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UCLA Basketball: Reflections From Ben Howland

In a bit of revisionist history, Ben Howland says he regretted not going with an up-tempo offensive style sooner. Sounds hard to believe, but that's probably what he's needs to tell his prospective employers. He generally takes it easy on Alford, but he's keenly aware he left him four pros. Unfortunately for UCLA, things haven't improved.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with Bill Plaschke,  Ben Howland talks about what he's up to now, and reflects back on the end of his tenure at UCLA. Why is Plaschke suddenly defending Howland while his employer sends an intern to cover the team? Ben Howland vs. Steve Alford, nepotism, the empty Pauley,sixth place struggles and the morons in Morgan. That's a story! But Howland doesn't bite -- that much.

  • His TV gig with Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network makes him miss coaching even more.
  • He's turned down job offers because they were not the right fit. He wants to do his best coaching job ever, and the next one should be his last stop. He was also passed over a couple of times.
  • He doesn't understand how he got the reputation for not having a good relationship with his players. Yes, he was demanding, but he loved them all.
  • He still needs to heal from the stormy end to his UCLA career. He's still getting $300,000 for the next two years.
  • In hindsight, he shouldn't have stuck around for the 10th season. Friends told him UCLA planned on firing him. He says he had major schools interested in him, so he should have gone out then. He rolled the dice with his recruiting class of Muhammad, Anderson, Adams and Parker. He thought he might "get it all back" if he had a good year. UCLA was his dream job; he didn't want to quit on it.
  • Steve Alford is going through a first year experience this year. Last year he walked into a situation with "four pros waiting on you from a returning league championship."
  • His biggest regret is that it took him nine years to "buy into the offensive style that helped his final team lead the conference in scoring."
  • On the empty seats at Pauley, Howland doesn't think it was the slow offensive style, but rather "they jacked up the prices too high, told people in the same seats for 40 years that they had to move."

The most interesting observation was about the offense. Did he really regret not buying into the high-scoring, looser trend? I wish Plaschke would have embellished: why did he regret that? Was it criticism from fans, Guerrero or a declining ability to recruit?

I always thought calling a play on every possession and the incessant dribbling was ugly. Ben is smart enough, but perhaps too much of a control freak. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, and say with time he could have improved the offense in a rational way.  More pick and roll, more high post and more transition when it's there. Let's see what he does at his next job.

I agree that it wasn't Ben's offensive style that kept people away from Pauley. There are so many things: the schedule, the traffic, the prices, the blue-haired whales that will never show up, and the most important thing -- not winning.

Those last two seasons did Ben in along with a bleak future in Socal recruiting. Despite this exercise in revisionism,you have to give the guy credit for still for not showing any public bitterness. Most of us agree that it was time for him to go. Regrets were expressed about having Guerrero conduct a coaching search, but the rumor mill started pumping out top tier names along with the compensation to go with it. As we all know, the search was botched. That's the main regret from time period.