Former UCLA coach Ben Howland to land at Mississippi State

Two years after he was fired by UCLA, Ben Howland is set to return to coaching. Multiple reports indicated today that the 57-year-old has reached an agreement with Mississippi State — a program that has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

ESPN was the first of multiple outlets to report the news today.

The architect of three straight Final Four runs in Westwood, Howland was nevertheless fired after missing the tournament in two of his last five seasons. His name emerged for other job openings last offseason, including Marquette and Oregon State, but nothing worked out.

“I wish I had taken one of the jobs I turned down last spring,” he told USA Today earlier this year. “I miss it so bad.”

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Report: Ben Howland a serious candidate for Oregon State head coach opening

After being fired by UCLA a year ago, Ben Howland may be employed again soon.

Multiple reports indicate that the architect of the Bruins’ three straight Final Fours is Oregon State’s top target after firing Craig Robinson.

Should Howland become the replacement, he would inherit arguably the toughest job in the Pac-12. A spot that was already unattractive when Robinson arrived in 2008 has not gotten any prettier. In the last six years, the Beavers never finished above .500 overall and only once placed higher than eighth in the conference. The program has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1990.

Athletic director Bob De Carolis said at a press conference this week that despite affirming Robinson’s status in March, he changed his mind after taking off “orange-colored glasses.” That may not have been the only impetus. Continue reading

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Tony Parker not frustrated by mercurial sophomore season

UCLA forward Tony Parker has tripled his playing time, going from 6.3 minutes per game as a freshman to 18.9 as a sophomore.

Other than that, he said, there isn’t anything else new about his second go-round with the Bruins.

“I play,” he said. “That’s the difference. That’s the only really big difference, is I play.”

That alone has been enough to keep him patient. Parker insisted this week that he isn’t frustrated by his up-and-down season under first-year head coach Steve Alford, one captured in his performances this past week: a career-high 22 points against Stanford, followed by 0 points against Cal.

He committed two fouls in 85 seconds on Sunday against the Bears, and said he should have adjusted his play more quickly to what the officials were calling. Continue reading

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Zach LaVine talks about decision to stick with UCLA

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Last June, Zach LaVine became UCLA’s first commitment of the 2013 class. A standout scorer at Bothell High, he was named Washington’s Mr. Basketball and also rated the No. 44 player in the country by Rivals.com. Sophomore guard Jordan Adams already praised LaVine as one of the top five athletes he’s ever played with.

We sat down and talked a bit about his game, his decision to stick with the Bruins despite a coaching change, and the state of UCLA’s dorms.

Q: What’s your impression of the team and how you fit in?

We’re going to be a lot of fun. What I bring is a scorer, athletic, can dribble. I do whatever coach needs me to do. We’re already a pretty close team. We’re all friends with each other, joke around. We’re going to be really good. Me and Noah (Allen) are roommates right now. Wanaah (Bail)’s right across the hall. We’re all in a little triangle right now. Continue reading

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Jordan Adams talks rehab and new role as No. 1 scorer

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Jordan Adams entered his freshman season as the least-heralded member of UCLA’s No. 2 recruiting class. He quickly turned into one of the Bruins’ most effective scorers, averaging 15.3 points per game (fifth in the Pac-12) until he broke his foot in the conference tournament semifinals.

Expected to now be the team’s primary option, he’ll return to the court sometime in August. He talked this week about his rehab, his impressions of the new coaching staff, and some reflections on last season.

Q: Where are you in your rehab?

I’m close to getting back on the court. I’ve talked to the trainers and the doctors; they said early August, middle of August. … Easing back into it. They’ll let me decide when I want to officially come back. It’ll be my decision at the end, but I’m still not cleared until August. Continue reading

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