Tag:Ben Howland
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:57 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 2:03 pm

UCLA issues not unusual, except for Howland angle

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
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:38 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:44 am

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

Under Ben Howland, the UCLA doctrines instilled under John Wooden have quickly deteriorated. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Players taking drugs, teammates fighting each other, an elite head coach losing control of his program.

The tales detailed by Sports Ilustrated’s George Dohrmann in his report on the fall of the UCLA program are eye-opening. With that said, we’re not looking at an NCAA investigation in the works, and, in fact, the reaction by most people is a simple raised eyebrow or two and a lack of surprise at the behavior. 

Dohrmann places most of the blame on the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes, as well as the lack of control and discipline instilled by head coach Ben Howland. Once guys like Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmer, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Josh Shipp and other players from the 2004 and 2005 recruiting classes left the program, the doctrines of “Wooden’s Pyramid of Success” – the UCLA way – quickly deteriorated with the younger players.

There was widespread drinking and drug use among the players in Westwood, including one story of three players going to a rave on New Year’s Eve – after specifically being asked not to go out – and using Ecstasy and partying until 5 a.m. Some of the players, according to Dorhmann, bragged about still feeling the effects of the drugs at practice the next morning.

Then there’s Reeves Nelson, of course. The heavily-tattoed power forward from Modesto, Calif. was supposed to bring toughness and other Howland philosophies to the table. Instead, he brought nothing but chaos and instability to the program. 

Some of the “highlights” of Nelson’s tenure with the Bruins, as laid-out by Dohrmann:

  • Urinating on Tyler Honeycutt’s clothes and flipping his bed over
  • Purposely pulling down on James Keefe’s left arm, which had just been repaired by surgery, and injuring Alex Schrempf’s back for several months with a hard foul
  • Berating Matt Carlino and calling him “concussion boy” to the point Carlino felt the need to transfer to BYU
  • Constantly talking back and yelling at assistant coaches
  • Fighting Mike Moser and Drew Gordon on multiple occasions

Howland clearly lost of control of his program with lack of discipline and involvement in the development of players. Dohrmann wrote that Howland doesn’t have much contact with his team outside of games and practices, and constantly talks down to his assistants. Howland didn’t punish Nelson for several of his actions and let him run amok until finally kicking him off the team on December 9.

It was only a few years ago that Howland steered UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-2008. The Bruins have steadily gone downhill since then, missing the NCAA tournament in 2010 and likely sitting on the sideline for the Big Dance this year too.

While Dohrmann’s piece does not magnify a NCAA scandal, it certainly shows the respect and luster for Howland – and UCLA – lessening with each passing year.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:06 pm

Source: UCLA dismisses Reeves Nelson

By Gary Parrish

Reeves Nelson was dismissed from the UCLA basketball team on Friday, a source told CBSSports.com.

An official announcement is expected soon.

Nelson was UCLA's best player, but he's been a problem throughout his career because of his inability to be a decent teammate. The 6-foot-8 forward was suspended Tuesday for the second time this season after being benched during last weekend's loss to Texas. Coach Ben Howland had previously given Nelson countless opportunities to correct his attitude but nothing ever changed. Consequently, the junior who received All-American consideration in the preseason is now off the team and free to transfer into another program that might be willing to take a troubled-but-gifted prospect.

Nelson averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game last season.

He was averaging 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game this season.

UCLA is 2-5 with its lone wins coming aganst Chaminade and Pepperdine.

The Bruins play Penn on Saturday.

Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 1:55 pm

UCLA's Nelson suspended again

By Gary Parrish

UCLA's Reeves Nelson was suspended from the men's basketball team on Tuesday for the second time this season, Bruins coach Ben Howland told CBSSports.com via text message. This development contradicts an earlier erroneous report from BruinReportOnline.com that indicated Nelson had been dismissed.

Asked if Nelson was dismissed as reported, Howland responded, "He's been suspended indefinitely."

Nelson was the leading returning scorer and rebounder for the Bruins, but his junior season has been just as disastrous as UCLA's in general. The 6-foot-8 forward was suspended after a season-opening loss to Loyola-Marymount because of what basically amounted to an attitude problem that's been an issue for years. He missed UCLA's loss to Middle Tennessee State, then missed the team's flight to the Maui Invitational and played just 11 minutes against Chaminade. Nelson was benched for the second half of Saturday's game with Texas and was reportedly "laughing it up" on the sideline while his teammates lost 69-59.

