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Coach of the Year

Steve Dilbeck from the Daily News makes the case, which has been obvious to us through last few weeks - at this point of the season - Howland is Coach of the Year:

They're young, way too young. They're injured, ridiculously injured.

It is a seriously bad combo to build a winning basketball team around, yet that's exactly what UCLA's Ben Howland has done.

Eleven different Bruins have started this season, including five freshman and four sophomores. Four players have started at center, but not returning starter Michael Fey.

And UCLA is 17-4 overall, leads the Pac-10 Conference at 7-2, is ranked 14th in the country and may only be warming up.

It's illogical, and absolutely real. It seems all wrong, but is exactly right.

Howland will tell you it's a testament to the kids, to his coaching staff, to his athletic director.

Yet it is time to recognize the man most responsible - Howland.

Time to throw him a few accolades, to concede that the turnaround Howland promised when he first took the job is well underway.

To give credit and recognize that Howland appears exactly the coach UCLA expected when athletic director Dan Guerrero brought him to Westwood from Pittsburgh three years ago.

"It would be hard for us to find another coach across the country that has done as remarkable a job as Ben to date," Guerrero said.

"More remarkable in my opinion than overcoming the injuries is we're successful with very young guys. Ben gives credit to the high school coaches, but more credit has to go to Ben and his coaching staff and how they've been able to keep these kids focused and composed, keep them believing in what he thinks are the essential ingredients to success."

Those ingredients are becoming increasingly clear. Tough team defense. Unselfish play. Toughness. Fundamentals. Hitting the boards. Preparation.

"He's our backbone," said sophomore guard Aaron Afflalo. "Besides the things he can't do literally on the floor, you have to give him credit for everything else. He prepares in a way that sets us up for success."
Well said Aaron. I'd bet if Howland were to coach our football team - the defense would have actually shown up on December 3rd! (I kid). Anyways, of course the East Coast basketball pundits ...err... morons from ESPN, SI or CBS will be fellating all over Coach K or other coaches from the Big-10, Big East or the ACC, when it comes to hyping who should be the national coach of the year, but over here in the Bruins Nation - it is crystal clear to us - if the Bruins keep doing what they have been doing, Howland will be the unquestioned national COY.  It is certainly becominh obvious to Howland's rivals within the conferences. That is why you can see them losing it on and off the court. GO BRUINS.