Well, it seems like UCLA’s athletic director, Dan Guerrero, didn’t want to take his time to hire a new head coach for the school’s basketball program as he announced that Steve Alford, who spent the last six seasons coaching New Mexico and has also been the head man at Iowa, Missouri State and Indiana’s Division III Manchester College, will become the Bruins’ 13th basketball coach.
Alford will be formally introduced at a press conference on campus on Tuesday, April 2nd.
In a release from UCLA athletics, Guerrero, who was turned down by Butler’s Brad Stevens and Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart before Alford accepted his offer to bring his coaching talents to Pauley Pavilion, said,
“Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA. He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA. Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood.”
Alford, who was a standout on Bob Knight’s Indiana teams in the mid-1980s, winning a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987 and helping Team USA win a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, led New Mexico to a 29-6 record this season and their second consecutive Mountain West Conference title, both regular season and tournament. His Lobos made the NCAA Tournament in three of their last four seasons and won at least 22 games all six years he was in Albuquerque, including a school record 30 wins in 2009-10.
“I have been so fortunate and blessed in my life, and an opportunity to lead one of the greatest programs in college basketball history is once-in-a-lifetime,” Alford remarked. “…I can’t wait to get started.”
Interestingly enough, Alford is coming to Westwood right after he signed an extension to stay at New Mexico.
What’s also interesting about this hire is the fact that Alford’s Indiana background and previous experience as a head coach puts him in common with another man whom the Bruins hired as their basketball coach a few years after World War II.
His name: John Wooden.
And I suppose that worked out pretty well.
Now it’s a certainty that Alford won’t win ten national championships in a 12-year span and seven in a row – college basketball has changed far too much for anything like that to ever happen again – but if this former Hoosier can turn this UCLA program into one that’s a top contender for Pac-12 championships year in and year out and Final Fours and NCAA titles more often than not, well…
While it’s certainly my hope that Alford succeeds, I – and I’m sure the bulk of Bruin Nation – am going to officially take this attitude and approach:
Wait and See.
He certainly has some recruiting to do, starting with Tony Parker as the Bruins desperately need him to develop and improve his game so he can provide a strong inside presence that UCLA sorely lacked this past season.
Parker languished on the bench under Ben Howland and, being from Georgia, had to deal with bouts of homesickness. Alford’s first priority is to convince Parker not to transfer and to give him a shot at developing him.
Whether or not Alford is successful in that will be seen, but for now…
I suppose it’s a good thing that Guerrero hired someone so quickly – I hope Alford works out.
And I’ll definitely be interested in what he’ll have to say to the Los Angeles media on April 2nd.