"[Nelson's] behavior is totally uncharacteristic of what we want from a UCLA basketball player representing this history and tradition," UCLA coach Ben Howland said in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. "It's something that is going to be dealt with when we get together again. It's been an ongoing problem the past two years which has gotten worse."

Nelson averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game last season. He is only averaging 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game this season. UCLA -- the preseason pick to win the Pac-12 -- is 2-5 with its lone wins coming against Chaminade and Pepperdine. The Bruins play Penn on Saturday.

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 16, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 8:24 pm

UCLA's Howland reinstates Reeves Nelson

By Jeff Goodman

I never thought Ben Howland would sell out. 

UCLA's coach is feeling the heat, following an 0-2 start after an embarrassing loss to Loyola Marymount and a 20-point drubbing at the hands of Middle Tennessee State to begin the season.

The Bruins are desperate and headed to play in a loaded Maui Invitational early next week.

So, what did Howland do?

Howland reinstated Reeves Nelson, his most productive player, on Wednesday afternoon.

"After much deliberation, I have decided to reinstate Reeves Nelson,” Howland in a statement. “Reeves understands that his reinstatement is contingent on his ability to continually meet the high standards we have established for all UCLA men’s basketball players. He expressed to me in our meeting earlier today that he desires to be a better person and better teammate going forward, and, given that, I feel as though I should give him that opportunity.”

Maybe this will serve as a wake-up call for Nelson, but multiple sources close to the UCLA program maintain Nelson is near the top of the list when it comes to "chemistry killers."

Again, Howland isn't the only coach in America to make a decision in which talent supersedes everything else.

He realizes that this team - one with the Wear Twins and a plump Josh Smith up front - and Lazeric Jones and Tyler Lamb in the backcourt - doesn't have enough talent to compete with the big boys. In fact, it may not be enough to finish in the top half of a mediocre Pac-12. 

Howland wants to win. No, needs to win.

So, he's decided to bring back Nelson - whom he has clashed with throughout much of his career.


We know why.

Sometimes winning trumps everything else.

This was one of those cases.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:32 am

Winless UCLA on verge of its season unraveling

By Matt Norlander

I'm going to abandon convention and completely undress, evaluate, conclusion-jump and criticize Ben Howland and UCLA right now.

Because seriously, man -- what the hell? An 86-66 loss to Middle Tennessee State last night? In Los Angeles? Howland is having his Billy Gillispie moment. He's having trouble recruiting, and the talent that should be winning games isn't. I'm not merely talking this season, of course. This has been building, and now you're starting to see a real possibility the flames take down the house.
The Bruins missed Nelson's fire and grit in the first game of the Maui Invitational, not to mention his scoring and rebounding, but their second straight double-digit defeat against a no-name opponent was certainly no fluke.

The Blue Raiders appeared to possess better athletes and played with more poise on both ends of the court on the way to their first 3-0 start in 10 years.

Middle Tennessee State also made shots, an art form that continued to elude the Bruins (0-2). The Blue Raiders buried their first nine three-point attempts and finished 10 of 11 (90.9%) from behind the arc.

They seemingly couldn't miss from anywhere while making 35 of 49 shots (71.4%), building leads that swelled to as many as 22 points in the second half. Forward LaRon Dendy had 16 points and 13 rebounds as one of five Blue Raiders to score in double figures.
Last night was a convergence of a team lacking in passion going up against a group that had an all-time 3-point shooting performance. If MTSU hadn't missed the second-to-last 3-point shot it took, it would've set the NCAA record by going 10 for 10.

What's more for UCLA, there are clearly issues amongst the team, too, as Reeves Nelson didn't play last night and could just as easily ask for a transfer out of the program before this post is finished. Nelson is indefinitely suspended, and no one knows the exact reason why. But from the outside, it seems evident he's been a malcontent. Having talked with him before, I can tell you he's an eccentric guy, for sure. He's like a less-talented, more renegade version of Bill Walton (who famously clashed with John Wooden).

Josh Smith talked smack on Twitter about the team that beat him. He then recanted. Smith is an amazing talent, but lazy and overweight. He should not be speaking out of turn when his team's 0-2 and he looks perpetually afraid of the treadmill.

