UCLA: Basketball

Shooting guard Prince Ali (Pembroke Pines, Florida/The Sagemont) School), ranked No. 44 in the ESPN 100, has committed to UCLA over finalists Louisville, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Nebraska. Ali had committed to Connecticut last December before decommitting in May, which opened the door for a number of high-major programs to pursue him. That's exactly what happened.

Let's check out what the Bruins are getting in Ali:

Can UCLA restore its Cali pipeline?

August, 22, 2013
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David Wear loves Los Angeles.

Sure, traffic is a nightmare, but the social vibe is unrivaled.

So it wasn't easy for the Huntington Beach native to leave the West Coast. Picking the UCLA Bruins would have made sense for the former McDonald's All American. A traditional powerhouse where he could play in front of his friends and family members? A win-win, right?

Well, few cities can compete with L.A.'s buzz, but the metro's constant activity creates a drawback for college programs: There's usually a better game in town.

The Lakers, Clippers, Kings and a pair of popular MLB teams are perennial obstacles in UCLA's fight for exposure.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY »

Video: Steve Alford talks to Andy Katz

July, 25, 2013
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Steve Alford talks about his move from New Mexico to UCLA and the legacy of John Wooden.

Norman Powell staying after Howland firing

April, 2, 2013
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LOS ANGELES -- Hiring Steve Alford as UCLA basketball coach saved at least one Bruins player.

Or, perhaps more accurately, firing Ben Howland did.

UCLA guard Norman Powell said Tuesday he was staying at UCLA after considering transferring, and the main reason for his decision was because coach Howland was fired. Powell, a sophomore from San Diego, said he would have looked into playing at San Diego State next season had Howland returned, but reconsidered after UCLA fired Howland last week and hired Steve Alford away from New Mexico on Saturday.

Norman Powell
Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsNorman Powell, who was thinking about transferring, says he's excited to see where the UCLA program heads after the hiring of Steve Alford as coach.
"I felt like my decision was based on if coach Howland was going to be here or if he wasn't going to be here," Powell said.

The 6-foot-4 athletic wing player began this season as a starter, but soon found himself coming off the bench, and his minutes dropped from 28.4 the first seven games to 19 for the next 26 games. He played 37 minutes per game when recalled to the starting lineup to replace an injured Jordan Adams.

"Hiring a new coach leaves open a chance, an opportunity for me to come in with a fresh start basically because we're under a new coach and see what he has to offer and see what he wants me to do," Powell said. "Now I'm just really excited to see where this program is headed. ... I was just optimistic about being able to play under a new coach."

It also helped that Powell is familiar with Alford, who tried to recruit Powell to New Mexico. Also, an assistant coach from Powell's high school team once played under Alford at Iowa.

"He's a good coach," Powell said. "He knows what he's doing and he expects a lot out of his players and that's what it's going to be. I expect for practice to be intense and for it to be up tempo and see how strict he is. I'm excited to see what he wants to do with this program."

While Powell is back on the team, there are still questions remaining about some other returning players. Shabazz Muhmmad is expected to leave for the NBA but hasn't officially announced his decision. Tony Parker is also thought to be a transfer candidate and Kyle Anderson is also a candidate to leave for the NBA.

Anderson was at Tuesday's news conference but did not speak with reporters. Muhammad and Parker did not attend. Parker has enrolled in classes and is expected to finish the school year, a school spokesperson said.

"I'm sure everybody is coming back," Powell said. "I haven't heard any news or rumors going around about everybody transferring."

Video: Steve Alford talks to Andy Katz

April, 1, 2013
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Newly-hired UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford will be officially introduced at a press conference Tuesday at noon at Pauley Pavilion.

The ceremony is closed to the public, but will be carried live on the Pac-12 Networks and streamed live at Pac-12.com. Andy Katz of ESPN.com got a sneak preview when he caught up with Alford Monday on Katz Korner.

Alford hire might not be sexy, but it's solid

March, 30, 2013
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LOS ANGELES — The UCLA fan base wanted a big splash for its next basketball coach but instead got a small ripple.

Bruins around the country wanted someone that would deliver ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ make them shout for joy and allow them to walk with pride. Instead, they got someone who delivered question marks and puzzled looks.

[+] EnlargeSteve Alford
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsUCLA fans were hoping for a big-name head coach but got Alford instead.
UCLA announced Saturday that it had hired New Mexico’s Steve Alford to be the next leader of the program with the most national titles in NCAA history, creating an almost universal reaction of ‘meh’ in the UCLA community.

