So our team has wrapped up its third straight Pac-10 championship in a row for the first time since 1997. I will mention it again Coach Ben Howland is officially the first UCLA coach to accomplish that feat since the days of Coach Wooden.
No matter what Tim Floyd wants to assert from the other side of the town, the power shift in the Pac-10 (which titled away from Westwood during 96-02) is now officially complete. UCLA is now the unquestioned standard of basketball excellence in the Pac-10 and the entire West Coast.
As fundamentally sound in every which way (both on and off court) our basketball program is under the best basketball coach in America, there is another crucial factor that makes Coach Howland the most revered UCLA head coach since the days of Coach Wooden.
It's emotion. Here is Coach Howland after the Stanford game on his way to the locker room:
Photo Credit: Jack Rosenfeld
That's an image of the guy who grew up watching Coach Wooden's program.
That's the same kid who used to stay up watching KTLA's rebroadcast of UCLA games on late night television. Going back to memory lane from a New York Times article when UCLA hired Ben Howland on how a coach was coming home to Westwood:
He is all grown up. Relishing and soaking up every moment in his dream job.
That's the same kid - who is now of the elite basketball coaches in America - who this off season rebuffed overtures from another program to stay with the program he grew up cherishing. If you think I made that up here was Simers' column in the LA Times from few weeks ago:
We are blessed to call him Ben Howland, the Head Basketball Coach of our UCLA Bruins.
Don't ever think of leaving us Coach. We don't want to imagine life without Ben Ball at Pauley Pavilion.