Saturday, February 15, 2014
Coaching Profiles: Ben Howland
Whenever people speculate about the BC job, Bruce Pearl is the first name mentioned. However, there is another high profile college basketball coach who is available. To me Ben Howland is the most intriguing candidate out there. He's a proven winner, he's available and he supposedly wants to coach in a situation like BC. Many things can happen to trip up these sorts of perfect fits, but to me Howland represents BC's most realistic chance to land an elite, high-profile coach in a major sport since the hiring of Jerry York 20 years ago.
What you need to know
Howland is the former UCLA and Pitt coach. He's known for his defensive focus and like Donahue has a tendency to coach possession to possession. If Bruce Pearl never met a reporter or AAU coach he didn't like, Howland would be the opposite. It wasn't his record that did him in at UCLA (the Bruins won the Pac 12 last year -- and he was still fired!). Howland was let go because he had worn out his welcome with all the UCLA power brokers. He didn't kiss the rings or do the rubber chicken circuit. I don't know Howland and only get gossip from people around basketball, but the guy wants to coach again and wants to coach at a school where he won't have to put up with a lot of the B.S. Gosh, if he could only find a BCS Conference team where the media and boosters wouldn't be on his back? Where he could just focus on basketball. Does anyone know of such a place that might be looking to make a change?
-- Familiar with coaching and recruiting in the Northeast.
-- Proven winner in major conferences.
-- Multiple Final Four appearances.
-- Has a long track record of developing mid-level recruits into elite players on elite teams.
-- Has familiarity with a school like BC (Howland got his Master from Gonzaga).
-- Only five losing seasons in 19 years at three different schools.
-- Other than stint at Pitt, has been primarily a West Coast guy.
-- No ties to BC or Brad Bates.
-- Will not be a marketer/media guy like Pearl or Addazio.
-- Other coaches using his UCLA exit against him with elite recruits.
-- Plays a methodical, defensive style of basketball that won't excite the casual fan.
If you are thinking "dream coach," think Howland. He's much more realistic than BC bringing Pearl home. Despite his BC ties, I think Pearl's baggage is going to be too much for BC. I don't care about Howland's lack of sizzle. If he wins like he did at Pitt and UCLA, Conte will be filled. While BC would have to pay Howland more than we've ever paid a basketball coach, I don't think money is going to be the issue. Howland is going to be able to pick his spot. I hear he wants a situation "like BC" but that doesn't mean he wants BC and BC only, or that this is going to happen. BC's history says that Howland won't happen, but that shouldn't stop Brad Bates from reaching out. If Howland is willing, he's the best coach BC can find.