UCLA National Collegiate Championship Pre-Semifinal Quotes
Head Coach Al Scates
We¡¯re on a 12-match win-streak. We¡¯ve played well since the middle of March. I think everybody¡¯s upped their level of play since that time. In fact, I know they have. I haven¡¯t really substituted during that streak at all except for maybe a serving substitute. These guys are secure knowing they¡¯re going to play the entire match. It¡¯s been working well.
How is this team unique from other teams you¡¯ve brought here?
Well, it¡¯s not. They¡¯re playing their best ball of the year and that¡¯s how you get here so it¡¯s pretty normal. I will say that this team has probably worked harder to get here than some of the teams in the past. The kids were there all summer weight lifting. This is probably a little more dedicated group than we¡¯ve brought to the tournament but the athletes that come [to UCLA] are all pretty dedicated.
How is this different from other times you¡¯ve been to the tournament?
We¡¯ve never brought a team here with such a poor record in terms of wins and losses. This team has completely reinvented itself and turned everything around. They¡¯ve never lost confidence and always kept their goal in mind of winning the NCAA Championship.
Was today¡¯s practice more laid back than normal?
We don¡¯t have our most intense practices the day before the match. It¡¯s always a short practice so this was a typical day-before-the-match practice. It¡¯s the exact practice we¡¯ve run the day before every playoff match.
What are your concerns with IPFW?
We¡¯ve looked at a little tape and they look good. They¡¯re a good blocking team, awful good opposite, really good middles; they look like the real thing to us.
Sr., OH, Damien Scott
What was the team¡¯s morale like 12 matches ago when the team was in that hole?
We all knew we were on a losing streak and none of us wanted to play like that or have a season like that. We didn¡¯t really concentrate on numbers or anything and I know that I hate losing even just one match. I just want to win every time each game. It doesn¡¯t matter if we lose one game, I want to come out the next game and win the match. Even one loss would make me mad.
Do you feel like you play better against the wall?
Outside the situation you¡¯d probably say, yeah, I¡¯d like us to win in three games and take the easy road but I think it makes the game a lot more interesting [when you play more games]. Going back to the first games, we may not get warmed up that first game but we¡¯re going to continue to keep rising throughout while the other team might spike and I think that¡¯s what helps us out a lot.
So., L, Tony Ker
On not returning a lot of players from last year:
The weird thing was that we started off really well in the fall and were playing amazing. Once the season started we started off a little slow because we did lose six seniors and four starters. I think the best thing about this team is that we¡¯re all so close knit on and off the court. Even though we were down in games, we just brought each other back every time.
Did you find that other teams disrespected UCLA this season because of your record?
When we played Long Beach, I don¡¯t think they expected us to come out and we came out and blew them out of the water. I think all the teams need to take us pretty seriously. We¡¯re coming here to win and we all have one goal in mind. I think we deserve to be here just as much as everyone else does.
Sr., MH, David Russell
Describe the problems you have had in first games of matches:
Teams come out with a lot of fire and just try to beat us off the bat. There¡¯s been many times where we¡¯ve been down a match and come back to win so we¡¯re not phased by it at all. We just wait out whatever high they¡¯re on and when they come back down we start sticking it to them and they fall apart.