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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