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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

Articles tagged: UCLA Basketball

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar critical of UCLA coach Steve Alford

Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar-Wants-Statue-Outside-Staples-CenterKareem Abdul-Jabbar lobbied to get the UCLA head coaching job two years ago that eventually went to Steve Alford. Two years later, Abdul-Jabbar is being critical of Alford’s leadership of the program that the former star center helped make great in the ’60s.

Abdul-Jabbar was a guest on SiriusXM NBA Radio’s “Off the Dribble” and expressed his disappointment with the state of the Bruins’ program.

“It was real ugly. I watched them in the playoffs,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “They don’t even know how to run the fast break. I’m not trying to sit on the sideline and throw stones at Coach Alford — he has a tough job. But people used to learn how to play the game at UCLA, and I don’t think that’s happening now. I think that that’s a real disappointment to those of us who are part of the tradition.”

I’m not trying to throw stones at Alford, but I’m going to point out everything he hasn’t done well. Someone is talking out of both sides of his mouth here, and I think it’s the 7-foot-2 guy in the room.

Look, as a Bruin alum, I wasn’t happy with the Alford hiring to begin with, so you can imagine my dissatisfaction with the program following a 22-14 season last year (lucky run to the Sweet 16 included). I agree with Kareem that the program should be in better shape and that they could do better than Alford. But some of Abdul-Jabbar’s criticism seems to be motivated by his bitterness over not being considered for the position. If he thinks he could do better or connect well with young players and recruits, he has another thing coming.

Overall, I do agree with his assessment of the team and wish they had another coach, but you better believe I don’t want it to be Kareem and his uncongenial personality.

Steve Alford on Kentucky: They’re best team I’ve ever coached against

Steve Alford

What’s the only way Steve Alford could put his team’s embarrassing and pathetic performance Saturday into a reasonable context? By giving Kentucky all the praise he possibly could.

Alford’s UCLA Bruins, yes, the same program that has won a record 11 national championships, were held to just seven points in the first half of their 83-44 loss on Saturday.

Yes, Kentucky led 41-7 at the half. 41-7. 7. 7. That is not a typo. UCLA scored only 7 points in the half. That was half the amount of points UCLA scored in its previously low mark of 14.

The Bruins missed their first 17 shots and trailed 24-0 to start the game. Pathetic. And how does Alford justify it? By praising Kentucky’s outstanding defense.

“In my 24 years of coaching, this is the best team I’ve coached against,” Alford said after the game.

Alford also said the Wildcats “have everything” and can run through the season with a perfect record.

Kentucky is 12-0 and doesn’t look like it will be losing any time too soon.

As for Alford, he has no excuse for losing that badly. That’s just an example of not having enough talent and not having his team properly prepared for the game.

UCLA, Pauley Pavilion flooded like crazy after water line breaks

Parts of UCLA’s campus and a portion of Sunset Blvd were flooded like crazy on Tuesday afternoon after a water line broke on Sunset Blvd. which runs along the north border of the campus, before finally being shut off after abound three hours.

The water main broke around 3:24 p.m., leading to water just rushing out around Pauley Pavilion. Next to Pauley Pavilion are some athletic fields used mostly for intramural activities, and there is an underground parking lot below the fields. The water outside Pauley was about ankle deep and rushing down the stairs to the parking lot, resembling the portion of the Universal Studios tram ride where the flood occurs:

UCLA Pauley Pavilion flood

The pipe that burst is 30 inches in diameter and dates back to 1921.

UCLA water geyser

Oh, and did we mention that Southern California is supposedly in a drought? And did we mention that tax dollars will be paying to fix these problems? And did we mention that Pauley Pavilion recently underwent a $133 million renovation? Sounds like a blast.

One person needed to be rescued and a few cars reportedly were stranded as a result of the flood.

Water was being lost at around 35,000 gallons a minute according to a spokesperson. An estimated 8-10 million gallons of water were lost in total.

