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.


Bravesbill said...

Howland wasn't fired because he refused to now down. He was fired because after his Final Four streak, his teams underachieved every year even with highly touted recruiting classes. His teams were barely ranked his last few seasons there. It's not saying much that UCLA won the PAC-10 last year considering that league was worse than many mid majors. Put this into perspective: UCLA owned the state of California 10 years ago. Now, SDSU does. And this happened under Howland's watch. With that said, he would not be a bad choice for BC. He clearly knows how to build programs and has tasted success. I don't think BC has a chance at all considering more prestigious positions will probably be open after the season.

Bravesbill said...

That should say bow down. Damn autocorrect.

blist said...

I think UCLA firing Howland was silly -- because the seats weren't filled. I''ve caught a couple of games and it doesn't seem like the new coach (name escapes me) is doing better get gins butts in there. His record is fantastic. Give me this underperformance b.s. -- that's what got BC into this situation to begin with with Al. Holand would be a home run -- not the media splash Pearl would be. But then Isome colleagues at work- basketball fans not BC fans -- started talking about BC's other basketball scandals after Pearl's name came up. Maybe we don't need that.

Napolean Bonaparte said...

Isn't the real issue whether Brad Bates is going to feel completely confident or intimidated having to manage the likes of a Ben Howland or Bruce Pearl? If he is intimidated - then it would be a disaster hiring either guy as you need an AD capable of keeping on top of them and within our boundaries. I like either coach as I think they will bring an energy to BC that is sorely needed. I just don't know Bates enough as a manager.

Hoib said...

I'd be fine w/ Howland though I prefer Pearl. I also don't think we'll get either of them. Our most likely scenario is a young up and comer from a mid major.
There is a way to get a Jerry York type coach though, and that would be Geno Auriemma. If I were Bates I'd give him a call. He might be up for a new challenge having accomplished everything he possibly can @ Uconn.

Napolean Bonaparte said...

Hey Hoib - now that's thinking out of the box! Auriemma - wow - obviously hugely competent with the ladies but I'm not sure how that translates to the men's game. I think it would be a crap shoot and doubt he would risk being made to look foolish after all that he has accomplished. I'd be curious to know what others who know Auriemma well would say and whether a successful crossover has ever occurred in the past.

mod34b said...

ATL, as a student of BC-ology, how can you say this: "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."???

Huh? Since when? Of course, $$ is a huge issue.

It will likely take $3,000,000 per year for 4 years to get Howland. Maybe a little lower.

Never going to happen

Bravesbill said...

I don't think Geno would have any interest to begin with. Why would he leave his cushy job being a celebrity to mire in mediocrity at BC? As to Howland, he was morphing into Steve Lavin. If his teams showed any improvement I think he would have been retained. The fact that they continued to disappoint and continued its downward path sealed his fate. UCLA has actually been pretty decent under Alford this year in a vastly improved PAC 12. And remember that Alford built a pretty good program at New Mexico of all places.

Hoib said...

It's not likely that any names we've discussed will be the next coach, but all these guys we talk about have significant down side. I only mentioned Geno because so many other names that are mentioned are not likely to be interested. If he were up for a new challenge he might do it. Plenty of college coaches who have a cushy situation move to the NBA, Brad Stevens being the latest example. So maybe Geno could be open to something new.

Unknown said...

What we need for BC Basketball is for Brad Bates to be able to make a sale and close on a great coach. And it is possible. For the naysayers, BC can win Championships. The hockey team has proven it and the new coach can simply talk to Jerry York about it. BC can recruit. Every coach at BC has proven that ability and for any coach to use that as a stumbling block then he/she is not the right person. Look at the bottom half of the SEC in football. The worst academic recruit in the country could get into those schools and they still put a poor product on the field on Saturday afternoons in the Fall. Recruiting is more than academic standards. The top 4 in ACC basketball are Syracuse, Duke, Virginia and UNC. All four are close enough to BC academically that the recruiting/admissions issue should be a red flag if any coach brings it up. As for the stepping stone school issue, we should not even care about it. The job will pay well and for those who do not want to make Boston a home then so be it. We need to get the program back on track and not concern ourselves with it. But I say, if someone wants to live as long as Jim Boeheim has lived in Syracuse then there is a candidate available who would want to spend his career at BC and in Boston. Brad Bates, the ball is in your court and yes there is no obstacle other than you in securing the next great BC Men's Basketball coach.

@timstwrt said...

Shouldn't "everyone who's ever come across him thinks he's a gigantic asshole" at least make the cons list?