Rumors had Ben Howland burying UCLA’s “Howland Era” to go resurrect the Blue Demons, but he laid them to rest by opining that he has “zero interest” in this undertaking
From Pauley to DePaul? Low-hair to O’hare? DePaul-bearer of bad news? No. UCLA Head Basketball Coach Ben Howland insists that he has no intention of hammering any nails into a coffin for his reign at UCLA. This is Basketball, not Casketball, as Ben continues to dig up the Country, looking for recruits who can help resuscitate his gravely-ill program.
The rumors started up out of nowhere and immediately went viral. Suddenly, DePaul was allegedly offering Ben a multi-year contract at $3 million+ per year, compared to the 2.3 he makes in Westwood. And there IS a certain logic to the origin of this rumor: DePaul is a member of the Big East Conference, where Howland really made a name for himself with Pittsburgh. Howland’s workmanlike, blue-collar, non-flashy, Defense-first and methodical Offense-second “style” fits in better in the Big East, where fans are much less likely to demand a Showtime approach. Also, being in the Midwest, Howland would be recruiting in “tougher” areas, where he might find more prospects who are built for Howland-ball. Also, DePaul is coming off a horrendous year, going 1-and-17 in the Big East, so they are in need of a complete rebuilding job, which is Howland’s specialty: He has already re-vitalized the programs at Northern Arizona, Pitt, and UCLA.
The most far-fetched part of the rumor is Howland’s supposed replacement at UCLA: Louisville’s Rick Pitino. Again, there is some logic: Pitino has been stigmatized in Louisville by his sex scandal, and could easily be looking for some new digs. Many in Kentucky did not take kindly to Pitino getting caught with his pants down, twice, in a restaurant, with a woman other than his wife. Many Kentuckians also were rubbed the wrong way by Pitino paying for the woman’s abortion. So maybe Pitino is lusting for the loose morals and women of L.A. But… doesn’t Pitino still command a salary outside of UCLA’s range? And, would UCLA hire a guy just coming off a sex scandal, even if he is a Championship-caliber, elite Coach? They took a chance by hiring the not-so-squeaky-clean Rick Neuheisel, and he has stayed out of trouble (OFF the field), but Pitino’s baggage might have an underwear bomb in it.
If you have any faith in Howland’s WORD, he is not going anywhere. He insists that he is staying put in his Dream Job, and that he will never leave UCLA, as long as he is still wanted. He was extremely adamant about it, as if his current recruiting depended on it (it does). Saying anything other than he did would be selling out UCLA. I believe he said something similar at Pitt, right before coming to UCLA. Even if he is considering a move, if he admits it, recruiting will take an immediate nosedive. At least if it really does happen without any warning to recruits, UCLA might have a replacement ready, and if it’s Pitino, there would probably not be a problem for many prospects.
But it’s all just speculative b.s. If it ever comes true, I guess I’ll have to DePaulogize… but so will Howland.
Speaking of apologizing, the UCLA’s Womens’ Basketball Team has nothing to apologize for, but their year is over, after 32-1 and #1-seeded Nebraska (wo)manhandled the Bruins, eliminating UCLA from the NCAA Tournament. No shame going down to a good team like the Cornhuskers, especially when Nebraska makes 8-of-15 from behind the arc. Unfortunately, the Bruins experienced two long scoring droughts, relying too much on their outside game, and it cost them dearly.
The Bruins came out with a ton of passion and intensity, and held the lead for quite a while, so credit UCLA Head Coach Nikki Caldwell for knowing how to prepare, motivate, and fire up her team. But not shockingly, the Huskers got hot, the Bruins went cold, and Nebraska is moving on. Hopefully, if Nebraska ends up playing UConn, the Huskers can get hot again, and end the Huskies’ ungodly winning streak.
And speaking of winning streaks, how about those BASEBALL Bruins? UCLA’s Baseball team is now an All-Time School Best 17-0, ranked #9 in the Nation. The Bruin Pitching Staff currently LEADS the Nation in ERA, hits allowed per 9 innings, and Strikeouts per 9 innings, and Offensively, the Bruins are 6th in the Country in Batting Average.
