Steve Alford and Other Occurrences

Steve Alford has been the coach of UCLA for over a month now.  What has he done during that month for UCLA basketball?  I would claim that he hasn't done much.  He lost one of the top recruits that Howland signed (Allerik Freeman).  Which wouldn't be that much of a loss, but Freeman was one of those players that you would just love to have on your team.  From all I have read about him, he is almost exactly the same player that Arron Afflalo was coming out of high school.  A strong, hard-working, defensive stalwart who knew how to score and keep his teammates involved.  That is something the past few UCLA teams have missed on the perimeter.

Alford has done some good however.  He convinced both Tony Parker and Norman Powell to stay at UCLA.  Both players were probably going to be added to the long list of Howland transfers, but bring in a new coach and the program suddenly looks decent again.  Also, he probably didn't do anything to convince Kyle Anderson to not enter the draft, but having him back is a huge boost to this team.  Let's consider what could have been if Parker, Powell, and Anderson had all bolted.   We would have been left with a shell of a team that was not all that prosperous last season.  A team that would have been struggling to stay out of last place in the Pac 12.  Thank you Alford for keeping them around.

I know that basketball season doesn't start for another 5 months, but to me it is always basketball season.  I want to know where my team is headed and what opportunity that my team has moving forward.  I think the decision to fire Ben Howland was deserved, but I also think they jumped the gun a little hiring Alford.  They could have waited a little more to see if a more "UCLA" coach was available.  When I say a more "UCLA" coach, I mean a high profile name much like Howland was when he came to UCLA.  Those who don't think that Alford was a solid choice need to relax.  We won't be certain what kind of coach he can be at UCLA until the season starts.

Alford has a chance to bring in a very good recruiting class in 2014.  Kids that he was recruiting at New Mexico are now seeing that they can play at a bigger program and get the same coach.  That should be huge for him.   Especially, since the majority of those kids are from the Southern California area.  If he can land a few studs like Stanley Johnson and Jordan McLaughlin, that would be huge for the naysayers.

I know that Alford has always struggled in the NCAA tournament and that could mean problems if he can't get a few wins at least this season.  But, let's all realize that it isn't easy to win in the tournament.  Also, he has coached at two programs that aren't really known for their hoops history.  Kids don't really want to go to Iowa or New Mexico to play basketball.   UCLA has the glitz and glam that most of the kids of today are looking for in a college.  That should mean Alford can sell these kids on the appeal of California.  And let me tell you there is plenty of appeal out there.

Steve Alford is the coach at UCLA.  He was a great player in his day and has shown that he can be a solid coach.  That is about all that most UCLA fans know about him.  I think that come basketball season the Bruin faithful will be pleasantly surprised to see a new style of basketball and a new found pep in the basketball program.   I, for one, am so excited and am counting down the days until the season starts.  March Madness is year round for this writer.  Go Bruins!

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