Fans of this proud program wanted to land one of the country’s big names. Brad Stevens of Butler, Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth, two of the most highly-sought up-and-comers, sat high on the wish lists. Billy Donovan of Florida, Rick Pitino of Louisville and Bill Self held a regular spot on the dream lists.

Alford appeared on no lists.

That’s not to say he’s a bad coach. He’s been on lists before, but not this time. Nobody mentioned him as a possible candidate for the job, but that had more to do with him agreeing to a 10-year contract with New Mexico just 10 days ago.

Heck, even UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero didn’t know Alford was available until Guerrero reached out to Alford earlier this week and discovered that Alford’s new contract doesn’t take effect until April 1.

“We weren’t sure whether he was available just in a general sense, but we made the contact and began the discussion,” Guerrero said. “We both realized that this was something that could be possible.”

The contract gave Guerrero the cover he needed to make this stealthy move. UCLA made overtures toward Stevens and Smart, but talks with Stevens broke off when it became apparent he wasn’t interested in leaving his current job, and Smart politely declined to be considered for the job.

At that point, Alford became the primary target, and Guerrero made it sound like there were no others.

“We kind of knew where we were focused,” Guerrero said. “Obviously, once you have a certain candidate in mind and you have an opportunity to engage and there is reciprocity of interest then you keep going down that path until you see if something can happen."

Although the hire is surprising, it’s not exactly out of left field. Had Alford not signed that deal 10 days ago, his name surely would have come up as a candidate.

After helping lead Indiana to a national title as a player and a brief, nondescript NBA career, he turned into a rising star in the coaching world. He led Manchester to the Division II national title game in 1995, then moved to Southwest Missouri State and took the Bears to the Sweet 16 in 1999.

After that, Iowa came calling, and while he didn’t have much success there, New Mexico still wanted him to come and help rebuild its program. He did exactly that, taking a team that finished eighth in the Mountain West the season before he got there to one that finished third, first and first during Alford’s first three years.

Thanks in part to Alford’s New Mexico teams, the Mountain West Conference has been on the rise for the past three or four years, and Alford has been coach of the year in the conference three times in five seasons. This is a coach who has worked his way up the ranks and appears to be on the precipice of making the jump to an elite level. UCLA is the place where he can do exactly that.

“I’ve known Steve and his capabilities for a long time,” Guerrero said. “I’ve certainly watched his teams play when I was a member of the NCAA committee. I watched a lot of games. I enjoy his style, I think the players will enjoy his style, and I just think he’s the right guy for us.”

Alford’s lack of success in his only major conference job might be a red flag for some, however. His lack of postseason success might be a turnoff for others. He went 61-67 in Big Ten games during his eight seasons at Iowa and has won only five NCAA Tournament games in 18 seasons coaching at the Division I level.

Just last week, in fact, his No. 3-seeded Lobos lost to No. 14 Harvard in the Round of 64 of the NCAA tournament. But Alford had New Mexico ranked 10th in the nation. His team won the Mountain West Conference in four of the past five seasons and won 30, 22, 28 and 29 games the past four seasons.

“I’m 23 years into this now,” Alford said. “The experience of building programs and sustaining programs -- I think I’ve got the experience that has really helped me at each stop. Each stop, I would hope that we bettered and not just [earning] wins.”

Alford will bring the reputation of a good recruiter with ties to some of the hotbeds in California. He’s also known as a players’ coach. Those are two areas in which Howland was lacking during the latter part of his tenure, so in that sense Alford will be a change of pace.

But he’s also a defensive-minded coach who isn’t known for lighting up scoreboards. New Mexico was No. 172 in the nation in scoring this season with 67.4 points per game, so if it’s an entertaining, wide-open style you’re looking for, Alford won’t be bringing it.

But he is bringing a résumé filled with wins during his six years at New Mexico, having averaged about 26 wins per season. More importantly, he wants to be at UCLA. He said he’s been under pressure since he was 16 and knows about the demands of a basketball powerhouse from his days at Indiana and welcomes the challenge.

There is no other school, he said, that would have gotten him to seriously consider leaving New Mexico after agreeing to a 10-year deal and a team that had all five starters returning after ending the season ranked 10th in the nation.

