Blog Entry

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:57 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 2:03 pm
UCLA's problems may have been more extreme than some cases, but lots of programs have in-fighting. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Jeff Goodman

It's been a mess at UCLA over the past few years.

Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann painted a telling picture that certainly has contributed to Ben Howland and the Bruins' recent struggles in Westwood.

Drugs. Fights. A chemistry killer. Hardly a novel concept within the workings of a big-time college basketball program.

"We've had all that stuff before," said one high-major assistant coach. "There's no bombshell there."

The shocker, honestly, is that it involves Howland -- forever considered a strict disciplinarian -- and a program like UCLA.

Everyone close to the Bruins program was well-aware of Reeves Nelson shortly after he arrived on campus. Talented, but a bad kid. He was described to me by more than one person as "the worst teammate ever to wear a UCLA Bruins uniform."

Dohrmann has plenty of Nelson stories. Fights with numerous teammates. Cheap shots. Urinating on ex-teammate Tyler Honeycutt's clothes.

Ultimately, Howland sold out and gave Nelson opportunity after opportunity instead of cutting ties early. That wouldn't have been the case had the Bruins been in the midst of three straight Final Fours from 2006-08. Instead, this is a program that has become irrelevant on the national landscape and Howland is fighting for his future on the left coast. The Bruins were 14-18 two years ago, made the NCAA tournament last season and will likely be headed to the NIT this year.

Howland can coach. There's no doubting that. Let's not forget what this man did his last couple years at Pittsburgh and during that impressive three-year stretch where they were a constant in the Final Four. He can also develop talent as many NBA guys have told me that UCLA Bruins are as prepared as anyone to come in and make a rapid adjustment to the pro game.

But he's apparently lost some measure of control within his own program. Former players, whether it's guys in the NBA or at other schools, are bashing his methodical system which doesn't promote freedom. Howland and his staff have been unable to recruit at the level necessary to compete at the highest level.

He's made mistakes on the recruiting trail, whether it was by taking kids that aren't talented enough or kids that doesn't fit his system and personality.

This story, which sheds a poor light on Howland and the program overall, certainly won't help his job security in Westwood.

Kids blowing off curfew to party and do drugs. Fights both on and off the court between teammates.

But let's not pretend this is an anomaly, either.

It happens on college campuses with students. It happens within soccer and lacrosse programs.

And it's happening with Howland's UCLA Bruins basketball team.

Howland has signed one of the nation's top recruits, 6-foot-8 point forward Kyle Anderson, but he had to go all the way to the northeast to do so. He hired a former AAU coach from Atlanta on his staff this past offseason. People can talk all they want about the lack of talent coming out of the west coast, but Howland and his staff were unable to beat out Arizona for Brandon Ashley and Grant Jarrett. They

UCLA isn't UCLA right now.

But it's not all that different than many other programs.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:08 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

Is there a single NCAA basketball story you can't convince yourself somehow involves San Diego State?  Just curious...  You guys may be a top program now, but top recruits would still rather go to a Pac 12 school, with a strong history of placing talent in the NBA, than a small conference school with little history beyond a damned good coach (I'll give you that one), whose best days are behind him (and clouded in controversy).

Since: Dec 14, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:50 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle



Since: Jan 7, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:45 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

Hope Drew II and the Wear twins are happy at UCLA!!!!  UNC is happy!

Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:29 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

Sdsu dominant ? Cmon, win something first. You also,seem to forget the fischer's last gig ended badly with wins wiped out and players from the fab 5 banned for life. Your alarm clock is going off...

Since: Aug 20, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:03 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

UCLA may have tradition but the best team on the West Coast is now San Diego State. And judging by the recruits by-passing UCLA and going to San Diego State, it looks like the Aztecs are going to be the dominant team for the next decade. There is one main reason. The Aztecs have Steve Fisher, a coach and gentleman. He has benched players and kicked them off the team for being disruptive, like Evan Burns, a McDonald all-American. Howland should have learned that lesson a long time ago. He either needs to change or he will be fired beofre his contract expires.

Since: Jan 21, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:25 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

UCLA needs to do the right thing and fire both Ben Howland and Dan Guerrero - Howland for not holding his players accountable and Guerrero for not holding Howland accountable. They need a totally fresh start. John Wooden must be turning in his grave at what has happened to his program.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:04 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

Drugs,Fights, A chemistry killer at UCLA??? What is this USC?  Reeves Nelson, never trust a dude with 2 or more last names. 

Since: Dec 21, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:11 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

I respect your opinion Jeff and I'm sure you have access to more information than I do, but I just got done reading the entire piece in the mag and I doubt there are many programs that were as out of control as UCLA. And for Howland to sit back and do nothing to kids like Nelson who were destroying the program until it was too late is inexcusable. He has got to go, and if Guerrero knew that this stuff was going on and he also did nothing, he needs to follow Howland out the door.

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