So I know that the L.A Times does their best to paint us in a negative light, but after reading this article on Drew Gordon post UCLA, it brought up an interesting point regarding the way Howland handles his players.
Now obviously there was a reason why Drew left UCLA and it's expected that he's not going to be singing the virtues of Howland, but there were also some remarks made by Drew which I feel shed light on why we've had so many players transfer out. It has been discussed extensively here how Howland plays favorites, and it appears as though the flip side might be true as well, where players who aren't on Howlands good side get pushed away even further.
In regards to Reeves Nelson, Drew notes how Reeves is now "butting heads with Howland, like I did."
"I've grown up with Reeves," Gordon said. "I feel for what he's going through. Unfortunately, I think it's going to be a long year for Reeves. He got off to a bad start and once you're in the doghouse, you can't get out."
(more after the jump)
I personally am a huge Howland supporter, and I am lucky enough to have been a student during those Final Four runs, so some of my fondest memories of UCLA can be attributed to Howland.
However in the past few years our team has struggled. While I think our teams haven't had the level of talent we had in 2008, there is no reason why our team this year should have more than one loss. I'm glad that Howland holds a high level of expectations for his players, but I wonder if besides playing favorites, he also has a "doghouse" for players who get on his bad side. While I can't point out any specific players besides Reeves as of late (who probably needed the lesson) who jump out to me as being benched for non basketball performance reasons, I wonder if sometimes Howland's personnel decisions are clouded by those who are in his doghouse. And if as a result, our basketball performance suffers.
Players on a team, like any group of people under a leader, know when there is unfair treatment, and even those who are not personally on the "bad" side get affected by it. At the very worst, the players quit on the coach, which appears to have happened in football. While I do not think for a second the players have quit on Howland, I wonder if sometimes our lack of effort comes from an inner tension due to perceived slights, i.e not running back on defense even though your coach is yelling at you to do so.
I still think Howland is one of college's top coaches and don't think the verdict is out yet for this year, but at the way we started the season (and seeing Stanbeck and Moser's names pop up all over the place) and after reading this article, it just made we ponder what we're doing wrong (besides not being able to shoot the 3) and what is it that makes players want to leave Howland's program. Granted, some of these guys might have had some issues and probably shouldn't have been here in the first place, but I think it'll be interesting to see how Howland handles our current rotation of players.