I have stayed relatively quiet during the past weeks to make sure that I didn't write something I would regret later...and I am glad I did. While Alford was not my first....or even fifth choice, my feelings now are that it is time to move on and support Coach Alford as we move forward. Personally, I was so worn out by Ben Howland and the way the program was being run that I am just happy that we made a change and am willing to give Coach Alford a chance. Today, was a positive step in that regard. Today, we hired a very respected coach in David Grace away from Oregon State, who was being wooed by USC and New Mexico. Here is the article:
David Grace, an Oregon State assistant basketball coach for the past five years, is joining Steve Alford's staff at UCLA.
Grace and OSU coach Craig Robinson confirmed the move Friday night, on the eve of the Final Four.
"I couldn't turn down UCLA,'' said Grace, who said he canceled a Monday interview with USC.
We now have a very, very good group of assistant coaches who have West Coast ties and also great ties to AAU program coaches, which is what it is all about in today's recruiting world. Keeping McCray (which is gonna happen) in an administrative role is also a positive as well. So far, we have a much better group of assistants in place than we have had since the early Howland years as our staff the past couple years was basically a bunch of "yes men" who would be subservient to whatever Ben Howland wanted or said.
While many may disagree with my thoughts on the past few weeks, that is ok. I would hope that we always don't agree. I am going "all in" on Coach Alford and supporting him 100%. While he has ghosts in his past I am going to look past that and only concentrate on what he can do in Westwood. He did a fantastic job at New Mexico, and I love his style of play. Was he successful in the tournament? Nope, and if he isn't with the better talent he is sure to get at UCLA then I will be all over him.
I am just so happy to be rid of Ben Howland and his timeouts after made baskets, his lack of saving timeouts, the kids who transfer out constantly, the late game tactics of holding onto the ball as the clock winds down, etc. that I am willing to give a shot to a guy who plays an exciting style of basketball, who knows how to communicate with these kids, who can build a strong staff that can inspire athletes in Los Angeles and beyond to come to UCLA, and who can develop talent and make kids better.
Yes, I wanted Shaka Smart, Pitino, or Donovan, and would have been very happy with Stevens but because of DG that didn't happen and never was going to happen. We have a guy who has developed as a coach, and hopefully has evolved as a person over the past decade. He definitely has the pedigree and is stepping into a situation where the possibility for great success exists. I am throwing my support to him just like I did Coach Mora and hoping that I am happy with the results. No guarantees, but it is a new day and for that, I am happy.