Below are more pictures and videos of the flooding at UCLA:


UCLA students taunt USC with ‘just like football’ chant (Video)

UCLA’s student section on Sunday got a little carried away with the Bruins’ recent stretch of athletic success.

As the Bruins were taking it to rival USC in basketball, the students in Pauley Pavilion began taunting the Trojans with a “just like football” chant.

Yes, we know UCLA beat USC 35-14 this year in football and has won two in a row in the series, but keep in mind USC totally dominated by winning 12 of 13 prior to Jim Mora coming along. It’s not like the Bruins have this great dynasty going or something.

Still, you know the victory had to have been satisfying for Steve Alford, who’s been the subject of a couple of jabs from new USC coach Andy Enfield. A margin of 107-73 is impressive no matter how you view it.


Steve Alford is a downgrade for UCLA from Ben Howland

Steve AlfordMost people agree that although Ben Howland had a very successful run at UCLA, it was time for him and the school to part ways. The hope was that we could get a young, hungry coach who could led the program back to Final Fours the way Howland did during the early parts of his tenure. But after being turned down by Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens, the Bruins turned to New Mexico coach Steve Alford as the answer.

It’s hard to be pleased with the decision. This a downgrade from Howland.

Alford agreed to a seven-year, $18.2 million contract with the Bruins, including a $200,000 signing bonus. UCLA also has to pay the Lobos for stealing their coach — a figure that may come out to around $1 million, per the Albuquerque Journal. Alford’s previous buyout was $200,000, but it is $1 million on his new contract. The new contract was supposed to take effect April 1.

New Mexico was blindsided by the move; Alford agreed to a 10-year extension with the school last week, probably well before he knew UCLA would have any interest in him. It reflects poorly on him for leaving a week after affirming his long-term commitment to the school, but it’s understandable why he would leave for this opportunity. I just don’t understand why UCLA decided on him.

Alford’s appeal is that he is a recognizable name for Bruins fans. He played college ball at Indiana and won a national championship under Bob Knight. He played on the Olympic team. He has been in the coaching game for over 20 years. He is 48 and has a pretty good image. He should be more affable than Howland, and he should be able to recruit well. My issue with him is he doesn’t cross me as a very good coach. He is a good coach. UCLA needed someone who had the potential to be great. We needed someone with upside.

Alford’s New Mexico team went 29-6 this season and won the Mountain West Conference with a 13-3 record. That looks great on the surface, but it’s terrible when you realize his team lost to Harvard in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Last year his team went 28-7 and lost to Louisville in the second round of the tourney 59-56, which isn’t bad when you consider that the Cardinals reached the Final Four. Three years ago his team went 30-5 and won the Mountain West. After beating Montana in the first round of the tournament, they were destroyed by Washington in the next round. Are you noticing a trend?


Brad Stevens showing commitment to Butler over UCLA?

Brad StevensBrad Stevens is at the top of UCLA’s wish list when it comes to their search for a new head basketball coach, and some reports indicate that the interest is mutual, but a tweet sent by the coach suggests he may prefer to stay at Butler.

Stevens had long been believed to be at the top of the Bruins’ list, which is no surprise considering his success at Butler has made him a top candidate for any major program with a coaching vacancy. Stevens is only 36, and he led the Bulldogs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011. He received offers from a number of schools after the 2009-2010 season, but he chose to sign a long-term contract extension with Butler through the 2021-2022 season.

KTLA in Los Angeles reported that Stevens was on the UCLA campus Wednesday to discuss a potential contract. ESPN reported Thursday that Stevens may be in contract negotiations — which would mesh with KTLA’s report — but they say another source dismissed that claim. Additionally, FOX Sports’ Jon Crispin — a former Bruins basketball player — reported that Stevens is probably going to be the next UCLA coach and that he was in Westwood Thursday.

However, Stevens sent a tweet Friday morning that either affirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs, or is a ploy to gain more leverage in negotiations with UCLA:

Given the way Stevens has turned down so many other offers, this tweet seems to be an indication that he is sticking with Butler.

