Sports: Looking back on the 3 Final Four runs of UCLA under Howland
Well, things went downhill rapidly and by 2013, he was fired.
Those three great runs were of course fueled by talented players who have made for themselves a place in the NBA and by Coach Howland's emphasis on strong man-to-man defense. Of course, some fans second guessed that he didn't allow the team more freedom on offense which may or may not have kept them from the NCAA Championship.
The reality, looking back, is that the difference between victory and defeat is often very slim and UCLA and Howland's fortunes could have been much less.
Turn the clock back to 2006 and what basketball fan will every forget the epic collapse (if you are a Gonzaga fan) or comeback (if you are a UCLA fan) in the regional semi-finals? That first Final Four and Championship game appearance could easily have ended as a "mere" Sweet 16 finish.
In 2008, UCLA was down for almost the whole game against Texas A& M in the 2nd round. UCLA took the lead with hardly any time left. A&M had the final possession to tie the game and their guard drove to the basket but missed in what replays would later show was lots of contact where a foul could easily have been called. Perhaps, he would have missed one or two of the free throws or UCLA would have won in overtime but the game remains one of the more controversial "no calls" in NCAA Tournament history. Thus, the 2008 Final Four run with Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook and Aaron Afflalo could have ended ignominiously in the second round.
Am pretty surch Coach Howland will find a new place to coach and get a fresh start with a new fan base. And hopefully, Coach Alford will be able to grow further as a coach and bring UCLA back to competitiveness.
Fans had hoped for a bigger name coach but I think UCLA hasn't gotten a big name coach since Larry Brown.
Coaches since Brown:
Larry Farmer - prior assistant coach experience with the UCLA job being his first head coaching position
Walt Hazzard - UCLA job first head coach position
Jim Harrick - UCLA job was second head coach position after modest success at Pepperdine
Steve Lavin - UCLA job first head coach position with prior assistant coaching jobs
Ben Howland - successful head coach at Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh prior to leading UCLA
Steve Alford - some successes as head coach of Southwest Missouri State, Iowa and New Mexico before coming to UCLA.