UCLA coach Steve Alford building trust with players

Steve Alford asked returning Bruins for changes they wanted to see, and the first-year coach delivered.

LOS ANGELES -- There's "Bowlegs" and "Spider-man" and a host of other nicknames in the UCLA locker room that the public have yet to learn.

Such is the life under new head coach Steve Alford.

Norman Powell has Alford to thank for "Bowlegs" and Jordan Adams for "Spider-man."

It's light. It's playful. It's personal. It's not the old regime.

Times have changed in Westwood.

Alford spent his entire first month on his new job recruiting Bruins that were already on the roster. Initially his goal was just getting to know his new players and trust was his selling point.

"There was nothing else to sell," Alford said said.

He asked questions and the players answered. He wanted to know what changes could have been made in the program and the players told him.

He delivered.

"All around you saw improvements," Powell said. "Everything is just upgraded."

From the strength and conditioning program to the nutrition to an additional shooting machine being added to the repertoire at Pauley Pavilion, Alford wanted to make sure his inherited players were buying what he was selling. All of the returners decided they wanted to stay and remain Bruins.

That trust built during the offseason is now in the process of being transferred onto the court as the Bruins prepare for the 2013-14 season.

While Alford's track record didn't endear him to playing the uptempo style UCLA officials tried to sell about him when he was hired, there has been a focus to get up and down the floor under Alford.

"I feel like it's going to be more uptempo just the way practices are set up right now," Powell said. "Coach Alford likes to actually be able to get up and down and coach as we practice and I feel like the team is learning faster with his style of play and his offense.

"I feel like his plays fit the team and we're able to be more athletic and use our skills and just play the game of basketball."

While Powell is still getting used to what his new coach's expectations are on the court, the same can't be said about Alford's playful demeanor.

"I'm used to (my nickname)," Powell said. "He always makes fun of me for having bowlegs. He says I was growing up on a horse. It's really funny. Me and Coach joke around all the time. I think it's really funny that he calls me 'Bowlegs'."

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