The Bruins previously were believed to be in pursuit of Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart, but he signed an extension to remain at VCU. Other coaches mentioned in connection with the search are NC State coach Mark Gottfried and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, both of whom are former Bruins assistants. There are plenty of coaches available with NBA experience, but ESPN believes Guerrero will go after a college coach.

Other hot names this year are Gregg Marshall, who has led Wichita State to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, and Andy Enfield, who has taken Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16. Villanova’s Jay Wright and Purdue’s Matt Painter have loosely been mentioned in the search, though either of those coaches seem unlikely as possibilities.

Stevens is accomplished enough where he seems like he would be able to choose the job he wants. There are a handful of truly elite coaching jobs in college basketball; Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and UCLA probably make the list. To get the jobs at Duke or Carolina, Stevens would have to wait until Coach K or Roy Williams retire. UCLA is open now. If he is ever considering leaving Butler, this would be a good opportunity to go to one of the top programs in the country.

Jordan Adams injury makes Minnesota a popular upset pick over UCLA

Jordan AdamsMinnesota quickly became one of the most popular 11-seed over 6-seed upset picks for the NCAA Tournament. A few hours after the brackets were released, ESPN reported that over 70 percent of users submitting picks on their bracket challenge had the Golden Gophers beating the No. 6 seed UCLA Bruins. They’re not the only ones expecting Minnesota to win; Las Vegas has the Gophers favored by three over the Bruins.

Why would a team that went 8-10 in conference be picked to beat a team that won its conference’s regular-season title? It all has to do with the injury to Jordan Adams.

Adams, a freshman guard, was the Bruins’ second-leading scorer at 15.3 points per game. He was injured at the end of UCLA’s 66-64 win over Arizona in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament Friday night. The team lost to Oregon in the championship game the next day, playing without him for the first time this season.

Adams had been hot prior to breaking a bone in his foot. He scored 20 or more points in four of his last eight games, during which the Bruins went 7-1.

Though the Bruins are weaker without one of their top players, the matchup is not as bad for them as it could be. The Bruins’ weakness is teams that have size. They allowed huge games to 6-foot-10 Brock Motum in a loss to Washington State; 7-foot-2 Jordan Bachynski in a loss to Arizona State, and they were beaten on the interior in an overtime loss to USC in January. Minnesota’s top big man is 6-foot-8 senior forward Trevor Mbakwe, who will probably have a big game. 6-foot-11 center Elliott Eliason only averages 13.6 minutes per game, but he could see a boost in action in the team’s first-round matchup.

Minnesota started off the season 15-1 after recording wins over Michigan State, and Pac-12 teams Stanford and USC. They lost their last three games and are trending in the wrong direction.

The NCAA Tournament committee admitted that the Adams injury led them to place UCLA a line lower in seeding than they would have otherwise. Though UCLA is facing challenges without Adams, I don’t think this matchup is as bad for them as it could be.

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.

Tony Parker is homesick, seems eager to leave UCLA

tony-parker-uclaTony Parker was part of the incoming class of freshmen that were supposed to lead UCLA to instant success. While the 9-3 Bruins have had moderate success, Parker has started out his career looking like a bust.

The 6-foot-9 big man from Atlanta has only averaged 3.3 points in 8.6 minutes per game this season. Over the holidays, he began showing signs of his unhappiness in Westwood.

Parker sent a cryptic tweet that made it seem like he regretted going to UCLA:

Then he sent this message on Christmas:

And then this one:

We don’t know what days Parker was counting down to, but it certainly seems like something related to leaving UCLA.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ Diane Pucin, Parker said after practice Thursday that he planned on playing out the season with UCLA, but he made no promises about next season. He also reportedly did not regret his tweets.

“Not at all,” Parker said, per Pucin. “I was homesick. Those were my feelings.”

It sure sounds like Parker will be the next prominent athlete to leave coach Ben Howland’s program unless things change.

H/T The Dagger

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.