March Madness 2017: Steve Alford deflects Indiana talk, says ‘I love UCLA’

One high school coach accused LaVar Ball of meddling, but Lonzo Ball's college coach said LaVar did nothing of the sort at UCLA.

If Indiana tried the bury the news of Tom Crean's firing, it did one potential candidate no favors with its NCAA Tournament timing.

UCLA coach and former Hoosiers star Steve Alford had to address the situation Thursday as he prepared the Bruins for their NCAA Tournament opener Friday against Kent State in Sacramento, Calif.

Here's the Q&A during his media availability:

Q. Coach, when and how did you hear about Crean at Indiana's firing today, and is it your goal to get back to Indiana? If so, would you take a phone call at the end of the season?

STEVE ALFORD: "I don't know how I found out. It's just news. It's March Madness, and unfortunately in our business you're either on top or something like this is happening to all of us. I've been in a long time, 26 years now. So I've seen things evolve and how they go, but that's never been something that I look at, whether it be that job or other jobs. I learned a long time ago when I was probably four or five years into the job, I started interviewing for jobs that that's what I wanted.

"When I quickly trusted God and my faith my journey has taken me to places I had no idea that that was going to be my journey and I've fallen in love with every spot. I've met great people, great institutions. Obviously, that was 30 years ago. I was a part of that. I stood on stage with a great group of guys and won a National Championship. It's my home state. I played there.

"So obviously all that comes up, but I love UCLA. I love Los Angeles. You're talking about arguably the greatest "brand" anywhere on the planet, and we got things going at a very high level now and we're very excited about it. We're excited about being in this tournament and seeing what we can do in this tournament."



Case closed. Except … a follow-up question that, according to the Los Angeles Times, appeared to irk Alford:Would you take a phone call?

Alford: "That's really going to be my comment about that situation. I don't want that to be what this is about. This is about us. This is about what this group of guys are doing and that's what my focus is."

A finaltry, minutes later, when Alford was asked if he had any concerns that all the Indiana talk might distract his UCLA team.

MORE: Indiana fires Tom Crean at start of March Madness

"No," he said, "none."

But just in case, some pertinent numbers, via the Times, about Alford, 52, and his contract at UCLA, where he is 94-44 in five seasons: Hehas three seasons remaining on a seven-year contract at a base of $2.6 million per year. His buyout drops from $7.8 million to $5.2 million on May 1. And it was 10 days after he signed a 10-year extension at New Mexico that he left there to take the UCLA job.

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