Notes from Steve Alford’s official introduction

UCLA did its best to give new coach Steve Alford a warm welcome, rolling out a grand stage for him on the Pauley Pavilion floor Tuesday at noon. Here’s the full scene from the day as well as a photo gallery featuring Shaquille O’Neal, but these are the main highlights.

— Speaking in front of the media in-person for the first time, Alford mostly re-hashed the bits of his history he touched on earlier this week. He talked again about John Wooden, about playing for high-school crowds of 10,000, about his 1984 Olympic experience — adding that it was fun to start in the same backcourt as Michael Jordan.

He also talked about his lack of patience, saying somewhat oddly, “I’d just as soon you give me a two-foot putt than make me putt it.”

Also, some more on Wooden: “All you’ve got to do is walk around this campus and you see Coach Wooden’s mark on everything. I think that’s what made him so special and that’s probably what I — I did know as a youngster, but as I grew and got into the profession, I saw how his handprint wasn’t just on winning basketball games. When you walk across campus, it’s in the academic world. It’s in being friendly and being nice to people. You just see his touch on everything. It was pretty amazing walking across this floor this morning and seeing his gold seat over there.”

— If you’re worried about transfers out, freshman Tony Parker appears to be the only one you need to keep an eye on. The center was still at home in Georgia for an extended break, but will return to school this week. Norman Powell said he is staying, but admitted that he had considering transferring to San Diego State — especially if Ben Howland hadn’t been fired. He expressed excitement for the future, and said one of his assistant coaches in high school played for Alford at Iowa.

Players were scheduled for an afternoon meeting with Alford, and generally expressed optimism about playing for him.

Shabazz Muhammad was also absent from the festivities, but he is NBA-bound. Just waiting for the inevitable announcement on that at this point.

— Jordan Adams has upgraded from wheelchair to scooter, one which has a knee rest to keep pressure off his broken right foot. He said he’s six weeks away from getting his cast removed. He also isn’t allowed to drive right now since that would put pressure on the foot, but he doesn’t have a car here anyway.

— By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about Alford’s defense of Pierre Pierce back in 2002, touched on in an earlier blog post. (CBS Sports’ Dan Bernstein had some particularly livid words for Alford.)

Questioned about the incident again on Tuesday, Alford said: “All I can tell you with that situation is I followed everything that the University of Iowa, the administration, the lawyers that were hired, I did everything that I was supposed to do at the University of Iowa in that situation.”

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said that history was vetted during the hiring process, but declined to go into any detail about what Alford had to say about the episode.

“We feel, where we are now in the situation — it happened 11 years ago,” Guerrero said. “He gets a clean slate here. We move forward and go from there.”

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  • Marc

    I watched it live on pac12 website. Didn’t like his tone when questioned about that incident, for which he’s never publicly apologized.

    Pretty bad stuff, too, if true; using a “Christian” student sports organization to try to get her to drop the charges? That sounds worse than the public “backing” of his player.

  • Sam C

    While some of his actions at iowa were deplorable, I think we all need to move forward. Hopefully he has learned since then and there will not be another such incident. Any missteps here will be scrutinized 100 fold and the tolerance level will be zero. This is ucla after all

    • Marc

      I’m talking about his answer today. I agree that people have every right to earn second chances, perhaps more depending on the situation. What we appear to have here is a guy who has never owned up to that incident, ever. He justified it to himself and has never looked back. I though his tone today was harsh, angry.

      What it was, was a missed upportunity for him. He could have shown some humility and remorse, yet he chose to sound angry.

      • Lifelong Bruin Fan

        Watch it again. Totally disagree that he sounded “harsh, angry.” He answered the question diplomatically in a matter-of-fact manner.

  • disqus_RIz2ko4CAZ

    Does anyone know who his assistant coaches will be? By the way, I’m not going to miss Bazz. Adams, baby!

  • Thanks for the posts Jack. Just a quick heads up to your photographer: Pauley Pavillion is misspelled as “Paulie Pavillion” in all the photo gallery captions.

