For taking UCLA to its first Sweet Sixteen in six years, Steve Alford’s debut in Los Angeles earned him a spot as one of college basketball’s top-50 coaches.
No. 36 isn’t a lofty spot for someone at the helm of one of the sport’s most recognizable programs, but Alford also benefited in inheriting a unique college star in All-American point guard Kyle Anderson, as well as a capable scorer in Jordan Adams.
But nevertheless turned around a team that was embarrassed in the first round a year ago, and successfully implemented an up-tempo style that wasn’t apparent in his years at New Mexico.
UCLA’s introduction of Alford (and his utterly bonkers contract buyout clause) went about as poorly as it possibly could have, but Alford very quickly salvaged it by getting a great season out of the uniquely talented players (Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams) former coach Ben Howland left behind. Alford has also begun to shore up the tricky West Coast recruiting circuit that Howland totally alienated.
Two spots ahead of Alford is Colorado’s Tad Boyle, the conference’s only other name in the Nos. 50-25 list.
Several Pac-12 coaches just missed the cut: Oregon’s Dana Altman (sullied by the program’s alleged rape scandal); Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins (without a job if not for his Sweet Sixteen run); Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak (a year away from the season); Cal’s Cuonzo Martin and Arizona State’s Herb Sendek.
The rankings weigh present accomplishments more than it does legacies.
ESPN hasn’t released its top 25 yet, but you can certainly bet on Arizona’s Sean Miller making the list after a trip to the Elite Eight. Younger brother Archie Miller earned the No. 26 spot for taking Dayton to the same round.