Ben Howland was given an assurance that he would remain as UCLA’s men’s basketball coach Tuesday, following what he called “the most challenging of my 31 years as a college basketball coach.”
The final vote of confidence came from UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, who two weeks ago declined to affirm Howland’s long-term status with UCLA following a lengthy expose into the program published in Sports Illustrated.
“Ben understands full well that the management and oversight of the program needs improvement,” Guerrero said in a statement. “He has assured me that, going forward, both the character and performance among our student-athletes will reflect the University’s values and the basketball program’s storied tradition. I believe that his overall record and performance proves he is more than capable of delivering on these assurances.”
Howland strayed from his usual routine by reading a prepared statement during his season-ending media session.
After his statement, Howland said the only pressure he felt concerning his job status came from within.
“The pressure that I feel most comes from me, myself,” Howland said. “I always put more pressure on myself than from anywhere else. That’s how it’s always been for me as a coach. So I always feel the pressure, the need for us to be successful.”
Players weren’t surprised by the news that Howland would be back for a 10th season.
“A lot of people have a lot to say about coach Howland but he’s a good coach,” said freshman guard Norman Powell. “Yeah we didn’t win many games, yeah some people are upset with the calls he makes and timeouts and stuff, but he’s been to the Final Four, he’s got players to the NBA Â”“ he knows what he’s talking about.”
The team had a meeting following Sunday’s news that the Bruins would not be participating in the postseason. UCLA (19-14) was passed over for an NIT selection in part because of its lack of quality wins, Howland said.
Redshirt sophomore forward David Wear summarized the meeting, saying “We’re not going to have another year like we did this year because everyone’s going to change.”
Lane to transfer
Junior forward Brendan Lane will be graduating with his economics degree following the spring quarter and intends to transfer.
NCAA rules allow student-athletes to transfer following graduation and use their remaining eligibility at their new school without having to sit out a season, provided the new school offers a graduate program not offered by the undergraduate school. Lane is looking to pursue a masters degree in finance, which UCLA does not provide.
The 6-foot-9-inch forward played in 60 of 66 games in his first two seasons before a logjam at the power forward position cut his playing time drastically in his junior year.
“A lot of guys would transfer after a year or two but I wanted to make sure I get my degree here because that means a lot to me,” Lane said.
“UCLA can offer only so much masters-wise so I just had to look at other options to see what’s best for me.”
Howland said he would help Lane find his destination, likely a mid-major basketball program.