Is Steve Alford the anti-Bob Knight?

For some more insight into the life of UCLA head coach Steve Alford, try this Los Angeles Times profile from 1997. Alford, then 32, was coaching Southwest Missouri State and two years away from his lone Sweet Sixteen appearance.

There’s all sorts of anecdotes in the piece, from Alford practicing his shot by tossing Ping-Pong balls into Pringles cans, to him making 218 straight free throws when challenged by a player to beat 23. Most interesting might be his relationship with former coach and mentor Bob Knight, with whom he won an Olympic gold medal in 1984 and an NCAA championship in 1987.

Alford got Knight, a man who thinks “hope” is the worst word in the English language, to tell him this: “I just want you to know how much I appreciate you. You stand for everything this program is about. I don’t think I could care about you more than I do if you were my own son.” Continue reading

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New UCLA head coach Steve Alford: The good, the bad, the ugly

Former New Mexico coach Steve Alford isn’t a home-run hit as a coaching hire, but under the circumstances, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero could have done worse. With Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart recommitted to their respective programs, the Bruins’ were running out of big-name options.

Alford’s recent 10-year extension with the Lobos proved to be a minor obstacle, and Guerrero had clearly been communicating with the coach about the job for at least the past few days. Here’s a look at what the 48-year-old Alford brings to Westwood.

The good: Continue reading

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Full transcript from UCLA’s AD Dan Guerrero on hiring Steve Alford

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero’s opening statement:

Tremendously exciting day for me and the entire UCLA family as we are proud to announce the hiring of Steve Alford as the new men’s basketball coach. Since last Sunday, obviously, the last six days have been pretty crazy, quite a whirlwind. There was a great deal of interest from many circles for this job. During the past several days, I received a lot of input from individuals both inside and out of basketball. Around the game of basketball as well. These individuals have provided great input, great insight, and certainly helped contribute to where we are today.

I think what resonated most about these conversations is how much alignment of vision there was between me and many others in terms of the characteristics that were important in the next coach. In Steve Alford, we found exactly what we were seeking. An outstanding coach, a great competitor, an excellent teacher of the game, builder of programs, someone who cares deeply about his players and his family. An individual that values academics, that has established a habit of winning in his respective programs. Maybe more importantly, an individual who really wanted to accept the challenge of being the head coach at the UCLA.

I can’t tell you again how thrilled again I am to have Steve and his family join us. I believe he will build this program the right way.

Q: When did you know he became available considering he had just agreed to a contract extension at New Mexico? Continue reading

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UCLA hires New Mexico’s Steve Alford

UCLA has officially hired New Mexico head coach Steve Alford, the school announced Saturday morning.

“Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA. Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood. We welcome Steve, his wife Tanya, and children Kory, Bryce and Kayla to the Bruin family and look forward to many years of success.”

Alford will reportedly make $2.6 million per year on a seven-year contract.

The coach had just agreed to a 10-year contract extension with the Lobos that reportedly paid him $2 million a year including incentives, but a buyout of just $150,000 left the door open for the Bruins. The buyout was set to increase to $1 million on April 1. Continue reading

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Steve Lavin surprised UCLA didn’t have coach ‘in the wings’

Former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin decided to pipe in on his old school’s coaching search today. On SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation channel, he wondered why the Bruins the process has lasted almost a full week since Ben Howland’s official firing on Sunday.

“I’m surprised that they didn’t have their pick [waiting] in the wings because historically, programs like UCLA, they’ve got someone in the wings,” said Lavin, now coaching at St. John’s. “They are kinda treading water, but there’s been the wink and the understanding that it is a done deal.

“I know in my case Ben Howland was someone that was really in position six months, maybe even a year, in advance of him becoming the coach.” Continue reading

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Butler’s Brad Stevens turns down UCLA

All the biggest names in UCLA’s coaching search are likely off the market.

Butler’s Brad Stevens will remain in Indianapolis, multiple reports indicated this morning. The 36-year-old head coach was a top target for the Bruins after the team officially fired Ben Howland on Sunday after 10 seasons. Stevens led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national title games in 2010 and 2011, and will be a critical part of the team’s transition to the new Big East next season.

An Indiana native, the coaching wunderkind reportedly makes $1 million a year and has turned down multiple offers from bigger-name programs. Stevens tweeted this morning: “Love walking thru Hinkle (Fieldhouse) in the morning… Anxious to get started on our spring workouts next week.” Continue reading

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Stevens, a top target, gives ‘no comment’ on UCLA

While reports indicate that UCLA is strongly pursuing Butler coach Brad Stevens, whether or not the 36-year-old is inclined to leave remains unclear.

First were the late Wednesday night television reports on KTLA and KCAL9 that Stevens was on the Westwood campus yesterday, but the OC Register reported that the coach was definitely in Indianapolis by Thursday morning.

A private jet with the tail number N700QA flew from LAX on Monday and stayed in Indianapolis for almost exactly 24 hours; rumors abound that the plane carried UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero or another administration member, but that is also unconfirmed.

When approached by the Indianapolis Star this morning at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, Stevens mouthed the words “no comment.” Continue reading

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Gottfried tweets commitment to N.C. State

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried reaffirmed his commitment to the school via Twitter on Wednesday night. Although he wasn’t a popular fan pick to fill the UCLA vacancy left by the recently fired Ben Howland, the former Bruins assistant had been mentioned as a candidate.

The 49-year-old worked on Jim Harrick’s staff during the 1995 national championship run. A source said Gottfried — who just finished his second season in Raleigh — was interested but had not been contacted by UCLA, adding that former players were supportive of his hire. previously reported that Bruins boosters wanted Gottfried.

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