USC's new basketball coach Andy Enfield gestures during a news conference. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)
It's rare when both local universities introduce new basketball coaches a day apart — and even rarer still when USC trumps UCLA off the court — yet if public relations counts for anything, I'd say Andy Enfield just defeated another established power to advance while Steve Alford was upset again in the first round.
It is not that UCLA has made the wrong selection for the basketball program, but they certainly did not make the bold selection; that honor falls to USC. Perhaps each program has made the "right" selection — only time will tell — but I do have a bit of a bad feeling that UCLA should have been braver.
UCLA's search for a basketball coach is less a commentary on who they hired and more of a statement on how far the prestige of this once great program has fallen. UCLA was turned down by the coach from Virginia Commonwealth? Butler? Are you kidding me?
San Luis Obispo
Coach Stevens of Butler was born in 1976, a year after Wooden's last banner, and VCU'S Shaka Smart in 1977, two years later. Talking about the Wooden years to most people is analogous to reminiscing about the Boston Tea Party.
Steve Alford and John Wooden have two things in common. They both come from Indiana and love basketball. The comparison ends there, so your writers can put down their pens and forget that. Alford leaves Lobos days after signing an extension, and he says "the lawyers will get together and figure that out." And, by the way, he will bring his son with him as a gift to UCLA. Nice way to get into a school that hundreds of qualified kids get turned away from.
Wooden and integrity were synonymous. It appears this guy doesn't have an ounce of integrity, and Dan Guerrero just knocked UCLA a step down, whether they win or lose. If you can't maintain the class and respect of the UCLA brand, it doesn't matter whether you have a bunch of kids who can put a basketball in a hole or not.
So UCLA fires Ben Howland, then hires Little Ben — only without the tourney wins.
UCLA desperately needed a coach bigger than the players, the place and equal to the venerable program; a coach who brings back Wooden memories with no need to duplicate him.
Bottom line, Mr. Guerrero: I'd drive 2 1/2 hours from the Inland Empire to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar coach UCLA; I'd never consider it for Steve Alford.
Would that we were all so perfect as T.J. Simers. Once again, after reading his column, I felt like I needed to take a shower. Steve Alford is a "dolt"? Really? Why does T.J.'s writing always revert to grammar school name-calling? Long ago it ceased to be amusing. Unfortunately, as with so many other targets of his vitriol, we will have many more years of this repetitive childishness to endure.
My one hesitation about writing this letter is that it is exactly the kind of reaction he wants, and will probably only secure his employment for years to come. That, Mr. Simers, is a shame.
Mike Brown, Mike D'Antoni, Ben Howland. Welcome to Club Med(iocre), Steve Alford.
Did I read it right? Did Matt Kemp, the self-appointed leader of the $230-million New Blue Dodgers, just promise us that his miserable season opener at home against their archrivals won't be the last time he has a bad series? Boy, I can hardly wait! The Dodgers need a real clubhouse leader. It may be only April, but it is not too soon to check the pulse and see if there is indeed a beating heart in this lineup.
What? The Dodgers, who already have an insane team payroll of more than $200 million, are talking about signing yet another player for over $25 million a year? That's crazy! That's mad! That's foolish! That's . . . what? Who? Clayton Kershaw? Oh. That's very different.
Never mind. Pay the man.
People are already questioning Don Mattingly's use of pitchers after his first move of season was to bring Koufax out of the bullpen.
Less bang for buck
Sure it's very early, but I saw so much in the Angels' opening series in Cincinnati that I feared I might see this season and fear I might see again.
Poor starting pitching after Jered Weaver, disappointing results from the overpaid 3-4 hitters, poor defense and ninth-inning bullpen woes.
Spring training is a time for optimism and yet after only four games, it seems like a long time ago.
With the Angels at 1-3, Mike Scioscia needs to instill and re-create the spirit and momentum they had during the Cactus League, where they compiled a more robust 10-20 record.
Can you dig it?