UCLA Basketball: a leaderless program in chaos, says SI report

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The debate about whether or not UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland is on the hot seat is about to end. Now that a new Sports Illustrated study has been released, which profiles physical fighting between players, rampant alcohol and drug abuse, and most importantly, Howland’s aloof, hands-off approach, he may want to start enhancing his resume.

According to the AP, the past four years of UCLA players and coaches say that Howland:

allowed an influx of talented but immature recruits to undermine team discipline and morale as the once-proud program has struggled to live up to its storied history, Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday.

The report on Sports Illustrated’s website, which says SI spoke with more than a dozen players and staff members from those teams over the last two months, outlines a program in disarray where teammates have come to blows, several players routinely used alcohol and drugs – sometimes before practice – and one player intentionally injured teammates but received no punishment.

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UCLA is one of the proudest programs in all of college basketball, so even if half of what SI is saying is true, this is a very shocking development.  According to the study, Howland didn’t even bother acclimating new players. It was on the veterans to climbatize the kids. How did that work out? Lots of insubordination.

Here’s an excerpt of the SI column, you can read the entire thing here

UCLA’s fall has been something of a mystery. It has most often been blamed on players jumping early to the NBA (six Bruins have done so in the last four years, including Love and fellow first-round picks Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday), players transferring (five have departed) and even a supposed dearth of quality big men coming out of high schools on the West Coast. Inside the team, however, more fundamental problems have been at work, eroding the sense of unity, leading some players to leave the program and sending the blocks of Wooden’s Pyramid tumbling down.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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