UCLA hires New Mexico’s Steve Alford

UCLA has officially hired New Mexico head coach Steve Alford, the school announced Saturday morning.

“Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA. Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood. We welcome Steve, his wife Tanya, and children Kory, Bryce and Kayla to the Bruin family and look forward to many years of success.”

Alford will reportedly make $2.6 million per year on a seven-year contract.

The coach had just agreed to a 10-year contract extension with the Lobos that reportedly paid him $2 million a year including incentives, but a buyout of just $150,000 left the door open for the Bruins. The buyout was set to increase to $1 million on April 1. Continue reading

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Kareem interested in coaching UCLA

Last night, Jimmy Kimmel asked former UCLA great and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was asked about the job opening at his alma mater. Skip to around 1:50 in the above clip to watch.

“I certainly would be interested in coaching the team,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “It would be great to have an opportunity to restore the program to what it was. Not in terms necessarily of winning, but having the guys learn, get their degrees, and learn about how to play the game of basketball. I think that’s really important. UCLA is still putting out fine scholars, but the basketball program has suffered a little bit.”

Recently fired head coach Ben Howland said in his final press conference that every player who stayed with him for four years graduated with a degree. Abdul-Jabbar’s chances at the job are also close to zero.

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Full teleconference transcript on Howland firing

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero spoke with media members for 12 minutes after the school announced that it had fired men’s basketball coach Ben Howland. Here is the full transcript.

Guerrero’s opening statement:

Earlier this afternoon, I met with Coach Ben Howland. We had a nice conversation about the program and a number of things. Subsequent to that discussion, I informed him that we were relieving him of his duties as a head coach at UCLA, and that we would be moving forward with a search as soon as possible.

Q: What were the reasons behind the decision? Continue reading

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Guerrero: Decision to fire Howland was made today

Athletic director Dan Guerrero didn’t get into too many specifics in today’s teleconference on coach Ben Howland’s firing, but here are a few quick notes. Guerrero took questions for roughly 12 minutes.

– Guerrero said he did not make the decision until he flew back to Los Angeles from Austin this afternoon. He first met with Chancellor Gene Block before meeting Ben Howland to officially deliver the news.

– Howland’s compensation will be the $3.5 million left on his contract. Guerrero said that cost would be mitigated should Howland find another job. As for where the money will come from, Guerrero said: “We have an $80 million budget. We’re incorporate the buyout as part of that budget. … I believe we’ve got it covered.”

– Guerrero did not want to comment on speculation that Howland’s job could have been saved by a tournament run with a non-injured Jordan Adams, but did say this: “The fact that we had such a depleted roster, in many respects, is in part one of the reasons for making the decision.”

– On the coaching search: “We’ll look for someone who can play a fun brand of basketball, but also a quality brand of basketball. … We don’t want to bring in a coach that’s going to average 50 points per game.”

Guerrero said he will not contact a target that is still currently coaching in the NCAA tournament. He added that while college coaches have an edge, NBA coaches will also be considered.

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Report: Howland to be fired Sunday

Multiple reports indicate that UCLA could fire head coach Ben Howland as soon as Sunday.

Recruiting guru Alex Kline first reported the news, and SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria followed up with more details.

Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday evening that Howland had been notified of his firing, with an official announcement to come within the next 48 hours.

“Contrary to multiple media reports this evening, UCLA has not fired men’s basketball coach Ben Howland,” the school said in a statement.

According to Zagoria, UCLA is looking at Florida’s Billy Donovan, Butler’s Brad Stevens, VCU’s Shaka Smart, Villanova’s Jay Wright and North Carolina State’s Mark Gottfried. Kline’s source said Smart is the No. 1 target, and that Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad are both headed for the NBA. Continue reading

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UCLA’s season ends with a whimper

AUSTIN, Texas — Without Jordan Adams, sixth-seeded UCLA closed out its turbulent season with a flatlined performance against No. 11-seed Minnesota.

The Bruins were the slated underdog all week long. Once the game actually began at the Frank Erwin Center, they did nothing but reaffirm that talk in a 83-63 loss. What started out as an ugly but mutually designed affair — the teams missed their first 12 combined field goal attempts — eventually turned into a Gophers rout.

Despite shooting 26.7 percent in the first half, UCLA stayed within 10 points at the intermission due to a surprisingly strong rebounding effort. The team ended up with a 42-36 edge on the glass, grabbing 19 offensive boards on 43 missed shots.

It wasn’t until Minnesota point guard Andre Hollins caught fire in the second half that the Bruins were completely sunk. The sophomore scored 23 points after halftime, and added nine rebounds to go with five assists.

Some notes from the game. Continue reading

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Minnesota 35, UCLA 25: Halftime update

AUSTIN, Texas — All week long, UCLA insisted it was ready for the big stage.

The No. 6-seeded Bruins embraced the underdog role as it opened the NCAA tournament. They would prove the doubters wrong, they said, just as they had done on their way to a regular-season Pac-12 title.

But just 20 minutes into their matchup against No. 11-seed Minnesota, UCLA barely looked like a team that belonged in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins shot 8-of-30 from the field before halftime as it gave up a 35-25 lead to the Gophers. Continue reading

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CSUN head coach candidates include UCLA assistants

UCLA assistant coaches Scott Garson and Phil Matthews are candidates for the Cal State Northridge head coaching vacancy. Garson has been with the Bruins for seven years, while Matthews has for three.

Matadors athletic director Brandon Martin, hired in late February, did not renew Bobby Braswell’s contract — ending the coach’s 17-year tenure. The other finalists for the position are Los Angeles D-Fenders coach Reggie Theus, Cal State Dominguez Hills coach Damaine Powell and Gonzaga assistant Donny Daniels.

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Brown’s sprained ankle another hit to thin lineup

With UCLA down to a seven-man rotation, coach Ben Howland will need to turn to walk-ons if anyone else gets injured between now and Friday’s 6:57 p.m. PT tipoff against Minnesota.

Sophomore guard David Brown, who hit a 3-pointer in his 13 minutes of play this season, would have been the first man off the bench had he not sprained his ankle in yesterday’s practice. He was wearing a boot over his left foot in today’s public shootaround. Howland said Sooren Derboghosian will be the first big he’ll use, while Aubrey Williams will be the first guard. Both have played a total of seven minutes.

Freshman Jordan Adams did not make the trip to Austin, Texas for the NCAA tournament after undergoing surgery this week.

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