Ben Howland sounds interested in Marquette job

Ben HowlandFormer UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland sounds like he is interested in the Marquette job that is being vacated by Buzz Williams.

Almost immediately after reports said Williams was leaving Marquette for Virginia Tech, college basketball reporters were tweeting about Howland and Marquette.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman mentioned Howland along with two other names to watch out for with the job.

Howland’s name was mentioned by plenty of others, making it seem like he or his agent said something to those reporters.

And then there was this from ESPN’s Andy Katz, who specifically said that Howland wants back in the Big East:

Prior to coming to UCLA, Howland spent four seasons at Pitt where he led the Panthers to back-to-back sweet sixteen appearances and first-place finishes in the Big East. The Big East is not what it was now that UConn and Louisville are in the American Athletic Conference, and Pitt and Syracuse are in the ACC, but apparently it’s still attractive to Ben.

Howland took this season off after leading the Bruins from 2003-2013. His run at UCLA was highlighted by three straight Final Four appearances, but he was pushed out after failing to make it beyond the second round of the tournament the next five seasons.

Ben Howland throws jacket into stands to earn first tech at UCLA (Video)

Ben Howland jacketBen Howland is one of the most active coaches in terms of working the sidelines during games, but he usually maintains his composure. That wasn’t the case on Saturday when the Bruins head coach lost it, took off his suit jacket and threw it into the stands in protest of a call.

During the first half of UCLA’s 78-69 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament championship game in Las Vegas, Bruins freshman Shabazz Muhammad was called for charging while attempting a layup in transition. The Bruins were down by six at the time, which could have factored into Howland’s mini-meltdown.

Howland got called for a technical foul for the coat toss, marking the first time he had received a technical foul since taking over the UCLA job in 2003.

Howland did get his coat back from the stands, but he was unable to lead his team to victory.

The Bruins were looking like a team that could potentially make a Sweet 16 run in the tourney, but that was before Jordan Adams got hurt. Now, they’ll probably just win one game, tops.

Ben Howland: Shabazz Muhammad is leaving UCLA for NBA

shabazz muhammadBen Howland confirmed Saturday what everyone already knew: freshman Shabazz Muhammad is leaving UCLA after the season and heading to the NBA Draft.

The Bruins beat Arizona 74-69 Saturday in their final home game of the season. It was Senior Night at Pauley Pavilion, and though Larry Drew II was the only player honored, Muhammad may as well have been, too.

“I knew going into this season that his was a one-year deal. He’s a top-five pick. That was his last game in Pauley,” Howland said after the game, per the Daily Bruin’s Sam Strong.

“This wasn’t meant to be an announcement for Shabazz. I’m just being honest. … Just keeping it real,” the coach added, according to CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish.

Though Howland believes Muhammad is gone after the season, the Bruins’ top scorer is not ready to make that announcement.

“It’s a long season. We don’t know yet,” Muhammad said regarding his future, per Strong.

After sitting out the team’s first three games of the season waiting to be cleared by the NCAA, Muhammad joined the team and became its top scorer and 3-point shooter. UCLA has had a fair season based on expectations, but they still have two regular-season road games, the Pac-12 tournament, and the NCAA Tournament to leave a stronger legacy. Maybe Howland making the announcement can have a Ray Lewis-like impact on the team.

UCLA took a team bus two blocks from the JW Marriott to Staples Center, and Josh Smith was benched after missing it

Guess that SI article had an impact on Ben Howland and he’s now out to prove what a disciplinarian he is. The UCLA coach benched center Josh Smith for the first half of the team’s Pac-12 tournament game against USC Wednesday for missing the team bus to Staples Center.

“We left him, and he was four minutes late,” Howland said. “He hasn’t been late one other time the whole year. It hasn’t been something that’s been a problem in terms of him ever being late to the bus, but I don’t care. This is too big and too important.”

Smith played poorly in eight minutes and admitted he deserved to be punished.

“Coach made a decision. I was late. I deserve to be punished,” Smith said.

