On Sunday evening, it was officially revealed that UCLA head coach Ben Howland was relieved of his duties.
Howland’s career was great, but he ended on a rather down note. UCLA is a program with huge expectations and a great history. So if you’re missing the NCAA tournament two out of three years, you’re not living up to the expectations. Howland and the Bruins did just that.
Ben Howland has been a recruiting guru, landing the likes of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Arron Afflalo, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and many more for UCLA. And it was a pleasant surprise to see Howland and his crew land Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad this year. But what did that really do for the Bruins?
Most of us thought that this was “the year” because of all the swagger and media attention UCLA got early on—not so fast. UCLA lost to Georgetown in Brooklyn, before coming back to Los Angeles and losing to Cal Poly at Pauley Pavilion. Many people were beside themselves when they lost to the CP Mustangs, but eventually they rebounded and ended up winning the PAC-12 regular season title. However, a first-round exit from the Big Dance sealed Howland’s fate.
Now that Howland has been fired, there are many questions looming. Who’s going to replace him? How will this affect recruiting? Which current players will enter the NBA draft now that he’s gone?
I’m positive UCLA will hire a coach that’s dedicated to winning and one who runs a high-tempo offense. As for recruiting, I don’t think it will harm UCLA that much to be honest. The school sells itself—great weather, great location, beautiful women, beautiful campus and national television exposure. Now tell me which teenager wouldn’t want that? I’m very confident that Zach LaVine, Allerik Freeman and Noah Allen will make an immediate impact next season, and that’ll be the work of the departed coach.
As for now, we wish Ben Howland all the best and thank him for all that he did for UCLA.