The Bruins’ offense has slowed down over the past month, but they have a chance to bounce back against the Huskies.
UCLA men’s basketball guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. spoke with reporters ahead of Wednesday morning’s practice at the Mo Ostin Basketball Center. Jaquez talked about focusing on what’s important, what kind of mental outlook is necessary for a late season run, getting the offense back on track, facing Jaylen Clark in practice and going against Washington’s zone defense.
Helpful to have coach talk to you about how you’re playing compared to wins and losses? Help you focus on what’s important?
Um, I think that approach is important because we don’t get, like you said, lost in the wins and losses. Like, we don’t get too high, we don’t get too low, we kinda just stay at a steady pace. Like you said, he was very upset after the USC game when we won that game, and, I mean, he was, rightfully so, unhappy about the USC loss. Um, we just, like you said, we just try to look at it as the way we play the game and how we’re playing rather than the outcome of the score.
How’s your mental outlook? What’s the key to bouncing back for another run?
Um, just staying focus and understanding we’ve still got a lot of season left, there’s no reason to get panicked or get worried about anything that’s going on. We know how to play, we know what we need to do to win, and as long as we remember that and implement that into our offense and defense, I think we’re gonna be just fine.
How do you use the week off? Recharge mentally at all?
Yeah, I think recharging mentally, physically, just doing what we can to put our bodies and minds in the best position possible. Coming into this week, I think it was good to get some rest and just decompress from, I guess, that long stretch of games that we had back-to-back. So to come back and just really just be able to settle down for a couple days, I think was very beneficial to myself and the rest of the team.
Did you guys get the weekend off?
Yeah, we came in on Saturday, we just did shooting and skill work, pretty much. Nothing really physically demanding, just working on our shot and trying to put the ball in the basket.
What’s the key to getting this offense back on track? What do you need to do better in the halfcourt?
Um, I think when we’ve been talking, it’s just being able to penetrate on the catch, rather than waiting a second to make a decision. I think being more decisive with that decision making – whether you’re gonna pass, drive or shoot it – and when you get the ball, know what you’re gonna do with it rather than just hold it. And I think that’s one of the things we’ve been working on, it’s just, like, knowing what you’re gonna do with the ball when you get it.
How often does Jaylen Clark go up against you in practice?
Uh, pretty much every day. I think there was a little stretch where it was the starters versus the non-starters, and now we’re back to, like, mixing up the teams a little bit. But usually me and him are on opposite sides of the team. And I think that, you know, we try our best to make each other better. I guard him, he guards me, and I think that’s a really good give-and-take there. And we get each other better.
Is he better at poking the ball loose or anticipating a pass?
Man, I think his anticipation on when they’re trying to pass the ball to his man or try to skip it is incredible. I mean, I think that it’s well-known in practice, like, if you wanna give a dribble handoff, you don’t go to his side, try to get it off – so he’s kinda like a cornerback in that sense. And then when it’s on the opposite side, he’s very good at helping and trying to read skip passes and things like that.
How do his ripped jerseys happen?
Uh, yeah, I mean, you know, things get physical, sometimes people grab jerseys. Sometimes people get upset and just rip them. I have a couple ripped jerseys as well, I know Adem has some. But yeah, we’re just physical guys and I think that’s the outcome of that.
What’s the key to attacking Washington’s zone?
Um, I think the key to attacking Washington’s zone – any zone – is try to play inside-out, get the ball in the middle in the high post area and be able to kick it out for open shots and 3s and things like that. And also being able to rebound, offensively and defensively.