“It goes back to the four letters,” Alford said. “It’s UCLA. I think if it’s anywhere else, this is not a decision that would have been made.”

Saying things like that will help win the hearts of UCLA fans, but winning will do more. Alford will have to continue with the on-court success he had at New Mexico, and he’ll have to take it a step farther and improve upon his postseason résumé.

If he takes the Bruins to Sweet 16s, Final Fours and national championship games, nobody will remember that he wasn’t the flashy, sexy big-name hire. He’ll be adopted by the Bruins and take his spot in Bruin lore.

And if he doesn’t?

Well, they’ll say a lot more than ‘meh.’

Bruins need a coach they can call their own

March, 27, 2013
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LOS ANGELES -- Rick Pitino? Really?

Billy Donovan? Phil Jackson?

Why on Earth would UCLA want to hire one of those guys?

OK, they are all proven winners who have shown they know how to run a program with consistent success. On that level, it makes sense. Those guys are legends and maybe you want to go after the best in the business.

[+] EnlargeRick Pitino
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY SportsRick Pitino would be a big name for UCLA to land as coach, but would he be a good fit for the Bruins?
But this is UCLA we're talking about. UCLA makes legends, not the other way around. It is one of college basketball's meccas. It's the dream job for just about any coach in the country and the place where the coach should become a star.

Those other guys are already stars for things they did somewhere else. The stories for those coaches and others in their class have already been written. Bringing them to the Bruins would be a mercenary hire. UCLA shouldn't be looking at coaches who cemented their legacies at some other job; UCLA should be looking for someone who will cement his legacy in Westwood. UCLA should be looking for a guy who will eventually go to the Hall of Fame and there will be no doubt about what hat he chooses to wear.

Ask yourself: Is Pitino the Louisville guy or the Kentucky guy? Is Jackson better known as the former Lakers coach or the former Bulls coach? That's what you'd be asking about Donovan if he came to UCLA and won a couple of national titles the way he already has at Florida.

The coach is the face of the program, but when you see Pitino or Donovan or Jackson, you're going to see many different teams or programs. That's not something you should be seeing when you see the coach of UCLA, one of the Mount Rushmore programs in college basketball. UCLA should be looking for the guy who will become known only for leading the program back to the national elite. UCLA should be looking for the next Pitino, the next Donovan, the next Jackson.

That's why coaches like Brad Stevens of Butler and Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth make so much more sense. Guys like that have cut their teeth and shown they can coach. They've taken their respective schools to unprecedented heights but haven't yet reached the pinnacle. If a coach like that came to UCLA and won a national title, they would become college basketball royalty.

Stevens or Smart have been the top two candidates on any coaching list the past couple of years, but it doesn't have to be one of them. They have in the past spurned the advances of bigger schools because of their love of small-college life. Smart looks as if he’s done it again, and if Stevens does, too, Bruins fans shouldn't fret.

(Read full post)

Kareem expresses interest in UCLA job

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
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LOS ANGELES -- Former UCLA and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is hoping to dive into the Bruins' search for a basketball coach.

Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer and a three-time national champion as a member of the UCLA basketball team, said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Tuesday night that he'd like to be the next UCLA coach.

On the show to promote the reality show "Splash" in which Abdul-Jabbar is matching skills against other celebrities in a high-diving competition, the 7-foot-2 former center with no Division I coaching experience said he'd welcome the opportunity to return to Westwood as coach.

"I certainly would be interested in coaching the team," he said. "It would be great to have an opportunity to restore the program to what it was. Not in terms necessarily of winning, but just having the guys get their degrees and learn about how to play the game of basketball. UCLA is still putting out fine scholars but the basketball program is suffering a little bit."

Abdul-Jabbar has worked as a special assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. He has also coached a high school team and led the Oklahoma Storm to the U.S. Basketball League title in 2002. His manager, Deborah Morales, said Abdul-Jabbar has been receiving a lot of support from alumni.

"They are saying that they are behind him in any way possible including financially," Morales said. "At the highest level."

Asked if Abdul-Jabbar had actually had any contact with the UCLA administration or any indication if he was a candidate for the job, Morales said to check with UCLA.

A UCLA spokesperson referred to a general statement by athletic Dan Guerrero that the school would "not comment on the process, the candidates or provide status updates."

UCLA has no comment on coaching candidates

March, 27, 2013
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As expected, many names are beginning to surface as candidates for the open UCLA basketball coaching job.

