Steve Alford ranked No. 36 on ESPN’s list of top college basketball coaches

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.

From ESPN: Continue reading

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UCLA radio announcer Chris Roberts will retire in 2015

UCLA radio announcer Chris Roberts will retire after the 2014-15 season, ending a tenure that has spanned over two decades.

Having served as the school’s radio voice for football and basketball since 1992, Roberts will leave as the program’s longest-serving play-by-play announcer — tying the late Fred Hessler. Also presence on Los Angeles radio since 1982, Roberts has won the Golden Mike Award four times and joined the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2012.

He will be honored at both the Rose Bowl and Pauley Pavilion during his final run, and will retire with lifetime football and basketball season tickets.

“I cannot put into words what it has meant to be the ‘Voice of UCLA’ for all these years,” Roberts said in a statement. “The Bruins have played a major role in my life for the past two-plus decades and hopefully my broadcasts have reflected this. Our athletes, coaches and administrators here in Westwood are first-class, and it has been an absolute delight providing the soundtrack for some of their greatest accomplishments.

“All athletes would love the chance to go out on top, and with both UCLA Football and Basketball poised to do great things in 2014-15, as a broadcaster, I am in the envious position of actually having that very opportunity.”

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UCLA announces new basketball practice facility, estimated to cost $30-40 million

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UCLA will spend an estimated $30-40 million on a new basketball practice facility, the school announced Thursday afternoon.

The new building will be located near the Bruins’ home court of Pauley Pavilion, immediately south of the Los Angeles Tennis Center and west of the planned $50 million football facility. The school said private donations will fund the project — which will house practice gyms for both men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well locker rooms and a training area. Continue reading

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NBA combine roundup: Zach LaVine wows with athleticism

To understand just how well Zach LaVine did at this week’s NBA Draft Combine, take a look at these numbers: first, second, eighth, fourth, third.

That’s what he placed in strength and agility drills among 59 participants, doing so with — respectively — a 10.42-second lane agility drill, a 2.8-second shuttle run, a 3.19-second three-quarter sprint, a 33.5-inch standing vertical, and a 41.5-inch max vertical. No one else placed top-10 in all five.

The NBA combine doesn’t usually move draft stock as much as the NFL’s does, so top prospects often sit out of drills. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid all sat out completely this year, not even traveling to Chicago for interviews and measurements.

That said, this is exactly the type of environment LaVine was going to use to his advantage. Continue reading

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UCLA football, men’s basketball APR scores trending up

Both UCLA football and men’s basketball teams have earned their highest academic progress rates in a decade.

The former scored a four-year APR of 979 for the 2012-13 academic year, second in the Pac-12 behind Stanford. The program’s multi-year score has improved each year since it recorded a 915 in 2004-05.

Basketball was seventh in the conference at 969 — a significant improvement from the 951, 942 and 948 it scored in the three prior academic years.

Head coach Jim Mora earned a $50,000 bonus for having the football team reach an APR of at least 930, and a graduation success rate of more than 56 percent. Steve Alford earned a $10,000 bonus for having the men’s basketball team clear an APR of 925.

To compete in the NCAA postseason, teams must have a minimum four-year APR of 900 or a two-year average of 930. Starting in 2014-15, that bar rises to 930 and 940.

The five UCLA teams that earned perfect single-year APR scores of 1,000 were baseball, women’s cross country, women’s volleyball, women’s water polo and women’s golf — which also scored perfectly on its four-year average. Continue reading

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UCLA announces dates of Gonzaga home-and-home series

UCLA officially announced the dates of its upcoming home-and-home basketball series against Gonzaga.

The Bruins will host the Bulldogs at Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 13, 2014 — part of head coach Steve Alford’s efforts to beef up the team’s nonconference slate. UCLA will visit Spokane on Dec. 12, 2015, though that game could be moved to another December date.

Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth first announced the series last month.

The two teams last played each other on March 23, 2006, in one of the most memorable Sweet Sixteen matchups ever. The Bulldogs last visited Pauley Pavilion in 1999.

The Bruins’ nonconference schedule also includes a game against Kentucky on Dec. 20, part of the inaugural CBS Sports Classic at Chicago’s United Center.

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UCLA announces December game against Kentucky at United Center

UCLA officially announced that it will play Kentucky at Chicago’s United Center on Dec. 20, setting up a marquee matchup against John Calipari’s national runner-up Wildcats.

Part of the CBS Sports Classic, the game will tip off at approximately 12:30 p.m. PT and be broadcast on — naturally — CBS. The event was first reported by the Columbus Dispatch in March.

Also part of the rotating doubleheader are North Carolina and Ohio State, who will play at 10 a.m. PT. Continue reading

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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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Kyle Anderson named UCLA’s most valuable player at team banquet

This was a no-brainer.

After leading UCLA to its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008, point guard Kyle Anderson was named the team’s MVP during Monday night’s year-end banquet at the Beverly Hilton. After averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists — leading the Bruins in the latter two — the third-team AP All-American is headed to the NBA along with former teammates Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine.

Adams, who led UCLA with 17.4 points per game, won the J.D. Morgan Memorial Award for outstanding “team” player. Continue reading

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UCLA’s Jordan Adams changes decision, declares for NBA draft

Nine days after announcing his decision to stay at UCLA, leading scorer Jordan Adams will declare for the NBA draft.

A UCLA spokesperson confirmed the news late Saturday night. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the story.

Adams’ departure robs the Bruins of their top returning player, one that averaged 17.4 points and set a school-record 95 steals. After reaching the Sweet Sixteen in the first year under head coach Steve Alford, and for the first time since 2008, UCLA will return a roster that looks almost entirely different. Continue reading

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