UCLA's season already feels like its on the brink. It's been eight years since the Bruins started 0-2. That season was Steve Lavin's last; the Bruins finished 10-19. Fans are not anxious or panicking -- they are full-on freaking out. This awful start puts a threat that 2012 No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad will consider the Bruins. If Howland doesn't get Muhammad and UCLA misses the tournament this year, is he out? Plenty will make the case he's a coach who will have gone through his life cycle there. The month of November is a crucial one for Howland's future in Los Angeles.

It is no secret that Howland is not considered easy to play for. He's had to bring in Korey McCray, an AAU coach out of Atlanta, to help with recruiting. It may not be enough. Howland's going up against coaches who no doubt are killing him behind closed doors. With the talent UCLA has on the team right now, this has to be an NCAA tournament team this year. But we're already at a point where a post like this is justified.

Now comes the Maui tournament, though technically the tournament began with a loss, as the MTSU game was part of the mainland portion of the bracket. It starts with a game against D-II Chaminade, then will be followed by a tilt with Georgetown or Kansas. The field also has Duke, Tennessee, Michigan and Memphis. Some believe its the deepest crop the Maui Invitational has ever hosted. Could UCLA only get one win there? Is this team going to be 1-4 by the end of next week?

It feels make-or-break. If UCLA emerges 2-3, it will have done the inconceivable and smothered the issue in duct tape. UCLA's season can essentially go up in flames in the next three weeks, which ends with a home game against enigmatic Texas. Howland's faced a lot of pressure in Westwood since arriving. It's never been as much of a squeeze as it is right now.

Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:34 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:34 pm

Reeves Nelson's status with UCLA in question?

By Jeff Borzello

Considering it’s only November, most thought things at UCLA couldn’t get much worse after the Bruins lost to Loyola Marymount and then Josh Smith so kindly referred to the Lions as “straight bums.”

Apparently, things could definitely get worse.

Reeves Nelson, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, is meeting with head coach Ben Howland Monday afternoon to discuss his future with the team.

“I still take it as he’s part of the team,” Smith told the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve talked to him, but there’s not really any information to tell me where he’s leaning. I want him to stay.”

When asked if Nelson would suit up for the Bruins on Tuesday night against Middle Tennessee State, Howland was noncommittal.

“I can’t comment any further until I sit and talk to him,” Howland said.

According to the newspaper, Nelson was visibly frustrated during the loss to Loyola Marymount in the opener. He finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in the defeat.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: September 20, 2011 6:21 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:48 am

Anderson's commitment huge for Howland, UCLA

By Gary Parrish

You can blame it on underclassmen leaving early or on a recruiting lull.

Or on a combination of the two.

Either way, Ben Howland hasn't tasted a Sweet 16 since he made three consecutive Final Fours from 2006 to 2008, and many had started to wonder about his long-term viability at UCLA. Had his style of play run its course in Los Angeles? Could he still consistently recruit elite-level prospects? Was his hiring of a summer coach from the Atlanta Celtics program a sign that Howland was getting desperate?

Those are the questions basketball people spent July asking each other.

Now a new question must be asked: Is Howland suddenly in position to make a fourth Final Four?

That's how significant Kyle Anderson's commitment to the Bruins was late Monday. Not only did it give Howland a consensus top-five prospect from the Class of 2012, it also quieted critics and suggested UCLA's first season in what will be a renovated Pauley Pavilion could lead to Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

That's the site of the 2013 Final Four.

Pencil UCLA in for it if Howland next lures a commitment from Shabazz Muhammad -- a Las Vegas native and the top prospect in the Class of 2012 who, according to sources, is likely to choose the Bruins over Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNLV. It should also be noted that Howland's assistant from the Atlanta Celtics (Korey McCray) has UCLA seriously involved with a pair of elite bigs from Georgia, specifically Tony Parker and Shaq Goodwin. Assuming the Bruins get just one of them, Howland could have a 2012-13 roster that looks like this:

G: Larry Drew
G: Shabazz Muhammad
F: Kyle Anderson (as primary ball-handler)
F: Reeves Nelson
C: Josh Smith

Key Reserves: David Wear, Travis Wear, Dominic Artis, Jordan Adams and Tony Parker/Shaq Goodwin.

That would be quite a collection of talent in Westwood.

Perhaps good enough to bring a 12th national championship to the school.
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