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.