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By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
Topic - Ben Howland
Steve Alford walked into Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday for the first time since the 1984 Summer Olympics, took his place under the 11 national championship banners and called his new job as UCLA basketball coach "a challenge."
Players and staff members from the past four UCLA basketball teams say that coach Ben 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.
UCLA guard Malcolm Lee is leaving school to enter the NBA draft and he plans to hire an agent, ensuring he won't be eligible to return for his senior season.
UCLA is back in the NCAA tournament after sitting out last year, giving the Bruins a chance to erase the bad memories created by their early exit from the Pac-10 tournament.
After stumbling through its worst season in seven years, UCLA didn't lose any players to the NBA draft. It just wasn't good enough.
After limping through the summer recruiting season having ruptured his Achilles' tendon, UCLA coach Ben Howland hopes things are looking up for himself and the Bruins.
"A new coach offers me a fresh start," he said, noting Alford's emphasis on defense. "We definitely lacked a little on defense so hopefully he can come in and pick up that side for us."
"He was a great coach and a really, really good person" Howland said. "It's a sad day for basketball because he was a brilliant man."