If you want to see the Bruins in person, they are playing Cal Poly at Jackie Robinson Stadium (at the Westwood VA), Thursday and Friday nights, and Saturday afternoon. I hear that the price is “right.” As soon as I hear that the Dance Team is performing at a day game, I might attend. No offense to the team, and I’m very happy for their success, but I have a feeling that most readers here aren’t that excited about College Baseball, at least until the Bruins are in the College World Series on ESPN. Every time I write about a sport other than UCLA Football or Men’s Basketball, no one seems to care.
Bruin fans DO seem to care a little about Bruin Basketballers (and Footballers) in the Pros, and last night was a pretty good one on the NBA front. In 10 games played on Wednesday night, TWELVE Bruins played, garnering a total of 299 minutes. 8 of them were in Starting line-ups, with the 76er’s utilizing TWO Bruins in their Starting Five (Jason Kapono and Jrue Holiday). The Bruin Dozen collectively scored 122 Points — a Double-Figure average — grabbed 44 Rebounds, and dished out 32 Assists. High-scorer was Houson’s Trevor Ariza with 20. Darren Collison, back on the bench behind recuperated Chris Paul, outplayed Paul, scoring 17 with 7 Assists and 4 Boards in 31 minutes, while Paul, also in 31 minutes, tallied only 5, 7, and 2. No, I’m not saying DC is better than CP3 — Maybe Paul isn’t all the way back yet. But when he is, wouldn’t Collison look good in Laker Purple, “sharing” the Point with Jordan Farmar!?!
The two following observations have NOTHING TO DO with UCLA, u$c, or anything else worthy of your attention. One contains unpopular opinions, and one is offensive. Please don’t read any further, unless you’re really, really bored, and really, really, easy-going.
#1 — Killer B’s: Any Rock n’ Roll fans out there with Cable TV? Do you ever watch/listen to those “Music Choice” channels? There is a Classic Rock Channel, and a Retro Rock Channel, and together they play some good music, pop up some benign trivia, and make for good background/(plasma) screensaver material. There are NO annoying, distracting commercials to interrupt the musical mood. The problem is their infatuation with the “B’s.”
For some reason, the think Billy Joel is a Rock Star as opposed to a Pop Singer. They play Billy Joel more than MTV plays “Jersey Shore.” They also vastly overestimate the allure of Billy Squier. Why must they “Stroke” us with “Lonely is the Night” over and over? And continuing the B Worship, they are obviously trying to sell Bon Jovi downloads. They insult real rock bands every time they play a Pop, Hair band and call it Classic. And finally, I know that I’m alone on this, but they are apparently in love with Bruce Springsteen as well. At least he fits the category — I just personally can’t stand him, or his bogus anti-scalping fiasco in the 80’s, or his voice, or his attitude, or a lot of his trojan-like fans.
I made some of these same complaints about Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, but at least they got most of the Hair Bands off the Classic and Hard Rock channels by creating the “Hairnation” channel. And I think Bruce might have a channel to himself. The Grateful Dead does. Why can’t the Cable Company or Music Choice just take their four B favorites, and give them their own “B Channel?” “All Billy, Billy, Bon Jovi and Bruce, all the time.” And why not have Chandler’s ex with the annoying laugh (from “Friends”) be the Veejay? Or Gilbert Gottfried? I once saw someone acidentally jam a Q-Tip all the way into one of Jane Seymour’s ears. I rather have that happen to both my ears, than have to listen to this imaginary “B channel.” Ouch. Poor Jane! It happened to her while she was “DR. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” but that medical degree didn’t seem to help.
#2 — DePaul. Hadn’t really thought about DePaul in a while. Suddenly, it’s DePaul this and DePaul that. I had to start abbreviating DePaul in my notes. What else but “DP?” But they certainly don’t have a monopoly on it. If ESPN’s Dan Patrick were calling a DePaul Baseball game, and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick was shooting a commercial at the game, and she and her Director of Photography came up to visit Dan in the booth, and a menage broke out while a 6-4-3 double-play was being turned by DePaul on the field, you’d have:
DP calling a DP DP in a DP game while performing DP with a DP on DP.
See? I told you these observations were NOT worth your time. Sorry — You cannot have those 5 minutes back.
Below is a photo of UCLA Women’s Basketball Head Coach Nikki Caldwell, from her first UCLA Press Conference. Congrats to Coach Caldwell, for one of the best seasons in recent memory, and for giving Bruin fans confidence for the future.