-Bumped. BN Eds.
Long-time lurker, first post so please take it easy on me! I apologize if this isn't as refined as the other posts here on BN but it's been a long day at work x) After reading the SI article, the level of disgust raging in me reached new heights and overcame my laziness and finally spurred me to post my opinion.
I have been a long-time fan of Coach Howland. Like many of us, I was elated at his arrival in Westwood after the debacle that was Lavin. I was a student during the first two our three Final Four runs and will forever cherish those memories and emotions. And like many of us, I never would've guessed all of that would've culminated to... well, where we are today.
Ben's achievements and shortcomings and everything in between have been well-chronicled here on BN by those more able than me so I will not rehash. I simply wanted to share my view on what I believe to be Ben's most jarring shortcoming: the "it" factor, or his lack thereof.
There are a number of things that make a coach successful. To inject another personal belief here, I believe your company, those around you are a great measure and barometer of the person you are. In a coach's case, his staff and players. If you watch interviews of former players of great coaches like Wooden, Coach K and Phil Jackson, there's always been one thing that stood out. All of their players revered their coaches, not only as a basketball tactician, but also as a mentor, as a person. And I believe this is the "it" factor of a coach.
We often talk about the intangibles that make a player successful. Kobe has the "killer instinct" but LeBron doesn't. Ben, by all accounts, is a great X's and O's coach. But never have I heard a former player (with the exception of Mata's recent tweets) praise Ben as a person or a mentor. Ben doesn't connect with his players. He doesn't help his boys become men. And that, I believe, is Ben's fatal flaw, above all else.
Ben asks his guys to play cut-throat defense. To draw a parallel, if my boss asks me to work beyond my job description or do some extra work, it'll probably go over a lot better if I like my boss.
Ben asks young boys and their parents to send their talented kids to his program. I don't mean offense to any recruiters out there, but I believe there is a reason most companies employ attractive, sociable, charismatic women as their recruiters and not their smartest employees.
Ben is tasked with keeping guys in his program when an alternative shows up. While I hope for the best of all Bruins that play their hearts out for our program, I think we all know that retaining guys is a part of continued success. If I get a new job offer, I'm probably more likely to reject it if I like my current boss and have a great sense of loyalty to him.
Again, I know what I'm posting is nothing new and probably has been discussed by you guys but I just finally had to get it off my chest. What I read in that article seriously disheartened me as a fan and as a Bruin. In this day and age of one-and-done's and the tourney of every single school out there, sometimes a little luck is required to reach the grand goal. Sometimes (or maybe more often), those intangibles matter more than the tangibles.
Our team doesn't seem to put out the same effort as the Ben Ball Warriors of old. We can't seem to pull out any late game wins. We can't seem to mount any stunning comebacks. These are all things not measured by pts, rebounds, assists. These are things that teams teeming with the intangibles, teams with the "it" factor achieve. Teams form their identity and characteristics from the qualities of their leader. And right now, we are seeing exactly that.