Some are probably legitimate candidates and others are simply rumors floated for one purpose or another. The one thing we know for sure is that UCLA will not comment on any candidate, rumored or real. Athletic director Dan Guerrero wrote the following in his weekly Word from Westwood newsletter on Tuesday:

"We certainly understand that many of our fans will want to stay up to date on the latest happenings. That said, in the best interest of the search itself, as well as everyone involved, we will not comment on the process, the candidates, or provide status updates. This is the same policy we used when we hired Jim Mora. Just know that we are hard at work to bring a coach to Westwood who we can all be excited about."

When asked for comment about various rumored candidates, a department spokesperson said Guerrero's newsletter statement would be the only comment the school would have on any coaching search inquiries until a hire is officially made.

Coaching search? Bring out the phone book

March, 26, 2013
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LOS ANGELES--Let the coaching search begin.

Ben Howland and Dan Guerrero have said their piece to each other and to the public through press conferences and now a job thought to be among the most prestigious in all of college sports is open.

Just how prestigious the job really is, we're about to find out. Guerrero, UCLA's athletic director, and his search team will no doubt scour the nation and make runs at some of the top coaches in the country. They are armed with plenty of money thanks to the Pac-12 Networks deal, so if they strike out, it will be an indication that the UCLA job isn't as elite as it once was.

The Bruis will need to act quickly. The National signing period for basketball begins April 17. Not only does UCLA need to fill some roster spots, but the three players who signed in the early period need to see who the new coach is and decide whether or not UCLA is still for them. The Bruins hope to have a coach in place by the Final Four weekend, April 6-7.

Whoever gets the job won't have to worry about administrative support. Howland, fired Sunday after 10 years, received plenty of votes of confidence over the years in terms of contract extensions. He signed a seven-year deal in 2008 then signed one-year extensions in 2009, 2010 and 2011 meaning he was under contract through 2018.

Howland received one-year extensions after finishing second in the Pac-10 and losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2008-09, got another extension after going 14-18 in 2009-10 and then another after finishing second in the Pac-10 and losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2010-11.

This year, after winning the Pac-12, he got fired. Don't worry about him, though. He'll land on his feet and is a good enough coach to quickly get another job. Plus, he'll receive $3.5 million as a parting gift thanks to the buyout clause in his contract and those extensions. Howland receives $300,000 for each remaining year on his contract plus the guaranteed $2 million fee he was going to make next year.

Without those extensions after posting substandard results, UCLA could have saved $900,000. Knowing how generous UCLA can be with coaches may help lure one of the top targets to Westwood. Associate athletic director Mark Harlan, who heads up department development, is surely working overtime to get the support of UCLA's boosters as the program gears up to make what it hopes will be the kind of splashy hire that will excite the fan base.

And just who are those targets? Speculation has already begun, on Twitter and message boards and in the media. And while this is by no means intended to represent an actual coaching search list, here are some of the names you're likely to hear:

NO-BRAINERS

Coach: Mark Few

Current position: Gonzaga

Why he's a no-brainer: A long-established power coach on the West Coast, Few has maintained an elite-level program at Gonzaga for 14 years. He's made four Sweet 16 appearances and this season had the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Fast fact: Despite the collegiate success, only seven Gonzaga players from the Few era have made the NBA and none has averaged more than 7.5 points or 3.6 rebounds in their NBA career.

Coach: Shaka Smart

Current position: Virginia Commonwealth

Why he's a no-brainer: He's one of the hottest up-and-coming coaches after taking VCU to the Final Four in 2011-12 and building a nationally relevant program at a mid-major. His "havoc" style of play adds entertainment value and helps recruit players who enjoy the up-tempo pace.

Fast fact: Despite his success on the national level, he has not won a conference title in four years as a head coach.

Coach: Brad Stevens

Current position: Butler

Why he's a no-brainer: Considered perhaps the top young coach in the college game, Stevens took tiny Butler to the national championship game in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11. He's among the brightest students of the game and an expert at game planning and adjusting.

Fast fact: He's a rising star in the coaching world from a mid-major school in Indiana. The last time UCLA hired someone with that description, he went on to win 10 national championships with the Bruins.

(Read full post)

UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland has been relieved of his duties after 10 seasons at the helm of the Bruins, athletic director Dan Guerrero said Sunday.

Guerrero, after talking it over with university chancellor Gene Block, said he met with Howland on Sunday afternoon at UCLA and delivered the news.

