Steve Alford has only gone to one Sweet 16 in nearly 20 years. But he has never had a job like UCLA, where there's talent everywhere he'll turn. The former New Mexico coach needs players -- and he already has a pair of huge fans in two guys with major influence in the state.
UCLA enters Wednesday's game at Washington State ranked 23rd with a 12-4 record in the Pac-12 that has the Bruins tied atop the league standings. So things are going well for this team that starts three freshmen. But there's still a vibe of uncertainty surrounding the program because nobody has said for sure, because nobody can say for sure that Ben Howland will return for his 11th season.
UCLA was a train wreck back in November. The Bruins looked out of shape, couldn't guard anyone -- and had lost to yet another Big West program. We're about seven weeks removed from the loss to Cal Poly -- and Ben Howland's team has turned itself back into a Pac-12 contender.