Now you might say that a player being benched an entire half for being four minutes late to the team bus is excessive, and I would agree. But what’s far more mind-boggling is why UCLA even needs a bus to travel two blocks from the hotel to the arena. The buildings are two short blocks apart and a walk would take less than 10 minutes. Howland says they took a bus because last year they had to walk through fans who were drinking at LA Live.

If this is the byproduct of the Sports Illustrated article, I’m not sure I like it. The whole idea was for Howland to become more aware and malleable, not to go around killing mosquitoes with cannonballs.

SI article on UCLA tells us what we already knew: bad characters, Ben Howland’s lack of discipline took down program

SI spent a few months interviewing players to write an article about the struggles of the UCLA basketball program the past few seasons. The article was hyped as an “expose,” but it turned out to be nothing more than a strong historical account of what led to the team’s struggles. The article also told fans very little that they didn’t already know, reinforcing the notions that poor character players and coach Ben Howland’s lack of discipline led to the downfall.

Ever since UCLA’s run of three straight Final Four appearances ended in 2008, the program has gone downhill. The program was turned over to younger players who were heavily hyped entering school. Many of these recruits were more focused on partying off the court than properly preparing as players — a departure from what made the previous teams successful. Howland failed to discipline these players, and many ended up leaving the program because of disputes with the coach or general unhappiness. From 2009-2010, Drew Gordon, Chace Stanback, Mike Moser, and Matt Carlino all left the program and are now starring elsewhere.

The main issue is what I said when Howland finally kicked problem child Reeves Nelson off the team in December: the choice to keep Nelson not only hurt this team, but past ones. Nelson was one of the leaders of the party group of players that included Jerime Anderson, J’Mison Morgan, and Drew Gordon (the latter two are not with the program). He injured teammates during practice and bullied Carlino mercilessly, to the point where Carlino transferred. Howland disappointingly let Nelson do what he wanted because he was producing, even at the cost of tearing apart the team.

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Ben Howland reportedly ratted out Russell Westbrook to refs for wearing NBA socks

SI published a lengthy article about the downfall of UCLA basketball the past few years. In the piece, Ben Howland is depicted as a coach who struggles to properly handle his assistant coaches and players. He is shown as a coach who has serious issues disciplining his players. One funny anecdote shows how weird Howland was when it came to his players.

According to the article, Howland was upset with Russell Westbrook’s “freelancing” on offense. This is nothing new; fans knew Howland disliked the way Westbrook worked outside the team’s offense, but we all recognized how much better the team played with Russell doing his thing rather than running set plays.

So what did Howland do when he wanted to get control of Russell? According to the article, he told an official that Westbrook was wearing socks with an NBA logo, which violated NCAA rules. He was hoping the official would remove Westbrook from the game until his socks were changed.

I’m not sure there’s a better story that depicts how inept Howland became with handling his players. The best response would be for the rigid Howland to realize how good the offense was with Westbrook freelancing and to allow it. And if he was upset, he should have pulled out Westbrook and told him why. But Howland did neither, highlighting his shortcomings as a coach, and showcasing his awkwardness.

Ben Howland Kisses Reporter Jon Gold After UCLA Reaches 22 Wins

UCLA may have lost to Washington on Thursday and finished second in the Pac-10, but their 22-9 season and 13-5 conference record was still a welcome surprise for all Bruins fans. Think about it — this team started off the year 3-4 and after the loss to Montana, I began to wonder whether this would be Ben Howland’s last year as head coach. Well UCLA got it together, beat BYU, and ended up as one of the best teams in the Pac-10. The relief and enjoyment fans felt was parallel to Howland’s feelings on the season. After the team beat Washington State to get to 22 wins, Howland ended up kissing Daily News reporter Jon Gold. This video via The Dagger and Sports by Brooks Live explains why:

Jon Gold wrote at length about the kiss from Howland, and what this really shows me is that Howland has changed. Could you imagine Howland doing something like this a few years ago? Or even last year? That sort of emotional exchange with a writer seems outside of his character. Maybe the losing humbled him somewhat and made him change. Whatever it is, I like it.