Bilas defends Howland: ‘This kind of talk is stupid’

Ben Howland has missed the NCAA tournament twice in three years, something that has only happened to UCLA two other times since 1960. Once celebrated as one of the top coaches in the country, Howland’s critics have grown loud this season — the most prominent being Bill Walton.

Still, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said the 10th-year coach deserves to stay, dismissing the speculation around Howland’s job as “unreasonableness.”

From a Q&A with the Daily Bruin:

I think it’s stupid. Absolutely stupid. If the people here, who love UCLA, want to destabilize a really good situation, they’re doing a good job. Ben Howland’s gone to three Final Fours. The rest of the Pac-12 coaches combined have gone to one. One. ‘Oh, I don’t like his style.’ Well, they’re leading the league in scoring. So if you don’t like his style, you don’t like anybody in the league.

There’s been a high standard set here, and there’s some unreasonableness that goes along with that. Doesn’t matter if you’re bald like me or your hair is red or what. If you want to be reasonable, then I think this kind of talk is stupid.

(Lots of other interesting tidbits over at the Daily Bruin, which also did Q&As with Rece Davis and Digger Phelps.)

Bilas also talked to the Los Angeles News Group’s Tom Hoffarth about the atmosphere that coaches face in general, as well as about his upcoming book “Toughness.” From that interview:

I think it’s far more difficult for teams and coaches to deal with pressure points than in the past. Twenty-five years ago, there were no cellphones or the Internet. Locker rooms were closed, so things said stayed there. If a player went back to his dorm and told his friends, “You wouldn’t believe what Coach K challenged me with today,” that was private, it didn’t get into the newspaper. … I had a teacher tell me there was a difference between caring what people think and worrying about what they think. Care about it, don’t worry about it.

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  • Mark

    Who cares what Jay Bilas thinks? How many Ucla games has he done over the past 5 years. That’s such a typical, outsider approach he’s taking. Those Final Fours were a long, longtime ago. Under Howland, Ucla has now been bad longer than it’s been good. Ucla is just not going to be good in he long run with Howland because his players don’t stick around long enough. Let’s say Ucla wins the conference this year, and maybe a couple of NCAA games. Well, we start right back at 0 next year. Muhammad goes pro, Parker transfers. No continuity, no sustained winning. I am so sick and tired of it.


      Who cares what you think, clueless? I’m old enough to remember the revolving door of Bartow, Cunningham and Brown who all resigned because of the kind of hot air you spew. ‘UCLA has now been bad longer than it’s been good’? Really? What are you smoking? The constant undercurrent of silly, whiny alumni criticism is what sets us apart from many major programs. You think you can just go out and upgrade? What coach in his right mind would walk into the kind of sophomoric backbiting that you represent? I said it before, I’ll say it again (get an adult to read this for you. have them read it to you very slowly) Howland is going nowhere. Unless he chooses to leave, which isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. You’d better hope he stays. Running Howland off does not improve the possibility of attracting a top tier coach. But that’s probably too complicated for you to follow.

    • Mike Shearer

      whatever Mark….go back to bruinsnation; they’ll love your whining.

  • Mark

    I meant that Ucla has been bad longer than its been good under Howland. Mediocre at best. 2008 was a long time ago. The program has been an unqualified disaster since. Plenty of up-and-coming coaches would take the job.

    Here are my issues with Howland:
    -Players don’t stick around, and it crushes the program
    -He doesn’t develop players
    -Howland is a terrible game manger. The timeout usage is ridiculous.
    -He doesn’t seem to know anything abut coaching offense.
    -He’s not recruiting players to fit his preferred style

    Now would someone please tell me want they like about Howland??


      I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to educate you but here’s the short response…

      1. Players leave every program in the country. The players who have left our program have not typically gone on to great success elsewhere and at the same time we have three fine players (and good people who reflect well on the university) who have transferred into our program.

      2.. This almost defies a reasonable response. Russell Westbrook was a lightly recruited shooting guard out of high school. He had few major college offers. Howland took him and developed him into a fine, highly drafted point guard. Kevin Love has said on many occasions he and Howland butted heads (which at the time made people like you very happy, thinking it confirmed what you had been trying to say about him) but that when he got out into the NBA he then could understand perfectly what coach Howland had been drilling into his head. The list of players who have benefitted from being coached by Ben Howland goes on and on. I find it peculiar when these players go on the record after having graduated and gone on to pro careers as to what a fine coach Ben Howland is this is dismissed by people like you as being phony and insincere.
      3. you don’t know enough about ‘game management’ nor do you have the insight necessary to know why late game timeouts are called.
      4. We currently lead the PAC 12 in scoring.
      5. How do you know? Don’t try to answer this it was a rhetorical question.

