UCLA basketball head coach Steve Alford made some comments after the Ohio State loss that show he is putting himself before the team.
The UCLA basketball team lost to Ohio State on Saturday afternoon, 80-66. It was the third loss in a row for the Bruins. After the game, embattled head coach Steve Alford made some interesting comments that show he is not in tune to the needs of the program and is once again putting himself first.
Things are not good in Westwood right now and Alford’s seat is getting exponentially hotter. It was expected that the Bruins could lose to Cincinnati and Ohio State on the road, but losing to Belmont just over a week ago, which started this three-game slide, shows that there is a lot of problems with the UCLA basketball program right now, but does Alford see that?
When asked about his future with the program, Alford began his comments in a very unusual way.
"There’s no issue with that with me. I just do my job as well as I possibly can and that’s what I do every day. I’m a man of God, so I’ve got an audience of one, and I show up every day, work as hard as I can for my guys and at the end of the day, if I know that I’ve prepared and worked hard, then that’s what matters to me."
Two things here, after the Belmont game he said that he did not have his team prepared, so what mattered to him in that situation? He has to know his job is in jeopardy, so why not seek out the answers to try and save his job? Clearly, he has not prepared enough.
Second, bringing up his faith is not going to help him remain as the head of the program when it is all said and done. In fact, if Alford is so concerned about his judgment, then he has other things to worry about than simply losing his job as it has been documented that he has not been the most upstanding citizen, especially during his time at Iowa. But I am not going to get into a religious argument.
I am here to point out that Alford is completely disconnected from the reality of what is going on with his program. That or he knows it and is trying to spin things so that he can lay the blame elsewhere, which is nothing new. When talking to the media after the game against Cincinnati (where the Bruins lost by 29, the third-worst loss in the Alford era), the coach indirectly told his players that they need to get in the gym and figure things out on their own.
No mention of why the team continued to shoot threes when it was apparent that they were not falling. No mention of the lack of defense. No mention of in-game adjustments. Nothing that would put the blame on him.
More from Go Joe Bruin
- UCLA Football: It’s time for the nation to meet Dante Moore
- UCLA Football: Where are they ranked heading into week 4
- UCLA Football: Position battle breakdown for Utah showdown
- UCLA vs. Utah: Location, time, prediction, and more
- UCLA Football: Highlights from Chip Kelly’s appearance on the Jim Rome Show
After the Ohio State game, he added, “No excuses but I have got to show some patience and I have got to be that leader for the group because right now, finding a leader on our team is hard because I am not sure anybody is equipped to do it because of our youth.”
It is Year 6, he should have figured out that he had to be the leader of this group a long time ago, so blaming his players is not the best approach. Citing youth is simply an excuse for not being able to do his job the way that is required. He has one job, to coach the UCLA basketball program and right now he has an overall record of 124-62 (66.7%). That is the seventh best winning percentage by a UCLA head coach since John Wooden.
Matt Norlander of CBS Sports suggests that Alford’s acheievements should be enough for the UCLA basketball fan base, “Can you fire a coach who makes the NCAA Tournament in four of his first six seasons, recruits to expectation level, has players go on to be lottery picks, makes Sweet 16s and annually gets his team ranked? At most places, the answer is hilariously “no.” But UCLA isn’t most places and hasn’t operated the way other schools have for nearly half a century.”
When a coach is fired (Ben Howland) and his replacement (Alford) does an even worse job, then the few and far between achievements should not be the latter’s reason for retaining his job as the leader of an elite college basketball program. At UCLA (or Duke or Kentucky or North Carolina, etc.), the goal is championships, not getting ranked every year. This is UCLA. They should be ranked every year, especially with the talent they bring in. That should not be a goal.
Howland never won a national title, but he did win several conference titles. Alford has only one Pac-12 Tournament Championship (which he won with Howland’s players). Doing the bare minimum is not what a UCLA basketball coach is hired for and Alford needs to atone for all the wrong he has done.