  • The more I learn about Alford, the more I wish we got Brad Stevens.

    • Mark

      You can wish all you want, but Stevens isn’t coming. So stop talking about it.

      • Marc

        Well. The pressure is now on to rid UCLA of Dan Guerrero.

        When that happens and UCLA brings in an AD that gets “it”, he will see that a new coach is needed. Then, and he will do it properly (lining someone up before the dismissal), then UCLA can get a quality coach like Gregg Marshall.

        • Mark

          Where does this outlook leave you as a fan? For this entire regular season, I was quite clear in my motivation: Too much success would be Howland stays, and the program suffers in the long run. I was willing to trade some losses for a chance at drastically improving the future.

          Now we have the fresh start many of us were hoping for. But what about you personally? Alford’s going to get 3 years no matter what, right? Do you want 3 seasons of no tournament appearances and no Pac 10 championships? That’s fine if you do, I won’t hold it against you. But I don’t think you can have it both ways.

          What scenario is going to lead to Guerrero’s ouster? Sorry, but wins and losses aren’t really what he’s judged on (by they way Ucla wins A TON in other sports besides football and basketball). Ucla’s athletic department as a whole is the envy of just about the entire nation.

          Rather, Guerrero’s accountability rests of balancing the books and maintaining Ucla’s reputation. UCLA is a veritable cash cow, especially with the new Pac 12 TV deal. Yes, people complain about empty seats at Pauley, but someone has clearly crunched the numbers and determined that making the schedule amenable to TV is more lucrative than filling the arena. As far as reputation, as long as too many players don’t get arrested, or there is no major transgression with a coach, then Guerrero will be fine. Trust me, Chancellor Block has way more issues on his mind than if whether or not Ucla gets to a BCS bowl or goes to another Final Four.

          And back to Alford, I get that he’s not your first-choice coach. Me as well, I would have preferred Few or Stevens and maybe even Marshall. But not everybody’s interested, not everybody’s a good fit. I need more “dirt” on Alford than one error in judgement 10 years ago. Until then, I’m sticking with him!

          • Marc

            In the case that I detailed, the team does not need to do poorly.

            Let’s say a new AD comes on board; that AD has every right to make changes for whatever reason. Maybe the new GM doesn’t like Alford’s attitude. Boom, he’s gone. It happens in college sports; new AD comes on board; they are not tied to the coaches in any way.

            Also, UCLA has always won big in all other sports; they didn’t get over 100 NCAA championships all under Dan’s watch. The fact is the two revenue sports are most important. It’s a lie to say otherwise; they, in part, fund the whole athletic department.

            Neither has been particularly stellar under Dan’s watch. Football took a new direction last fall and we all hope it continues in that direction. Finally, the Rosebowl attendance should steadily increase for the first time in a long time. Pauley was half empty all last season; I believe that wont completely change under the new coach. Part of it is the ridiculous LED lifting and such, along with the high prices. Dan was right; not all if the attendance issues were Ben’s fault.

          • Mark

            But what I’m saying is that I don’t see a scenario in which Guerrero gets fired…unless there is some major, major catastrophe. The TV deal is a huge cashcow. I really don’t think there is a significant difference in the total universe of revenue whether Pauley has 8K fans or 12K fans. The reason we have games at 6 pm on a weeknight or 9 pm on a Sunday is to fit TV, and someone has already determined that’s more revenue-friendly than what’s convenient for fans actually attending. Unless there’s some other big scandal in the athletic department, I don’t see him being removed.

            Furthermore, a new AD can’t simply fire big money coaches out of the blue. You have to take into account the buyout, which as we’ve learned can be pretty significant.

        • Mark

          Guerrero just got extended through 2019, so clearly Chancellor Block is a fan.