"As I looked at the entire program and where we were -- especially headed into the next year which is obviously where we need to look at this point in time, I felt that now was the appropriate time to make the decision to make a change and to get a fresh start," Guerrero said.

Full story

Howland's tenure in balance after loss

March, 22, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Ben Howland made it way too easy.

The embattled UCLA coach was supposed to scratch, claw and fight for the remaining years on his contract and, perhaps, have his team -- a group of players assembled with the most hype this side of Kentucky -- ready to play, rather than resigned to play, in the NCAA tournament. But instead of playing like they were backed into a corner, the coach and his sixth-seeded Bruins decided to exit stage left, losing rather haphazardly to No. 11 seed Minnesota 83-63 in the round of 64 on Friday at the Erwin Center. Now the wonder around Westwood is whether Howland will be shown the door after 10 seasons.

That's been the speculation. Howland has certainly provided enough kindling to fuel the rumors with less-than-stellar NCAA showings since 2008, the last of three consecutive Final Four runs -- and this season, less-than-stellar results with what was the nation's second-rated recruiting class.

[+] EnlargeBen Howland
Jim Cowsert/USA TODAY SportsBen Howland's Bruins made another early exit from the NCAA tournament after losing to No. 11 seed Minnesota.
Then there was Bruins legend Bill Walton with the lighter fluid, squeezing it and the program for all they were worth on an ESPN broadcast back in February.

"I'm not in charge. If I were, things would be different,'' Walton said on air when asked by partner Dave Pasch about the program's laundry list of ills.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero has remained out of the fray, with a department spokesman telling ESPNLosAngeles.com earlier this week that Guerrero's schedule was packed ahead of the team's trip to Austin.

Now it has come to this. UCLA (25-10) is out of the NCAA tournament at the hands of a Minnesota team that had lost 11 of its previous 17 games. It's an embarrassing end for a Bruins program that made the tournament for only the second time in four seasons, and advanced to the round of 32 once in those two trips. Butler, VCU and the Ivys -- among many others -- have far surpassed that. In that time, Gonzaga has staked a firm claim as the West Coast's marquee program, a title once unquestionably UCLA's.

"No comment,'' Howland said Friday when asked about his future.

That future appeared to be on the minds of many, as the smattering of UCLA fans behind the Bruins bench gave Howland a longer-than-normal round of applause following the loss to the Golden Gophers (21-12). Howland said he didn't hear or notice the moment.

One Friday moment he did appear to notice, over and over, were the missed shots and opportunities.

"It kind of just snowballed,'' Howland said.

And now it appears that Howland has a snowball's chance in … well, Southern California. His contract runs through the 2017 season, and there's a $3.2 million buyout -- no small consideration for a cash-strapped public university. But attendance at the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion topped 10,000 five times this season, so the basketball program at least appears to have the potential to raise substantial revenue.

Dollars and cents were the furthest things from Howland's mind following the loss. Instead, the coach worked to pay homage to his team.

"I am really proud of this group of kids and really indebted to them,'' he said. "So coachable.''

Now UCLA just has to figure out who that coach will be.

Rapid Reaction: Minnesota 83, UCLA 63

March, 22, 2013
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The Minnesota Golden Gophers blew out the UCLA Bruins, 83-63, in the round of 64 of the NCAA tournament on Friday night in Austin, Texas. A quick breakdown:

How it happened: The Bruins cut the Gophers' 14-point lead to five points with 15:02 to play but could not rekindle the magic that led to double-digit comebacks twice in the Pac-12 tournament last week.

Minnesota guard Andre Hollins scored 10 consecutive points and 13 total over the next six minutes as the Gophers opened a 62-49 lead with 8:35 to play and cruised home for the victory.

Player of the game: Hollins scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half, including 4 of 5 on 3-point shots. He was also 7-for-7 from the free throw line in the second half.

Stat of the game: The Bruins, playing without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams, shot 31.7 percent from the field. It was the worst shooting performance of the season for the Bruins.

What it means: UCLA's season is over and the Bruins community will now wait on word about coach Ben Howland's future. Howland has been on the hot seat all season, and an embarrassing loss on such a big stage will not help his chances of being brought back. Shabazz Muhammad, a projected first-round NBA pick, will also have to make an announcement about his future.

What's next: Minnesota moves on to the round of 32 to face Florida on Sunday. UCLA will return to Westwood.
LOS ANGELES -- Admit it: You didn't think Larry Drew II was going to be this good.

