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#pounditMonday, October 3, 2022

Articles tagged: UCLA Basketball

Lonzo Ball shares recommendation for new UCLA coach

Lonzo Ball

As one of the school’s most prominent current NBA players, one would expect Lonzo Ball to have some opinions on UCLA’s coaching search, and that is the case.

Ball believes that former UCLA guard and ex-Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson should be the school’s next permanent coach, citing his ties to the school and NBA experience.

Watson spent parts of three seasons as Phoenix coach, going 33-85. While he does have strong ties to the school, it might not be the track record of success that the fans might be seeking.

Watson was actually linked to the UCLA job about a year and a half ago when he was still coaching the Suns. There are no indications that he’s yet a candidate this time around, even though Ball wants him to be.

Warriors GM Bob Myers will assist UCLA in head coaching search

As they officially begin the search for Steve Alford’s replacement as head coach, the UCLA Bruins will be getting help from one prominent NBA figure.

In their press release on Monday announcing Alford’s dismissal after six seasons at the helm, the school wrote that Golden State Warriors general manager and president of basketball operations Bob Myers will be among those assisting athletic director Dan Guerrero in the search for a new coach.

The 43-year-old Myers, who has won three championships and two Executive of the Year Awards in the nearly seven years that he has been in charge of the Warriors, is a UCLA alum. He played for four years on the school’s basketball team from 1993 to 1997, including winning the NCAA title with them in 1995.

The Bruins already seem to be eyeing some big targets for the position, and Myers, a former agent who hired one of the NBA’s top head coaches in Steve Kerr, has just the experience to help his alma mater make the right hire.

UCLA to pursue Fred Hoiberg after firing Steve Alford?

Fred Hoiberg

UCLA finally decided to part ways with men’s basketball coach Steve Alford on Sunday following a disappointing run with the program, and the timing may not be a coincidence.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that UCLA has been eyeing former Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg as a potential replacement for Alford.

Coaches who are highly sought after at the collegiate level typically are not available in the middle of a season, but it just so happens that Hoiberg was fired by the Bulls earlier this month. While reports have indicated he still wants to coach in the NBA, he would probably have his pick of several top jobs if he chose to return to college.

Hoiberg made a name for himself with the tremendous success he enjoyed at Iowa State, where he had an overall record of 115-56 and led the Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row. He’s just 46 and could probably find another opportunity in the NBA, but the state that he left the Bulls in may not help his resume.

UCLA is under enormous pressure to make the right hire with its next basketball coach, and Hoiberg would undoubtedly be a popular choice. Whether he’s interested or not remains to be seen.

UCLA fires Steve Alford day after home loss to Liberty

Steve Alford UCLA

The disappointing era of UCLA Bruins basketball under Steve Alford has finally come to an end.

Alford has been fired by UCLA, with an official announcement set to come on Monday, according to both The Athletic’s Seth Davis and Bruin Report Online.

Bruin Report Online’s Tracy Pierson says the school and Alford spent much of the day on Sunday negotiating the coach’s buyout before reaching an agreement.

Alford was in his sixth season on the job and in the middle of an ugly four-game losing streak that was bookended by home losses to Belmont and Liberty. The latter came on Saturday, a day before Alford was fired. The Bruins are 7-6 and have suffered blowout losses to North Carolina, Michigan State, Cincinnati and Ohio State, in addition to the defeats to Belmont and Liberty.

Alford pretty much lived up to exactly what he had shown himself to be during previous stints — a coach who would win a good amount in the regular season and not go far in the tournament. He never advanced past the second round of the tourney while at New Mexico, and he peaked at the Sweet 16 at UCLA. His stint with the Bruins included one losing season and a collective .663 winning percentage — far below the standards and expectations at UCLA.

Back when Alford was hired in March, 2013 by UCLA, I said he was a downgrade from Ben Howland and not in the same class as Dana Altman or Sean Miller. Nearly six years later, all of that was proven to be correct. There is huge pressure on the program to get the next hire right, especially with the football program also being in the tank.

Steve Alford dismisses fan concern after latest UCLA loss

Steve Alford UCLA

Steve Alford offered a very unsatisfying quote after UCLA’s latest loss.

The Bruins fell to Ohio State 80-66 on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago to drop to 7-5. UCLA has lost three in a row — a home defeat to Belmont, a 29-point loss at Cincinnati, and the 14-point loss to Ohio State.

Calls for Alford’s job increased after the loss to Belmont, and they’ve only grown since. When asked about the fans growing frustrated, Alford dismissed the concern.

Perhaps next time he should go with a response along the lines of “we know the expectations from the fans are high, as they should be. We are working to improve and deliver the results everyone is looking for out of us.”

