UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland has had a disappointing past few seasons. The Reeves Nelson-saga really wore-on the UCLA program and brought the program down. It seems like the dark days are behind the Bruins and Howland, though. Thanks to a great recruiting class for the upcoming season, the Bruins are poised to make a PAC-12 title run and a run at a national championship. Howland has put the Bruins back on the map. Here’s why:
No more Nelson – The highly touted high school star was kicked-off the basketball team back in December for bad behavior, among other things. He was a “me-guy” and that’s not what UCLA used to win with.
Back to the Basics – UCLA made it to three consecutive Final Fours, from 2005-2008 and here’s why: Howland is a defensive-minded coach. During those years, the Bruins gave up an average of 58.5 ppg over those three seasons. Over the past three seasons, the Bruins have given up an average of 65.8 ppg. I think they get back to the basics this season.
Highly-rated Recruits – Remember the days when UCLA had players like Jordan Farmar, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, Jrue Holiday, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute? Those were the days when the Bruins were one of the best teams in the nation, winning conference titles, and reaching Final Fours. They are getting back to their old-ways. With Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams, and now Tony Parker, the Bruins have their sights set on a lot of winning this season. Those four players give Ben Howland the #1 recruiting class in all of college basketball and all should make an immediate impact in the wins column.
Ben Howland was on the edge of losing his job a few months ago. But now he has the best recruiting class in the country as UCLA looks to get back to their old ways: winning with defense and top recruits.
I expect this team to be in the conversation of winning a national title all season long.