      • Mark

        Drew n, Mike Moser and Chase Stanback were all stars. Who knows how the Kendall Williams recruitment fell apart but he scored 40 the other week. Matt Carlino starts at BYU. I think he could have contributed.

        Andy sorry, but everyone knows the timeout usage is just atrocious. I really can’t stand Howland.

    • You can’t be Nestor, since your conjunctions, articles, and prepositions are pretty much intact.


      Anyway, not that you’ll be persuaded, but here’s a point-by-point refutation of your friendly fire:

      1. How many Bruins who’ve left early in recent years are starring/starting/playing regular minutes in the NBA?

      Some have transferred, but have they excelled?

      2. Only the deranged, inveterate liars, and BN hacks (sorry ‘about the redundancy!) can view the plethora of former-Bruins in the NBA and claim that Howland “doesn’t develop players.”

      3. Player substitution mismanagement may have cost Howland a championship, and I’d prefer that he save at least one timeout for the end of the game.

      4. The fact that the team is scoring well this year indicates that whatever Howland lacks in offensive wizardry he makes up for in the humility to admit his deficiencies and the wisdom to defer to those who know how to run an offense.

      5. A wise coach adjusts to the talent he has. Howland brought in the most talented class in the nation and has adjusted to fit them, which is just what any real fan would want.

  • Mark

    That play with under a minute just standing around before a turnover sums up everything.

  • Steve

    Mark you’re a clueless moron.. How many other coaches in the last 10 years can say they went to 3 straight Final Fours?

    Players don’t stick around, well in my opinion the reason players transfer is because of their unwillingness to work hard & compete.

    All the players that have transferred, what are they doing now? So they transfer to the UNLVs of the world & average 20 point per game in a weaker conference.. Big deal, so they’re just a Big Fish in a Small Pond.. How many of these so called star players are actually in the NBA or are even projected as a first or second round pick? I don’t think any of them are..

    Howland doesn’t develop his players? Are you kidding me? This is just a joke of a comment. Look at how many UCLA players are currently in the NBA since Howland took over the program.. Westbrook Afflalo, Farmar, Mbah a Moute, Hollins, Collison, Lee & etc..(Just naming some of the players that actually stayed 2 years or longer)

    Howland is a terrible game manager? You based that on the way he calls his timeouts? Howland has been doing that his entire coaching career..

    Doesn’t seem to know about coaching offense? Another joke of a comment,

    You don’t go to 3 Straight Final Fours without knowing how to coach offense..

    And like Mike said – UCLA is currently leading the Pac-12 in scoring..

    Doesn’t recruit the players to fit his preferred style? Again another ridiculous comment.. If I remember correctly everyone complained about Howland’s second recruiting class which had Aboya, Collison, Mbah A Moute b/c it was ranked so low.. It wasn’t in the top five like his first recruiting class.. His preferred style of playing, again, when UCLA went to those 3 – straight Final Fours, everyone was complaining that Howland style was boring & slow even though we were WINNING…(Tough man to man defense & scoring on average around 50 points per game)

    Kendall Williams, so what if he scored 40 points, so I guess you are saying that makes him an instant super star? What point are you trying to make?
    Doesn’t he play for New Mexico?

    • Mark

      I would have loved to have seen a team with Moser, Gordon, and Stanback all playing at once as juniors and seniors. And as for the players not fitting the system, that’s abundantly clear from the rash of transfers. Josh Smith–not a good fit. Jerime Anderson–not a good fit. Tyler Lamb, not a good fit. Reeves Nelson–nothing needs to be said there. Brendan Lane. I would rather have Kendall Williams play for Ucla for 4 years then have Trey Zeigler and Ray McCallum play for 0 years. Howland didn’t even bother to check out Derrick Williams. I think it’s abundantly clear now that Howland got lucky those early years, and those teams excelled in spite of him.

      And the game management issue isn’t even a discussion. Everything is summed up by the last minute vs Arizona. Ucla has a small lead, and just sits on the ball for 30 seconds before turning it over. That could have cost Ucla the game. Howland’s been pulling that garbage for years, and it’s definitely cost him games. Nothing kills momentum like calling a timeout after Ucla has scored a big basket. I’ve never heard one single person defend that strategy. Most of the analysts on TV are left scratching their heads. In fact, they usually misspeak and assume the opposing coach has a called a timeout. It’s like Howland’s doing them a favor by sabotaging Ucla’s momentum.

      Ok, fine, so this team is winning some games. Well, what next season? We start from scratch. The best players–Drew and Muhammed–are gone. I think it’s a pretty good bet that Anderson and/or Parker are gone, too. Who knows who else? A team can’t be consistently good losing 3-4 players per season. THAT IS INDISPUTABLE.