April 2, 2013 |
I saw the guy working on TV, his team surprising folks in the NCAA tournament, but honestly I don't even know his first name now that he has become USC's basketball coach. But he has to be more interesting and exciting than the dolt introduced as UCLA basketball coach Tuesday. It's pretty well understood that whoever coaches UCLA basketball is a dead man walking, it being only a matter of time before the alumni agree he'll never be another John Wooden. But this might be the first time UCLA actually hired a dead man. Yeesh, the John Wooden statue outside of Pauley had more life to it than Steve Alford, the robot who sputtered nonstop platitudes while never once answering a question directly.
March 30, 2013 |
Steve Alford might not seem to have many ties to UCLA basketball. He played at Indiana for Coach Bob Knight, who seemed to go out of his way to praise Pete Newell at the expense of John Wooden, who like Alford was an all-state high school player in Indiana who became an All-American in college and led his team to an NCAA title. But here's a nugget I found from an extensive 1997 story I did on Alford when he was coaching at Southwest Missouri State. After Alford was released by the Sacramento Kings in 1992, he was offered a job to coach Division III Manchester College in Indiana. The school was looking for a home-state hero to rescue a struggling basketball program.
March 25, 2013 |
Ben Howland, who led UCLA to three Final Fours, was fired Sunday, the school announced, ending the longest tenure for a Bruins coach since John Wooden retired in 1975. Howland spent 10 seasons in Westwood, finishing with a 233-107 record. He is coming off one of his best coaching performances, with the Bruins winning the Pac-12 Conference regular-season championship. Yet his star had fallen considerably since he took UCLA to consecutive Final Fours in 2006, '07 and '08. He was informed Sunday that he was fired.
March 19, 2013 |
There is unfinished family business brewing, though Minnesota guard Austin Hollins was unaware of it. Hollins, a 6-foot-4 guard, is eagerly anticipating his chance to play against UCLA in the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which he will get in Austin, Texas, on Friday. After spending Selection Sunday unsure whether the Golden Gophers would be chosen to advance, Hollins had a revelation: "We have a new opportunity. " The game fell right out of the family tree.
February 14, 2013 |
The players Cori Close inherited when she took over as coach of the UCLA women's basketball program were not a cheerful bunch. It was the spring of 2011 and the Bruins had just lost their previous coach, the charismatic Nikki Caldwell, who bolted to Louisiana State for more money and a job closer to family. Fans grumbled, wondering if Athletic Director Dan Guerrero had tried hard enough to keep Caldwell. The players felt betrayed. "We had a lot of trust issues," forward Jasmine Dixon recalls.
January 19, 2013 |
In a week when you thought you might have heard it all, I present to you Bill Walton speaking to USC students and bashing UCLA basketball. "I never knew they had pretty girls here at USC," began Walton, one of UCLA's all-time greats, after being introduced to a packed auditorium of sports business students. And for the next two hours he wouldn't shut up, entertaining, inspiring, opinionated, off the wall and dedicated to preserving the memory of John Wooden. It was all part of a bus tour to promote the Pac-12 Networks, Walton trumpeting an upcoming game in his own way. "What should be an absolute unbelievable game will be ruined by the style of the UCLA basketball team who loves to do nothing but call timeouts and run plays.