          I can see from a fan’s perspective the frustration with Guerrero. He whiffed twice on hiring football coaches. He held on to Howland a season too long. For too many years it was too difficult to get elite football players through the admissions gauntlet. And worst of all, Pauley is a complete disaster. I hate the new version even more than the old version. We should have torn that dump down and built a complete replica of San Diego State’s arena. Every seat has a great view and the fans are right on top of the action. Alas, I can’t solve all the world’s problems on my own…

  • Bru-Crew_UCLA

    Al-Fraud was a very bad hire. I read the info regarding the Iowa incident and that was a foul thing he did. The poor woman was raped & U try to silence her? Those of us who put morals & support of rape victims B4 victories, could never support this guy. He still believes he did the right thing. What a jerk. What an absolute embarrassment for UCLA. Please Fire Guerrero now.

    • “US”? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

      • maze949

        Unrequited love…Blow Joe just can’t quit Bru-Crew.

  • Mark

    I’m so sick and tired of people dredging up this Pierce incident that was 10 years ago. Go read the report from the university committee. The punch line is that the university and the athletic department didn’t know how to handle criminal accusations involving an athlete. Yes, the bungled it, but law enforcement played its proper role and the case was adjudicated. There was no hint of any kind of evidence suppression or a cover. The report even acknowledges the intervention of the Christian group as well intentioned, though it was clumsily effectuated. Alford’s biggest misstep seems to be publicly supporting his player.

    That being said, Alford and Ucla should just get in front of this. It comes via a very simple statement: “What happened with Pierce was a regrettable situation and I made some errors in judgement. I’ve had time to reflect over the intervening 10 years and I’ve learned a lot. As part of my hiring process at Ucla we’ve reviewed the protocol for criminal charges against student athletes. Additionally, all of our student athletes undergo sensitivity and anti sexual harassment training.”

    If local journalists are really worried about this topic, them I challenge them to do some fresh reporting on the issue. Dig deep and find out what the parties involved have to say with 10 years perspective.

    • FreeShabazz


  • Mark

    All of you in the anti-Alford camp have a decision to make: either support him or abandon the team. Otherwise it will be a very long 7 years. But make your decision wisely. Read all the information about the Pierce incident, and make sure you are informed of Alford’s behavior and record over the past 10 years.

    The attitudes expressed herein are hilariously ironic. For so long I was on an island bashing Howland while every one else dished to his defense. Now I support the new coach and everyone wants to dismiss him before he’s even coached a game. Well, I plan on being happy the next 7 years with Alford. If you guys want to be miserable, sp be it.

    • FreeShabazz

      TROJAN MARK!!!

    • maze949

      Haha, moronic mark giving ultimatums. That’s rich!

      • Mark

        you just can’t stand that I’m right at every turn and I’ve FORGOTTEN more about this than you’ll ever know

        • maze949

          Haha…yeah, you went to UCLA. You’re my little puppet…just like Blow Joe.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    For those of you who missed the press conference, you can watch it by going to the Pac 12 network website and signing in with your cable provider account. (You need to have the Pac-12 network channel as part of your programming package.)

    Some impressions that I had watching the press conference and his one-on-one interview.

    1. It is obvious that Coach Alford understands and respects UCLA’s basketball tradition. He repeatedly referenced with enthusiasm UCLA’s elite status in college basketball and even referred to UCLA without skipping a beat as the “premier college basketball program.” Certainly the fact that his father coached at Coach Wooden’s high school is part of the reason he is aware of the tradition at UCLA, and I also think he is old enough to have observed UCLA when it was still *the* dominant program. Perhaps some of the younger coaches (Stevens, Smart) are not old enough and without a family influence to have been exposed to UCLA’s position in college basketball history, but in Alford’s case it is apparent that he is fully aware of the UCLA tradition and excited about being the new basketball head coach. Definitely a positive.

    2. I get the feeling that Coach Alford will be a good recruiter who will be able to sell UCLA (not that it necessarily needs to be “sold”) for its history, tradition, and academic excellence. I look forward to him landing some great recruits.

    Welcome to UCLA, Coach Alford! And Go Bruins!

  • TJ Simers hit the nail on the head.

    • drakejr

      -said no sane person ever

      • disqus_9T0WbttUGT

        Simers needs to shut up.

  • Come to Duke Tony Parker!