Alford is in his sixth season as UCLA’s head coach and has not advanced beyond the Sweet 16.

Cincinnati fans taunt UCLA with ‘just like football’ chant during blowout

Cincinnati’s sports teams have seemingly taken ownership of their UCLA counterpart over the last several months, and Bearcats fans were happy to point that out during their latest triumph.

The Cincinnati men’s basketball team demolished UCLA by a score of 93-64 on Wednesday night. Roughly three months earlier, the Bearcats spoiled Chip Kelly’s UCLA debut with a 26-17 win in Pasadena. When Cincy was up by 30 on Thursday, fans began chanting “just like football!”

There’s really not much Bruins fans can say about that. You wouldn’t expect a school like Cincinnati to be able to taunt UCLA that way, but that tells you all you need to know about the current state of their respective athletic programs.

Pressure on Steve Alford mounts after UCLA loses to Belmont

Steve Alford UCLA

The pressure on Steve Alford is mounting after his UCLA Bruins lost to the Belmont Bruins at home on Saturday.

UCLA was up by 12 early in the second half and held a lead for most of the game until Belmont made a 3-pointer to take a 67-66 lead with under three minutes to go. Belmont did not relinquish the lead after that in a 74-72 victory.

UCLA’s shooting — especially at the free throw line — was just embarrassing. Alford’s crew went 12/28 (42.9 percent) from the free throw line. They were similarly bad from long range, going 8/28 (28.6 percent) on threes.

UCLA is now 7-3 on the season. They also suffered consecutive blowout losses to Michigan State and North Carolina in November.

This is the sort of embarrassing home loss a program like UCLA should not suffer. Alford is in his sixth season as head coach of UCLA and has never made it past the sweet sixteen. He has a losing season, a first four elimination, and now a home loss to Belmont on his record.

UCLA offering free tickets to first responders

Rose Bowl Pasadena

UCLA is trying to give back to first responders by offering free tickets for upcoming sports events.

The Bruins announced in their release about Saturday’s football game against Stanford that first responders who present ID at the Rose Bowl box office will receive four tickets to the game against the Cardinal.

“In appreciation of their selfless service and efforts to keep our community safe, UCLA Athletics is proud to offer four complimentary tickets to Saturday’s game to all first responders. This offer can be redeemed at the Rose Bowl Stadium Box Office on Saturday by showing any valid first responder identification,” the release says.

LA Times UCLA reporter Ben Bolch says the Bruins are also offering the same deal for the Bruins’ men’s basketball game against Hawaii on Nov. 28.

First responders have helped to protect the communities around Los Angeles in recent weeks dealing with a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks and deadly fires throughout Southern California.

UCLA player involved in shoplifting scandal declares for NBA draft

Cody Riley may off to the pros without ever playing in an actual college game.

The LA Times’ Ben Bolch reported on Tuesday that Riley, the UCLA freshman who was involved in the notorious shoplifting scandal in China last year, has declared for the NBA draft. Riley’s name is on a list of 236 players who filed as early entry candidates, which was released by the NBA earlier in the day.

The 20-year-old Riley, a 6-foot-10 forward, appeared in just one exhibition game for the Bruins last season before he was involved in the overseas incident along with fellow freshmen LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill. Riley and Hill were ultimately suspended by the school for the remainder of the season as a result. Meanwhile, Ball, who instead chose to withdraw from UCLA, is now playing professionally in Lithuania and is also listed as an early entry candidate for the draft. Hill’s status for the future remains unclear.

Bolch also adds that Riley is not believed to have hired an agent, meaning that he could still potentially return to school if he withdraws his name from draft consideration by May 30. However, Riley would probably be stuck on the depth chart behind this incoming star forward should he return to UCLA.

Top UCLA assistant ‘very shocked’ by dismissal

David Grace is out at UCLA after five seasons as a top assistant on Steve Alford’s staff, and it is safe to say he was pretty blindsided by the news.

Grace, who had served as Alford’s lead recruiter and helped the Bruins field multiple top freshman classes during his tenure, was reported on Saturday to have been let go. After word leaked out, Grace told Ben Bolch of the LA Times that he was “very shocked” by his dismissal, which he was notified of at the end of March. He also hinted at some displeasure over the way Alford handled the situation and pointed to his recruiting successes to justify his surprise.

Grace arrived at UCLA in 2013, the same time Alford was hired as head coach. Among the recruits he successfully lured to Westwood were Zach LaVine, Kevon Looney, Lonzo Ball, Aaron Holiday, Jaylen Hands, Kris Wilkes, and most recently, Shareef O’Neal. Should the Bruins be unable to compensate for Grace’s recruiting talents, Alford may just end up losing even more support.