It's OK, not very many people did.

His track record at North Carolina gave very few indications that he'd turn into the single-season assist record holder at UCLA and the player who has hit more game-winning, late-game and late-clock clutch shots than any other Bruin this season.

Drew left North Carolina with the nickname "Turnover Jesus" and with the stigma of a quitter after his departure was portrayed as sneaking off into the night in the middle of the 2011 ACC season.

[+] EnlargeLarry Drew II
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesLarry Drew II has overcome plenty of adversity during his college career, and now, as UCLA's lone senior, he will lead the young Bruins into the NCAA tournament.
He has silenced critics of both his play and his attitude this season, emerging as both a playmaker and floor leader for a young UCLA team, and earning first-team All Pac-12 honors. Those roles figure to become even more prominent this week as the Bruins begin the NCAA tournament Friday against Minnesota in Austin, Texas.

Drew is the team's only senior and the only player on the roster with NCAA tournament experience. As the point guard, he'll be the guy with the ball in his hands most often. And not only that, but he has the experience of winning a national championship ring. Drew played part-time as a freshman on North Carolina's 2009 NCAA championship team.

UCLA has the nation's top-ranked recruiting class this season with top freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson getting much of the attention, but Drew, not long ago cast aside as a has-been, has become the team's most valuable new addition this season.

"I couldn't be happier for a player to play the way he has after all he had to go through," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I think he really got a raw deal in terms of his reputation because he's been nothing short of a model teammate and exceptional leader for us this season."

Drew is averaging 7.6 points, is No. 4 in the nation with 7.4 assists per game and is No. 3 in the nation with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.12. On a team with three freshmen starters, Drew became the experienced leader, and in a season in which it seemed every game came down to the wire, Drew made clutch shot after clutch shot, including a buzzer-beating game winner against Washington Huskies and at least three other late-game shots that sealed victories.

And as the season has gone on, Drew's game has continued to evolve. Early on, he didn't score much, but as teams started to sag off him, he realized he'd have to do more than just distribute the ball. He's averaging 10.1 points and shooting 51.1 percent over the past 12 games. He has made 61.3 percent (19-of-31) of his 3-point attempts during that stretch.

(Read full post)

Loss of Adams means changes for UCLA

March, 18, 2013
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LOS ANGELES -- It’s only a few days before the NCAA tournament begins, and the UCLA Bruins, just like the 67 other teams in the field, are in scramble mode.

Coaches across the country are scouring sources to get video on second-round opponents so that they can cobble together a game plan for a team that they know very little about.

Ben Howland is no stranger to the ritual, having taken nine previous teams to the Big Dance, but UCLA’s coach is pulling double duty this week. Not only is he trying to come up with a scouting report on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who UCLA will face Friday in Austin, Tex., but the loss of freshman guard Jordan Adams to a broken foot means Howland is also trying to come up with new ways for his own team to play.

Adams, the team’s second leading scorer, is out for the remainder of the season after landing awkwardly on his foot during the final play of UCLA’s Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinal victory over the Arizona Wildcats last Friday in Las Vegas. It’s a devastating blow to the Bruins’ chances of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament, as the injury further depletes a thin roster, but the Bruins have no choice but to adjust and adapt on the fly.

Norman Powell is now starting in place of Adams. Kyle Anderson will be asked to play some small forward after playing mostly power forward this season. Larry Drew II will have to become a shooting guard at times after spending the season as one of the nation’s premier point guards. Everyone, including little-used center Tony Parker, will get an increase in minutes.

“It’s all adjustments,” Howland said. “We’re going to figure out how we’re going to do some things offensively with Norman and Larry in the backcourt together both being smalls. We’ve got some things that I’m excited about that we need to work on that I think will help us.”

The loss of Adams leaves a lot of holes on the floor for UCLA. He was averaging 15.3 points and 3.8 rebounds and had a conference-leading 73 steals. He was capable of carrying the team offensively for stretches -- as he did with 24 points in his final game of the season -- and was always assigned to defend the opposing team’s top wing player.

He was a key cog in a Bruins offense that led the Pac-12 in scoring this season, and his injury is largely considered the reason why UCLA dropped to a No. 6 seed and was shipped to Austin -- the greatest distance any Pac-12 team has to travel -- despite winning the regular-season conference title.

(Read full post)

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