Blog Entry

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:38 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:44 am
 
Under Ben Howland, the UCLA doctrines instilled under John Wooden have quickly deteriorated. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Players taking drugs, teammates fighting each other, an elite head coach losing control of his program.

The tales detailed by Sports Ilustrated’s George Dohrmann in his report on the fall of the UCLA program are eye-opening. With that said, we’re not looking at an NCAA investigation in the works, and, in fact, the reaction by most people is a simple raised eyebrow or two and a lack of surprise at the behavior. 

Dohrmann places most of the blame on the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes, as well as the lack of control and discipline instilled by head coach Ben Howland. Once guys like Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmer, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Josh Shipp and other players from the 2004 and 2005 recruiting classes left the program, the doctrines of “Wooden’s Pyramid of Success” – the UCLA way – quickly deteriorated with the younger players.

There was widespread drinking and drug use among the players in Westwood, including one story of three players going to a rave on New Year’s Eve – after specifically being asked not to go out – and using Ecstasy and partying until 5 a.m. Some of the players, according to Dorhmann, bragged about still feeling the effects of the drugs at practice the next morning.

Then there’s Reeves Nelson, of course. The heavily-tattoed power forward from Modesto, Calif. was supposed to bring toughness and other Howland philosophies to the table. Instead, he brought nothing but chaos and instability to the program. 

Some of the “highlights” of Nelson’s tenure with the Bruins, as laid-out by Dohrmann:

  • Urinating on Tyler Honeycutt’s clothes and flipping his bed over
  • Purposely pulling down on James Keefe’s left arm, which had just been repaired by surgery, and injuring Alex Schrempf’s back for several months with a hard foul
  • Berating Matt Carlino and calling him “concussion boy” to the point Carlino felt the need to transfer to BYU
  • Constantly talking back and yelling at assistant coaches
  • Fighting Mike Moser and Drew Gordon on multiple occasions

Howland clearly lost of control of his program with lack of discipline and involvement in the development of players. Dohrmann wrote that Howland doesn’t have much contact with his team outside of games and practices, and constantly talks down to his assistants. Howland didn’t punish Nelson for several of his actions and let him run amok until finally kicking him off the team on December 9.

It was only a few years ago that Howland steered UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-2008. The Bruins have steadily gone downhill since then, missing the NCAA tournament in 2010 and likely sitting on the sideline for the Big Dance this year too.

While Dohrmann’s piece does not magnify a NCAA scandal, it certainly shows the respect and luster for Howland – and UCLA – lessening with each passing year.

Comments

Since: Jan 25, 2012
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:53 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

There was a comment about the ineptitude of the UCLA AD, which I think should be more the focus. Howland had incredible success at Pitt and his first few years at UCLA so why is the problem manifesting itself now? Former football coach Rick Neuheiisel complained vehemently that UCLA was not keeping pace with the rest of the PAC-12 when it came to facilities. Is this also true of basketball?

My understanding is that there are improvements being made to Pauley Pavillion, but if you're not investing in the money sport---football, I think the rest of your olympic sports are adversely affected. For a school with the built in benefits of UCLA (public institution, great weather, fertile local recruiting grounds) it is puzzling why they have so much difficulty fielding good teams in football and now basketball. With PAC-12 basketball struggling like it is, UCLA not competing for the league title is egrigeous.




Since: Nov 18, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

ram- Does UCLA keep Howland?



Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

LOL...PAC 10 basketball sucks, just like football.  As for Reeves Nelson, this is a total loser who should have been kicked off UCLA week one! 



Since: Jan 19, 2012
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:03 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

Every UCLA fan, alum or otherwise has been aware of the complete ineptitude of Dan Guererro and his inability to lead the entire athletic department over an extended period of time. Active voices have been calling for his job for a long time. If you're a fan of the school this report comes as no surprise, but what does come as a surprise is that Chancellor Block does nothing to right the ship.




Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:03 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

I'm a die hard UCLA fan, It amazes me how talented the Bruins were back in 2006-2008 making three final fours aint as easy as everyone thinks,  Too bad they didn'w win on of them. 

Howland is a good coach, and maybe he needs to be more strict, but when he has great recruiting classes only to see them leave after 2 years doesn't help the Briuns either.

Would be nice to see a recruiting class stay for 4 years then go onto the NBA or elsewhere. 

I don't think UCLA is down and out yet, just a few good players need to be added and then UCLA Basketball will be back in the National Spotlite and in the FINAL FOUR once again.




Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:30 pm
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Since: Aug 10, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:26 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

I'm a Pac-12 fan and not specifically a UCLA follower, but having grown up with coach Wooden and even having attended his summer camp one year in the '70's, I'm dumbstruck at this story. Howland was hired as a Wooden "disciple" and wet on and on about doing things the "UCLA way". I knew that he was a chappy guy, and that was bad enough. But how is UCLA supposed to compete in college bb with the likes of Kentucky, Duke, NC, Indiana and the rest having a mean, disconntected, no-fun coach? It's taken a few years, but after milking Steve Lavin's recruits for much of his early success, it's apparent that he's not the man for the job. UCLA should be the class of the west coast, and win the Pac-12 almost every year. He'll probably get another chance, especially with Pauley reopening next season. But if he doesn't light it up and show a vast improvement (mid 20-win season, tournament seating, win 2-3 or more games in the tourny), I say let him go. There are too many really good coaches/recruiters out there who'd love this job. And if they can't find anyone, that's on Guererro. He is a useful idiot. 



Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:26 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

I'd wondered why solid players were bailing UCLA like rats fleeing a sinking ship...


linzhand
Since: Feb 29, 2012
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:09 pm
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Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:03 pm
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

That's what Howland gets for leaving the PITT program the way he did.


Dixon>Howland


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