, USC at our place. We're at BYU. We're at Davidson. We're playing Saint Mary's to open up the new Warrior facility in the San Francisco area. We're in the Paradise Jam. The last time we were there we won it at New Mexico. Very good field there. We want to get into the exempt events and try to do a very good job scheduling home-and-homes and getting big games at neutral sites against Power 5 schools."
On his year one goals at Nevada
"Coach Muss has done a great job of putting Nevada at a whole 'nother level, putting us at the top of the league. Taking that over and trying to sustain it. Obviously, there's going to be a transition for a lot of reasons, new coaches, new players, but I don't want it to be a rebuild. It may be a reboot, it may be a little different look, but we want to be more than just competitive. By the time we get to January and the heart of the Mountain West, we want to be a team fighting for championships here in year one."