New York Times story on Ben Howland

This story on Ben Howland appeared in a special supplement to the Times' Sunday magazine called "Play." (It doesn't appear regularly in the Times as the Sunday magazine does; it comes out every few months or so.) The story, part of a "March Madness" section, was written by Pete Thamel.

I'm sure the title won't sit well with Bruin fans, but the story's worth reading. I didn't know, for example, that Howland played professionally in Uruguay or how much of an emphasis he puts on videotapes. ("In less than three years, U.C.L.A. has put together one of the most extensive video archives in the country, and the team's video room offers a perfect window into Howland's meticulous nature. Seventeen DirecTV units are hooked up to VCRs and the team records more than 1,500 games over the course of the season.")

Here are the lead paras of the story:

"Ben Howland on the Verge of Being Famous"

The night before the biggest basketball game of his Weber State career, Ben Howland called his close friend Jay Hillock, a former junior-college assistant coach. Howland had a reputation for nervous excitability -- he typically vomited 10 minutes before every game -- so Hillock wasn't surprised when the phone rang at 2 a.m., just hours before Weber was to play a powerhouse University of Arkansas team in the second round of the 1979 N.C.A.A. tournament.

"I'm going to give Sidney Moncrief the biggest charley horse of his life at the get-go!" Howland screamed, referring to the Arkansas star, and promptly hung up.

Almost 30 years later, Howland, now 49, is still wound tight. He's an ever-revving engine of obsessive energy, a principal reason that he has emerged as one of the country's most successful and respected basketball coaches. (He no longer throws up before games, fortunately.) Howland played professionally in Uruguay, then toiled for 12 years as an assistant coach at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before embarking on a series of impressive reclamation projects, reviving moribund programs at Northern Arizona University and the University of Pittsburgh before landing the most glamorous post in college basketball, head coach at U.C.L.A., in 2003. Howland's turnaround skills took center stage last season, when he led an offensively limited Bruins team to the national title game against Florida and was named coach-of-the-year in the Pac-10, the third conference to give him that honor. This year, his team is more polished offensively and even better defensively; as a result, U.C.L.A. spent six straight weeks ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll this winter, and will enter the tournament as one of a handful of teams with Final Four expectations.

You can read the whole story by clicking here.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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