Back in 1995, Steve Alford was a fledgling head coach at Manchester College. Just 30 years old, he guided the tiny Indiana school to 31 straight wins, a perfect record blemished only when the Spartans lost to Wisconsin–Platteville in the Division III national title game.
As he prepares to take UCLA to its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008 — and a first for him since 1999 — standing in the way tonight is a Stephen F. Austin squad that has won 29 straight. He remarked on the similarities between the Lumberjacks and the first program he ever coached.
“We had two or three games where we had no business winning the game,” Alford said. “But it had nothing to do with coaching. Those guys on the floor, they just knew how to win and they believed in themselves. When you have a culture of winning, that’s what happens.
“You don’t understand anything else, so you don’t accept anything else — regardless of the ebb and flow of a basketball game. … You just don’t ever believe you’re going to lose the game.”